Friday, January 19, 2007

Who is watching your marketing SUCCESS?

Every Restaurateur needs a break. But not a break from marketing, that is, unless you have someone helping you manage your successful marketing campaigns.

Who is helping you grow your business through your marketing? More importantly, who is monitoring your success?

I was at one of my favorite New York City restaurants last week and can share with you how easily it was for them to make an impact with their marketing. The story goes like this; I arrived with a party of five. I informed the hostess of my name and she verified my reservation. Almost immediately, she asked me if I wanted to check my coat. Then, my party was promptly escorted to our table. After a fabulous meal, our server asked us if we wanted to join the restaurant’s email list. Did I wait and think about it? No. “Add me to it”, I said.

A few days later, I was curious to know if they measured their marketing. I called. They answered. I said my name. Instantly, the voice on the other end of the phone said, “Mr. Thompson, let me thank you for recently dining with us and what may I do for you today.” I informed the voice that I enjoyed my experience and thanked them for their wonderful service.

Now, what made this possible? Was it a fancy marketing system? Who knows? It really doesn’t have to be something technically amazing (although it helps tremendously). Creating real results like this are simple. All it takes is someone (hopefully your whole staff) to monitor your marketing. The next time you create a marketing program try:

- Delegating the data entry to one of your servers
- Promoting one of your staff members to marketing manager
- Using technology, like email, to gather patron data

Whatever your next marketing initiative, put someone other than yourself in charge of making it HAPPEN!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

What is the one thing eCommerce can do for your restaurant?

Just one thing?

OK, if I have to limit it to just one thing:

eCommerce creates another revenue source for your restaurant.

There is no doubt that internet users are doubling every month in every geographic market. From Dublin, Ireland to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the internet is opportunity, convenience and simplicity.

People love it. They can find information about your restaurant (there are lots of third parties that do this); click to see your menu (usually brought to them by third parties) and find directions (from third parties), simply by doing a Google search. But, even if you refuse to offer any online directional, menu or informational service to your customers (relying on the third parties for this) the one thing you would have to do to earn money from your website is create an eCommerce account.

And why not get an eCommerce account?

It doesn't matter if you're selling food or t-shirts. Once people go to your website, if you simply offer an online path to commerce, then you'll see people buying. One of the first sales tips I ever heard was: you have to give people a price for them to buy. The whole idea of eCommerce is allowing your customers to spend on their time. Maybe they don't want to go to your store to buy one of your t-shirts - they want to do it online. Your customers may enjoy ordering your food online instead of calling in (I know that when I call into a pizza shop, I have to ask the attendant on the phone about the toppings - an online list sure would be nice). Make sure your customers CAN actually do something on your website. Give them an actionable eCommerce path!

eCommerce should be the single most important component of your website. I cannot say this enough. Give people a chance to speand and you'll find that they are spending...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The element of email marketing surprises

It only takes once. One email to one customer might earn you $100.

Think about the first time you ever received an email from a restaurant where you dined. Let's pretend this email came to your home inbox, because some time during some special occasion at that restaurant you gave them your email address. How did that email make you feel? Surprised, interested, curious, investigative; did you feel concerned? Whatever your feeling of the email that restaurant knows how to email message effectively.


Because they caught your attention. And, as a special bonus, if you're remembering that restaurant email and seeing it in your mind, then congrats to their marketing team.

Marketing website articles and blogs scream the value of email marketing, despite the many *feelings* about its use.

In an article by SearchCRM, David Hallerman, Senior Analyst with New York-based consultancy eMarkers says, small and midsized businesses (SMBs) stand to benefit the most from email marketing because they have an opportunity to make real connections with customers and email's low-cost levels the field against larger corporations marketing efforts.

The "real connection" that Mr. Hallerman is talking about can come from just one email.

There are a multitude of email marketing services. We've looked into ExactTarget. They seem to have an angle on creating value for a myriad of customers. I also liked some of the company blogs. As a blogger, they won my heart with that one. My point is you can use someone like ExactTarget and they'll do a great job. But, it doesn't take that kind of commitment.

Just by discreetingly asking key customers to sign up for a appetizer coupon with an email address will force you to start gathering email address. A simple group email using whatever mail program you have (be sure to send BCC for privacy) and a clever-worded paragraph will help you catch the attention you're looking for.

- Have you started a simple email marketing program? Post a comment and tell us more.
- Have you been using an email marketing company? Post a comment and write a review.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What can video do for you?

Video, video, video and more video, is the world coming to video?

Should you care about video?

If your business isn’t focused on multi media presentations, like video, wake up. The value of capturing an event on video and presenting it to your public is enormous. Why? Because providing the capability for a consumer to see, hear and recall your video is the best way to entice them to spend money at that event.


It is cheap to make videos…

I told you about my video experience with (or at least I wrote about it, once before, and you can read it again here). I decided to make another video using my cell phone. If it is really that cheap and free, then I could film an event and release it here, right?

Well, I’m going to do just that. I’m going to film my experience at a restaurant event. I’m going to also write about my experience and then send you the link to watch and read. Stay tuned…

Friday, July 21, 2006

We are ready to try something new, are you?

There must be a little hole, a dark musty hole, where software people grow. Maybe it is a cave. It smells like pencils. When you go into the cave, you'll hear moaning that sounds an awful like "software code" talk. You can't understand what they are saying, but you go deeper into the cave. What are they doing down there? Your flashlight barely illuminates the walls of the cave. You are nervous, because software scares you. Then, all of a sudden, the room opens up and you see all the software people. They are dancing, having fun and some are watching Star Trek. They see you and invite you in. They offer you some non-alcoholic wine spritzers. Then, they ask you, "How can we help you expand your website potential, FOR FREE?"

As of late, I've figured the above scenario has to be somewhat true. It is remarkable! Free and easy to use technology continues to emerge into the market. Almost everyday a new product emerges. When it comes to marketing, these products are powerful enough to expand your reach into the internet, WITHOUT ANY COST OR WORK INVOLVED! Has internet marketing totally shifted from the have-not's to the have-it-all's?

This morning, I decided to test out a little piece of technology. It is called the Frappr Mapper. The idea behind the service is to visually show you and your friends a created network of contacts. Each "friend" is represented by a little bubble on a map of the US. The map may also be regional. Below is a picture example of the Frappr Mapper.

I decided to take a quick tour of Frappr Mapper to see what it is all about. I mean, why not participate and learn from all of the free technology?

Setting up the service took no time at all. I went to the Frappr site, created my account, copied some code and posted my map.

As a restaurant owner, the value of mapping your location is HUGE! Let's face it, the prospect of the yellow pages directing a new customer to your restaurant is close to zero. A lot of folks don't even know where the dang book is anyway. However, they do know where that $2000 computer is

Why not try out something new. If you have ten minutes to spare, try setting up a Frappr Map on your blog, or website. It doesn't have to be the front page. You don't have to publish it. The whole idea is to get the internet to work for you!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Send me quality, or don't send me at all...

There is a way to measure quality. The book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance did it. In the book, the intellectual narrator goes on a cross country journey with his son. During their epic adventure, they discover the connection between logic and mysticism is closer than once perceived. In the end, the narrator focuses on the definition of quality. He finds that quality is the singularity: the measurement of all things.

Robert Pirsig, the author, did one thing very well in his book: constructing the idea of quality. His underlying message was that quality matters in the human experience. That quality can be measured by human intellect and intuition. And, that quality is not just opinion. As a restaurant owner you would do well to consider quality in your marketing messages.

Are you delivering *quality* to your customers?

The answer to the question I just poised is hard. There are three elements in delivering a quality marketing message:
  1. Perceived Value: is your offering *worth* a consumer's paycheck or time?
  2. Staying Power: will your marketing message seep into the brains of the consumers you're trying to reach?
  3. Communal-in-nature: will a consumer accept your marketing message and spread it to their friends?
Obviously, these elements are very *internet* in nature. That's because the best medium to deliver quality is the internet. It offers more media and content options to work with than traditional advertising. Furthermore, if you have your ducks in a row a consumer may act (click to your website, make an online order, ask for a reservation, send out invites to your events, etc.) on a message; thereby increasing the perceived value of your marketing.

In considering your marketing quality, ask yourself if each message you are delivering has the elements listed above. Let's walk through an example. We'll pretend a restaurant is sending out emarketing messages about their opening night.

Restaurant Name: Big Country Dance Hall
Restaurant Concept: music venue, casual dining, nightclub
Restaurant Message: "More Sawdust on the Floor so you can do the Electric Slide"

If we consider the Big Country Dance Hall's target market then we're probably on the safe side to assume the owner is trying to make an impact regionally. The region is probably small town America.

My friend at Big Country Dance Hall has a list of emails and he wants to send a quality message. Let's say the subject line of his email message is "More sawdust on the floor means Electric Slide heaven". Is this a quality message?

The answer is yes!

Let's look at the elements:

  • Perceived Value: is your offering *worth* a consumer's paycheck or time?
    • I mean if there is MORE sawdust on the floor than any other place, well, by all means, I'm going to boogie!
  • Staying Power: will your marketing message seep into the brains of the consumers you're trying to reach?
    • If you received that email would your interest pique?
  • Communal-in-nature: will a consumer take in your marketing message and spread it to their friends?
    • Dancing is communal by nature, so to spread the word about the establishment is second nature.
This is just one message, but you see the careful consideration of my friend at the Big Country Dance Hall. I'm sure further messages about the steak fries and chicken fried steak would be sent with quality assurances. In other words, even he, the owner, cannot afford to waste time with low-quality marketing!

Are you delivering quality?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Video is easier than you might think... did something amazing. The social networking video hosting giant hit a major milestone: 100 million videos served a day. That’s pretty impressive if you’re a YouTubian. It is even more fantastic when you consider the total live-time of the site: has only been streaming video for a year and a half, roughly.

What does this mean to your restaurant operation? It means that people not only demand video, they are willing to share it. It means that online video better be a part of your marketing program. It means that you have an opportunity to make your own video, too.'s modus operandi is to give individuals a place to broadcast. The people posting videos range from network engineers and directors to teenagers interested in sharing their stories. When it comes to the restaurant industry, there are over 2,532 videos posted with something to do with the restaurants. Considering that everyone has something to say about the food they eat, it should be no surprise as to the amount of videos posted. Below are a few videos for you to consider looking into:

  • Amateur Gourmet shares three restaurant reviews. The videos are detailed and specific enough to warrant a return visit to his website.
  • The St. John Restaurant in London, UK has a fantastic review and video commentary about the traditional English cuisine served at the restaurant.
  • ITV provides a nice video pilot about a Tacoma, WA restaurant. This one is a bit long, but you’ll see what professionals can do. Also, you’ll see what advertisers want to do.

The point of the videos, if you watched them, isn’t necessarily to advertise the restaurant, but to offer an opinion on the food, atmosphere and the experience. We are seeing grassroots promotion on a video level that you just can’t get anywhere else. Furthermore, the videos are inherently viral. This means a friend can invite another friend to watch the video and post a comment, thereby spreading the video into the depths of the internet.

As a restaurant owner, what are you doing to truly capture your restaurant’s food, ambience and personality? Are you posting video on Or, are you posting video to your website?

Chances are you haven’t even tried to capture footage of your restaurant storefront. There probably aren’t special event advertising videos, either. An outdated picture of your restaurant interior is about all you have to show on your website. It doesn’t sound like you’ve spent the ten minutes it takes to make a good quality film illustrating your concept. You should ask yourself this motivating question if you want to attract new customers: would a short video make a difference to the people visiting my website? If you want more customers then the answer is YES – video is more appealing!

A long time ago, online video production was very complicated. However, creating an online video, today, isn’t as hard as you might think.

You need three things:

  1. A video camera
  2. Editing software
  3. Video streaming service

Thankfully,, or gives you two out of the three. The camera, which could be your cell phone or digital still camera, is the final component you’ll need to procure.

As an experiment, I signed up for Eyespot to see how easily I could create my own video. To start, the service was free; great, one less thing to buy. Secondly, signing up for the service took about 22 seconds. Lastly, I was able to edit, upload and link to my video in only a couple of minutes (depends on how large the video is). Because I’m an avid mountain biker, I decided to post some mountain biking footage - you can link to it here.

The lesson I learned from Eyespot is video can be easy! I also realized how quick the developers at Eyespot have learned the value of making the user experience intuitive. In other words, I didn’t have to spend time trying to figure out the process. It was obvious from the start.

This post begs the question: when are you going to post your video?