Consumer reports have continuously found that consumers (just like you and me) prefer the recommendations of their peers instead of other advertising means. Why? Because it’s (for the most part) unbiased and since these friends and colleagues know you well, you assume they would know what you like and have your best interests at heart. Yes, word of mouth marketing is alive and well, and will continue to thrive.
Restaurants have always relied heavily on word of mouth marketing. When you want a delicious meal, you often ask your friends or read reviews from critics. But what if our reviews of our favorite tasty places could be shouted from the rooftops to all of our connections? With the advent of social media and user-generated content, word of mouth marketing has become a tidal wave of great marketing opportunities that just need to be harnessed. So how can restaurants get on board and start surfing the wave? Here are some unexpected ideas…
Start monitoring, join the conversation, and some shameless self-promotion never hurts either. Twitter is particularly handy because it’s short and it’s RIGHT now. Lots of twitter users are looking for suggestions on where to go or watching where other users are going. Twitter can be a great venue for the customer satisfaction pulse. If someone has an issue, it’s great to provide on the spot customer service, and this can create amazing brand loyalty. Also, what a great way to help loyal customers (your Twitter followers) know about menu updates, specials or just how much you love them.
Yelp, Urbanspoon and other Review Sites
These great sites will help you keep up on what people are really saying about your establishment. Don’t ignore these reviews. Sure, you can’t please everyone, but if you’re looking for suggestions on how to improve your service, look no further than these treasure troves of great info. Tip: Don’t be afraid of the occasional nasty/rude review. These bad apples make the rest of the great reviews more genuine. Sometimes you’ll even get a loyalist on your side that will discount those mean mentions. Also, many review sites have iPhone applications, so going mobile is a snap and free to you.
Get yourself listed! With Google Maps it’s free to list your business and may be more helpful than you may think. Let me tell you why. Google is the number one search engine and is moving forward with blended search results (particularly local). This means it’s more likely a map result will get precedence over other content. Want to be on the first page? This is a good way to do it! Also, Google Maps is a leading service in mobile mapping technology, so if someone is looking for a good place to eat while they’re out and about, you’ll show up! Also, Google will aggregate most review sites and average those reviews, making it really easy for consumers to get the scoop on your delicious venue.
Meetup, Upcoming, Facebook Events and other Event Sites
Looking to promote a particular event at your establishment? Broadcasting it on local-based event sites is a great way to get visitors that didn’t even know you existed before. Also, look to partner with groups that may need venue suggestions. If you have a particularly slow night (say Tuesdays), offer them up a great deal (maybe happy hour prices) to host their group. This is a great way to start brand loyalty with new faces.
Flickr and YouTube
Got a camera? Take some shots of your famous menu items to share with fans and people that might be interested in learning more about your restaurant. This will help people get a better understanding of portions, how delicious your food is, etc. Also, there’s a great chance these photos will show up in blended search results! Got a video camera? Even better! Take a video tour of “behind-the-scenes” to give guests a unique experience on what goes into creating the amazing dishes you offer. This can really create buzz and be a nice personalized touch, especially if you already have fanatical brand loyalists.
Hope your mouth is watering with all these delicious new marketing opportunities that online relationships offer. Now that you’ve had a taste, how do you think you could harness this new trend to get more patrons?
Originally written for On Our Minds – Santy Integrated’s blog.
Alright, so I’ve been out of the circuit for a while on these, but they’re coming back! Check out these sweet links I gathered up from the interwebs last week.
Ever wonder if your boss, and his boss, and their boss has it out for the company? Do some of their managerial tactics don’t make sense and end up wasting time and money? Perhaps their team management manuals have been switched with this 1944 sabotage manual that reads like a 2008 Management Guidebook. Download the whole pdf and share with your team mates, I’m sure they’ll agree! Thanks to Tomas from The Closet Entrepreneur for this great link.
O’Reilly Ignite is the basis of the new Ignite movement that’s been happening around the United States. Basically it’s a 5 minute talk on what ever you think is interesting enough to talk about, 20 slides with 20 seconds a slide to help demo your opinions and ideas for crowd. Ignite Phoenix has just started getting the fire started here, and wanting to know more I started looking into past talks. I found one in particular that really spoke to me, it’s a comic for kids that teaches them to be creative, inventive, and to always be thinking.
Perhaps you enjoy being in touch with nature, with all of your five senses and twenty digits. If you hate shoes and would rather go barefoot, there is another way. BrainFuel spotlighted a site last week that answers this very issue. Vibram Five Fingers is a type of foot covering that allows you to experience the joys of being barefoot without the pain of that sharp rock or twig.
I have the pleasure of working over at GangPlank at least two days a week, and every so often Derek will break out the camera and snap some footage of us. Dana then goes to town editing and splicing digital bits to make us all more amusing than we are.. wait no.. we really are that funny, Dana just makes it MORE so. Anyhow, check out the new video A Day in the Integrum Lives.
Wireframes and complex UI design can be overwhelming for designers, but Adobe hopes to solve some of the burden with Thermo. Adobe will release Thermo during the Adobe MAX 2008/2009 conference, check out some sweet screen shots.
Now on to mobile! With the news of iPhone 3G in hitting markets in July, lots of buzz around that of course, but check out these other mobile gems you may have missed under the roar of Apple. Modzilla Labs gave a sneak peek look into a concept for Firefox Mobile Browsing for all you die-hard Firefox lovers out there, you will soon get your alternative . Flixwagon also gave video casters another way to get their fix by using your iPhone to stream live video.
Sometimes I find myself looking at the smaller details in life and wondering how random or perhaps meticulously designed the are. We interact with products all the time, and when the user experience is perfect, we seldom take design in consideration, take for example the car door handle. Luz, one of my brand new designer friends sent along this link last week, thanks hun for the designer touch on this week’s link list.
Onsite Insite, a local billboard leasing company, will be using their unoccupied billboard space to showcase local artists, creating community awareness and large-scale artistic expression at the same time. Tyson Crosbie, a local abstract photographer and a good friend of mine, was selected to be showcased on one of their billboards along the Santan Freeway. Congratulations Tyson. Tyson also had his Phoenix 20 book signing this weekend, where I scored three of my very own Tyson Crosbie prints!
So lately I’ve been very interested in self-discovery and building my own brand. Who am I? Who do I want to portray myself as? Are those always the same person?
I stumbled into a very interesting conversation between Forty Agency and Heather Herr of Experience Studio regarding archetypes and branding and how those build an entire brand experience and increase customer loyalty. I won’t go into those details here, that may be another blog post some other time. However during this presentation, a book was mentioned, The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes by Margret Mark and Carol Pearson, that really raised my interest in what this archetypes bit fit into who I am and how I would build my own legacy.
Well, my very own hardbound copy arrived in the mail today, and I’ve spent the better portion of my night starting to read more into it. Very interesting stuff, and as I discover things I’ll be sure to mention them here. So far it’s mostly regarding these 12 archetypes that appear throughout history in stories and stereotypes and how aligning your brand with one of those 12 will consistently help your brand be easily recognized and create value within customers. By using these default stories we can engage our customer quicker, allowing the experience to become easier and can increase loyalty within a brand’s customers.
So far, I’ve been doing quite a bit of passive branding, through my own blog, through local networking and through twitter etc. But due to my interest in continuing to go to conferences and what have you, I’d like to get a real feeling for what I want to be perceived as and how to do that properly. I’d like to really get behind a design style, branding, colors, and paraphernalia (biz cards, stickers, fun stuff).
However, there is a catch in this, right now my name is pretty much my brand, and while it’s great that it’s unique (According to google I’m the only April Holle in the world!) The catch is I might be getting married soon, and if that happens then my name changes, all my effort is then thwarted. Not only am I changing names, I’m changing to April Jones. Do you have any idea how many of those there are? So if you have any ideas on how to gracefully transition this, please chime in!
If you have any personal experience in self branding, please feel free to comment, because advice and experience is never a bad thing to have.
Alright so I thought that I’d have time between sessions and parties to really capture everything I’ve done while I was at my first SXSW, unfortunately, that was not the case. However! I took really great notes, so sit back and relax as I tell my story of one girl, one conference and thousands of geeks with great ideas.
I packed, I got into a cab, I stood in security, I boarded, I flew, I landed, what now? Taxi! Hopped in and jetted over to my hotel, while my room wasn’t quite ready I got to check in and have them hold my baggage which was nice. Stayed at the Radisson, which was alright, but next year I’ll definitely be staying at the OMNI, it’s just more… well… COOL. Anyhow, off to the conference!
Walking down to the conference center I’m already spotting people with SXSW badges and gear rolling down the street. The conference center was swarming with geeky peeps all excited and not quite sure what to do or where to go yet. Instantaneously greeted by the Integrumlins hacking in the halls already working on some new inspired SXSW twitter application. I am directed to the check in line, which spans AROUND the corner of the conference center, estimated wait time, 40 minutes. Vaguely reminded of college registration, I step in line and begin my journey to check in. The line moved surprisingly quickly and before I knew it I had a new shiny badge and my very own SXSW bag of swag.
Met back up with the integrum peeps and proceeded to elimnate about 98% of the paper products in the swag bag, poor trees! Chilled for a bit before the first session, Respect! by featuring team members of Happy Cog and Douglas Bowman of Google.
The main premise of the panel was how to gain respect in our careers, from our colleagues and our clients, by developing concepts on how we can translate what we do in a way they can understand and respect it, as well as interpreting the value of what we do.
The important message here is getting the client to understand what exactly goes into the process of great web design. As Jason Santa Maria put it, “[It's] difficult to respect something I don’t understand, you have to get what went into it to respect it.” To have the client get what gets into it, you have to involve them early, letting the client draw and express what they really would like to get out of the website and giving them ownership of ideas, making them part of the process of initial strategy.
Having all the right research of what the client really needs is important. Happy Cog conducts extensive client research, going into their client’s office and really discussing with everyone regarding what they really need. “It’s the tipping point when you’re in individual meetings and they go to shut the door, you know they’re going to open up to you and trust you”, Liz Danzico stated, “creating an understanding with them that they find valuable.” If you feel you usually don’t have time to really get to know the client and their needs, start to make time within your proposals.
Another way you can gain client respect for you and the work you do is to not nickel and dime them on small changes and corrections. It’s awesome that the client wants to make it perfect, just make sure you’re consulting them through the process.
Also, when you help clients through the process remind them of the WHOLE process and what they’re doing right now at this very step. We sometimes forget that clients don’t have the website on their minds at all times, they have other business issues to worry about as well, how the company is doing, if they have to hire or fire, what about those health benefits their employees want? So remember that while their website might be forefront in your mind, they have other things going on and they need you to remind them what they’re doing in the web design process and why it’s important to the website.
Also be aware of how web savvy your client is. If they’re pretty good at knowing the small stuff, don’t be lazy, use that to your advantage by being able to teach and push their knowledge farther regarding some of the more advanced techniques that are involved. Remember, understanding is the key to respect.
Copy is one thing, visual representation can be the sticking point in a client relationship. “Visual representation is VERY personal” Jeff mentioned. Happy Cog gave us some solutions on how to get over this extreme hurdle in the relationship unscathed by giving the client two completely seperate solutions to their problems offering them up as “this says this about you, that says that about you” Jeffrey Zeldman recommended. Jason Santa Maria suggested “have the client focus on the problems rather than solutions” since the solutions are your specialty and your clients problems are their specialty. This gives the client a feeling that you’re holding the keys and they have to consult you on “the best way” to achieve a solution.
Jeffrey raised the question regarding awards and whether awards really provide any metric to our clients regarding how good we are at our jobs. The panel concluded that while awards may have some impact as a metric on how clients respect you, that it’s both small and perhaps deceptive since there are so many awards out there that don’t really attest to great web design at all.
Within the Team
Within your team it’s important to have a certain amount of respect as well. To do this the panelists suggested to make sure everyone on the team was somewhat cross trained or familiar with what each staff member contributes to the project and how their job is also vital to the project completion and success. As said before, it’s hard to respect something your teammates may not fully understand.
Other Interesting Thoughts
I found that during the course of this years conference a reoccuring theme appeared with content collection and creation, lots of shops are demanding content be provided before the design process ever begins, which is great because we’re shifting focus from the aesthetics to the real reason the web began in the first place, CONTENT!
Happy Cog team members also stressed the importance of good content, they make actual editorial documents regarding the voice and use of the content throughout the site to really define and bring life to the brand. Also, the content needs to really be informative, as Jeffrey cautioned, “Sites [are] reading too marketing and not enough web.”
Overall a very interesting session and a great way to start off the conference. I’ll be posting more take aways from more sessions as I have the time today and tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled. Now I have to hop in the shower for the last day of exciting SXSW action!
Instead of going on and on about how good it is for you, they’ve gone the extra step again with edgy marketing to target their audience. Instead of the marketing message “protecting from the inside out”, they have switched it up with a visual statement that really says, “protecting from the outside in” wrapping the entire city scape in the commercial with BUBBLE wrap. Who doesn’t love bubble wrap?
The actor then goes haywire and climbs to the top of a skyscraper and jumps off to test this new bubble wrapped city scape protection.
Nice twist on a marketing message we’re hearing all too often these days.
I’ve left my position at Terralever as a front end architect to explore other opportunities within the Phoenix area. Over the last few months I’ve developed an interest in other aspects of the web industry, not just xhtml/css. I’d like to expand my abilities in areas such as web marketing strategy, seo/sem, design and other areas in web design and development. Terralever is a great company that provided me with spectacular opportunities to work with big name brands and cutting edge technology. However, each employee is very specialized and a very T shaped professional, while this position allowed me to become very specialized in XHTML/CSS, I didn’t find the flexibility I required to delve into other areas I was interested in.
I have accepted a short term contract with Drawbackwards, a smaller strategic design and interactive marketing agency. I will be filling several roles at Drawbackwards that will enable me to have the flexibility to explore the other areas of the web industry that I’m interested in. Over the last week I’ve been able to create information architecture, SEO/SEM suggestions, project plans, etc. I’m sure this is just the beginning.
I’ve realized that I’m interested in more than just how the web is created. I want to know how people make the web great. Focusing on strategic approaches to connect great companies and services with customers and users whose lives will be enriched by these products, services and relationships.
Look for the tone of my website to change a bit, perhaps less technical and more theoretical. With the career change I’ll have more mobility, working from home three days a week, so I hope to be able to post more often. Also, in early March I’ll be attending the South by Southwest Interactive Conference, so I look forward to posting regarding all the exciting ideas I get from there.
Coke has made a great interactive game area called The Happiness Factory, where you enter into employment at Coke as four different types of alien like workers. Check it out!
If one of your new years resolutions is to be happier at work, check out these 25 ways you can improve your mood at work.
Virginia is passing laws against DWT (driving while texting), apparently a new state trend, in 2007 Washington, New Jersey and our very own city of Phoenix passed laws against DWT.
Interesting Daily Design Workout by one designer to continue to flex his design muscle. Each day he produces a new design every day within 30-60 minutes and keeps a nice lil calendar of his work so we can share his daily design.
One hundred people from the ages one to one hundred playing the drums.
Inspiring post by Seth Godin regarding the passionate worker and his hobby job. Definitely captures how I feel about what I do.
If you like short cartoon silliness, check out Glumpers, these lil blobs are funny!
Looking for your 32 pieces of flair? Check out Prickie.com for awesome designer buttons for your fetish.
Do you think you know what great web design looks like? Hone your skills at CommandShift3, it’s like Hot or Not, but for websites.
Does your new years resolution have something to do with better health? If so check out a Cambridge University study on four steps to increase your lifespan by 14 years!
Bringing bad design to justice. It’s the design police!
Adaptive Path Employees share their new years resolutions with their users. Some of them are very much work related, some not so much, but I thought it would be interesting to see what other web professionals are reflecting on at the beginning of this year.
This amazing Honda Accord ad required 606 takes, cost $6 million dollars, and took 3 months to complete.
Pretty decent CSS cheat sheet for those of you who want to learn more about the production wonders of the world.
Interesting SEO Success Pyramid graphic that highlights some of the key requirements of great SEO success.
“How many five year olds could you take on in a fight?” Enter your stats and find out how many five year olds it would take to take you down!
So I got to sit down with Brian Shaler yesterday during the Phoenix BarCamp and really pick his brain regarding his recent boost in popularity on the net.
I’ve been on a big personal branding kick and I’m trying to talk to anyone who’s someone to ask them how they “did it”. Not necessarily to find the best way “in” but to be able to at least assess my possibilities and think of it another way. So when I heard Brian was getting some SERIOUS digg attention and had over 6k followers on Twitter… I started to wonder if he was my next brain-sucking victim in the quest to become immoral. Sounds kinda creepy when I put it that way eh?
Anyhow, when Chuck Reynolds and I finally hog tied him and tossed him into the back of the van, after HOURS of threating to toss him into a vat of scorpions, THE Brian Shaler gave up his secret to his AMAZING popularity rise.
When he first found Twitter, he realized the growth potential of seeding the popularity contest that is viral marketing. How you ask? It’s brilliant really. You follow people… doesn’t matter who really, the more active the better I suppose. Lets say you start following… 3 thousand people… then all the sudden, even HALF of those people return the favor by following you. You instantly have a captured 1,500 user audience in which to broadcast yourself and things you want to become known. Once you have a decent size user audience, communication back and forth can continue the viral campaign, since every @brianshaler twitter statement someone makes is broadcast to all the users twitter followers as well, and these people start to ask, who is this person they’re talking to? Perhaps they too will start following you. All the sudden you have over 6 thousand twitter followers just like Brian Shaler.
He uses this captured market as a launching pad for things to become viral and tracks every link he sends out to this base group so that he can track the SEO effects of his experiment in viral activity. So, lets say… he has a site that he wants to promote. He sends out the link to his twitter followers saying, “Hey check this really cool thing out…”. Because of his extensive research on the SEO traffic produced by his Twittering alone, he knows that he can pretty much rely on about 100-300 click throughs from his Twitter followers alone. So perhaps his twitter followers actually think that this thing that he has sent them is a great idea, so they send it to a friend, two friends or three friends. The viral exponential factor already starts working its magic… but lets say that someone submits it to StumbleUpon or Digg, and the their own viral patterns start to build on top of this small 100-300 base click throughs. Suddenly you have created a mountain out of an ant hill.
The craziest thing about this, is that due to the way the internet naturally is a sharing device, people who will never ever meet Brian are now his number one fan. During the BarCamp we were recording and streaming the presentations. A Brian Shaler follower from Germany found out about the web broadcast and came into the web chat, this follower actually asked Brian to tell his friend (who was also a Shaler follower) that he had flown to Phoenix and had actually hung out with Brian. Crazy eh? Off of merely creating a viral platform to toss things out on, Brian has actually become internationally famous.
Besides creating that viral base for yourself, Brian also seriously recommended building your own brand of yourself. As cocky as this may seem, it really helps promote the idea of “he is someone” much like personalities such as Oprah or Michael Jordan. Then using this identity for everything that you toss out into the sea of the internet, or even in real life. Brian actually has business cards that just say “Brian Shaler” on them… on both sides, nothing else. Why? He says, “If you can’t contact me in 30 seconds using the information on that card, don’t contact me.” This very small piece of printed material just adds to the effect that Brian really is someone you should already know of.
Brian also chalks up his fame to some of the side projects he’s put effort into in the past, and believes that it’s better to have many sites to your brand with lower search rankings than one site with a high page rank. Why? Because different people have different interests and you can reach a larger, broader audience. He has recently broken out his blog from his personal portfolio site, widening his name sake that much more. But you can really see this effect in his creation crappygraphs.com. The whole site’s premise is crappy graphs that really don’t display accurate data at all, but more so a point. After creating only 20 crappy graphs, he decided to create a flash application on the site that allowed users to create their own crappy graphs and submit them to the site. After ten hours of intense manual labor over the course of one weekend, he now gave his crappy graph followers a way to really express themselves…crappily graphically. Crappy Graphs now has over a thousand graphs… why? Because of user submissions. These user submissions have been Dugg, StumbledUpon, and spread throughout the viral universe, and how did Brian accomplish this? By creating one, 10 hour application that allowed his users to express themselves.
So while the rest of us are trying to figure out the best way to market some silly viral ad campaign, Brian will be tossing links out into his twitter feed and reaping the click throughs, Diggs, and Stumbles.
** I was forced against my will to name the following links… part of the verbal agreement to be talked to by THE Brian Shaler. But do check them out anyhow. You’re welcome Brian. **
For those of you who DON’T know you Brian Shaler is, check out his blog, his personal portfolio site, his famous twitter account (6k followers and counting), the ShalerJump and of course Crappy Graphs.
Meet the new mascots of the 2010 Winter Olympics! Quatchi the Sasquatch, Miga the Sea Bear, and Sumi the Thunderbird. Aren’t they just adorable??
The mascots were created by Vancouver-based Vicki Wong and Michael Murphy of Meomi Design.
There are some mixed reviews out there, many Canadians think the mascots aren’t…Canadian enough. At least they’re cuter and easier to entice children, unlike the Atlanta 1996 Izzy.