Marketing Monday

How To Market Your Restaurant Online

I love food. For awhile, I was a ranked Klout influencer on the subject of avocados. True story.

Matt Erasmus, "Menu" May 18, 2008 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.

Matt Erasmus, “Menu” May 18, 2008 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattzn/2541291913/

What makes me really sad is when I go into a restaurant and it’s awesome but there is no way anyone would know about it. Here are a few easy wins you can do with your restaurant right now:

Put your menu online. Somewhere.
Some of the time, Alice is a bar tender. She says if she has to read the sandwich list over the phone one more time to someone wanting to place a takeout order, she may go insane. She estimates she does this at least five times during her typical shift. (Note that while she is doing this, she is not able to do her primary job, which is taking care of the actual customers sitting at the bar.)



Get a website. Even a basic one. Put your menu and your hours on it and you too will have less annoying phone calls. Or at the very least, stick your menu on your business Facebook page or use a website like Open Menu. Both are free and, except for needing data entry, relatively painless.

When people call and see your menu is online, the person answering can now take orders from someone ready to buy, not spend time repeating information over and over.

If you have a website, make sure the menu and hours are up-to-date.
Are your pictures on your website old? Your customers won’t notice unless someone is clearly in, say,  an outfit from the 1970s. What I do need to know are what you serve and what your hours are.

I once checked the hours on a local restaurant’s website and made a lunch meeting there only to get there and find it ‘closed for the season’. The prospective client shrugged at me and I actually ended up not getting their business. I haven’t been back to that restaurant since because they kind of left me hanging.

Make sure people know when you are open. If your website, Facebook page, and front door have the same information, people can’t get upset that you didn’t tell them. (Well that one dude that is upset about everything will be but everyone online knows about his ridiculousness.) Just don’t leave me hanging with hours that aren’t true.

Get your customers’ email addresses as they leave.
The China Dine-ah is the master at this. They give everyone a card about the size of a business card with their check. You put in your name and email on it and get entered to win a $25 gift certificate which is drawn every week and announced over the weekly email blast. They have a list of thousands.

Most people don’t mind giving an email address (even if it’s a secondary one they check less often) so take it. Email is the only ‘free’ way you can follow up with a customer after the fact. It doesn’t hurt to ask; the worse someone can do is not give it to you and, guess what, you are at the same place you are right now.

Offer a juicy, social media only deal.
The people who like you on Facebook or check in on Foursquare are people who not only care about your business but are likely to point their friends your way. Offer this ‘inner circle’ only special and give them some exclusive information they can share. If you are going to put this in the newspaper, etc. this inside scoop will have much less meaning. Think about discovering a treasure you’ve found versus having the treasure pointed at by a big flashing Las Vegas style arrow. Guess which one is more cool and fun?

Make the deal juicy too. 10% off my order of fries with an entree order won’t do it for me and is kind of insulting. 50% off apps on Monday (or typical slow night) will get a new crowd in your doors and get them talking to their friends online about it. Both Facebook and Foursquare have easy ways to make deals. Deal websites are fine but do it yourself and keep the cash that Yelp, DealChicken, and Groupon will take from your bottom line.

Let your staff know what is going on.
When I flash the special I’ve unlocked on my phone via Foursquare and the waitress looks at me like I’m crazy and has to call the manager over (once again, this actually happened), I am thankful I am not a shy person. Most people I know would *hate* this kind of attention.

If you are offering a deal, or a new special, or a whatever, tell your staff about it. If they know it, they can sell it. Your staff is now linked to you in all kinds of fun ways through social media. They can list you as an employer on their Facebook or LinkedIn profile. They can check in on Foursquare. They are part of the social media equation so set the record straight with them so they can help other people understand what’s going on. Because if you make a customer even accidentally feel like a cheap jerkface, they are not going to want to come back in.

No matter what kind of restaurant you run, you can get more bodies in the door if you do more online!

[schema type=”person” name=”Nicole Ouellette” email=”nicole@breakingeveninc.com” ]

Marketing Monday: Online Photos 101

Online photos are all the rage. Whether it’s the new ginormous format of Facebook cover photos or the continually rising popularity of Pinterest, having photos associated with your web presence is becoming essential.

When you have photos on your website, they can be pinned on Pinterest.

When you have photos on your website, they can be pinned on Pinterest.



Here are some popular questions we get about online photos:

What are some ways I can use photos on my website and beyond?
Here are a few ways you may have thought about using photos with some real life examples:

  • Show textures/closeups– I have a friend who takes closeups of scarf patterns, etc. that she has in stock to show customers what is available. Check out the example from Atlantic Art Glass showing bead textures.
Want people to buy something high end online? Give them an idea of what it looks like up close, like Atlantic Arts Glass does with their jewelry beads.

Want people to buy something high end online? Give them an idea of what it looks like up close, like Atlantic Arts Glass does with their jewelry beads.



  • Show how-to photos– A series of photos can show how to do something in a way that’s less invasive than a video camera but more descriptive than text. A series of photos can show someone how to install your solar panels on their roof and help people see that it might be easier than they think.
  • Show products– Show the view from all angles (like that dress from the back!), or products in terms of stock photography and in the ‘real world’.
  • Give a tour- Show visitors around a location or property to get them familiar with it. I might not have noticed in your website text that each room at your hotel has a mini fridge but I could see it in the photo and be pleasantly surprised.
  • Show your staff– If customers deal with your staff, show them in action so when the customer comes into your business, they can say hi. Never underestimate making someone feel comfortable before they even meet you in real life.
  • Break up text- People may not read everything you write but they’ll skim for bold writing, bullets, and photos. Use photos to spice up a boring page!
  • Create an infographic– If you or someone on your staff is into design and some data, you can make an infographic. Check out the example below breaking down where the price of a public transit bus ticket goes, here is the original article or Google ‘infographics’ to get some other ideas.

    You don't need to create the most amazing thing on earth, so long as it's pleasing to the eye and shows interesting information, an infographic can be an interesting addition to your website.
    You don’t need to create the most amazing thing on earth, so long as it’s pleasing to the eye and shows interesting information, an infographic can be an interesting addition to your website.
  • Think beyond the photo– Anything visual like a map, video, chart, or graph can also be great website content. Compare your service levels with a chart or show where your jewelry is wholesaled with a Google Map.Remember any page on your website that has a picture on it can be pinned on Pinterest so the more great photos you have, the better your chance of getting noticed.

I don’t have a ton of good photos. Where can I get ‘stock’ photos?
You can get paid permission to use stock photos from websites like iStockphoto.com. Higher end photographs can be purchased on other sites like Getty Images for hundreds of dollars each. That said, you might want something less generic or less expensive for your uses.

  • Look up photos at creativecommons.org for photos you can use or modify with proper attribution.
  • If you see a specific photographer whose photos you like on Flickr or another website that does not have an explicit sharing policy, write to them to ask about permissions and compensation. Be as specific as possible about what you want to use the photo for. Some photographers will let you use their work in a limited application for a small fee.

How can I protect my photos from unauthorized use?
There are a few ways you can protect your photos:

  • Put your logo in the bottom corner of your photo. Then if anyone uses it, they’ll have to crop the photo. Most people will just leave it there.
  • Use a watermark. Some photo software comes with an easy way for you to add this.
  • Apply for and publish a copyright or Creative Commons licence, an alternative to copyright that appeared as an option in 2001. http://creativecommons.org/choose/
If you have further concerns, this looks like a pretty good article that addresses them: http://www.steves-digicams.com/knowledge-center/how-tos/online-sharing-social-networking/protecting-your-work-on-flickr.html

What about taking photos with my smartphone? Any tips on making those come out better?

The good news is lots of people have this topic very well covered. Here are two good general articles:

Nine Tips for Taking Better Photos With A Smartphone (CNet)

How To Take Better Pictures With Your Smartphone’s Camera (Lifehacker)

You can also look in forums specific to your device to get tips from other people who have the same device you do.

Should I put photos on my website or somewhere else like Flickr?
I will say right now I am ridiculously biased here.  I feel like this question is kind of asking me “Do I want to do more work so less people can see it?” Putting them onto a site like Flickr saves you from having to resize them and exposes them to people who are not necessarily coming to your website (which you clearly link to in your profile and photo captions).

Photos on your website
Steps Involved: Take photos, resize them, upload it via FTP or via your website software into a gallery, make the gallery display on the page you want.
Pros:
People have to go to your website to see them (also a con)
You can control exactly how they display (Ex: you want a neon pink border around all of them? You’ve got it.)
Good if you: Don’t have many photos, are kind of a control freak

Photos on Flickr
Steps Involved: Take photos, upload them to Flickr, use code to display them on your site
Pros:
Wider exposure than your website (2 million+ monthly users)
You can use programs or code to display them on your website
Automatic resizing when you upload them
Good if you: Have lots of photos, see the potential of other people contributing photos, want the most exposure to your work possible

Clearly, when it comes to albums, I am Flickr biased.

Clearly, when it comes to albums, I am Flickr biased.

So snap some photos people and get them online. It’s the cool thing to do!

Confessions of A New Twitter User

Ty Green recently joined the staff of Breaking Even Communications. While an avid Facebook user and online reader, he didn’t use Twitter much…. until starting his Breaking Even gig. Below is his story where Ty found himself following the current presidental campaigns more closely than he ever thought possible.

As a new Twitter user getting accustomed to the range of uses and approaches the site affords, I am perhaps especially sensitive to trends in the way different types of people and organizations use Twitter.

Like many starting out on Twitter, I randomly selected a wide range of accounts to follow: news media, local businesses, friends, celebrities, publications and politicians. Within hours, I began to notice the frequency with which the political candidates’ accounts pumped out new Tweets, little updates, rebuttals, extra bits of spin.

Politicians talk a lot... in Twitter and in life.

Politicians talk a lot… in Twitter and in life.



After a few days of observing the rhythms of Twitter, I found that these political candidate accounts are by far the most constantly updated. Businesses and celebrities, even the average Twitter user, may Tweet once or twice a day, maybe a little more if there was some topic of particular relevance to the individual or company in question.

The only other type of Twitter account with updates as frequent — indeed, as seemingly constant — as the politicians’ was news media, especially the big wire services like Reuters and the Associated Press. I was immediately struck by the relationship between these two, and the realization that the relentless onslaught of information from these news sources was exactly why political campaigns hardly had a moment to breathe between Tweets.

The contemporary news cycle is so ceaselessly churning that the contemporary candidate has no choice but to have his staff keep up with social media, lest he or she appear out of touch with the marketing, advertising and communication opportunities of the 21st century.

That got me thinking about the price tag. This is the most direct contact a politician (or campaign staff) can have with voters or constituents outside of actual face time, and it doesn’t cost a penny. Via Twitter, political campaigns can now have direct, real-time conversations with their followers, who could number in the thousands or even in the millions. It’s a strange concept, supremely public yet not without an element of intimacy unavailable to the candidates and campaigns of yesteryear. Following a politician creates a sense of participation in the campaign, a subtle whiff of civic duty to see their news in your feed.

Twitter has given individuals a way to respond to, question, and share related to a political campaign. Two posts from Mitt Romney's official hashtag #mitt2012

Twitter has given individuals a way to respond to, question, and share related to a political campaign. Two posts from Mitt Romney’s official hashtag #mitt2012

Indeed, even as recently as the 2008 presidential election, Twitter was not a fraction of the network it is today, and going back to 2004 and even further, it’s astonishing to consider that even as recently as the middle of the just-past decade, Twitter was the stuff of science fiction. The ability to reach out and converse directly with millions simultaneously via an avenue that is both free and instant is a truly awesome power we are only beginning to understand. It’s indicative of the double-edged sword that is 21st century technology and connectedness: for all its convenience and power and potential, it does come at the cost of privacy.

Every new avenue we have to contact one another takes another step further from a simpler time, when, for example, if you wanted to speak to millions of Americans in real time, paying for television or radio airtime was the only option. While this was surely a financial consideration and required more energy, more preparation than sending out a simple Tweet, I can’t help but wonder if the politicians of a century ago would trade the ability to escape the glaring, constant media spotlight for the ability to harness its potential as have their modern counterparts.

It’s clear now that there is no returning to a pre-Twitter world. As the 2012 campaign continues to unfold, minute by minute, it will be interesting to see how American political candidates and organizations adjust their approaches to Twitter, and how those approaches compare to those of other, apolitical companies, institutions, and individuals.

How Do I Control What Comes Up In A Google Search?

I got an excellent question via email from a friend of mine. She went through a divorce and has recently started dating again. One of her dates found her divorce details via a Google search. While she is not trying to hide anything, she also understandably doesn’t want this to be the first thing that comes up about her online.

Now I used to work in the internet department of a newspaper and people would call and ask us to take out items from police reports, divorce listings, property transfers, etc. for many reasons. In all cases, the answer was ‘no’ since they were part of the public record. Even if you couldn’t find it on our particular website you could find it on the state of Maine website and other places like it. You can pretend to put out a fire by fighting it in one room of a house but really you’d have to eliminate it at the source (like the local courthouse) to truly make it go away.



If the information isn’t true, you can try contacting the website administrator, print some kind of retraction, or find out more about your rights and acceptable actions against online slander. I’m not going to pretend to be a lawyer here but know that there are steps you can take if someone is saying something online that can be defined as slander.

If the information is true, this will be a bit trickier. Sure you can still contact the website administrator but they legally don’t have to do anything about it.

What you can do is push that item to the second or third page of Google but adding some new information for Google to find about you. Think of it as adding positive things you can control to the online space. Here are some ideas:

Make LinkedIn and/or Facebook profile.
If someone Googles your name, what better thing to come up then your resume? You can create other social media profiles as well but these two are particularly effective since one page of results will show all ‘Nicole Ouellette’s on a SERP page and one page will show you. See Exhibit A:

When you looked up my name a few years ago, it was some HR person in Massachusetts. Guess who it is now?

When you looked up my name a few years ago, it was some HR person in Massachusetts. Guess who it is now?

Play nice with Google.
Google owns Google+, Blogger, Youtube, and lots of other websites. Most of these websites allow you to create free profiles. Play nice on Google-owned websites by creating profiles  since those are likely getting preferential treatment by that search engine. (sure there’s nothing offical that says this but come on, if it was you, wouldn’t you do it too?)

Guest post on some blogs.
When I look up my name, I see websites where I’ve either been interviewed or wrote an article for. If you are, say, in the medical field, offer to guest post on a related blog. Contact the blog owner and let them know you have an idea for a post. This site has a list of blogs open for guest posting: http://myblogguest.com.

So just a few easy ideas to make some good news appear higher on web searches. Remember, time heals all wounds, in life and online. Eventually bad news does fade away, even if you wouldn’t do anything and the latest of what’s going on with you will appear prominently. So get to doing the things in the life that you’re proud to have online. :^)



Love To Pinterest: Three How-To Videos

I heart Pinterest. Image from artfulaussie.com

I heart Pinterest. Image from artfulaussie.com

Pinterest is the latest and greatest website in social networking. It is driving major traffic to ecommerce sites (more than Youtube, LinkedIn, and Google+, combined) and is growing at an almost unprecedented rate.

This first video is a basic how-to use Pinterest and includes information about how Pinterest drives traffic to websites (using breakingeveninc.com’s Google Analytics data as an example):

Tour of Pinterest, Part 1: Pinwhat? from Nicole Ouellette on Vimeo.



This second video shows how you can ‘pin’ items from any website (including yours) to your boards on Pinterest and a little trick of how Ecommerce sites can promote what they are selling:

Tour of Pinterest, Part 2: Adding To Your Pinterest Profile from Nicole Ouellette on Vimeo.

This third video shows how some businesses and non-profits are using Pinterest and maybe give you ideas on how to use it yourself to drive traffic to your website and interest in what you’re doing:

Tour of Pinterest, Part 3: How Businesses and Non-Profits Are Using Pinterest from Nicole Ouellette on Vimeo.

Are you on Pinterest? Seen any great examples of people, businesses, or non-profits using Pinterest? Comment below and let me know!

More reading:

Why Pinterest is 2012’s Hottest Website (on CNN)

Why Pinterest Gets One Billion Monthly Page Views (on Business Insider)

Pinterest Becomes Top Traffic Driver for Retailers Infographic (on Mashable)

Love To Pinterest: Three How-To Videos

I heart Pinterest. Image from artfulaussie.com

I heart Pinterest. Image from artfulaussie.com

Pinterest is the latest and greatest website in social networking. It is driving major traffic to ecommerce sites (more than Youtube, LinkedIn, and Google+, combined) and is growing at an almost unprecedented rate.

This first video is a basic how-to use Pinterest and includes information about how Pinterest drives traffic to websites (using breakingeveninc.com’s Google Analytics data as an example):

Tour of Pinterest, Part 1: Pinwhat? from Nicole Ouellette on Vimeo.

This second video shows how you can ‘pin’ items from any website (including yours) to your boards on Pinterest and a little trick of how Ecommerce sites can promote what they are selling:

Tour of Pinterest, Part 2: Adding To Your Pinterest Profile from Nicole Ouellette on Vimeo.

This third video shows how some businesses and non-profits are using Pinterest and maybe give you ideas on how to use it yourself to drive traffic to your website and interest in what you’re doing:

Tour of Pinterest, Part 3: How Businesses and Non-Profits Are Using Pinterest from Nicole Ouellette on Vimeo.

Are you on Pinterest? Seen any great examples of people, businesses, or non-profits using Pinterest? Comment below and let me know!

More reading:

Why Pinterest is 2012’s Hottest Website (on CNN)

Why Pinterest Gets One Billion Monthly Page Views (on Business Insider)

Pinterest Becomes Top Traffic Driver for Retailers Infographic (on Mashable)

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