Event Recap: Let's Talk Restaurant: Marketing & PR
Friday, June 06, 2014
Panel of Experts Reveal How They Successfully Market Their Restaurants
CityCrab and Seafood Company on Park Avenue was the place to be on May 20, 2014 if you were a restaurateur. The New York City Chapter of the NYS Restaurant Association gathered members and invited a panel of experts to talk about their Marketing and PR strategies.
No two restaurants are alike and the panel represented just how different restaurants were and the various strategies they use for success. Farid Ali-Lancheros, Co-owner of Bogota Latin Bistro and Miti Miti Taperia, puts his personality and voice into everything that he does from his restaurants and staff to the press and social media. Jennifer Baum, is President and Founder of Bullfrog & Baum, an award winning, agency specializing in hospitality, lifestyle and consumer marketing and public relations with clients such as well-known culinary luminaries Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck, and global brands like Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Her agency’s focus is maintaining her clients’ brand and bringing their “next big thing” to the public. Julie Zucker, Director of Marketing & Promotions for Branded Restaurants, which manages CityCrab, Duke’s and Big Daddy’s, has to wrestle on a daily basis to maintain unique brand identities for each of these very different restaurants. Tracy Nieporent, Director of Marketing & Partner of Myriad Restaurant Group, oversees public relations, Communications, promotion, advertising, and charitable events for the Group. Its current locations include Tribeca Grill, Nobu, Nobu London, Nobu Next Door, Nobu 57, Acela Club at Citi Field, The Daily Burger at Madison Square Garden, and Crush Wine & Spirits. Tradition is a key component in his marketing plans since his clientele have come to expect a certain caliber of restaurant and image that comes with Myriad Restaurant Group.
The 'Let's Talk Restaurant: Marketing & PR' Panel from left to right: Julie Zucker, Branded Restaurants; Jennifer Baum, Bullfrog & Baum; Farid Ali-Lancheros, Bogota Latin Bistro; Tracy Nieporent, Myriad Restaurant Group. View more photos of the event on Facebook.
Using Social Media to Spread Your Message
The panelists as well as the crowd all raised their hands when the question was posed “What social media platforms do you use”. Everyone used Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and some were also using Pinterest, Youtube, Foursquare, Tumblr and Google+ to spread their message and get an edge on a different platform. Drew Nieporent made it a point to say that it is more important what you are saying then where, “Social media platforms are not magic wands; you have to know how to use them correctly”. Jennifer Baum added an inside tip for restaurants--Instagram is the platform best suited for hospitality because enticing food photos have such a strong visual impact. “11,000 follower does not mean success if they are not engaged," said Baum. "You need to figure out how to engage your followers and share your message”.
What Type of Voice to Give Your Restaurant
Farid Ali-Lancheros trumpeted the importance of putting his personal touch on everything about his business, “I have a lot to talk about regarding my restaurants, my family, my political and social views and I mingle all of that into my business”. As for Julie Zucker, her approach is significantly different as she has to manage messages for three very different restaurant concepts, “Duke’s is a bar and grill and is very casual so social media needs to reflect that. When it comes to Big Daddy’s which is more family oriented, more photos depicting our customers really works well. Lastly CityCrab, it’s about all about the food”. The entire panel agreed that training your staff to educate patrons on the various social media sites is quite beneficial, although they admitted that the core messaging on the sites are controlled by the owner/management in order to maintain the integrity of the brand.
Quick-Tips from the Experts
Each of the panelists uses special promotions, analytical tools and websites to increase their marketing and PR success and were kind enough to share some of them with us in their final comments during a brief Q&A:
- Build your email list then emails guests a comment card. Incentivize participation by creating a raffle prize.
Focus on the product you are making and the rest will come. The restaurant, the food and the staff have to be great so when the message finds them they keep coming back.
Don’t pay for key placement on sites, they need us more than we need them – if your service is good and you manage the reviews you will move up the list on your own.
- With regards to social media “Do what you can, when you can, with what you got and have fun!”
- Offer incentives to your staff for getting customers to fill out comment cards.
- Analytic services vary in cost so it is really what you are willing to spend and what you are trying to measure. Make sure you know your goals before you pay.
- With regards to PR, spread your message and balance it between social media, radio, magazines etc.
- Using social media management sites like Hootsuite, which allows you to schedule posts for auto-release, and Social Bid which allows you to see who in your networks are active and in-active.
- Be creative with your promotions. For example, she promoted a Super Bowl offering free wings for a year to the winner. This garnered over 200 responses.
- Your staff knows best! communicate with your staff and find out what new platforms and services are out there.
- Follow your restaurants on Yelp and other rating sites. Engage the people who post responses about your restaurant--good or bad. You can reward someone with a great review with a coupon or at least get feedback from someone who did not have a great experience and learn from it--sometimes they will even change their responses from a negative one to a positive because you showed your company cares.
- The restaurant business is unique in that we all serve people. You never know where they are going to see you, whether it is in the paper, online or walking in the street. It is important to diversify your marketing so you do not alienate any demographic of customers.
- It is costly to get a customer to walk into your restaurant. While they are there, find out what brought them there and what will bring them back.
For the Marketing toolbox:
A list of applications that will help you manage your social media and
- Hootsuite: Manage twitter, facebook, foursquare, and
Linkedin accounts in one application. This allows you to schedule tweets and
messages ahead of time, track brand mentions, and analuze social media traffic.
- Latergram: plan and schedule your instagram posts in advance
- Tweetdeck: Organize and build custom timelines, keep track
of lists, searches, and activity in twitter. Easy to manage multiple accounts.
- SproutSocial: a social media management platform (SMM) with
functionality for multiple person teams and the ability to focus on engagement,
publishing and analytics. Most comprehensive tool of the group but also comes
with a fee. Depending on the scope of services you choose, this will cost
between $59.00 and $1,500.00 a month.
- Perch: Designed for small business owners, Perch delivers a
live, personalized stream of social media (Facebook and Twitter, Yelp, Google+,
Instagram), and Living Social and promotion activity (Groupon and Living
Social) for businesses in the neighborhood. This app helps you learn and grow
from the competition.