Market Your Restaurant Online Successfully, Part 1-Necessary Ingredients

In the first of this two-part series, I delve fork-first into what should be on your success plate for your restaurant via the world wide web and which content accompaniments will have your customers coming back for more.

*It’s Like a Restaurant without Signage ~ Restaurateurs everywhere, you may offer fantastic platings and have a location that rivals cobblestone street cafes in France, but today’s savvy foodie eats with their eyes first…ON THE INTERNET. What about the power luncheon you’re boss asks your to book and you need that perfect location with a swank menu to ink the deal?  Or the family of 7 traveling from Virginia to Maine who needs an affordable, family friendly menu with ample seating?  In 2012, 90% of consumers first instinct is to Google everything – that’s even for the neighborhood coffee & biscotti café. One of the most successful ways for potential customers to know how fantastic your spot is- is if you have a website. This reigns true if you’re a small Mom & Pop coffee shop, a breakfast & lunch only establishment, or have won a “Best” culinary award for your fusion creations. Wherever you are and unknown vs. well-known, it is imperative you have a web presence to:
1. let the world know you exist and give them a visual perspective of your establishment and its offerings;
2. stay relevant & competitive with other restaurateurs within the same category or cuisine within your surrounding neighborhood/area;
3.  make the world aware of accolades you’ve received and watch them influence your prospective patrons; and last but most importantly
4. obtain new and possibly life-long, faithful patrons.
*A Sour Ingredient? ~ If you’re still not convinced a website is necessary, here’s an eye-opening scenario. If you don’t have a website you could be opening yourself up to reviews of your food and/or service via such sites like Yelp which allow visitors to say something influential about your establishment. And wait, here it comes…AND POST IT ON THE WORLDWIDE WEB WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION. Whether flattering or not, you won’t have a voice and presence on the www to contradict it will you…Convinced now? I have disregarded many a YELPing, whinny patron’s review when the restaurant’s website reflects legitimate and noteworthy criticism and compliments.

*Wanna Really Start Cookin’? Add Some Social Media ~ Social Media is big business in every business arena around. Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Stumble Upon…and even more to come. And the great thing about Social Media is that it’s free! Tweet about your most popular pizza made with all organic ingredients.  Create a Facebook page for your restaurant and get customers to Like it. Dish on Digg about this seasons new menu and why your patrons need to give it a test run.
Another great Social Media tool is blogs. Much like this one, blogs can be influential depending on the level of content writing, and what other mediums the blogger is using to expose your restaurant to the world. And if they have a decent following in the industry for which your business belongs to, that’s even more exposure in addition to your other online marketing tools. I’ve seen this at work with a recent client for which I blog and how their customers responded to it. The blog influenced someone to order a dish they never had before and now they are absolutely in love with it. AND they bragged to others about it and now that establishment has 3 new customers. Ahhh…the power of suggestion.
Check back next week when I add the remaining ingredients  for a stellar, set you apart from the competition restaurant website. And if you think you should toss this advice out with your table scraps, check out  and see what CKE Restaurants founder Carl N. Karcher found behind the curtain about his restaurants web presence!

Coloring In & Outside the Lines – Parameters in Social Media for Your Business

So in last week’s blog ( I mentioned to look out for my upcoming one regarding “coloring in and outside the lines in Social Media”. Well here it is-so let’s talk about how that premise affects our perception,  utilization, and ultimate success or failure of Social Media in a business.

I must admit that when the term “social media” came on the scene I thought great, just another “let the whole world know all your business” tool and way for someone to financially capitalize on my personal affairs.  But I’ve come to understand both the downsides of it (i.e. cyberbullying, identity theft, etc.) AND the magnificent power of it in the business world. Social Media was created to use the platform of telecommunication to form interactive dialogue between organizations, individuals and entire communities. So, obviously the masterminds behind it meant it for good (rather than those who’ve chosen to abuse its power) and when it comes to utilizing it for business, it is an amazing, free tool that can take your business (and its exposure) to another level. In 2012, none of us can deny the fact that properly using Social Media yields better results than traditional marketing efforts alone.

I saw a quote which said “coloring outside the lines is a fine art” and that person was right when it comes to thinking outside the box in business and the beauty of the broad stroke in art.  But when it comes to Social Media, the defined parameters are there for good reason and should be yielded to in order to get the desired results from doing so.  Majority of us know that Social Media tools like Facebook and Twitter allow businesses to access an unlimited number of existing and potential customers and perhaps cause exponential growth of your business in various markets.  The proper use of these tools could help to grow a small, home-based business into a multi-million dollar conglomerate beyond their current demographic and broadest vision…think NBC’s Shark Tank-like opportunities.  But those who know how to stay in the parameter confines of Social Media and play by the rules of it, know that using this medium requires strategical thinking, commitment and tenacity. And it’s only then, that you see the ROI for playing by the rules and staying in the lines established.  Such as:
Impressionable Artistry ~ Know that current and prospective clients will base their first impression on what they see.  If your business has a Facebook page, make sure that it properly reflects your business by mentioning salient points about your business, have links to your company website and location, and keep use of your logos consistent.  Lastly…my personal pet peeve – PLEASE SPELL CHECK to avoid SMH’s and ‘s.
To Blog or Not to Blog ~ If you are going to blog make sure you are a pretty good writer or use someone else to do so.  Blogging is both a craft and great tool…if you can do so effectively and draw “good” attention to your business.  Again, you want to spell and grammar check before you post.  People will respond with comments and you don’t want something written that will reflect negatively on your business.  Remember, once its out on the worldwide web it’s there forever!
Use all Crayons in the Box~ Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Google+…need I say more. Don’t just use one medium, use them all.  The more you post information about your business, join groups, comment on another businesses blogs, etc., it is more likely you will gain a few new clients and followers.

And then we have the scribblers…Those who don’t see any ROI and/ or do more harm than good to their brand/business by misusing the exposure tool of Social Media.  Much like a child coloring, if you move too fast or don’t understand the parameters/boundary lines you will end up with a mess. Nothing to hang on the refrigerator – no growth in your business.

                                     This often happens when people don’t do the following:

Take the time to understand it ~ Use the hands of time to figure out HOW YOU WANT and NEED to engage people on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc. for it to be successful in growing your business.  Because once it’s out in cyber world, it’s there to stay.  No balling up the page and tossing it in the trash like it didn’t exist.

Take the time to plan it to properly execute it ~ Make sure your business does their due diligence in research and planning to create a successful Social Media campaign and message. Social Media strategies must be thoughtfully constructed and planned prior to execution to not end up chock full of rookie mistakes or even worse…irrelevant.  Also remember that in order to properly manage your businesses Social media that it takes time and consistent communication with other users to build a strong following, brand recognition and respect.

Understand that it’s about the WHOLE picture ~ Using Social Media correctly requires a team effort which should combine company branding, customer service and sales initiatives to constantly interact with the online marketplace and do so in a consistent manner.  Yup – use every crayon in the box!

At the end of day, successful Social Media in business is about engagement, creating a trustworthy Social Media identity, client acquisition, increased sales, and better brand awareness locally & globally.  Then you’ll have a business that’s gold star worthy!

Freebie Friday

Found this really cool social media icon set online and thought I’d share it with all of you.

Designer Bio

Jasmina is a self-taught vector illustrator from Serbia who has been working as a freelance designer for over five years now. Her biggest passion is in vector illustrations and motion graphic design. In her spare time she likes to read comic books and playing Call of Duty 2. You can check out her portfolio for more and also follow her on Twitter.


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