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!

Designer’s Tool Belt; Must Have Apps & Devices [April Edition]

Design ConstructionWhen I first got started in web design, I think I only had my hands on a few pieces of software. A few resources for fonts and no books rhyme or reason. For me it was a nail in the coffin from years of doing mobile computer repair and door to door sales. With more and more prospective asking me if I knew how to design and build websites, I finally decided to try my hand. Along the way I’ve learned quite a few tips and tricks. I’d like to share with you some of the most recent apps and devices in heavy use from the tool belts of our designers at our firm Design Theory.

Starting with Design, I highly recommend some books to get your creative juices flowing as well as some inspiration to show you that sky may not even be the true limit. If you’re more of a designer than a developer, you may find it easy to imagine a UI that zooms in performance and throws fireworks whenever a user finds exactly what they were looking for, and page transitions rained gold coins that provoked people to give you their contact information willingly without thought. Then you wake up and see a blank white screen with a blinking cursor. Yea, been there.


  • The Web Designer’s Idea Book [Amazon]
  • Dreamweaver
  • Photoshop
  • Fireworks
  • TextWrangler
  • Notepad++
  • FileZilla FTP
  • Firebug (Browser Extension)
  • Adobe Kuler
  • Dropbox

Your gadgets are important too. Don’t waste time or money on the cheap stuff if you can avoid it. They’ll only bring you to limits a lot faster than you’re learning new techniques and operating at faster speeds. Save yourself the “computer wait” frustrations and go out for bold early if you can.

Devices & Gear:

  • Macbook Pro
  • iPad (1st Gen, 2nd Gen, or the New iPad) Either will do depending on your level of production
  • iPhone, HTC  (for email, document, and other management on the go)
  • A comfortable desk and chair. (Because you’ll be here for hours and hours)
  • Double Backup Hard Drives (Yes a backup and a backup for the backup)
  • A long desk for plenty of space
  • A widescreen monitor. You can do a 19″ but I’d suggest as big as you can afford

Video Conferencing: This is steadily growing as a necessity for us. Our clients and partners are all over the country and across the pond in Europe. So keeping in touch isn’t limited to phone calls and face to face meetings. In fact, a lot of collaboration gets done virtually in video calls. Some of which we record and share on YouTube.


  • Skype
  • ECamm Call Recorder
  • Google+ for Hangouts
  • YouTube

This should get you going for now. If you don’t have many of these items don’t fret, just keep working hard and save to get there. I’m sure there are other apps out there I may not know so if you have any you’re using these days, feel free to share in the comments below.


FAQ or Fiction



Is it really necessary for a small company to have website?

Can I really make SEO work for me?
Can blogging really benefit my company?
Is this all just a waste of time and is any of this profitable?

In a very Dr. Phil-ish candidness, you bet your butt they do!  And here’s why:

1. I’ve said this to potential clients, current clients, on previous blogs and to my friends…YOU NEED A WEBSITE!  Whether you live in a big city or small town, the truth is that most of the world doesn’t know you exist.  Unless your business has a product or service that is exclusive to your geographical region, you need to expand not only your mind but also your client list and profit margin. How else can a small company in Nebraska acquire a client in Maine?

2. If you have sneakers, you need laces.  Since you need a website, you need SEO.  It’s the only way to get higher rankings in the major search engines for your company with limitless advertising. Yes, it can be a little time-consuming at first if doing so yourself (or you can just hire someone to do it…see but it is worth the time and your dimes.
3. Do you see the visual example of a necessary principle?  The more you or someone else writes about your company and services/products  exposure expansion & growth.

4. It’s evident from all the market growth and promotion of social media, it is not only big now but it’s here to stay.Customers are savvy enough now to use it to their advantage and that directly benefits your company if you get on board. Especially since customers are utilizing all the tools the worldwide web offers to discuss product/service experiences and research them prior to purchase.
In the end, I hope these answers to common questions help you to understand the importance and necessity of websites, SEO and blogging.  Can’t wait to see YOU on the www!