Don’t Look Back.......Appell Pie Sept. 2009

As published in Today's Restaurant www.trnusa.com

“Try explaining Twitter to a 40 year old. The best way I think of it is it is like a bull horn over the internet. You can broadcast a message to anyone who is listening (following) via the internet. Hell it took me a year to really figure out how and why to use it and I deal with technology everyday.” How’s that for an opening? I didn’t say it, it was written by Andrew Fickert, who is the CEO of CommunityMenu .com on a Social Network I belong to.

This sentiment is shared by many people in the world today, but I don’t agree with it. Sure the twenty something crowd is more familiar with the newest technology in computers and telephones but I see many more middle age folks working their Blackberry type phones than ever before.

What is the upside to keeping current with the multitude of new technologies coming at us every few months. Staying current is imperative just to survive. Satchel Paige of baseball fame used to say Don’t look back, someone may be gaining on you.

Take a look at the Social/Networking sites that have been created over the last 12 months. Our Business Network,(www.trnusa.com, click on link to Business Network” has grown to over five hundred members and the members are doing business with each other. What kind of information can you expect to find on the Business Network? Here are some examples of discussions that can be found.

 Mobile Marketing For Customer Engagement
 Is Your Operation using Social Media/Networking?
 Twitter Love it or Hate it?
 Business On Networking Sites?
 Do You Need A Website For Success?

A topic that always creates animated conversation is Do You Need A Website For Success? What do you think? A website is only part of the merchandising puzzle, but in society today an important piece. How to create one should be left to the pros but there are some basics you should follow.

The results of a recent survey conducted by the Coyle Hospitality Group that looks at what diners feel are the most important elements for a restaurant's website found that two-thirds of those surveyed categorized having a menu online as either a "must have" or "very important." Having photos of the dining room online was also cited by the majority as being at least "very important." 86% of the 2,437 diners that they surveyed said it was crucial for a restaurant to have its own webpage. However, less than 70% of independent restaurant's have their own website. Do you think a website is necessary for a restaurant or business success?

I will answer for you, yes and no. Yes, you should look at having a website but don’t become complacent in your promotion of your business. With all of the information on the web just putting up a website will not assure your success. You still need the traditional advertising methods to drive customers to your website. The best looking website is useless if no one sees it.

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Comment by Jeffrey J Kingman on October 4, 2009 at 9:42am
Howard,

More great content from you, sir. Chalkboarder.com just analyzed 2200 restaurant websites in fourteen major US markets (of the top 30% of UrbanSpoon's affordable fine dining category). Our survey indicated similar results, but apparently for that category about 50% had websites.

Our survey was predicated on the question of how easy is it to enter the virtual door. There are two doors for the public - the physical front door and the mobile virtual door. Only 10% of those restaurants with a website were using or beginning to use social media.

The most interesting to thing to us is how many restaurant websites are merely a "brochure", not a welcoming point of entry - just a web-brochure. We believe that engagement, through web technology and mobile platforms, has a huge potential for maintaining and increasing your customer base. Yes, it takes time. But so does visiting tables. And the web provides an operator additional opportunities to "visit tables".

Some of the articles we've posted on this topic:

Times have changed. Open the other door to your hospitality operation.

Website Music = FAIL

10% Of USA Restaurants Using Social Media

ROI and Effective Best Practices in Social Media for Independent Re...

But as you said - all this is just a tool in the marketing toolbox. Keep it simple, remember that today's consumers are very savvy and create compelling strategies that your existing customers will share with their friends.

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