Lessons of the Liver List

It’s a small, neighborhood place near my (Leigh’s) office in suburban Philly. Cozy. Family owned. It’s the kind of place where the co-owner/hostess knows many customers by name and hugs the regulars when they come in.

There for lunch, I watched a waitress (a daughter of the owners) calling phone numbers from a well-worn spiral-bound notebook. I asked what was with the notebook and phone calls – and learned that she was calling people on the “liver list.” The “liver list” is populated by the portion of their clientele who LOVE calves liver and want to know when it’s going to be on the menu. She said they pack the place with patrons from the “liver list” whenever they have it available.

Weeks later my wife and I met friends at the same restaurant for an early dinner before going to a movie together. Our friends remarked that it was crowded for an early dinner. Then a gentleman at the next table asked us conspiratorially, “Are you on the list, too?” The specials on the menu confirmed that, unintentionally, we’d stumbled into a night for the “liver list.”

The “liver list” is, of course, a database – nothing new to anyone in the radio business. Notifying people in a database about programming they’re interested in or a promotion or event they might enjoy (liver night?) is what we do with databases. Lots of stations notify likely contest participants about new promotions. Some stations sign up listeners who want to be informed about new music from favorite artists or specific times that new songs they love are going to be played.

What struck me about the restaurant’s “liver list“ night was the community it created. Patrons had something in common and that connection put everyone at ease. Even the members who dined on something other than liver seemed eager to come back the next time. Letting the database members have contact with one another created an extra layer of connection and chemistry.

That chord of community is something that stations should play up more at events and online. Social Media could allow those database members to mix and enjoy their shared interests (in bands, things going on in town, etc.) outside of events – bringing them closer together … and closer to the station in the process.

Concerned about cholesterol, no one at our table ordered the liver, but we did enjoy the sense of community created by the “liver list.” And, of course, we did talk about the sponsorship opportunity for Lipitor™. Who has the Pfizer account?