Billy’s Balls Built the Brand
Seriously, I love Billy’s Balls
If you haven’t had the chance to eat a link of Boudin or enjoy a delicious cheese stuffed Boudin Ball from Billy’s Bouidn & Cracklin you don’t know what you are missing. I love Billy’s balls and I’m not afraid to admit it – except to my personal trainer and to my internist, they would not approve.
If you haven’t visited Acadiana (Cajun Country in southwest Louisiana) you might not have had the privilege of tasting boudin, defined as a combination of cooked rice, pork, onions, green peppers and seasonings. The mixture is then pulverized and stuffed into a sausage casing. If you haven’t tried it, you are missing a great delicacy.
In Acadiana, there are lots of places that sell boudin and quite a few also offer boudin balls but it is Billy’s that has people waiting in lines out the door. Whether you go to the original location in Krotz Springs, the store in Opelousas or the newest location in Scott, you will know you have arrived when you see the crowds of people and get that first whiff of what heaven must smell like.
Why? What makes Billy’s balls so great? In terms of food quality, recipe and preparation – I have no idea. Because Bill Frey won’t tell anyone the recipe. It is a closely guarded family secret.
But, when it comes to building the brand, I have a few ideas.
Place. Billy’s Boudin does not feel like a big corporate entity. They are clean and nice and the stores are well lit – so it’s not a roadside dive by any means. But all of the employees feel “real”. They seem to love their job and are really good at it. Whether they are making sure you’ve ordered enough or catching up on the scores of the local high school football teams, the staff at Billy’s is friendly and definitely support the brand. These people are the brand ambassadors and they do their job very well. The owners can’t be in all three stores all the time so it’s key to make sure that the employees properly represent the brand.
Product. The quality and taste is always consistent. Consistently awesome. This is probably because Billy holds the recipe close to his heart so he and his wife Patsy make sure that every link, every ball, every piece of meat is as good as the one before it. This is crucial to brand building. If your customers don’t have their expectations met (or exceeded) every time you will lose their trust, their loyalty and their advocacy.
Price. They aren’t the cheapest and they aren’t the most expensive. Billy’s balls are the best. They have established value in the minds of their customers so that it is never about shopping for the best price. Rather, it’s about waiting in line to get one of those balls in your mouth as soon as you can. When you build a brand you have to build value. You don’t want the transactional customer that price shops you against the competition. You want the relational customer that will drive two towns over to get your balls because they know in their heart that yours are the best.
Promotion. Billy’s does a little bit of marketing. An outdoor board in the interstate near their Scott location. They attend a festival or support a big community event. But the real promotion for Billy’s comes from the thousands of photos and comments that their customers post about them. You can’t go to Facebook or Twitter or Instagram without seeing people sharing photos of Billy’s balls. Do your brand advocates love you that much?
Billy and Patsy Frey build the brand of Billy’s Boudin and Cracklins utilizing the 4Ps of marketing. Sure, it’s old school and back to basics. But it works. When you look at your brand through this lens how do you measure up?
Building a brand doesn’t have to be about spending big bucks. Get back to brand basics and make sure you have a solid foundation upon which to build your brand.