Fill The House – My Guest Post on Restaurant Job Board

I recently did a guest blog post on The Restaurant Job Board blog about how restaurants could use social media to drive traffic to their places.  Here it is.I have a great pizza place by my office SpotPizza. Being from Philadelphia, I’m kind of a pizza snob, but Spot is pretty good, plus the owner is a really nice guy that remembers me when I come in and has the staff make white cheese pizza exactly the way that I like it. He has a huge fan in me.What he doesn’t have, or it least as it appears to me when I’m there or walk by each night, is a lot of business. SpotPizza needs 1,000 fans of the place just like me. It is a shame, that with so many social networking companies being literally blocks away, that they aren’t taking advantage of some of these tools. Maybe they are, I just haven’t seen it.The great part about social media is that you can build your local presence with only a little bit of elbow grease, not a huge marketing budget. More importantly, social media offers much more of a personal touch. If I ran a restaurant, especially in a hip area, here are some of the tools that I’d leverage in order to drive more traffic and sell more high margin products.Search Marketing – When I was at Yahoo, I had a huge vision for local search marketing. When we announced that we would be able to target to a zip, I thought local restaurants would be crazy not to sign up for the service. It just seemed like the most no-brainer effort you could imagine. It’s lunch-time, someone does a search for ‘lunch 94089′, I want my restaurant to be at the top of the list. In fact, since you only pay per click, I’d want my name to come up every time a food related search is performed in the zip codes that are within a 10-mile radius of my restaurant.I’d leverage cookies to identify how frequently a person hits my site from this search and serve up different offers. First time here, come on down for ‘kids eat free’. Second time ‘Bring this coupon for free appetizers’ and so on. I’d work to be so pervasive that the person wouldn’t think of anywhere else to go eat.Facebook – Your town has a group in Facebook. It has to. The little town that I grew up in has a bunch of groups, so your town must have a group. Join it. Post to it. Post special offers just for people who are part of this Facebook group. The reason rock stars say things like “Nobody rocks harder than Springfield” is because people love to hear that stuff and they go crazy. Nobody gets a free desert except people who are part of the Facebook group. Wooooo, queue lighters.Make sure that people know that they can be your fan on Facebook too. If someone within 5 miles of your place becomes your fan, you can easily get them to come to your restaurant once a month with a group of people and drop $20 each. $80 for a party of 4. Do that with 100 of your fans and you’ve made eight grand. Should be enough to at least cover your rent.Neighborsville – My friend Ryan is about to launch a new social network called Neighborsville. This is going to be huge and restaurants are going to be all over it. In short, Neighborsville is the social network for your neighborhood. Who comes to your restaurant? People in your neighborhood. Get involved in your community, reach out to people, comment on issues. In general, make yourself well known to everyone within a 5 mile radius of your restaurant.LinkedIn – Are you open for lunch? Do you depend on a lot of business traffic to fill your store at lunch-time? Find the companies that are nearby and infiltrate their groups. Let employees or these businesses know that you exist. You want everyone at every business to think of you the next time that they have a meeting and need catering done.YelpYelp has your most vocal customers. These are people who have actually taken 15 – 20 minutes to complain or exclaim how lousy or great your service is. Not only that, but you, as an owner, have a chance to communicate directly with this most rabid fan base. Reach out to them, find out what they loved or what they hated. If they hated something, get them to come back and make it right. If they loved something, get them to come back and replicate it.Twitter – What a great way to have a real conversation with people that come to your place. Here is a chance, to send a message to people that like your restaurant every day, an hour before lunch or an hour before dinner. Remind them that you are there. Remind them that they are getting hungry. Remind them that if they come by and mention Twitter, the first round of drinks is on the house.Text Messages – I’ve noticed that some restaurants are doing this now, but I haven’t seen any type of consistency or noticed the technology. However, at some of the restaurants in busy shopping districts, I’ve been offered the ability to get a text message when my table is up. It is a great way to keep me close, but not force me to sit in some waiting area.Blogging – If Wolfgang Puck can make an amazing living selling his recipes and frozen foods you can too. Do you have some amazing dish that you serve? Put the recipe in your blog. Trust me, if I have an opportunity to make something and spend $20 on ingredients and probably screw it up or spend $30 to come to your place to enjoy it perfectly over a glass of wine and some friends, I’m spending the extra $10. If your place is good enough, and gets enough buzz, go Rachel Ray and just publish your best dishes in a book. Keep your place, license your name and enjoy the fruits of your labor on a beach in the Caribbean.Hustle Your Face Off – This is something that Gary Vaynerchuk always says. Social media is not a magic bullet. Just because you have a Twitter ID, doesn’t mean that business will some how just show up. You probably will need to spend at least a couple of hours a day monitoring these services and keep the conversation going. Engage with new people, set goals to add at least one new fan a day.Don’t be a Jerk – If you are just setting up these services to spam people that aren’t that interested in what you have to say, you will fail. Set up these services to have a conversation with your customers. The conversation should be no different than one you’d have with your customers if you saw them on the street or if they were at your bar.In the spirit of Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans, you may not need 1,000 or even 500, but if you can get a couple of hundred, fiercely loyal people to show up at your place just once per month, you’ll have a great business.Here is a link to 20 free books about social media to get you started.http://www.chrisbrogan.com/20-free-ebooks-about-social-media/

Web 2.0 Sales Tools – Blogs

This is the second in a series of posts about Web 2.0 services that can be used for sales people. The first post on Instant Messaging is here.BlogsLet me just say upfront, keeping a blog is a very time consuming. Also, unless you are lucky or already famous, blogging is a commitment that pays very little dividends. You probably won’t get Techcrunch hits and you probably won’t get Calacanis rich. Certainly not right away. So why do it and why does it help a sales person? Simple, blogging will make you a better writer.In an era in which more and more communication is written, it is becoming ever more important to be able to string a few sentences together. As a sales professional, it is vital that, not only can you form a paragraph, but that the thoughts that you are trying to convey are precise and persuasive. While blogging isn’t a miracle cure to get you a Pulitzer, like anything, practice makes perfect.Of course there are other reasons to blog. If you write about what you sell, it can encourage a dialogue between you and potential prospects. You can be recognized by industry leaders. You can use your blog as an extension of your resume allowing potential employers to get a better idea of who your are and where your areas of expertise lie. All excellent reasons to start or maintain your blog. But, even if it never gets a hit, the regular writing will make you a better writer. That will make you a better sales person.How to Get StartedGetting started with a blog is about the easiest thing in the whole world to do these days. The services fall in to two categories hosted or you host it. Most of them are free or charge a nominal fee for using the service. I don’t have enough experience with all of the services to offer an educated standpoint on them. Rather than wasting space and your time, I’d encourage you to try a few of them out and see what you like and what you don’t like.Most of the free services offer a nice WYSIWYG editor and an HTML editor. Many of them offer the ability to do at least some level of customization to the look and feel of your site. Most of the free sites now allow you to map to your own domain name. The biggest benefit to a freely hosted blog service is that you simply log in and type. There is no server to manage, no database to tweak, it doesn’t get much simpler. The downside to free services is that many of them only offer limited customizations and add-ons and services such as WordPress.com, don’t allow ads.If you choose to own a domain name and buy the hosting plan, your provider will generally allow for a single click install. I use GoDaddy and have WordPress hosted on my server. Installing WordPress is easier than banging my head on the keyboard. Going this route allows for the maximum amount of flexibility to the site. I personally enjoy futzing with the site, so this was a better route for me. Your mileage will vary.What to DoWrite. Write a lot. Everyone loves a beautiful site, but content is king. I’m guilty of spending too much time trying out new plug-ins, messing with my look, adding widgets and not enough time writing. Try to find 15 – 30 minutes a day and just write. I wish I were this disciplined.People always ask me where I find the time. The truth is, I don’t watch a lot of television and I usually post late at night. The important thing is that you write.Pick a topic related to your work. If you sell real estate, write about the market in your area, the changes in interest rates, tricks to make your home more valuable. If you sell enterprise software, write about the market, your competitors, public stuff about your company, changes you see in the industry. Just write.Be careful what you write. Don’t write about proprietary stuff and don’t bash your company too much. Jeremy Zawodny does an excellent job of delineating his personal opinions and that of his employer. When Yahoo does something that he doesn’t agree with, he writes about it in no uncertain terms. Don’t be stupid. Like Jeremy, be more valuable to your company than your blog posts.How to Get NoticedThis isn’t where I’m the expert. There are a zillion sites that will hep you and your site get on the radar of people. Link to other blogs. Comment on other sites. Ping Technorati. Join MyBlogLog and other communities.Mostly it is about content. Write good content, about timely things and people will notice you. Eventually, people will come to your site. The writing exercise will be the most important. As you become a better writer, you will also become a better sales person. That should be the ultimate goal.

Web 2.0 Sales Tools – Blogs

This is the second in a series of posts about Web 2.0 services that can be used for sales people. The first post on Instant Messaging is here.

Blogs
Let me just say upfront, keeping a blog is a very time consuming. Also, unless you are lucky or already famous, blogging is a commitment that pays very little dividends. You probably won’t get Techcrunch hits and you probably won’t get Calacanis rich. Certainly not right away. So why do it and why does it help a sales person? Simple, blogging will make you a better writer.

In an era in which more and more communication is written, it is becoming ever more important to be able to string a few sentences together. As a sales professional, it is vital that, not only can you form a paragraph, but that the thoughts that you are trying to convey are precise and persuasive. While blogging isn’t a miracle cure to get you a Pulitzer, like anything, practice makes perfect.

Of course there are other reasons to blog. If you write about what you sell, it can encourage a dialogue between you and potential prospects. You can be recognized by industry leaders. You can use your blog as an extension of your resume allowing potential employers to get a better idea of who your are and where your areas of expertise lie. All excellent reasons to start or maintain your blog. But, even if it never gets a hit, the regular writing will make you a better writer. That will make you a better sales person.

How to Get Started
Getting started with a blog is about the easiest thing in the whole world to do these days. The services fall in to two categories hosted or you host it. Most of them are free or charge a nominal fee for using the service. I don’t have enough experience with all of the services to offer an educated standpoint on them. Rather than wasting space and your time, I’d encourage you to try a few of them out and see what you like and what you don’t like.

Most of the free services offer a nice WYSIWYG editor and an HTML editor. Many of them offer the ability to do at least some level of customization to the look and feel of your site. Most of the free sites now allow you to map to your own domain name. The biggest benefit to a freely hosted blog service is that you simply log in and type. There is no server to manage, no database to tweak, it doesn’t get much simpler. The downside to free services is that many of them only offer limited customizations and add-ons and services such as WordPress.com, don’t allow ads.

If you choose to own a domain name and buy the hosting plan, your provider will generally allow for a single click install. I use GoDaddy and have WordPress hosted on my server. Installing WordPress is easier than banging my head on the keyboard. Going this route allows for the maximum amount of flexibility to the site. I personally enjoy futzing with the site, so this was a better route for me. Your mileage will vary.

What to Do
Write. Write a lot. Everyone loves a beautiful site, but content is king. I’m guilty of spending too much time trying out new plug-ins, messing with my look, adding widgets and not enough time writing. Try to find 15 – 30 minutes a day and just write. I wish I were this disciplined.

People always ask me where I find the time. The truth is, I don’t watch a lot of television and I usually post late at night. The important thing is that you write.

Pick a topic related to your work. If you sell real estate, write about the market in your area, the changes in interest rates, tricks to make your home more valuable. If you sell enterprise software, write about the market, your competitors, public stuff about your company, changes you see in the industry. Just write.

Be careful what you write. Don’t write about proprietary stuff and don’t bash your company too much. Jeremy Zawodny does an excellent job of delineating his personal opinions and that of his employer. When Yahoo does something that he doesn’t agree with, he writes about it in no uncertain terms. Don’t be stupid. Like Jeremy, be more valuable to your company than your blog posts.

How to Get Noticed
This isn’t where I’m the expert. There are a zillion sites that will hep you and your site get on the radar of people. Link to other blogs. Comment on other sites. Ping Technorati. Join MyBlogLog and other communities.

Mostly it is about content. Write good content, about timely things and people will notice you. Eventually, people will come to your site. The writing exercise will be the most important. As you become a better writer, you will also become a better sales person. That should be the ultimate goal.