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Links we Love: July 18 - 24

Published on by Romeo Maione.

Because we’re gluttons for punishment, we couldn’t stop thinking about the end of summer this week. Particularly the shopping frenzy that grips the US of A on Black Friday (and increasingly Cyber Monday too!) 

Check out these links on Black Fridays past and future! 

In case you ever doubted how seriously power-shoppers take Black Friday deals, there are hundreds of blog posts like this one discussing shopping strategies for the November event. Sometimes consumers are ahead of marketers! 

Take a flashback to last year’s Black Friday with this awesome infographic that details all the stats you need about 2013’s event. Particularly interesting is that 30% of consumers decided to forego the (sometimes scary) crowds and do all of their shopping online. 

Amazon.com has never looked better

Amazon.com has never looked better

Finally this article’s got a link to a guide for the upcoming year and some interesting predictions of consumer behavior. 

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Restaurant Marketing: Bottomless Appetizers a Bad Idea?

Published on by Romeo Maione.

I love mozzarella sticks. If a big gooey plate of mozzarella sticks is within reach of my chubby paws, there’s no stopping me. So when I heard TGI Fridays was offering bottomless appetizers for only $10, my heart skipped a beat. 

I should actually get that irregular heartbeat checked out

I should actually get that irregular heartbeat checked out

But while my stomach sang, my business brain couldn’t help but think this felt like a misstep. It reminded me of Red Lobster’s 2003 crab legs fiasco. The Coles Notes version is that Red Lobster offered unlimited crab legs for $20 and lost a bunch of money. So every time I see promotions like this, I wonder if there isn’t a better way?

I get that full service casual restaurants are in a tough spot. Fast-casual restaurants and their ever increasing quality are cannibalizing the full service casual market. Restaurants like Chipotle and Panera have to pay fewer employees and can snag faster customer turnover than Applebee’s or Kelsey’s. They also pay less for a smaller place and can offer high quality ingredients at lower prices. 

While those advantages are clear, all hope isn’t lost for full service restaurants. People will always want a place to take their family where they’ll have a server, can get a beer and relax with their loved ones. So how do full service casual restaurants take back some of that market share? I feel like offering a risky and potentially ruinous promotion like “bottomless appetizers” should probably be pretty far down the list. 

Instead, I feel like this is a great opportunity for full service restaurants to invest in digital and create buzz without giving away the farm. 

Pictured: The Farm

Pictured: The Farm

The goal of “Bottomless Appetizers” is likely twofold; to get people talking and hope they order drinks while gorging on buffalo wing after buffalo wing.

Just for kicks, here’s what we’d do to accomplish those goals without sacrificing all those sales to hungry 20-somethings like me!

Like we’ve done for our full service clients in the past, we’d build a digital promotion that  would encourage users to connect with the TGI Fridays brand in exchange for more chances to win a prize. Instead of giving away tens of thousands of free plates of mozza sticks, we’d give away a couple big prizes and tantalize users with a chance to win them. That would significantly reduce risk while maximizing engagement. 

A big prize gets tons of attention on social media, and because it’s all digital you can easily track and analyze every click to see where the traffic is coming from. Unlimited spinach dip can’t really do that, can it? 

Digital promos also help build email lists and get Facebook Likes and Twitter follows so that the promotion isn’t the end of your connection to users. You can even educate consumers on the breadth of your menu and new high-value items you’re trying to promote. 

Bottomless Apps will get some attention (TGI Fridays’ already have) but a digital promotion does a lot more for a lot less moolah. 

If you want to know more about the work we’ve done for full-service casual restaurant chains, drop our restaurant expert a line at swilson@launchfire.com

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Links we Love: July 11 - 17

Published on by Romeo Maione.

We had some fun this week and talked about some of the biggest promotional gaffes in history. It’s always good to take a look at things that didn’t work so you can figure out where they went wrong. Here’s our shortlist! 

In 2012 Mountain Dew tried to crowdsource the naming of their new drink in a promotion called “Dub the Dew”. Unfortunately a lack of real-time moderation led to the top 15 suggestions being....let’s just say unprintable. Check out this link if you want to know what they were. 

All the way back in 1986, the United Way dropped 1.5 million balloons on the city of Cleveland as part of a fundraising promotion. It looked amazing! And shut down a runway, created hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, made sea rescue missions impossible and spooked a couple of prize horses. Oops! 

Not pictured: Tragedy

Not pictured: Tragedy

I swear I don’t hold a grudge against Cleveland, but this next one also happened in The Forest City. In 1974, Cleveland Stadium offered 10 cent beers for patrons of the Indians v. Rangers game. In today’s dollars that’s still only 50 cents. As you can imagine...it got a little messy

Finally the UK’s Walker Potato Chips held a contest in 2010 where people could get a free bag of chips for guessing if it would rain that day. Too bad it was held during a week with a 100% chance of precipitation. The site went down after they owed more than 2 million dollars worth of product to weather prognosticators. 

Lessons learned? Don’t leave anything to chance and never give away alcohol.

Have a great weekend! 

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Table Tech - 3 Ways to Engage Guests in the Dining Room

Published on by Romeo Maione.

Standards for rudeness are constantly evolving. While your parents might be aghast if someone whipped out their smartphone in a restaurant, your kids are doing it without a second thought. Considering just how many people are using their smartphones while they eat (to tweet, text, instagram their meal, research which bar to go to after, browse reddit etc. etc.) you’ve got a great opportunity to engage guests while they’re with you.

They're actually Snapchatting each other. Who says romance is dead?

They're actually Snapchatting each other. Who says romance is dead?

Now before you jump down my throat, I know this advice applies mostly to QSR and fast-casual chains. If you’re a marketer for the Ritz there will be a lot fewer tweets sent from your dining room (for now). 

With that caveat out of the way here are 3 ideas to engage people while they dine: 

Offer Free Wifi

Become the gatekeeper! No one wants to use their data plan if there’s a free alternative.   You can offer wifi with no strings attached or, if you want to get tricky about it, you can offer a connection for people who like you on Facebook. As long as it’s a single click in exchange for free data people will be more than willing to do it. Once they’re connected to your network, you can entice them with great offers and compelling content (I’ll just shamelessly leave this link here in case you need some help on that front)! 

Exchange coupons for feedback

Whether it’s an app or a mobile-friendly site, having a place where people can give you real-time feedback about their experience is crucial. What you *don’t* want is people leaving without a word then writing a 500 word Yelp review with lots of cussin’ directed your way. The tough part is getting people to give feedback while they’re still in your dining room. Consider using digital coupons in exchange for a quick rating of their experience. 25% off a dessert (that they might not have bought otherwise) or 10% off their next meal could be all the incentive people need to give feedback in-store. Giving people a place to blow off steam if they’ve had a bad time offers you the feedback you need without the sting of bad reviews online. Ideally you could even have managers target the tables who’ve had a bad experience and try to make it up to them before their experience ends up on Urbanspoon. 

Encourage picture-taking

I can’t log into Facebook, twitter or Instagram without seeing my friends’ lunches. They all make me super hungry. I can’t be alone on this one. Sharing pictures of food has become a cultural meme and you should take advantage of that! One way is to run a promotion that offers entries to a grand prize draw, or the chance at an instant win prize, in exchange for sharing a picture of a meal with an appropriate hashtag or link. This gives you publicity on your guests’ social networks and starts a bigger conversation about your food. 

It ain’t rude to encourage guests to tweet while they eat. Just maybe not in front of grandma. 

If you’re interested, check out our webinar for some more sizzlin’ ideas for restaurant marketers. 

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Links we Love: July 4 - 10

Published on by Romeo Maione.

We were all being rude and texting at the table this week. We aren’t alone though! More and more people are getting their digital on while they dine out. We got down to researching and here are the most interesting articles we found about the increase of tech at the table! 

 

First off, this Houston Chronicle article investigates how more and more restaurants are going mobile with their marketing. 

This super interesting Washington Post piece about business acquisitions in the restaurant industry reveals that “Big Data” is beginning to be taken seriously. Acquiring data starts when the guests have their butts in your seats! 

This neat article’s got some handy forecast charts that show where experts predict mobile payments and online orders will be by 2015 and beyond! 

Finally this awesome article (It’s free, you just need to sign up!) talks about how restaurants are struggling with the massive decrease in organic reach on Facebook and other social networking sites. Drop us a line if you’re looking for any ideas for improving social media reach, we’ve got tons! 

In conclusion, go ahead and text while you eat, everyone else is doing it.

Sorry, did you say something? 

Sorry, did you say something? 

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Links we Love: June 27 - July 3

Published on by Romeo Maione.

This week the office buzz was about mobile devices. All our research points to two incontrovertible facts - More people are using smartphones, and not enough marketing is mobile optimized. Here are the links we read on the topic! 

This Venture Beat article does some prognosticating on the future of mobile. From the article: “Local mobile searches (85.9 billion) are expected to exceed desktop searches (84 billion) for the first time in 2015.” Cool! 

Conveniently, this article gives context and analysis for mobile’s continued growth. 

This article gets into the technical nitty-gritty of mobile optimization. Nerdy folks like us will love it! 

How many times did your phone light up while you read this 120 word post? Just curious! 

You should see this baby's Klout score! 

You should see this baby's Klout score! 

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Issue a Challenge!

Published on by John Findlay.

Want to Cut Through the Clutter - Issue a Challenge!

When I want my daughter to clean up her toys I’ll usually issue a challenge rather than an order.  The trouble with an order is there’s nothing in it for her.  Yeah sure, her room will be clean but what does she care?  She’s only eight. 

What's the point of cleaning again?

What's the point of cleaning again?

A challenge, on the other hand, makes boring chores bearable because the focus is on succeeding rather than the work itself.  

I Bet Ya Can’t...

One the best ways to get my kids to do something is to “ask” by saying “I bet ya can’t…”.  Whether it’s “...clean your room in 30 seconds” or “...do your homework before I’m finished cooking dinner” the challenge almost always works.   

You Gotta Scratch Their Backs

So how can we leverage people’s affinity for challenges to benefit us as marketers?  Gamification is how.  Instead of creating boring ads that are all about your brand, consider building gamified experiences that offer value to the consumer in exchange for their participation.  What you’ll find is that engagement goes way up giving you valuable exposure for your brand.  Bet yer feeling less itchy already!

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Admittedly there are some occasions on which my challenges aren’t met with eager kiddies frantically cleaning their rooms or doing their homework.  Well, that just means it’s time to up the ante.  Simple really; instead of “I bet ya can’t…” it’s “I bet you a dollar ya can’t…”.   Adding a little material incentive never fails.  Without it would you be at work today?

Didn't think so. 

Didn't think so. 

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