The Ultimate Food Holiday Foodie Calendar and Guide

Do you always find out that it’s National Nachos Day too late to do something special in your restaurant?

 

Are you a foodstagrammer who misses out on all the likes when it’s National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day because you  don’t have a photo ready to jump on that hashtag?

 

Is it National Hamburger Day, National Cheeseburger Day or National Burger Day, and what is the correct hashtag anyway?

Cheeseburger, tater tots and a Butternuts Porkslap Pale Ale from the Trailer Park Lounge in NYC

Did you find out about Extraterrestrial Abduction Day after it’s too late? OH NO.

Just a normal day at work. #ExtraterrestrialAbductionDay

A photo posted by @l.loveitt on

(Wait. That’s not a food holiday.)

WHO CARES?!?!?!?

Wouldn’t it just be easy if you already knew or better yet, someone could just remind you well enough in advance?

You could check sites like Days of the Year, the nibble or Foodimentary. Maybe it wold be easier to just follow @national_day_of,  @itsreallyaday on Instagram, or its sister account, @itsreallyamonth and get updates as they post them. But that algorithm? Who has the time to figure it out?

LOOK NO FURTHER!

I can help you out.

Download my totally free, easy-to-use Ultimate Food Holidays Foodie Spreadsheet! It has every day, month and food week that exists (or at least, that I was able to find). It also has the corresponding hashtag listed.

  • You can download it.
  • You can save it.
  • You can edit it.
  • Or, you can just come back to this link as it is a live document and I will update it from time to time when I discover there is a new food holiday!

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!

I also created just for you, this handy-dandy, totally free, easy-to-use, Ultimate Food Holidays Foodie Calendar.

  • You can follow it.
  • You can add it to your calendar.
  • You can print it.
  • You can also scroll through or search it and add just those food holidays that you care about to your calendar!

IT’S THAT EASY!

Once you’ve added the whole calendar or just certain holidays to yours, you can go in and set reminders that suit your needs.

Large corporate chain restaurant that takes 9 months to plan an LTO for National Cheese Fondue Day?

NO BIG DEAL!

Search for your date and add a reminder that gives you more than enough time to plan.

One location, mom-and-pop neighborhood doughnut shop?

EASY AS PIE!

Just add the calendar item for National Strawberry Day, happening on February 27th to your calendar and set the reminder to 4 weeks ahead so you remember to order strawberries for that special French toast strawberry cream doughnut you’ve been working on.

Food blogger with tens of hundreds of thousands of followers that people look to for inspiration on where to dine in their town?

FRET NOT!

November 12 is National National Pizza With Everything Day (Except Anchovies). Set one reminder for 2 weeks in advance so you can go eat a loaded pie somewhere and take a photo. Then set another reminder for the morning up so you can post of an amazing boomerang video of you doing a cheese pull right out of the bowl before anyone else does.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I post succulent and delicious photos of food today that no doubt set the calorie scales rocketing into the outer atmosphere. I mostly stick to Burgers, pizza and French Fries since not only do I love those foods but they get the most likes. That leads to more followers which I can then leverage to click the link on my bio and send them to this website.

From time to time I’ll theme my posts around certain food holidays. What is a food holiday ask? It’s a day or time of year dedicated to a particular food item. As an example, November 6th is National Nacho Day. Knowing that in advance, I would prepare by ordering a heaping plate of cheese drip covered nachos with all the fixins. On the morning of, I would share it on Instagram using “#NationalNachosDay” in the text of the message.

Don’t let your food marketing skills slip, use my special Ultimate Food Holidays Foodie Spreadsheet and Ultimate Food Holidays Foodie Calendar now! It’s free and easy to use.

GET YOURS NOW

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What To Do When People Change Your Google My Business Listing

Did you know that any user on the web can make a change to the location and business information associated with your restaurant on Google? 

ANYONE CAN DO IT.

Do a Google search on your favorite restaurant and I will show you you. As an example, I’ll use a Burger spot here in NYC that I love; Schnippers.

When I enter the word “schnippers” into a Google search,  my results come back looking like this.

If you look right at the bottom in the red circle. Do you see where it says “Suggest an edit”? You, and anyone else, can click that and have the ability to change the information associated with the business.

You can change the phone numbers, hours, their connected social profiles, images and even the category of the restaurant. With one click, you could turn this lovely Hamburger joint from an “American Restaurant” to “Vegan Restaurant.”

Don’t believe me? My friend Sara owns a fantastic tapas restaurant in the East Village called Poco NYC. They’re very well known for their sharing plates, delicious brunch, interesting cocktails and their breakfast tacos (which you can get catered to your home or office!) I was helping her fix her location data and in the click of a button, I turned Poco NYC into a seafood restaurant. 

Not long after I clicked the button, Google sent me a thank you email that encouraged me with reward points to make more changes to local businesses!

As of the writing of this blog, Google does NOT offer a way to suppress or turn off “Suggest an edit.”

How scary is that?

As a business owner there are 2 actions you can take to protect yourself from people incorrectly, or worse, nefariously, changing your location data.

1. Claim your Google My Business listing

– it’s free and relatively easy to do. Once you have control of your profile, you can quickly make edits and updates to your page. Here’s a quick video that will show you how to claim your Google My Business listing.

2. Use software like Yext PowerListings® to control all your location data.

Yext will save you dozens, if not hundreds, of the man hours that it would take to update your location data on all their partner websites through a single dashboard. You can update Bing, Yahoo!, Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare and dozens of other listing sites, including Google, with their software.

One of the best parts of using Yext to control your location data is that it locks it so that no one can make an alteration. You have the ultimate control of your data. It’s worth the $50 a month cost just for that feature alone.

By the way, this is not a sponsored post and no one at Yext asked me to write it. But, I am a fan of what they do and I would advocate using their software.

I also advocate for eating this Burger from Duke’s Original Roadhouse on the Upper East Side. They call it the “Southern Comfort” and it comes topped with crispy bacon, onion rings, monterey jack & Duke’s roadhouse sauce.

KEY TAKEAWAY:
Claiming your Google My Business listing is vitally important to a brick and mortar business. Anyone on the web can make edits to your business listing and the only way to correct it is by manually changing the information or through using location data management software.

Do you need help correcting and managing your location data accuracy?

Is your location data so bad that people literally can’t search for your business online while standing in front of your door?

I can help you. 

Email me: fixmydata@burgerconquest.com

– Rev

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Here Is Why You Should Stop Using PDFs for Your Restaurant Menus

Stop it. Just stop.

Stop uploading PDF menus to your website.

If you scroll through the photos app on my smart phone you’re going to see exactly what you expect, and endless stream of Burger, pizza, fries and other comfort food. I’m a big fan of the #lategram: sharing a photo to Instagram hours, days, weeks or even months after it was taken. Like most foodstagrammers, I bank photos for later use so I always have content to share on a daily basis.

pdfs-bad-seo-restaurant-menus-burger-conquest-food-photos-3921

Often times I can’t recall from the top of my head the exact and complete list of toppings were on a Burger I ate or the funny name of that sandwich I devoured. When that happens I have to go to the restaurant’s website and look it up. Usually I just cut and paste the description into my Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Blog post. However, it’s nearly impossible when on mobile to cut and paste from a PDF menu.

But that’s really NOT the justification you should stop using PDF menus on your restaurant website. There’s a much more important reason; it’s a huge search mistake.

Yes, the search engine web crawlers can read and index them, but they don’t like it because it takes extra steps. They might look nice and be easy for people to share on desktop but you are effectively helping to bury them in search. Yes, there are ways to optimize a PDF to be more scannable but why handicap yourself?

Check out this tasty cheesesteak from Jack’s Cabin in Hoboken, NJ. Also check out their menu, it’s a perfect example of what you should do. (Admittedly,  by turning it into an image on this website isn’t helping, but the back link to it is!)

pdfs-bad-seo-restaurant-menus-burger-conquest-food-photos-jacks-cabin-14-29-pm
PDFs often lack some of the key search information that the search engines need to be able to know exactly what the content is about. You are far better off having a page on your website built in html that you can easily update the text for a menu. When the text is on the actual site, search engines are able to index it in the context of how it relates to the rest of your website / business.

You know what is even worse than a PDF menu? A png or jpeg of your menu! They are absolutely unreadable by a search engine!

pdfs-bad-seo-restaurant-menus-burger-conquest-callahans-fort-lee-3416Double Cheeseburger with Bacon from Callahan’s The Original Hot Dog Emporium in Fort Lee, NJ.

KEY TAKEAWAY:

  • PDF menus are harder for search engines to read than regular html
  • Using a PDF menu on your website will hurt your search results
  • PDF menus do not contain the context information a search engine needs to apply it to the rest of your website

If you are absolutely insistent on using a PDF, first of all admit that you are being lazy and then follow the steps in this optimization guide from trademarkmedia.

For more information on how to avoid common mistakes restaurants make online, read this article on GeoMarketing.com

Posted in Marketing, Search | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The 2 Secrets To Winning at Local Search SEO

I’m obsessed with how little value restaurant operators and owners place on location data accuracy.

They’ll tell me that they were just featured on [insert] media site or just had some influencer post their signature dish on Instagram and it got 3,000+ likes or that they hired a publicist for $5,000 a month and spent several thousand dollars on competing and [fill in the blank] high-profile food event.

Great.

So if someone who happens to be looking for a good Burger joint who doesn’t read that website, isn’t following that influencer and didn’t attend that event (which mathematically is close to 100% of the population) and they search “best Burger near me,” then what does that restaurant have working to attract that customer?

arthurs-steaks-hoboken-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest

Chances are though, they obsessed over negotiating the difference of a $00.05 per pound on a key item they buy from a distributor or spent more than hour updating Twitter, Facebook & Instagram but did not include appropriate hashtags, calls to action or geo-location targeting all the while, the food menu on their website is outdated. Priorities …

Take a look at these statistics:

  • 82% of local searchers follow up offline via an in-store visit, phone call or purchase (TMP / comScore)
  • 74% of internet users perform local searches (Kelsey Group)
  • 73% of online activity is related to local content (Google)
  • 61% of local searches result in purchases (TMP / comScore)

Putting “word of mouth” aside, the odds are in the favor that someone is likely to happen upon a local restaurant through a search engine. Don’t get me wrong, all that other stuff is good and can drive in new customers, but it supports local search, it doesn’t trump it.

To win at local search, you need to know what the search engines have been programmed to find. 

ACCURACY

There is nothing more important in local search than accuracy. Think about it this way; if someone searches “best tacos near me” (“near me” is one of the top Google search terms and has doubled alone in the last year) and they happen to be literally standing in front of a restaurant that offers tacos, the web crawlers will return with results that have the highest amount of instances of similar and recent data.

If the web crawlers see that a restaurant has their name listed differently on their website than it is on their Yelp page and something else on their Facebook page, they score that business negatively in search.

Example: Let’s say your business is called “David’s Morning Cafe.” But for some reason when you claimed your Yelp page it’s listed as “David’s Cafe” and on Facebook you forgot the apostrophe so it reads as “Davids Morning Cafe,” Google will know they are the same business but look unfavorably upon it from a search perspective.

This is a real problem and it happens way more often than you think it does.

Check out this example; sam a.m. in Jersey City. You’ll notice that the inconsistencies in the how the name of the business is listed.

sam-a-m-jc-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-51-35-pm

Website:
sam-a-m-jc-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-36-31-pmGoogle:
sam-a-m-jc-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-36-19-pmFacebook:sam-a-m-jc-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-36-04-pmYelp:sam-a-m-jc-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-35-14-pm

Now check out this pork on pork sandwich they have on the menu. It’s amazing!

It could be from mismanagement, like different people registering different accounts, or someone forgetting an apostrophe. It could be from customers and users updating the information on their own. It could also be from the networks themselves trying to self correct to be accurate (ever get a pop-up from Facebook after you check in at a restaurant asking for their hours?) The point is, it’s easy to mess up and easy to lose control.

You probably think this is something that only happens to small mom and pop restaurants right?

  • Is it Red Robin or Red Robin Gourmet Burgers?

red-robin-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-45-40-pmred-robin-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-45-33-pm

  • Is it Five Guys or Five Guys Burgers or Five Guys Burgers & Fries?

five-guys-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-46-21-pm five-guys-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-46-06-pm

  • Is it Capital Grille or Capital Grille? Is there a “The” that proceeds either?

the-capital-grille-memphis-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-53-22-pm-35-15-pm the-capital-grille-memphis-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-53-22-pm

Location data inaccuracy happens all the time to all sizes of businesses.

But that’s not all.

RELEVANCY

The search engines that propagate local search are also looking for relevancy.

What does that mean? In a nutshell; recent positive ratings and reviews. If they can see that a local business is getting a lot of positive reviews, they will favor that over a local business that has all of their location data correct or has more back links and search queries. It’s true.

Would you rather go to a restaurant with a 4-star Facebook rating that hasn’t had a new review post in more than a year or a restaurant with a 4-star Facebook rating that has several reviews from last week?

Pretend you did a search for a local pizza joint. Pretend you did a search for a local pizza joint. Several results come up that have 3.5 stars or higher on Yelp.

best-pizza-hoboken-yelp-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-53-22-pm

  • Pizza Joint A has 4 stars and 95 reviews
  • Pizza Joint B has 4 stars and 239 reviews
  • Pizza Joint C has 5 stars and 10 reviews

Which would you choose? The answers is obvious, you are going to Johnny Pepperoni.

That is because you would choose the restaurant that meets the following criteria:

  • Highest rating
  • Most amount of reviews
  • Most amount of recent reviews

Search engines work the same exact way. More recent positive reviews means more customers are choosing to recommend one business over another and therefore are more pertinent.

The search engines want to deliver the absolute best results to you the user. That means they have to have the information correct when they send it to you and they want to have the results be the best of the best so that you are connected to what you are looking for faster.

PRIORITIES

It’s been reported that the half-life of a tweet can be as fast as 5 minutes. Studies have shown that a post on Facebook has a life expectancy around 5 hours. Ratings and reviews and location data are forever. Local search happens in real time. Therefore it could be argued that you are better off spending time validating the accuracy of your online location data and responding to reviews than posting updates on social media … or negotiating 3 cents on that head of lettuce.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Search engines rely on a system of accuracy and relevancy to deliver search results.
  • The local business with more accurate location data across all channels and with more recent positive ratings and reviews has the best shot to come out on the top of searches.

Want to learn a little bit more about perfecting local search? Check out this blog post:
3 Easy Ways To Rank Higher In Search Results

CONTRADICTORY SIDE NOTE

While in the middle of writing this, I saw these fries on @SkinnyPigNYC and immediately started making plans to visit Mile End.

I wonder if Mile End Delicatessen knows that they have 76% inaccurate location listings, most of which have to do with their name?

mile-end-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-34-45-pm

Posted in Burgers, Location Data, Marketing, Search | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Seriously Upgrade Your Restaurant or Bar For Less Than $300

Your bar needs an upgrade. You know it, I know and the customers who have chosen to take their business elsewhere know it. Maintenance and upkeep are hard enough with daily operations that the idea of an upgrade causes aneurysm level stress without even seeing an estimate.

bathroom-691341_1280

OK relax. I’m not talking about that kind of upgrade. If this is your bathroom, you already know what needs to be done. 

Assuming that’s not your restaurant, don’t worry. I have 2 very simple, easy and inexpensive upgrades that you can do this week, that will have serious impact on the way customers regard your business.

PROBLEM:
What does nearly every single female customer take with them into the bar? Besides a sense of pride and a need for libation, most women carry a purse. That purse contains some of the most important things in their life; a wallet, a cell phone, keys and who knows what else.

photo-1445633814773-e687a5de9baa

You know what they don’t want to do with that purse? They don’t want to lose it and they don’t want to put it on the dirty floor either. The same goes for men carrying bags. Bags could draped over the back of the chair, balanced them on a lap or maybe held but it’s certainly not preferred.

stocksnap_aw1i0l8ydz


EASY UPGRADE 1:
Put hooks to hang bangs under the bar. Install one every other seat that way there is one hook per person seated. For less than $20 you can get 10 of these: Richohome Retro Octopus Double Prong Robe Hook,Coat and Hat Hook- Pack of 10.

richohome-retro-octopus-double-prong-robe-hookcoat-and-hat-hook

While you are at it, get 10 more and make sure there is one on the back of the door in all of your bathrooms. Nobody, including you, wants to put their bag or jacket on the floor of a bathroom that isn’t in their own home.

Putting hooks on the bathroom doors and under the bars shows that you thought of the customer first. It lets them know that your customer service is a cut above the rest.

Click here and buy some hooks from Amazon.com right now.

PROBLEM:
You know who loves to eat out when they have the chance? Moms, Dads and Grandparents. You know how often they get to eat out, have a hot meal or even just be able to sit down while they eat? If you have kids then you know the answer is practically never.

Most people think Saturday and Sunday afternoons are just for boozy brunchers but that’s also when parents with young kids can get out of the house to see friends, eat lunch and blow off some steam. They might be looking for a place with a kid -friendly menu or perhaps accessible parking and if you have those, great. But you know what’s more important to new parents than anything else when choosing where to go with their kids?

EASY UPGRADE #2
A diaper changing station.

ecr4kids-horizontal-commercial-baby-changing-station

Without fail, every single time my wife and I take our baby out with us for a meal, the first thing we do is call and ask if they have a baby changing station. We might go there and the food could be amazing or they might have an unbelievable selection of craft beer but it will be totally known there forward as the place without a changing station.

For less than $2oo you can order the ECR4Kids Horizontal Commercial Baby Changing Station with 500 Disposable Liners from Amazon. Do it now.

ecr4kids-horizontal-commercial-baby-changing-station-hanger-liners

Also, I’ve never been to a bar that had a station with liners. I didn’t even know that was a thing until I wrote this post. I guarantee if we found a bar or restaurant that not only had a changing station but was always stocked with liners, we would go there before anywhere else.

Most parents roll with other parents who have kids their age and gems like that become a quick topic of conversation. Make it easy for a parent or grandparent to take their kids out and you will make loyal customers out of them.

Want to be a real fave with parents who want to spend their money at a restaurant or bar? Put a changing station in both the women’s and men’s room. Most restaurants will put one in the women’s room but Dad’s change diapers too.

Do Mom’s a favor and click here to buy a baby changing station from Amazon right now.


CASE IN POINT

I can tell you 2 things about The Quiet Man Public House in Peekskill, NY. First of all, they have an absolutely, over the top and ridiculous Burger called the “Mad Mac.” They call it the “twisted version with all the fixings” but I call it a “food party!”

the-quiet-man-public-house-peekskill-burger

It comes topped with corned beef, Irish bacon, bacon jam, fried mac n cheese and onion rings on a brioche bun.

You know what else I remember about The Quiet Man Public House? They do not have a baby changing station in their bathrooms. I know this because on my last visit we had to change our son on a table in the corner of the restaurant. The staff was super nice about  it, very accommodating and also apologetic.

The food is great and the place has a really nice vibe. But it’s burned in my head now that if we want to go there, it means there is going to baby butt in everyone’s face at some point.

KEY TAKEAWAY

Upgrade your bar or restaurant for less than $300 by installing a baby changing station and under the bar coat / bag hooks.

friedmac_0-edit_0

You could also try adding crazy toppings to your Burgers, but I would suggest trying the hooks and station first. Once you do, here is a recipe for deep fried mac n cheese from Food Republic.

 

Posted in Burgers | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Get Your Customers to Take Action

CALLS TO ACTION

My mother used to always say to me “don’t ask, don’t get.” She taught me the valuable lesson of learning to ask for things. They say the number one mistake sales people make is not asking for the sale and the same rings true for restaurant and bar operators.

If you don’t ask your customers for feedback, positive ratings on review sites like Yelp & TripAdvisor or to sign up for your newsletter, you shouldn’t expect them to do it. Even a dog knows when it’s time to ask for dinner! Chances are that dog gets fed every day around the same time but he doesn’t want to take the chance you might forget.

begging-dog-burger-conquest-dinner

Be like your dog, ask for the dinner.

I used to be a co-owner of a bar in New York City called Idle Hands Bar. By the time we sold the bar and closed it for good, we had 174 reviews and a 4.1 star rating on Yelp. That didn’t happen by chance. We used to host a weekly Wednesday night beer tasting event. At the beginning of the event we would make an introduction announcement andI ended it the same way every time;

“If you have a 5-star kind of experience tonight, would you mind giving us that rating on Yelp?” People did.

I followed that with “And if you don’t feel that we have you a 5-star experience tonight, stop me while you are here in the bar tonight and tell me how we could’ve improved.” They did.

For those things that we got wrong, we learned to correct them. For those things that we did right, people rewarded us by giving us a positive review on Yelp.


Read Darwin G.‘s review of Idle Hands Bar on Yelp


This rule doesn’t just apply to ratings & review or in store communications. You need to be asking all the time. In the business world this is a call to action (CTA); a request for immediate action from an audience.

If you want people to sign up for your email subscriber list, you need to ask them to do it. But you should also make it easy to do and offer them a reason to do it.

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

JOIN OUR EMAIL LIST AND GET A FREE APPETIZER

Which sounds more appealing to you?

texas-roadhouse-vip-club-free-appetizer

Texas Roadhouse knows that when you see those onion petals and the word “FREE” you’ll gladly send over those personal details. Want to meet me at the Teterboro, NJ location once it opens and split my order?

Check out this Ben & Jerry’s call to action. As part of their social conscience program, they planned to delete some flavors that used ingredients that could be effected by climate change. They called them “Endangered Pints” and put all the ingredients & flavors on their website. They took a photos of those pints and shared it on Instagram.

In their call to action they asked followers to click the link in their bio. For the passionate Ben & Jerry’s fanatic, they clicked and participated in the conversation.

When coming up with your CTA, think of it in terms of an exchange. You would like the customer to do something but what can you do for them if they take the requested action? It doesn’t always have to be a free drink or appetizer. Sometimes helping the customer on their journey is enough.

If you’re marketing message is about birthday parties, don’t just tell me you offer them, tell me how I can book one and make sure it’s easy!

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To help you along your way, here is a list of great initiatives that a restaurant can use to create calls to action that market and bring in new customers.

  • Book a private party
  • Make a reservation
  • Subscriber to a newsletter
  • Download a coupon
  • Follow on _____ social network
  • Buy a ticket

Want to know what not to do when it comes to calls to action?

Never, ever, ever, ever, never buy or place advertising without a call to action. That’s a HUGE waste of your money. Check out this sponsored post on Instagram from 123 Burger Shot Beer, a bar in NYC.

123-burger-shot-beer-instagram

I’ve been there. It’s a good concept and they run a nice business. In this advertisement they spent money just to tell you what the “123” in their name stands for. Cool. But now what? You don’t know where this is, you don’t know if they show sports on their TVs, they didn’t ask you to follow them, click to their page or site or do anything else at all that would move you along the sales journey.

Allow me to help…

How does $1 Burgers, $2 shots and $3 beers sound to you? Check out 123 Burger Shot Beer in Hell’s Kitchen NYC! Follow @123bsb on Instagram for event information, party photos and killer food shots like this!

Our Double Cheeseburgers #foodporn #sports #drinks#cocktails #sportsbar#jelloshots#cheapdrinks#boozypopsicles#fastfood

A photo posted by 123 Burger Shot Beer (@123bsb) on

KEY TAKEAWAY

The best way to get your customers to take an action is to use a call to action that gives them something valuable in return.

Posted in Burgers, Marketing, Strategy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Here’s How Easy It Is to Appeal to Millennial Diners

Unless you are a local diner, your answer should never be “everyone.” But what’s the question? “Who is your restaurant’s target customer?” Restaurant marketing is just like being an air-force fighter pilot (stay with me): If you can pick your target and stay your focus, it’s much easier to accomplish your mission.

Successful businesses know that choosing the right audience and focusing their messaging to attract that target market is the path to success. Taco Bell is looking for customers 18-34, which is why you don’t see family marketing like you might like McDonald’s or IHOP.

appealing-to-millenial-diners-ihop-kids-eat-free

The rule applies whether you are a huge international chain or a single unit on the side of the road in the middle of no where. Once you know who your core customer is, you can start to focus your message to appeal to them. If that target market is millennials, then the following list is made just for you.

Here are 5 of the key components for attracting millennial diners.

1. CAMERA-READY FOOD
Today’s generation of serious eaters are online. They belong to social networks. They take pictures of their food. They share those pictures on those social networks. Whether some chefs like it or not, it’s going to happen. It’s essentially free advertising for your restaurant so you better make sure that food arrives to the customer in an Instagram-ready fashion.

Look at this Lobster Mac N Cheese from Poco in New York City’s East Village as an example. You’re already dying to eat it.


2. CREATIVE MENU
Remember that boring grilled cheese with 2 slices of American cheese on white bread we ate when we were kids? Or how about that plain stack of pancakes with the butter already soaked in? That’s food. You eat it, you survive.

Millennial diners want adventure. They want excitement. If they wanted a bologna and cheese sandwich, they probably wouldn’t have left their kitchen. If they are going to part with hard-earned money, you had better give them something they can’t easily make at home.

Show me loaded tater tots. Where’s that platter of charcuterie a mile long? How about a Burger stacked to the ceiling with awesome game meats like they have at Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails? Millennials might not order that way every time they go out (how else do you explain so many salad chains?) but you should make sure your menu has at least one “wow” moment.

appealing-to-millenial-diners-handcraft-kitchen-nyc-game-changer“The Game Changer” from Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails: bison patty, wild boar patty, duck confit, brie & cherry chutney on a brioche bun.


3. FRESH, QUALITY INGREDIENTS

C’mon. We are past the age of frozen Burgers, rubbery chicken fingers and store-bought desserts. If we wanted cheap, reheatable and overly salted food, we would just hit the frozen section at the grocery store. Now more than ever, people want to know that you are not only making something they can’t do at home, but that it’s made as fresh as possible and with well-sourced ingredients.

Even Domino’s Pizza got the hint. They were notorious for having pizza that tasted like cardboard, so they threw out their recipes and upgraded.

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Think about how many people, research and time it took to make that decision. For a smaller business with only one or even a couple units, it’s pretty quick and easy to make a similar switch.


4. SOCIAL CONSCIENCE 

Have you heard about charity: water? They are “a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries.” Wouldn’t you instantly feel better about yourself after buying a bottle of their water instead of one from a huge beverage corporation?

Welcome to being a millennial.

Millennials have a broader social conscience and a more worldly point-of-view than previous generations. They think about how they affect the planet and how decisions made by others also affects others. You likely have a charity or cause that is important to you, your community or relates to core principles of your business. Call them up, drop them an email or send a tweet and ask how your restaurant can help.

5. CUSTOMIZABLE OPTIONS

Have you been to a Five Guys or a Chipotle? There are only a couple of main options on the menu but your ability to add toppings and builds is pretty vast. That allows you to eat your food the way you want it, but also allows two friends who don’t like the same things to share a meal.

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You’re a vegan? Cool. Enjoy the tofu whatever, I’ll be having the carnitas. We’re so millennial.

KEY TAKEAWAY

If you want your restaurant to appeal to millennial diners, include these 5 things:

  1. Instagram-ready food
  2. Hip and innovative menu items
  3. High quality and fresh ingredients
  4. Be socially conscience
  5. Be customizable

 

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5 Easy to Avoid Location Data Mistakes

Margins in the restaurant business are getting smaller and smaller every day, especially in densely populated areas like New York, Chicago and Boston. Rent is going up, the cost of food is getting more expensive, labor isn’t getting any cheaper, but none of that can be controlled by the owner. What they can control is the ability to help people find their business when they are searching for them online.

Bad information is the scourge of local search marketing. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to have correct location data for a bar or restaurant and yet so many businesses get it wrong. My hope is that by sharing this with you that I can help make bad data a thing of the past.

MISTAKE #1:
Website does not have easy to find information

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Specifically, the following are the most important:

  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Hours of operation
  • Menu
  • Contact

When people do find your website, most likely they are searching on mobile and looking to find a place right away. Make it easier on them by putting the most important and relevant information right on top. For more on this, read The 5 Things That Must Be On Your Restaurant’s Website.

 

MISTAKE #2:
Website isn’t mobile responsive

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Man oh man! Doesn’t that Tubby’s grilled sub look tasty? It’s a childhood fave for me. Makes you want to click right on that link at the bottom. And then guess what?

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Hope you were searching from a desktop because even though their subs are mighty tasty, their website doesn’t have a responsive web design.

 

MISTAKE #3:
No website at all

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Oh man! That is an awesome, awesome pizza. One of my favorites in fact. It’s from Summit Pizza in Union City, NJ. On the left – that’s eggplant and ricotta cheese. On the right, my personal personal fave, chicken and pepperoni. It exists. Look at it. I took that picture.

But what happens when you search for their website and click on the link? #PizzaFail

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How can you be even remotely searchable without a website?!?!

 

MISTAKE #4:
Conflicting data on top-ranking geolocation sites

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That is the very, very tasty “TM Burger” from Trademark Taste & Grind in NYC. It’s topped with bacon, jalapeno jack cheese, fried pickled onions and special sauce. I highly recommend it. When I went to eat it, I actually had to call the restaurant first because I wasn’t sure after searching on line what time they opened.

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  • Google
  • Yahoo!
  • Bing
  • Facebook
  • Foursquare
  • Yelp

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Make sure you have the same information listed on these top geolocation sites as well as what is on your website. One little difference between one and another and the search engine web crawlers will move you down the search rank.

 

MISTAKE #5:
Multi-unit restaurants don’t have an easy way to browse all locations or a list by state

Oh man!! Have you ever been to a Wawa? It’s a convenience store / gas station / sandwich shop chain based in Pennsylvania. You’ll find them from New Jersey all the way down to Florida. They make all their own food and they make it to order.

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One of their most well known sandwiches is the Wawa “Gobbler.” It’s a limited time offer that’s only available in the fall. It’s Thanksgiving on a sandwich; hot turkey, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce. No road trip through PA or along route 95 is complete without a stop (or multiple) at a Wawa.

Good luck mapping it out though. When you go to their website you can go search by location or store number, on the chance you have it. You can’t browse by state, a map or even just see a list. If you’re like me and need a sandwich stop every hour (true story), you need to plot your Wawa stops in advance.

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KEY TAKEAWAY

Don’t make these mistakes with your restaurant’s location data:

  1. Website does not have easy-to-find location, hours, content and menus.
  2. Website isn’t mobile responsive.
  3. No website at all!
  4. Conflicting data on top-ranking geolocation sites
  5. Multi-unit restaurants don’t have an easy way to browse all locations or a list by state.

The original version of this was from a presentation I gave as part of a panel at the LocationWorld conference in New York. Click here to download the PDF of the presentation.

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The 5 Things That Must Be On Your Restaurant’s Website

Most restaurant operators and owners make the exact same mistake when they design their website. The first thing they think about is pictures of food. While that’s certainly helpful and arguably pretty important, it’s not even in the top 5 most important things to have on your website.

First thing is first – before you start designing you site, ask yourself “who is our target customer?” A fine dining website and a coffee shop website have needs as vastly different as the target audience. Make sure your layout, look and feel speaks to the key customer you want to walk through the door.


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The Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar Pitsburgher – Housemade American cheese, shoestring fries, spicy garlic ketchup, leaf lettuce, tomato and red onion. Photo courtesy of Chef Tim Kast.


Once you’ve determined what kind of site you are going to make, there are a few key things to think about, and think about first when designing the layout for the website. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Most people to forget what it’s like to be a customer when they build out their restaurant website. To avoid this, think about when you are checking out the website for a restaurant either you heard about or maybe happened upon while traveling. Now ask yourself, “what is it you want to know?”

  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Hours of operation
  • Menu
  • Contact
  • Social networking links

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When people hit your site, they want to know, as quickly as possible, how to find you, what you offer and what time you are open. Yes, I said 5 in the title of the article but there are really 6 but the other 5 are absolutely, 100% crucial to your success. The social network links should be there for those who want to take it one step further. Here’s the key point to the whole thing, the magic moment if you will; make all of this easy to find by putting it at the top of the site.

DO NOT MAKE PEOPLE SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OR CLICK TO FIND THE INFORMATION THEY NEED THE MOST.

Something also to keep in mind, mobile search is on the rise, especially with local businesses. That’s even more reason to make these important items easy to find on your website. Think about how annoying it is to click around trying to find something on your mobile web browser when all you want is something to eat!

Check out this example from Saxon+Parole in NYC; they have everything you need, easy to find and even the ability to sign up on their email list.

5-things-must-be-on-restaurant-website-burger-conquest-8-20-42-pmKEY TAKEAWAY

  • Make the most important information on your restaurant’s website easy to find.

By the way, they have an excellent Burger at Saxon+Parole!

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Snapchat Is a Waste of Your Time and Here’s Why

Here’s the best advice you’ll ever get about using Snapchat to market your restaurant; Don’t waste your time.

Snapchat is an excellent, beautiful and very fun social network to use. It has a great audience. It’s very visual, it’s great for creativity and it is most certainly the talk of the town right now. With more than 150 million users (more than Twitter), it totally makes sense why restaurants would think about using it for a marketing channel.

It’s still not worth your efforts.

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It’s a content channel that’s very difficult to manage with a sizable learning curve. More importantly, effective use of Snapchat requires constant and consistent creative content. Even if you were a content production machine, and let’s face it, you aren’t, there is also no native way to track activity or engagement beyond views or comments.
If you’re a restaurant, bar or other hospitality business this means you can’t drive reservations, ticketing, coupon downloads, email subscriptions or really any other form of trackable ROI.

Snapchat is really only a viable marketing channel that very large restaurant brands, like Taco Bell or McDonald’s, should be in the business of using. If your brand has a sizeable marketing budget and a staff big enough that you can be extremely creative, post regularly and not really have concern for trackable ROI then, it’s absolutely a creative fun and engaging tool to put in your marketing utility belt.

Still thinking about using it? At the time I wrote this blog McDonald’s, the largest restaurant brand on the social network, had not updated their channel in the past 24 hours.

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Photo from Mashable.
Taco Bell only had this to offer:

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If you are a small business, restaurant or bar, even with multiple locations, you’re far far far better off spending your time doing any of the following:

  • Optimizing your website for local search
  • Updating Facebook or Instagram on a daily basis
  • Responding to ratings and reviews on sites like Yelp Facebook and TripAdvisor.

Snapchat when used for bars and restaurants to give a behind-the-scenes look or to share a great customer experience, could be really engaging to users, but definitely not as useful as some of the other tools designed specifically to help market in the restaurant business. When you have one or two locations, a small menu or a small staff, it’s hard to be consistently creative without just repeating the same type of material.

The other thing to keep in mind about Snapchat is that the content that you create disappears within 24 hours. For a restaurant to be searchable with good SEO practices, you’re going to want to leave a much larger footprint online. When someone searches “best Burger near me,” Snaps are going to do absolutely nothing to help you.

It would be better use of your time to post delicious photos of your food on your Google My Business or Yelp page than it ever would be to ever post an expiring video on Snapchat.

If you absolutely love the format of Snapchat videos, instead I suggest you check out Instagram stories. It operates inside the Instagram experience of your brand page, looks and feels like Snapchat and can be used to enhance the content you are already posting on a regular basis on the social network.

You are posting content on a regular basis to your Instagram account … right?

Call him Sponge Bob 🍔 #imready @seth_thornbloom

A video posted by S’macks Burgers & Shakes (@smacksburgers) on

KEY TAKEAWAY

  • In the life of a busy restaurant operator or marketing person, Snapchat has no clickable actions that can help you to drive actions. Better to spend your time responding to ratings and review sites or updating Facebook and Instagram on a daily basis.

Now go eat a Burger and think about it.

Schiller’s Liquor Bar
http://www.schillersny.com/
131 Rivington St
New York, NY 10002

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Schiller’s Juicy Lucy Burger – stuffed with muenster cheese, then topped with red wine onion-bacon jam and Schiller’s Special Sauce, served on a seeded Balthazar Bun. Paired with Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This has nothing to do with Snapchat, but you can register to win this Burger pairing and others like it by visiting the Somms and Sliders website.

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