Curing your marketing ills

Social Media and Restaurants

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I will admit I am a research nerd (ok, many types of nerd am I, but I digress).  I adore spending my small amount of spare time looking at how businesses do their marketing and their social media.  One could probably argue that I have a bit of a media overload going on most of the time (see VideoDrome).  An industry that I am consistently looking at is the restaurateur field.  It is an area that the marketing can be droll or it can be quite, erm out there (see Quiznos).

The last year has been truly inspiring to watch the way restaurants, in particular, have been using social media.

A very small sample of some my favorite restaurants to watch and read include:

Chino Latino – Follow on Twitter or like on Facebook

Wildfire Restaurant – Follow on Twitter or like on Facebook

Ians Pizza – Follow on Twitter or like on Facebook

Jimmy John’s Subs – Follow on Twitter or like on Facebook

Morton’s Steakhouse – Follow on Twitter or like on Facebook

Pizza Hut – Follow on Twitter or like on Facebook

Is there more to social media than Twitter and Facebook?  Of course there is.  If you are a restaurateur you really ought to be creating FourSquare deals, creating a blog as part of your website (a blog that you update with some frequency) and following reviews of your restaurant on Google Maps Business Reviews, Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Zagat (if you are listed) and Trip Advisor (incidentally, if you find a poor review for your restaurant, be certain to try to engage with the reviewer — you may change an unhappy experience into a very happy experience).  There are a few high-end gourmet restaurants I have seen that use YouTube or Flickr to their advantage by showing their line cooks and chefs actually preparing the food.  To see what is being said about you on blogs or in the news, be certain to sign up and receive Google Alerts.

At a minimum, you should also be providing your customers an e-newsletter that provides more than promotion, promotion, promotion.  Social Media at its heart is about the social portion of the phrase.  Involve the customers that love your brand.  Ask for pictures taken at your location to be sent to you, ask for positive reviews on the above listed sites, create a recipe contest, provide any sort of contest, ask feedback questions, or provide specials just for their social media (i.e. a Twitter only special, a Facebook fan only special, etc.)

If you own or manage a restaurant and would like to further discuss your Social Media Marketing Plan, contact Apothecary.

Written by apothecarycomm

2010/07/20 at 7:36 am

Market Research

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I am a huge proponent of surveying a business’ current audience to uncover needs and wants that the audience has that said business is unaware of.  Many of the businesses I work with are considered small businesses, and small businesses overall tend to bristle at the thought of research within their community.  I am not certain why this is?  Perhaps concern that one will not appear all-knowing?  I do know that when the phrase “Let’s do some market research”, it tends to sound like someone wants to spend $$$$.

For small businesses, Survey Monkey can frequently provide an economical platform from which to survey their consumers.  As stated by Robert Bain, CEO of Survey Monkey to research-live.com.  Survey Monkey (and obviously surveys in general) can be used for customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, event feedback, et al — to make better and more informed decisions.  In Madison, WI we are fortunate to have two local polls that are provided on a quarterly basis.  Traditionally, I have used to polls to gauge awareness of both my client and my clients advertising.  It’s amazing how much information you can get from very simple questions.

Does your small business use any market research?  If yes, what kind of research and how do you implement the findings into your business plan and/or marketing?

Written by apothecarycomm

2010/07/19 at 9:03 am

Marketing and the Economy September Version

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News was released last week that Toyota is preparing to spend 1 billion dollars in fourth quarter anticipating the US economy strengthening.  Also last week, Federal Reserve Chairperson, Ben Bernanke, has indicated we are “very likely” out of the recession.  With a 1% decline in advertising sales, Rupert Murdoch is exclaiming that  the worst is over (while also insisting News Corp. will eventually be charging for content).

Does this mean that we ARE coming out of this gloom, or are we as a nation using “The Secret” as a positive reinforcement plan to getting out this economic slump?  I see  and have to spoken to many companies that are still extremely cautious to spend significant marketing dollars (save Toyota, apparently) and forsee not expending money on marketing through fourth quarter and into 2010.  So, perhaps, the wisdom locally is that the recession is to continue for a while.  It hit us later, so it must stay later, I suppose, is the prevailing logic.

All of this takes me to my thought from several months back.  How are businesses anticipating making it through the recession with little to no marketing and then voila expecting  customers to be lining up at their business when the “recession is over”.  Historically, businesses that continue marketing through a recession have a significant percentage of sales increase over business that pulled marketing (either all together or significantly.

Written by apothecarycomm

2009/09/21 at 4:14 pm

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Social Network Marketing – Questions answered that you had not asked.

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As usual, I am going through the myriad RSS feeds on marketing, and I came across a brilliant article that posed “The Top 10 Social Media Questions Ad Agency Clients are Asking“.  What you will find below are my short answers to those questions (cause whhhooo boy do I ever have some long answers)…

What are the best tactics to use?  Before determining which of the social mediums are best for your business you need to determine how you plan to use social network marketing.  After this determination, you can look at which social medium has been the most successful for your marketing needs and your marketing demographic. 

How do I measure the effectiveness of social media?  Social Media is still a young advertising medium and there as many different ways to measure as there are social media networks.  The simplist is to simply aim on reaching the largest amount of customers and prospective customers possible.  Can you extrapolate sales directly from any of these mediums?  In my estimate, not directly.  Social Media is simply one more touch in your series of marketing touches to your customers and prospective customers.  Remember in this economic climate, it is taking significantly more touches before a customer purchases a product or service.

Where do I start?  My honest answer would be to contact me to help you!  Realisticly, where you start is dependent on what your goals are.  My usual advice is to start with Twitteras it is the easiest entree into social media marketing.  Be certain to follow others in similar idustries and to talk about your product and service.   Facebookis another easy entry into social network marketing, however, facebook does require you (personally not as your business) to reach out to others to become fans of your business.

How do I manage the social balance?  This is a great question as managing social media can easily become overwhelming and also be used at the expense of other marketing opportunities.  Plan to expend extra time initially on social media networks.  Do not become singularly focused on the mediums.   Remember that social network marketing should NOT replace your traditional advertising and public relations; social network marketing should complement your marketing. 

What are the best sites and tools out there?  There are new applications and websites coming out daily, weekly and monthly and you want to be where the most people are.  Dependent on your product, the gimmees are Facebook, Twitter – in addition to hosting your own company blog.  You may also want to consider Flickr, MySpace, YouTube or perhaps even starting your own community with Ning.  What social medium will be the preferred social medium in the future?  That is a magic question.  And one that no one can answer.  So don’t let someone tell you they have this answer.  What is big this year can be so over for your demographic next year.  Be prepared to change course as the social mediums change course.  The common social network marketing element is being able to interact with your consumer and vice versa, the medium may change but this core element will not.

How do I make the most of my available time? As I mentioned with managing the social balance, it is very easy to get sucked into hours (and hours) of toiling away with social networks.  I can not underline enough – this is only part of a larger picture.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, allow an employee (or employees) or hire a marketing firm to update your social networks.  Another approach, and this is really common sense,  is to allot a certain amount of time a day to each.

How do I find and focus my efforts on my target audience?  Your business plan should have already prompted you to develop your core (and likely secondary) demographics.  Where do people of this demographic go online?  If they are interested in your product what might their hobbies be?  What magazines or blogs might they read?  Go to these sites and “follow” leaders.  You can follow blogs via RSS feeds and you can follow people on Twitter (in addition to the many other ways of following on any of the social network sites).  Become PART of their conversation, and the likelihood is they will become party of yours.

How do I convert my social media marketing efforts into tangible results?  I think rather than the lengthy answer I might provide here I will provide you with a great ROI chart created by FrogLoop.  This rather in depth chart will provide you with a great starting point as to what actual dollars (you and your staff or marketing firm) are being used to develop your social network marketing plan. 

How do I cohesively tie different social media efforts together?  As stated several times previously, social network marketing should be PART of your marketing plan NOT your marketing plan.  Your social networks that you participate in can encompass public relations and advertising.  All of these should loop together to form a cohesive, united and branded message.  This basic message that all your communications relate should go back to your core brand promise (and positioning).

Does social media marketing work, and if so, how effective is it?  Well now.  I think you know what my answer will be to this.  Of course it works.  The question is what do you want your business to get out of it.  Are there documented success stories?  Many, and I list them on this blog regularly.

Written by apothecarycomm

2009/09/09 at 1:35 pm

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Operations, Customer Service and Marketing

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A further thought to yesterdays post about Advertising and the economy.  In addition to on-line and PR, operations and customer service are equally important marketing tools.  One could argue that these two items are distinctively more important for your marketing than ANY other advertising (traditional or not).

Zeus Jones provides many examples in his article , Great Examples of How Operations can Become Marketing, of companies that use their operations as a distinctive part of their larger marketing.  Examples include delivery of product (Zappos and Mercedes), Sourcing of product(s) (Trader Joes, Patagonia), construction of product (Apple, Howies, Threadless), internal metrics (Amazon, Current) and repair of product (BMW, Apple, Genius).  The article is great read with some terrific links and I highly recommend to look through this article for your own internal operations inspiration.

How customer service IS marketing has been discussed here before, however, I believe a pretty constant reminder on this is needed.  By now anyone in the service industry is aware of Zappos, Nordstrom and LL Bean’s stellar customer service.  These are the companies that article after article are written about.  What about the other side of the coin though?  How does bad customer service affect your marketing and your bottom line?  One shining, and extreme, example is Circuit City.  When Circuit City replaced their knowledgeable and helpful employees with entry level retail associates sales fell.  And Circuit City is now closed.  CRM Daily provides an excellent “Income Multiplier” effect example on how poor customer service can affect your business.  How does this relate to marketing?  Any busy can run a truly stellar marketing campaign and everything for this campaign, but if the customer (or potential customer) comes in contact with this business and receives poor customer, you have likely lost this customer, in addition to every person this person knows.

How do you train your employees in providing excellent customer service?  Do you have monthly meetings to drill customer service in their heads?  Do you talk to the customers yourself?  Do you have a secret shopping program?

Written by apothecarycomm

2009/08/11 at 2:09 pm

Advertising and the Economy

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Ad Age has posted an article today about how the advertising industry is not expected to recover in the second half of the year.

The article indicates that there are some beacons of light, primarily in on-line and PR.  The advertising industry has been moving this way for some time.  One can only look at the book The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR released all the way back in 2004.  This book forecast that skillfull PR is what will make products sell and not traditional advertising.  The New Rules of Marketing and PR makes a similar claim (although more focused on the on-line component than The Fall of Advertising.

What does this mean for advertising budgets?  That budgets are being released, somewhat, just not for use on the same traditional marketing items.  Newspaper, television, radio are all being hit hard (it likely does not help these mediums that the automobile industry is not marketing in the same numbers either) and their on-line counterparts are receiving more of the marketing budget.    As I have mentioned before this is a poor time to cut advertising budgets, when the recession is finally over you want people to remember that you are still in business.  And you want them purchasing your products and/or services during these lean times as well.

So where does tht leave your marketing budget?  Have you opened your marketing budget yet?  Do you plan to for the 2010 marketing year?  Do you feel you will be using on-line and PR more or using the traditional advertising mediums?

Written by apothecarycomm

2009/08/10 at 2:48 pm

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Word of Mouth and Social Marketing Case Studies

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I have been reading through the white papers on the Word of Mouth Association’s website.  I have been absolutely fascinated with how different companies are using the internet and word of mouth to further the branding and extending their marketing dollars.  WOMA has some pretty great entry level papers to read through that could prompt some ideas of how to further your own brand.

Kohls and Social NetworkingKohl’s worked with Cafe Momto identify the top 20 member  on the website and provided each mom with a $250 gift certificate and directions to purchase items and blog about the purchases.

Clear Channel and music lovers – Clear Channel Radio launched a website called New! to “discover musicians and introduce audiences to new and developing audiences”.  Clear Channel located, targeted and spread online word-of-mouth buzz to musicians and bands.  In turn, these bands will provide word of mouth to their fans to look at the New! website for music.  Great buzz for a company that is frequently accused of not paying any attention to the local music scene.

The Coffee Bean & Tea LeafThe Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf  Philippines wanted to “reach out to a younger market while increasing walk-ins, trial and sales”.  To inspire a new generation of brand ambassadors with a consumer generated media campaign called “What’s Your Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Story?”  This  promotion encouraged customers to submit stories, videos and photos of their memorable moments at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.  The results can be seen at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Whats Your Story?

The final recommended white paper is from The Gap and creating a viral campaign – While I realize not everyone has The Gap’s marketing budget, this is a viral campaign that any retail business can apply to their own business.  The Gap selected 100 women from the company’s top 10 markets and proclaimed these women ambassadors of the Gap’s new denim fits.  ”

Once identified, Gap Ambassadors were given an assortment of tools to use to communicate within their social circles: a website, emails, evites, and invitations to their own style party. The marquee event of the program was a private style party hosted by Gap for each Ambassador and 30 of her closest friends. The parties were designed to drive awareness and trial of Gap’s new denim fits in a fun, hip, and most importantly, relaxed environment. After each event, guests were given their favorite pair of jeans, 10 friends and family discount cards, a special 20% discount offer just for them, and a much sought after gift bag.”

The WOMA white papers, for the most part, provide great statistical information as well.  These white papers are a great read for brainstorming.

Written by apothecarycomm

2009/07/15 at 6:35 pm

Best Practices for Brands and Facebook & Twitter

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How are you using Social Network Marketing to interact with your customers and prospective customers

Mashable which bills itself as The Social Media Guide (and I have to say it really sort of is) has several really great lists that should be looked at to see how business are using social network mediums in really customer-centric ways. 

 The article Killer Facebook Fan Pages shows examples from Pringles, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Adidas and Red Bull.  The common trait from these examples is that the businesses are wholeheartedly dedicated to interacting with the fans of their brands.  Each has made Facebook their own, Pringles using comedy videos. Coca-Cola uses pictures of showing off the product, workers at the company, photos of Coke fans, pictures of Coke products from all around the world, and pictures of old Coke nostalgia.  Starbucks provides a wide-range of interesting content.  Addidas uses their Facebook page for exclusive contests and to promote their other social media.  Meanwhile, Red Bull offers great interaction in the form of their applications section (must be seen!).  The conclusion the author offers is a great takeaway “The key takeaways are that you have to know your audience, you have to provide quality, regular content, you need to encourage discussion and engagement, and you must not take yourself too seriously.”

 Mashable also offers up a really great overview of Twitter Best Practices for Brands.  Have you utilized any of these on your branded Twitter account?

  • Do your research before engaging your customers
  • Determine Twitter goals
  • Use a branded profile
  • Build your Twitter equity and credibility
  • Track metrics and conversation trends
  • Don’t go overboard; less structure is better
  • Listen and observe before engaging
  • Be authentic & believable
  • Track, measure, and iterate
  •  Don’t just strategize: execute!

Written by apothecarycomm

2009/07/08 at 2:17 pm

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Customer Service, Marketing and Employees

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Customer service and marketing are tied together in that you can run thousands of dollars of advertising and if you have poor customer service, the word of mouth that comes from that negates any advertising money spent.


Earlier today, I was reading an article about customer service and how it relates to how employees are treated here .  At one of my former advertising agencies, I had a boss who lived by the motto that employees are the first customers.  If you treat your employees well, they will treat your business well.  The article I referenced above points out that first and foremost if you treat your employees with dignity and respect, your employees will in turn treat your business and the customers of your business with respect.  In another article pertaining to customer service and employees located here  indicates several ways to provide respect you employees including:

  • Be fair to all your employees, but be flexible
  • Empower your employees to solve complaints
  • Ask your employees for advice about running the business
  • provide additional recognition and rewards to those who perform above and beyond the call of duty, in single instances, and especially consistently throughout the year
  • Inject fun into your work place.

Written by apothecarycomm

2009/07/07 at 3:06 pm

Cooperative Advertising

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Co-op advertising dollars.  Now there’s a fun topic for a Monday…

 Cooperative advertising is an agreement between a manufacturer and a merchant in which the manufacturer will compensate the merchant in part or in full for advertising dollar output.   A terrific overview of how cooperative advertising works can be found at the Business Owners Toolkit .  Generally speaking, cooperative advertising will pay for portion of approved advertising based upon a percentage of orders previously placed with a manufacturer.  Many different forms of advertising can apply towards cooperative advertising budgets; ranging from Yellow Page and print advertising ads to television commercials to signage.

 I have noticed recently, in local advertising, that there appears to be decreased product advertising for brands, and therefore, I imagine, less coop advertising being used.  When it comes to getting the most for your advertising monies, co-op advertising can be a great opportunity.  Have you researched the cooperative dollars your vpartners offer?  Is the intimidation of the perceived scale of this project too much?  Do you NOT want to touch your potential customers frequently?

Any time one can take, or hire another person to take, to research the cooperative advertising dollars available is to the advantage of the retailer.  It will provide your business with extra money to advertise and to advertise more frequently (and in a down economy, this is to your business’ benefit,  as some studies are showing that it is taking up to 25% -50% more advertising impressions to get a sale in this economic environment).

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2009/07/06 at 11:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized