Archive for the ‘Retail And Restaurant’ Category

Social Media Marketing: Online product suggestions generate 10% of revenue

May 10th, 2011

When I was a kid, I thought suggestion boxes in restaurants were strange. I wondered: what do people suggest? And why does the box have a lock? The whole thing seemed mysterious.

Later in life, when I worked in restaurants, I realized there was no mystery. The boxes were empty. The rare suggestions they held invariably used four-letter words and misspellings.

Today’s suggestion boxes are different in almost every way:Suggestion box

  • First of all, they’re digital. Customers are more likely to sound off about your company in a social network or review website than in a hand-scrawled note.
  • Second, people actually use these new boxes.
  • Third, you don’t own the suggestion box. Somebody else does.
  • Last, and probably most important, is that the lock is gone. Suggestions are posted for the world to see.

Kip Clayton, VP, Marketing and Business Development, Parasole, is aware of the trend. He oversees marketing for Parasole’s portfolio of restaurants, and his team uses tools monitor the Web for customers’ comments and feedback.

“We always monitor what people are saying about us, whether it’s food writers, other members of the media, or most importantly, our guests.”

Such analysis provides Parasole with a variety of information it can use to improve customers’ experiences.

Feedback on lunch at launch

For example, in November, Parasole launched Mozza Mia, a pizza restaurant in Edina, Minnesota. The restaurant specializes in wood-fired pizzas and homemade mozzarella cheese.

Each month, the team received a report on the online feedback about the new restaurant. Information was pulled from a variety of websites, such as OpenTable and Yelp. Based on customer commentary, the report graded the restaurant in areas such as food quality, beverages, and menu options.

“By February, we were getting pretty clear feedback that people wanted more choices than we were offering,” Clatyon says.

Mozza Mia offered a diverse selection of pizzas, but customers could not order in the traditional “build your own” pizza style that so many other pizza restaurants used. The team decided it needed to offer the option.

“Within a week, we had a plan for how to handle the logistics and inventory to allow customers to build their own pizzas,” Clayton says.

Suggestion turns into success

Mozza Mia offered the “build your own” pizza option less than one month later. Now, if customers want a simple pepperoni pizza, they can have it.

The pizzas quickly grew to comprise 10% of the restaurant’s sales, Clayton says, and helped the restaurant overcome the “veto factor.”

“The last thing you want is people ‘vetoing’ your restaurant because you don’t offer what they’re looking for,” he says. “That doesn’t mean you try to be all things to all people, but the flipside is that you better be listening to what people are saying and asking for.”

Related resources

Market Research via Social Media

Social Media Marketing: How to optimize the customer experience to benefit from word-of-mouth advertising

Social Media Measurement: Moving forward with the data and tools at hand

Social Media Measurement: Big data is within reach

Social Media Marketing: Tactics ranked by effectiveness, difficultly and usage

newBrandAnaltyics –  how Parasole monitors the Web for customers’ comments and feedback

Photo: hashmil

Real-time Marketing: Don’t complain about the weather, put it to work

February 4th, 2011
MarketingSherpa Snowmageddon 2011

The B.Good snowman

My blog post this week has truly been an exercise in real-time reporting. “Plan A” was to cover some of the Super Bowl marketing activities going on in Dallas this week, but then “Snowmageddon 2011” hit late Monday night, left me iced into my driveway and knocked the media and marketing universe surrounding the Super Bowl into a brand new level of frenzy/panic/excitement — something like “frenzanicment.”

When the uniqueness of Super Bowl week marketing gets kicked up even higher with a freak weather event, the result — however interesting it might be — just isn’t going to apply to many other real-world marketing situations.

Plan B

But when that freak weather event is affecting a huge swath of the rest of the United States, and local marketers are jumping in with real-time campaigns and CRM activities such as sending messages about new store and office hours in reaction to the event, that’s something any marketer can relate to and maybe gain some insight from to use for future real-time marketing opportunities.

With that in mind, this post is “plan B” — some crowdsourced, real-time reporting on various marketing efforts taken in response to Snowmageddon.

Getting customers to your bricks and mortar location in a blizzard

  • Leyla Arsan of Lotus Marketing Services offered this interesting restaurant promotion: One of my clients, a 20,000-square-foot  restaurant in Chicago, offered a blizzard promotion. For each inch of snowfall, they offered guests that percentage off their check. For example, 20 inches = 20% off your total bill. On Wednesday night, they had over 100 guests with only a few hours to promote the special. They used email marketing, Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to promote the special.
  • Style Masters Salon & Spa located in the greater Philadelphia area distributed emails offering 20% service discounts for same-day bookings during snow storms January 26-27. The January 26 promotion filled the appointment book within 25 minutes, while the offer on January 27 took the salon from a 20% booking rate to 52% in 45 minutes. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the results of this last-minute email campaign,” said Christina Vagnozzi, owner of Style Masters Salon & Spa. “Our clients are anxiously awaiting this next storm to see what we come up with.”
  • The Boston-based B.Good restaurant chain posted a humorous photo to their Facebook page featuring a giant snowman built at one of the locations while staff awaited customers. The photo was posted on a day when the area received more than a foot of snow. “The photo generated great buzz with ‘Likes’ on our Facebook page, and encouraged walk-ins when we ordinarily would have seen few, if any,” said Jon Olinto, Co-founder B.Good.

Use videos to tell your brand’s story

Stacey Hylen of sent this idea: I shot some videos outside in the blizzard with some tips to help small business owners learn how to profit from Snowmageddon and what they need to do in their business to prepare it for another one (things they can do to become more of a global business so local events won’t hurt their business as much.)

I am going to promote the heck out of the videos and also offer a Snowmageddon special through my newsletter and through social media sites.

Real-time email marketing — be proactive

Rick Delashmit of in Belleville, Illinois: We had to delay some of our scheduled FruitMyCube deliveries this week due to the weather. We notified several hundred customers of the order delay/cancellation with this email.

Then today (Wednesday), as we opened up ordering for next week, we announced that we would be including one of our hand-dipped Chocolate Covered Strawberries in each Cube as a thank you for their patience through the “Snowpocalypse”. Then come Valentine’s week, we’ll tie all this together by allowing our customers to add a Gift Box of the berries to their FruitMyCube order. Here’s the email that announced the free chocolate covered strawberry.

Cold calling in freezing weather

Jenny Vance, President LeadJen: As an outsourced Lead generation company, LeadJen is conscious about using client billable time when we will see the highest connections and also highest conversions. Typically, those two things have a 1:1 relationship. If you have more connections/conversations, you have more conversions.

However, we have found that a winter event is much like the holidays because while the ability to connect is greatly reduced, the quality of the connections is much higher. This is because we have an easy way to personalize the message and a universal conversation topic—weather!

The people that are in the office are also not as inundated with requests and interruptions, so the cold call is less of a bother. In order to maximize the conversation topic, we include reference to weather in our voicemails, live dialogues and also email content.

We’ve found that it greatly improves our inbound response to those messages. At the end of the day, we estimate that instead of a 1:1 relationship between connections to conversions, we see a 1:2 relationship. It so critical that during winter emergencies that have the potential to cripple results, LeadJen has been able to stabilize and sometimes improve project performance.

Real-time marketing is nimble marketing

“The great news about today’s marketing tools is that they allow marketers to be really nimble and react to circumstances, like the recent spate of snowstorms, in real time,” said Eric Groves, Senior Vice President, Strategy, Corporate Development and Innovation Constant Contact. “Simply using the ‘excuse’ of the snow as a reason to reach out and share a compelling promotion not only helps maintain sales during what might otherwise be a bit of a slump, but also strengthens relationships with customers by rewarding loyalty.”

All marketers know to tailor campaigns and offers to events like Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day, but the nimble marketer will also react to events such as weather or breaking news to take advantage of publicity and promotional opportunities. It doesn’t have to be a freak snowstorm rampaging across most of the country, although there’s a lot to work with, as seen above, to get into the world of real-time marketing. You just have to find the opportunity in the news, events, announcements — and yes, even weather — that happen every day.

Related resources

Constant Contact, used by Style Masters Salon & Spa, B.Good and for their online marketing campaigns

Lotus Marketing Services

Real-Time Marketing: David Meerman Scott at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2011

Riding a real time Amazon announcement to reach an influential journalist

Email Marketing: Why should I help you?

Consumers’ Mobile Shopping Preferences

May 27th, 2009

Billing Revolution released some results today from a survey it commissioned on consumers’ mobile shopping preferences. Harris Interactive conducted the survey and queried 2,029 US adults, ages 18 and older, from April 29 to May 1 of this year.

Of adults who receive bills from cell phone and credit card companies, 57% said they trust card companies more than cell phone companies for accurate billing. Here’s a pie chart with more results (you can click it for a larger version):


Of mobile users, more younger users (59%; ages 18 to 34) thought it was at least somewhat safe to purchase through a mobile phone than older users (34%; ages 55+). More male mobile users thought it was at least somewhat safe (50%) than female users (39%).

Of those willing to make purchases:
o 75% would be willing to buy entertainment items, such as:
– Event/movie tickets (58%)
– Music (41%)
– Games (34%)
– Mobile video or TV content (24%)

o 68% would be willing to purchase food or drink items, such as:
– Pizza (59%)
– Fast food (42%)
– Coffee (25%)

o 43% would be willing to purchase hotel rooms
o 40% would be willing to purchase travel tickets


Offer Holiday Discounts without Damaging Your Premium Brand

November 24th, 2008

Discounts abound at eretail sites this holiday season. The New York Times dubbed the price slashing “holiday price wars” in an article on November 19. The article’s desperate tone underlines what many of us already know: The holiday shopping season is going to be rough.

Every consumer is looking for a discount, which doesn’t bode well for premium brands. Price drops and coupons can diminish a brand’s boutique image. But some marketers are finding a way around this quandary. Read more…

Build Your Brand at Little Cost with UGC

October 28th, 2008

User-generated content started being a hot topic a couple of years ago. It’s not that marketers are truly ignoring it, but I think it’s fair to say that the buzz has fizzled a bit.

Perhaps this has something to do with an economy that’s been sticking its tongue out at the public for about a year now. Ya think? Read more…

3 New Demographics Emerging in Economic Maelstrom

October 15th, 2008

Right now, classic demographics such as ‘Men aged 18-24’ just won’t cut it anymore.  I’ve asked MarketingSherpa’s research team to conduct a formal study examining the changing demographics of our fair nation in the face of this seemingly endless series of economic crises.  You can expect new demographic reports to appear in future Sherpa newsletters.

Read more…

Mobile Link In Email: Have You Tested It?

October 8th, 2008

Retail email item: On August 27, Bed Bath & Beyond sent out a campaign that included a dedicated link for people who opened the message on their mobile phones. As part of my job of keeping an eye on as much of the email universe as possible, I signed up for a few BB&B segments – but not every single one of them – while registering at the site a number of months ago.

Read more…

Holiday Retailers Getting into Christmas Spirit Already?

September 24th, 2008

Monday was the first day of fall. The weather has turned noticeably colder in Rhode Island. Yup, it’s time to wave good bye to summer and say hello to…Santa?

Read more…

Consumers Respond to Web Personalization

June 25th, 2008

Online consumers want a personalized Web experience, according to a recent survey conducted by MyBuys/The E-tailing Group. Out of the 1,345 consumers surveyed, 77% said they have made additional purchases based on a merchant’s personalized recommendation. Read more…