I haven’t been on here in a long while, and although there are reasons for that, I want to get to the core issue of ‘blogging’ – yes, I said ‘blogging’ even though its so out of style, like ‘email’ was a year or two ago. ”Blogs” or should I say – writing off the cuff, or said differently, direct messaging to your customers can be hugely beneficial, and if nothing else – done correctly – refreshing! So often times, like in any other ‘writing’ venture, people get hung up on what to write about. Like me, just now. I sat down with a text document and literally wrote…”what should your blog post be?” My next line of writing was an answer from some other part of my psyche, the cool part that just likes to do stuff. It said..”anything, really. just say something!” I wrote it in lower case because that’s how I wrote it on my ‘text’ document. Just keeping it real. But seriously, this is a very important point. Keep it real. People really don’t care ‘that’ much. People scoff at this notion, and they shrug and talk about brand and synergy and denigrating the business blah blah blah. I’ll tell you something – if you keep it brandy and synergistiky, (that’s not a word btw), than you most likely will fall prey to boring-ness, which also isn’t a word, but you get what I mean. I’m not saying don’t think about what you’re going to say, or have a plan, or be as loose as this post here. What I am saying is be loose enough where you just post. That’s the most important thing. Post. Write. Get it out there. Talk about your business and your field. It actually is interesting, its just few if any write about it with any candor, passion, or ‘feel’ because they’re afraid or they don’t have the time or they’re afraid people will read it and be like “Well THAT settles it, I’m not going to buy a steak from THEM ever again!”
Most of my clients are restaurants. I’m speaking primarily to restaurants, even large restaurant groups…I’m talking 20-100 locations. Not Chipotle or Starbucks – I think that gets into another realm. But at the arbitrarily chosen ’100′ unit level or below, there’s plenty of room to talk with candor and humor, insight and personality as to what is going on behind the scenes. Pick a menu item. Just one. Riff on it. Say what comes to mind. ”I uh, I gotta admit, this is not my favorite menu item. Ok, fine, I hate it. My mother told me to put it on here – it was her favorite thing to make as a kid and I felt an obligation to include it, but…” Maybe this isn’t the best example. But pick a menu item and be honest – “You know, this isn’t the most popular item on the menu, but I love it, and here’s why” Or talk about how you came up with the name of your restaurant. ”There’s not a lot to it Jamie, there’s just not…pretty boring story!” Well say that! Exactly that.
Just write. There’s a lot of story there. Just write about it. You never know what might come of it.
If you get a phone call from (618) 704-2766, beware. A modified recording answers and says if you’d like to confirm your Google 411 listing, please press 1. I did and a rather – how do you put it – less than crisp and professional voice on the other end started requesting information about me to verify a listing. This was a nice person – not saying he wasn’t nice – just a little less than forthcoming and clear about what the call was about.
Do not give information to people who randomly call requesting information about your business. Google does not make a practice of calling to confirm information about your business. There is more information about Google 411 calls here. Worst case scenario: you will be scammed of your information and talked into bogus SEO or online services.
It’s been a bit frustrating as of late – for a long time actually! Trying to get high quality clients to rank for “Seattle Seafood” has been tough due, in part, to Google’s notion that “Seattle” mean’s Seattle’s waterfront where, on page 1 of Google, you find places that give one a limited notion of the myriad of high quality seafood restaurants in Seattle; But they happen to be smack dab in the middle of “Google’s Centroid” – right downtown on the waterfront. Much smarter people than me have gone into more technical detail as to what is happening here, such as the almighty Mike Blumenthal in his most recent article: “Many Google Places Searches Are Showing an Increased Radius For Search Results”
Fed Ex has to deal with a very unfortunate situation today – a guy threw a flat screen over a fence per his ‘delivery’. Thanks Fed Ex. Video here:
Fed Ex has a response from their Senior VP of US Operations.
His response has 306 views as of 12/21/2011 at 5:41pm PST. The video of the man throwing the TV / Flatscreen over the fence has millions!
My point? Authenticity. Being candid. The response is great in so far that they posted something immediately, on YouTube, but it still is lame, very lame. One, it should be from the CEO. Two, seeing a Fed Ex employee roughly dressed – unlike their UPS competitors – throwing valuables over a fence doesn’t ‘shock’ me. This will most likely hurt Fed Ex in the short and medium run. The only thing that would have really sanitized this situation would have been a candid, non-scripted message direct from their CEO. This video is way too scripted, way to ‘corporate’ filled with generalities and non-measurable conclusions.
Businesses can get ahead of the ‘user review’ curve being candid, frank, factual, heart felt and non-scripted with video responses to their customer raves and complaints online. This includes Yelp reviews, Citysearch, Trip Advisor, Google, Yahoo, etc. It goes a long way to show the quality of the people behind the business, and that makes a big difference.
Most of the time these days, people are emphasizing Twitter & Facebook, “Social Media”, Gowalla, Foursquare, LinkedIn, blogs, YouTube, Flickr, etc, etc. It gets a little complicated and it’s always about the ‘newest thing’. Email is under rated, in my opinion. It’s the ultimate in ‘social media’ – you most likely got the email from a hand to hand, face to face interaction, either in your place of business, a drop off in a business card repository, or in a meeting of some sort. You are then following up and communicating with them via a very personal medium: someone’s email in-box! It can pay dividends for your business if done right.
I LOVE Chipotle - I love what they are doing for the ‘environment’, their zeal at sourcing local food in their various markets, their direction in ascertaining a more high quality, higher % organic menu year in and year out and I like their attention to detail, the speed of their line, customer service, design, music and of course, their prices and their food.
They are developing a new Asian Fast Casual concept, to be rolled out in about 30 markets nation wide around mid 2011. Check out the article if you’re interested.
Highlights from the article:
“Using the Chipotle service model for an Asian concept and having Chipotle do it will give them incredible credibility”
“They have always been open to the idea that their Food with Integrity model is not specific to Mexican cuisine,” she said. “And Asian in general is one of the fastest-growing categories in the U.S., though it’s very fragmented.”
Read more: http://www.nrn.com/article/chipotle-open-asian-fast-casual-concept
Maybe your business is down as well, just a bit. All of our client traffic, mostly restaurants, is down on average between 8-10% the week of June 27 – 4th of July.
You know, you’re not supposed to write something like that on your “business blog”. It’s supposed to be “snappy”, “smart” and “business-ee”. But I’ve been telling my clients for two years to be themselves on their blogs, yet I find it hard to do here myself. So to that end, I’m back.
It’s finally summer here in Seattle! I have a lot of work to do, so instead of vacation on my mind, I have work.
If completed, I believe we have the best system to de-leverage our clients from traditional advertising and into a new realm of a solid and healthy presence online – comments responded to, articles and user reviews engaged and ‘optimized’, profiles not only established where most aren’t, but optimized as well. Additional advertising is great where it works, but the first thing a local business should do is take the bull by the horns and manage and “own” their current state of affairs and presence online with a stern and honest hand. That’s what we do in the case that you or a client doesn’t have the time and / or expertise. I say if my mother had a restaurant and I was giving her advice for her online management, this is absolutely the first thing I would do – what Buzz Online Media does – and I still believe that. It’s absolutely true – 100%.
More thoughts later.
Buzz Online Media is currently looking for a Web Copy Writer. This person has, what we think is the fun job of ghost writing Twitter accounts, helping formulate user review responses, manually track, monitor and respond to client content online (Citations, citations, citations!!!) and to generally interact with our clients content online in a way that gives our clients an edge over their competitors.
So we put an ad on Craigslist looking for a few copy writers. It’s AMAZING the things that come across ones desk…
We are looking for someone who is grounded, together, consitent, hard working, critical with details, hard working, on top of it…works hard, etc. And our ad says so. And we get the following, which can be used, inversely, as a list of things NOT to do when responding to job posts online:
1. Email addresses addressed as, for example: “tillman, j”
What’s wrong with this? One, it’s not a full name. Two, it’s lower cased. It’s like “Ah, I’m too lazy to capitalize my own name”. Now, for a personal account, do what you may, but for a “professional” account or an email account you’re going to respond to job postings for, do the following: “John Doe”
2. This was hilarious and irritating at the same time. Is there a word that combines those two emotions? Email header: “holfentein, jack”. “Jack” writes me a nice intro email with some “pop” and I get to the bottom and it’s signed “Simon Holfentein”
What’s wrong? Again, not capitalized. But more hilaritating is the fact that this person either has deeper issues that we shouldn’t go into here, or they are sending a professional response from another account, or in this particular case, have two names. I actually responded “Who is this, Jack or Simon”. “Oh, I have two names…yeah, sorry about that, people get confused.” Um…yeah they do! I mean, really? So no, SimonJack, we will not be interviewing you. You need to pick a name…pick ONE. It’s one thing if the email was “James Raymond” and they signed their email “Jamie” (NO experience doing this:) But…Simon and Jack isn’t even CLOSE!
3. No response to the email other than an attached document / resume. No, don’t do this. It’s borderline hostile. I know your busy and I figure your’re responding to a lot of job postings, but at least indicate you’ve read the job description and that you have an onus of interest in actually capturing the opportunity.
4. This is a copy writer position. You wouldn’t believe the misspellings and grammatical errors I’m getting. People, it pretty much comes down to correcting the red lines in Word…it’s just too simple to get it right to not get it right these days. (Accept when you’re ‘blogging’:)
That’s about it from this round of emails…I’m sure there will be more to report.
The more hassle imposed for people to park and pay money for services via small business = bad. More hassle = bad for small business. More hassle imposed by city = bad…for small business…in my opinion. This article agrees: