From the BlogSubscribe Now

5 Tips For Using Pinterest Messaging for Business

5 Helpful Tips for Growing Your Business with Pinterest Messaging. By @mcngmarketing. Read all about it at

It seems like there’s so many different ways to be in contact with people these days, e-mail, text, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Twitter and the list just goes on and on, so why should you care about Pinterest’s messaging system and why is it important for your business? Read on curious pinner!

What Exactly is Pinterest Messaging?

Pinterest messaging system is a private messaging system that allows for you to send private messages to users who follow you on Pinterest. You do not need to follow them back, as I incorrectly sated in episode 13 of my Pictures to Profits Podcast.

Beyond your followers, you’re also able to message your friends who are on Facebook who have a Pinterest account, as well as people who you follow on Twitter and who follow you back who have their Twitter account connected with their Pinterest account.

Okay…I know that was a mouth full, but now you know the extent of who you can communicate with on Pinterest.

What makes it different from other messaging systems like Twitter’s direct messaging and Facebook’s Messenger, is that the tool is geared towards those who enjoy sharing ideas in a visual manner.  This can help can facilitate complex projects that would be hard to explain through words and is also an excellent tool for those that don’t want to send photo attachments back and forth. Through the messaging system you’re able to share texts, pins, boards, and links.


5 Tips to Improve your Pinterest Marketing with Pinterest Messaging.

This allows for easier back and forth communication. In the past, you would send someone a pin through Pinterest or to their e-mail, however, there was no way to privately communicate in a stream line way that kept track of what was happening in the conversation.

The Pinterest messaging system works across all platforms, so you can message people on iOS, Android and desktop versions of Pinterest.

Pinterest Messaging Allows for Group Communication

Unlike Twitter’s direct messaging system, Pinterest’s private messaging system allows for you to have group conversations with up to ten different Pinterest users at one time. This particular feature can be beneficial for projects that require a lot of visual co-ordination among a team.

For example, if there are several people involved in planning a fundraising event, and one of the members found a great idea on Pinterest she wants to share, she now can, and receive feedback from others involved.

Let’s move on to five tips for how businesses can use the Pinterest messaging system.

5 Tips for Using Pinterest Messaging for  Businesses

1) Help VIP Customers or Clients with their Planning

What makes Pinterest messaging so wonderful is that you’re able to streamline all the conversations in one place. With the new messaging system, you’re able to help your customers plan better projects.

Imagine that you’re a wedding co-ordinator and your helping your client plan out how to decorate her reception on Pinterest. Before you had to send pins one by one.  Now you’re able to send her different pins done at different weddings as well as decorations you planned with your previous wedding clients. Your client can then pick and choose which ones work best for her and put them onto her own secret board.

Or in the case that you have a VIP customer who buys a lot of your products, you can send her a pin of a product that she may be interested in and she can now pin that into one of her collections instead of trying to sort through all the hundreds of e-mails she gets a day.

Here’s a Pinterest Intermission:

You’re only able to share pins and boards that are available to the public. So if you have a pin on a secret board, you’re not able to send nor drag that pin into the Pinterest messaging system.

However, once a pin has been sent to a user, she can choose to put that pin onto one of her secret boards. Let’s get back to our regular programming shall we?

2) Develop Better Relationships with Your Followers

I enjoy commenting on Pinterest, but one of the major challenges is that when I do comment on someone’s pin, and he happens to be using a smartphone, the comment that I’ve left behind is barely noticed. The reason this happens is because the notification looks like any other notification whether someone repins or like one of their pins.

It’s only on the iPad or desktop version do people see a preview of the comment. What this means is that if you are trying to engage with your fans on comments, they’re probably not going to take notice.

However, if you are looking to develop better relationships with one of your followers on Pinterest, the Pinterest messaging system can allow you start that conversation back and forth.

One of the aspects of the Pinterest messaging system I like, is that I can drag a particular pin into the conversation and mention how much I enjoyed this pin he posted. It’s hard to comment on an old tweet from 5 months ago, but you can still message someone about their pin that he posted from five months ago.

Here’s an example of SociallyApt and myself having a conversation on Pinterest messaging. She sent me her compliments about my 31 Days to a Better Pinterest Page board. 

Pinterest Messaging System

This can be especially helpful in starting relationships with influencers who follow your Pinterest account.

3) Create Group Boards with More Ease with the Right People

Inviting other users to group boards was a bit of a hassle, because you may have wanted to invite someone who you thought would make a good contributor, but there was no way to directly message her to explain why you want to invite that person to your group board.

Sending users group invite that shows up at the top of their feed without proper explanation is always a little weird.

Now with the Pinterest messaging system, you’re able to message your followers and tell them, “Hey I noticed we create pins that have the same theme, would you be interested in joining a group board about XYX?”

This way you’re attracting the right people to join your group board and you’re not blind siding them with an unexpected invite.

4) Reward Your Most Engaged Pinterest Followers

One of the best things about the Pinterest messaging system is that you’re able to communicate with engaged loyal followers. Let’s say you have someone that has been pinning a lot of your content, and is responsible for driving quite a bit of traffic to your retail site.

Now, with the new messaging capabilities,  you’re able to message the follower and say , “Hey, thanks so much for always repinning our products. We want to send you a coupon code for your loyalty. Upon check out, use the coupon code within the next two weeks, and you’ll receive 20% off the order. Thanks again for all your support.”

Or if you have the marketing budget, imagine sending them a free gift for those that have truly been engaged with your content. Imagine the word of mouth marketing that could generate.

Let’s be honest, we love brands that appreciate us for what we do! 

5) Get Feedback from Your Pinterest Followers

Chances are it’s going to be difficult to be able to contact many of your Pinterest followers directly through e-mail, however, with the new Pinterest messaging system you’re able to send your followers messages and ask them questions.

Since every social network operates a little bit differently from the others, you’re able to to send surveys or questionnaires to people who specifically are following you and are using the Pinterest platform.

This will help give you insight into how your followers are interacting with your Pinterest page.

Those are five tips on how businesses can use the Pinterest messaging system for their business. If you’ve got a creative idea on how businesses can use the Pinterest messaging app, it would be fantastic to read about it. Drop me a line in the comments section, and share.

Additional Resource:

Curious to know how you can re arrange your pins in a board? That’s what I did for my 31 Days to a Better Pinterest Page board to organize it from day 1 to day 31. Learn how to rearrange your pins within your boards. 

What you Need to Know About Gifs on Pinterest

How Business can use Gifs on Pinterest by
Pinterest announced that they are rolling out gifs on their Pinterest feed, which could pose a challenge to Tubmlr, which has been known as THE gift visual social network.

What You Need to Know about gifs and Pinterest:

1) Gifs Can be used for Short Animation On Pinterest

The big advantage of gifs compared to other image formats is that you’re able to create animated pins, or motion pins. This was considered the norm before Vine and Instagram videos took place. They were short, often amusing and now they can be played on Pinterest.

Here’s what they look like on Pinterest for desktop. You’ll clearly see the gif at the bottom left hand corner. If you’re planning to use a lot gifs for your marketing, avoid placing text on the bottom left.

What you need to know about Gifs on Pinterest by Vincent Ng of

All you have to do is go to the desktop version of Pinterest and search for the term gif to see a lot of examples.

2) Gifs Are Clickable on the Desktop Version of Pinterest

UPDATE: I’ve updated this part of the article from the past. When gifs first came out on Pinterest they weren’t clickable, however this has all changed and gifs are now clickable back to the website on the desktop version of Pinterest.

This is amazing, as you can now show off a wide variety of products in a short time, and still have them all clicking back on your website. Imagine now being able to show off ten pairs of shoes in one Pinterest pin, than just showing off one.

3) Gifs on iPad for Pinterest

Unlike the destkop version of Pinterest where pins that are gifs are clearly labelled, it’s currently not like that on the iPad. It actually looks like a regular pin, and there’s no way to get the animation started. So in this case since the gifs can’t animate on iPad they operate as static pictures.

And if you click on the gif, you’ll find that the gif WILL lead back to the directed website.

4) Gifs on Android for Pinterest

Gifs on Android devices operate the same way as the iPad device. There’s no visuals that indicate that a pin is a gif. And when you click on it, or tap on it, it will redirect to the designated website.

What this means for Businesses on Pinterest

If your business is ready to launch into the world of gifs on Pinterest then you need to consider a few things before you jump in.

1) Remember that the majority of users on Pinterest are actually mobile users. This means that not everyone is going to see your animated gif, BUT they will see the first frame. So make sure that the first frame of the gif is visually optimized.

2) If you want to get people back to your site, then make sure you don’t use animated gifs as your pins.

3) Use gifs as a way of brand building and engagement. Gifs are a great way to entertain your consumers and build your brand. If you have a large established brand and don’t need more people to visit your website, then this is definitely a way to go.

General Electric’s Pinterest page has already started doing this. In all fairness, they’ve been doing gifs on Tumblr, so they’ve got a good head start compared to some brands when it comes to gif building. Click on the pin to see what the animated gif looks like, and remember that you’ll only see it in action if you’re using the destkop version of Pinterest.

Do you plan to use animated gifs for your business on Pinterest? If so, how?

Want to know ow to boost your profits with Pinterest for 2014? Cynthia Sanchez from Oh So Pinteresting and myself are teaming up to bring you a one of a kind live online workshop. We’ll be teaching you how to get more followers, and generate more new traffic to your website. The workshop is close to 75% sold out already and starts January 29th. Don’t delay register for the live course today here.

Pinterest Workshop Series by Cynthia Sanchez and Vincent Ng

How to Market your Brand to Millenials

Big Bang Theory 1) Make Millenials Experience Your Brand

Depending on what your product or service is, millenials aren’t easily impressed by push advertising. They are looking for brands and marketing agencies that will give them an experience in exchange for their time. This form of exchange can take place in many ways, it can be by giving millenials actual brand experiences such as what Coke has been doing globally across the world.

Here’s a great video by Coca Cola showing how they connected with students. This type of social experience was then repeated all over the world with different twists.

2) Make Millenials Laugh

You know who thought it would be funny to do a bunch of cat memes? Or who thought it was funny to create a show called Epic Mealtime and create bacon weaves? Yep it was the millenials. We (I was born in the late 70’s) love to laugh at the most ridiculous things in the world, though I’m still quite baffled by why cute cats go viral.

We were the generation that made Russel Peters famous by sharing his videos at work and with our friends. (If you don’t know who Russel Peters is, you are quite out of touch with today’s generation).

Wit and laughter definitely can help sell a product. And millenials are willing to watch and listen to a commercial if they feel that it provides them with a great LOL factor. Laughter when properly created in commercials can extend past gender and generations just like the Old Spice Commercial.

3) Sell Them the Dream

Millenials are constantly bombarded with negative messages about our generation. About how the economy is a rut, and how people feel that our generation is the entitled generation so that we don’t work hard for what we want compared to baby boomers, and all that jazz. Most of us don’t like to hear that message, after all we did go through years of college and university to earn our degree and were taught that education was the thing to propel us.

We’re starting to realize how much we were lied to growing up about how education would allow us to get better jobs, but those giving that advice forgot to mention that if 1 out of 2 people have university degrees it’s no longer considered an advantage.

We were deceived into believing that there was going to be a huge surge of jobs because baby boomers were planning to retire. I’ve been hearing those stories during my first year at university about the opportunities, but I still haven’t seen those jobs that were discussed about by sociologist and economists

But we still have hopes and we still have dreams, and if your company or brand can help us accomplish that in some way then you have our attention. This is why Silicon Valley is always buzzing with such youthful energy. Startups are constantly innovating new ideas that will be profitable, but it’s really a land of dreams.

It’s the Hollywood for tech startups. Yet while many of these tech companies fail within years, it’s that hope and dream that keeps many millenials going. Sell us a dream that we can believe, or acknowledge that we have dreams. Yes we like to laugh and occasionally do weird things, but the truth is, we’re an extremely intelligent and globally aware generation. Make us believe, and we’ll follow.

4)Market to Millenials Onine and on Mobile

Sadly, many of the old methods of push and disruptive advertising will still be used in the online space. The majority of millenials are hanging out in the online space and will be the last generation where our childhood wasn’t comprised of mostly the Internet.

Now we spend so much time online, whether it’s at home, on our mobile or on a tablet. We are no longer spending time in front of the TV. We like to receive information in the most convenient manner as possible. Not only are we looking for convenience we are looking to share these experiences and get responses from our friends.

Marketers that are able to create interesting content that can be viewed and read in a mobile or tablet format will gain the edge and see how viral content is. When I talk about advertising on mobile, I’m not talking about those annoying ads that show up at the bottom of the page, I’m talking about creating content that can be easily on the go. This can be advertising in social mobile games, or weekly live video shows that blend in entertainment with a form of marketing.

5) Create Integrated Marketing Campaigns

While social media and online marketing are hot, companies must be prepared to put their brands out there with the use of different media channels. Before the Internet came along, marketing was considered rather simple. You had a few major networks, there weren’t hundreds of specialty channels, and radio wasn’t available on Satellite yet that offered hundreds of radio channels.

While millenials are spending much of their time online, marketers must find ways to create integrated campaigns that reach parts of them. Integrated campaigns should include video content, social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and locations where millenials are socializing or attending such as schools, cafes, and free print media.

Red Bull has become a millenial funded drink. And they are everywhere. In the city of Vancouver alone, they have cars running around the city, they have live events that are fun and crazy to participate in, and of course they created those wonderful ads that say “Red Bull gives you wings.” And let’s not forget about their viral video about Stratos.

6) Continuously Engage with New Influencers

It’s important to engage online influencers and one of the most important aspects of marketing to millenials is to continously look for up and coming influencers and to engage with them early. Competing with established influencers will be harder down the road and it can be hard for them to become brand ambassadors.

Creating relationships with millenials is similar to draft picks in sports, most candidates aren’t going to be super stars like Wayne Gretzky, but that doesn’t mean that these prospects don’t have influence in their community. The good news is that there’s always going to be one of those influencers that will make it to the major leagues, and if you develop relationships with them, and treat them like real people they will become much more loyal to the brand.

What do you feel are some of the best ways to market and connect with millenaials? Feel free to leave a comment about your thoughts and opinions.

If you’re looking for a marketing agency to help you with your next marketing and advertising campaign, contact MCNG Marketing or e-mail me directly at vince at Looking forward to hearing from you.

Three Creative Ways to Use QR Codes for Your Restaurant

Best Creative Ways to use QR Codes for Restaurant Marketing

What exactly is a QR Code?

Guiness QR Code

Guinness QR Code (activated when cup is filled with Guiness beer.)

A QR code is a different version of a barcode. QR is short for quick response, or sometimes referred to as 2D barcodes. You’ve probably seen them in magazines, on some billboards, or direct mail campaigns. They look like the picture, minus the Guinness beer and all the things outside the square.

QR Codes Require a Mobile App for Scanning

One of the greatest challenges is that people do need a smartphone and to download a QR code scanning app. There’s a few of them out there, such as Scan Life. If you search QR code scanner in your app store or Google Play, you’ll have a few to select from.

Why are QR Codes Useful?

QR codes are interesting, in the sense that there isn’t one particular way to use a QR code, and that there are several things that they can be used for. You can use a QR code to lead directly to a newsletter sign up page which is what American Cheesesteak Company on Davie Street in Vancouver did, it can be used to direct users to a YouTube video, or it can be used to go to a food slideshow, or like Foodtree it can be used to inform the customer about where their food comes from.

Where you place the QR code is also important. An advertising agency once put a QR code on a large billboard where people were driving by. Bad idea. That advertising agency should be fired!

Who’s going to pull out their smartphone, load up the QR scanning app, point the phone at the QR Code and then wait for the, whatever it is that’s supposed to be loaded to show up, all while driving with one hand and trying to keep your eye on the road. Even if I was a passenger, I would find this a complete hassle.

Big problem. So what are some great ways to take advantage of using a QR code for your restaurant?

QR codes Should Not be Used for Their Cool Factor

QR codes should be used to in cases where it makes it easier to direct people to some form of information action. For example, putting a QR code on all your business cards and having them directed to a video by the owner doing an introduction of the restaurant is smart. Having the QR code dial a number right away isn’t probably necessary since you’re going to have your phone number on the business card anyway.

Remember to think like a customer, while there’s a nice cool factor to it, how does it make it easier and enhance the customer’s experience.

How to use QR Codes for your Restaurant Marketing

1) Put a QR Codes on Your Menu

There are different ways to put QR Codes on your menu. One of the places you can put a QR code is on the front of the menu cover, and this can start a slideshow of your most popular items. (Keep it silent, just imagine half the restaurant playing the slideshow with music all at once, while the background music of your restaurant is going on). This slideshow can highlight your most prominent items.

Or since most of the time your servers are going to ask customers what they’re going to drink, the popup slideshow might focus on your drinks. Since the first question a server will generally ask is, “Would you like something to drink to start?”

You can also have one QR Code on each section of your menu. One next to the appetizers, one next to the entrees, and one next to the desserts. And each one can start a slideshow, highlighting your best items first.

2) Put the QR Code on your Takeout Menus

Imagine being able to create a custom restaurant video that when you scan the QR Code that it opens up with a video of the owner of the restaurant introducing himself,and his personal recommendations for takeout.

It adds that personal touch, and remember to have a call to action for your video at the end. Ask them to pick up the phone and call your restaurant’s number. (Remember to put phone number as a visible caption in the video.)

Or you can do what was suggested above and start a slideshow.

While it’s understandable that take out menus are limited on space, I would suggest having your QR code stand out where it disrupts people and gets people to notice. This could be in the middle of the menu between appetizers and entrees. But below the QR code, have a reason for them to scan.

Let them know that there’s a special offer, or it might be a simple message such as, find out what the owner recommends this menu.

QR Codes will also allow tracking, and so when you send out your takeout menus, you’re able to find out how many people watched the video. And then again, to make them watch the full video, have a special offer for people who finish watching it.

3) QR Codes on your Business Cards

One of the places that you can place a QR code is on your business cards. Again depending on what your goal is, the QR code could actually be scanned to load up the menu of your restaurant. This way you can compact a lot of information without taking up much printing room on the business card.

But you should ensure that the menu is mobile friendly.

Or if there are several different business cards for different managers and different owners, you can have a video that pops up really quickly that introduces the person again.

If you go to enough networking events, you’ll probably forget a few faces. A QR code will help remind people visually of what people look like so that they are instantaneously recognizable later on.

There are literally dozens of places of where you can place your QR codes and even many uses. But remember not to fall into the coolness factor of it all, and instead, think about what are the ways that it would help enhance the customers experience.

What have you found have been some creative ways of using a QR Code?

For more information on how you to create an engaging marketing mobile campaign for your restaurant, feel free to contact us at vince at or call us at 604 782 0801. Our office is located in beautiful Vancouver, Canada.

How to use Yelp for your Restaurant’s Mobile Marketing

Stop Ignoring Yelp in Your Restaurant Marketing

Yelp Passport I’m an avid Yelp participant in Vancouver, and when I mean avid, I mean that I write reviews, talk on the discussion boards, and attend UYE (unofficial Yelp events) and Yelp Elite events. I use it on desktop and my mobile phone. I’ve been very blessed because I get to see the other side of Yelp as well as a marketer, I wrote an article about reputation repair with Yelp.

Yelp, It Keeps Growing and Growing and Growing…

Yelp is growing very quickly. Crunch Base reported 50 million unique monthly visitors as of March 2011. Based on some more reading, I’ve heard that the numbers have now reached 52 million people. That’s a lot of people. And with their huge financial backing, it’s going to continue to grow. Here’s a great inforgraphic about Yelp that was posted on VentureBeat

But that’s not the only fact that’s staggering, Yelp isn’t just for the US and Canada, it’s in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Spain, Norway and Netherlands, which means that your restaurant has the potential to reach international customers. It was reported that during their first quarter of 2012, Yelp was accessed by 6 million unique mobile devices.

Yelp and Mobile, Go Together like Ham and Cheese

But it isn’t just Yelp itself that you should be worried about, it’s the fact that the majority of North Americans will have a smartphone by the end of 2012. That means 1 out of 2, still won’t have one, and that means there’s plenty of room for mobile growth.

Yelp was smart enough to develop an app for all the different mobile platforms it could. They knew early on that reviewers were going to make real time decisions about where to eat based on what was nearby. They knew that if they wanted the number of people to use Yelp to grow it had to adjust to where users were heading, and Yelp was right on the bulls eye.

One of the pleasures of being able to represent restaurant owners is to tell them that at least 30% of the people who have been scoping out their restaurant on Yelp are doing it on their mobile phone. I’ve had times where it was 55% of people scoping out the restaurant on their mobile phone. In terms of numbers, that can range from the low hundreds to the thousands depending on how active the Yelp community is in your city.

The fact that someone is checking out your restaurant on mobile, either means that that the user is planning on coming to your restaurant, or is sharing that information with someone else that potentially is coming into your restaurant.

Take Advantage of the Mobile Crowd, Create a Check In Offer

If your restaurant has a good rating, let’s say 3.5 stars and above, then this is a good time to create a Yelp check in offer to entice new customers. Especially if you’re trying to entice a much younger crowd of people 35 and under to come in and try your restaurant, since that’s the majority age demographic that use Yelp.

Acquiring new customers is a serious issue, and let’s be honest, if your restaurant has been around for 20 years, it’s also time to find ways to replace those people who are older. Unfortunately they won’t be as agile to come out to your restaurant, and eat and drink as much as they did in their younger years. By creating a mobile check in, especially one that offers free food, you will tempt people to walk into the door.

Give a Great Check In Offer on Yelp

When I used to work at RewardMe (disclosure, I’m investing in the company) one restaurant wanted to offer a free t shirt for checking in after so many times. That’s a lame ass reward, and customers are going to hate you for it. Give something customers really enjoy, and not just something to enjoy but something that is worth talking about.

Often times, when I talk to restaurateurs, I tell them that what they offer as a promotional giveaway or contest is important because if it’s a really good one, it will take on a life of its own. This is why Air Miles was such a great success. It was addictive to be able to collect points to go fly to wherever you wanted to go, and people talked about it.

And let’s say that you offer an exclusive appetizer that’s just for people on Yelp, this will help create buzz around it. The exclusive Yelp dessert. Yelpers will talk about it if they know it’s just for them.

Yelp Mobile Comments Your Responses to Reviews Now Show Up on Yelp Mobile

I can’t stress this enough, start a Yelp business account, and if you need some help with it, feel free to contact us. Before April of 2012, public responses to reviewers were only visible on Yelp’s website reviews. If a mobile user checked out the reviews on the Yelp app, only reviews would show up, and the public replies by owners never did.

But now, they do. When you need to thank a customer, or reply to nasty review, people on the mobile app can now see it. They now can get both sides of the story.This is a huge win and step for business owners.

Think about this, imagine someone reading a fantastic review about your restaurant, and then at the end of the review there’s a beautifully written note about how much you appreciate the customer coming in for business.

It’s that cherry on top of the whip cream when it comes to customer service and acquiring that new customer, who, at that moment is deciding whether to come to your restaurant.

Make Sure Your Restaurant does the Best

A lot of people also forget that when people search for restaurants they may not necessarily be doing it on Yelp’s mobile app. They may just be logging into Safari on their Iphone and searching for your restaurant, and lo and behold a bunch of review sites like Yelp pop up on the first page.

As a personal user myself, I may not click on the links, but I do scan the variety of review sites that pop up, which may include Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, Google Reviews and Yelp. Generally, I don’t like to stand there and read long reviews while walking, but I definitely like to get a summary of what people have thought about a restaurant.

And so when review sites show up on the first page of Google, I’m looking at the amount of stars that users from different review sites gave that restaurant. “Oh this restaurant was given 4 stars on Yelp, and it appears that 83% of the people on Urbanspoon liked this restaurant. Let’s give it a try.”

To be able to earn a consistently high rating for your restaurant on the first page of Google mobile search, you’ve got to make sure the core of your business is well taken care of. Ensure the food is superb, and make sure the service is excellent. When you do, your customers and reviewers will let the public know.

And when people search for your restaurant on their mobile phone they will notice that 163 yelp reviewers that all gave it an average of 4 stars.

Today’s World, Social Sharing is on Drugs

Before you could only share with people based on word of mouth through the telephone or in person. And then it was by sitting at a desktop at home or in the office, and sending out instant messages or e-mails. And now people can share their knowledge whenever they want in the palm of their hands with different social networks. It was only 3 or 4 years ago when social sharing became a movement and now it’s on drugs.

Don’t wait until it’s too late, because it already is. Restaurants can’t afford to be behind in social media and mobile marketing anymore. Adapt or fail.

Feel free to contact us if you have any marketing questions or would like to know about how we can help your restaurant become even more profitable.

Help with Yelp
Yelp Banned this Marketing Book from Amazon

Tired of good 4 and 5 star reviews being taken down by Yelp? We know businesses are frustrated at Yelp, and we’ve found out some of the secrets that Yelp has that they don’t want business owners to know. That’s why they banned the book. Inside MCNG Marketing’s book it covers:

1) How to keep genuine reviews from your friends and family to stay on Yelp and not get “flagged.”

2) How Yelp ranks which reviews to show first and how long they stay up for, and how you can use this to your businesses advantage. (I don’t know anybody else that has studied Yelp Engine Optimization)

3) How to deal with aggressive and poor reviews to gain customer loyalty and much more.

MCNG has worked with a business that has over 140,000 visitors a year with their Yelp reputation and business and this book can do the same for your restaurant.

The book is priced at $4.99, which is less than a price of appetizer at your restaurant, but can save and earn you thousands off dollars a year.Let’s be honest, Yelp is here to stay.

If you’re not satisfied with your purchase you can get back 100% money back within 30 days of purchase. Payments are secure as we process via credit card through Paypal. Purchase securely and confidently, now.

Buy Now

Foursquare for Restaurant Marketing – Best Practices

How to Use Foursquare for Your Restaurant

Foursquare on Iphone No doubt by now that as a restaurant owner you’ve probably heard of Foursquare. And I’m sure you’ve heard some different things about it, some good and some bad. You’re also probably wondering what are some of the best practices as a restaurant owner for using Foursquare for your restaurant.

In this blog post we’re going to explore what type of check in specials that Foursquare allows you to create as well as some of my personal recommendations of best practices of using Foursquare.

Please note that this is quite a long and detailed blog post, so be prepared to be packed with information.

What exactly is Foursquare:

Foursquare is a mobile app (available on Iphone, Android, Blackberry, and a few other mobile operating systems) that allows users to “check in” at businesses or places. Let’s say that you happen to be eating at the Happy Mother’s Restaurant and you want to let people know that you’re eating at that restaurant. You would open the app on your smartphone, push the “check in” button and now your friends on Foursquare, and potentially Twitter and Facebook know you’re eating there.

This is the basic premise of Foursquare.

Why is this so appealing to some customers?

The initial appeal, and there still is some, is that Foursquare was designed as a game. They were giving out mayorships. This meant that if you checked in the most at a location that you were declared the mayor of that particular place. This would stimulate a sense of competition, and in theory would drive your best customers to come back more often to keep their mayorship.

But on top of that they also gave out virtual badges. When people started going to different sushi restaurants or different malls they would earn a badge. They offer virtual badges such as the “Superstar Badge” or “School Night Badge.” Imagine Scouts, but you’re getting badges for checking in to a variety of different businesses.

The app’s appeal was its gaming elements and the fact that it only took a quick second or two to “play.” Let’s face it, if you’re waiting in line at a coffee shop or at a restaurant, why not take the extra second to check in, earn a badge and have that badge tell you how great you are for completing a task.

Now it seems really simple, and almost childish, but this childish gamification has lead to Foursquare having 20 million users and growing.

But it’s also appealing because businesses started to see the potential in using Foursquare to promote their specials to grab customers that were walking by. And social media savvy customers love knowing that they are getting special treatment on Foursquare.

The Mind of a Potential Customer who Uses Foursquare

Patrick decides that he wants to eat at a restaurant. He’s already an avid Foursquare user, and decides to check his 4square account on his Iphone and see what’s nearby. Happy Mother’s Restaurant has a Foursquare special, Homer the Domer Restaurant next door doesn’t.

Happy Mother’s Restaurant says when you check in, you get a free apple pie when you order an entree over $15. Homer the Domer Restaurant has nothing.

Based on first impression, with all reviews and things being equal, where do you think Patrick is going to head off to? Chances are he’s going to head off to Happy Mother’s Restaurant.

Foursquare allows your restaurant to create businesses offers to attract only the most geographically immediate customers. As I’m typing this right now, I can see that the farthest place to check in is about 300 metres away, and within that 300 meters there’s about 4 specials. Only one of them being relevant to me at that moment.

Foursquare only shows restaurants that are hyper geographically targeted within a walking distance. The only other way to reach a customer at that point is if you happen to have a staff member who can read minds, locate Patrick, and then tell him that if he comes in at that moment to the restaurant that he gets an apple pie with his meal. And that’s probably not going to happen. But Foursquare can make it happen.

What are some of the specials you can create to drive guys like Patrick into you restaurant?

The Newbie Special Foursquare on Smartphones

This offer is given to people who check in the very first time at your restaurant.

When you’re a new restaurant and starting to build up your customer base for the first time, it can be incredibly hard to get local traffic and new traffic to come into your restaurant. This particular offer can help drive new customers into you restaurant door if you offer a great special.

If your special is great enough, let’s say you offer you a free appetizer, than this can give incentive for Foursquare users to take the leap of faith and try your restaurant.

If your restaurant is hidden away from the big streets, then this is a great offer to create. And one that I recommend for all restaurants as this offer can only be redeemed once. After they’ve come in, the staff need to work their magic to ensure that this social media customer becomes a loyal customer for life.

The Mayor Special

The special that launched Foursquare is the mayor’s special. This works on the basis that if someone checks in enough times and becomes mayor of your restaurant, you can offer that one single person a special. This might be a free upgrade every time they come in. Or, as an example, they get 25% off their total order every time they bring a friend.

I remember reading that one buffet restaurant said that the mayor of their restaurant got to skip the line on Sundays (their busiest day at the restaurant) and get straight to the food. Depending on the type of restaurant you run, the mayor could have his or her own private table, something an Arby’s did.

If you happen to have a lot of people using Foursquare in your area (and when you sign up for merchant account you’ll get an amazing amount of rich data available to you that will tell you this) you can determine if this is the best approach.

If there are frequent and many users that check in a lot, it can be assumed that there’s some competition to be mayor of your restaurant. And that you have quite a few loyal customers, so holding a mayor special in this case is worth it.

I’ve known people who have told me that they’ve gone back to cafes and bought something because they couldn’t stand the idea of losing their title of mayor in that cafe. Human nature is like that. We’re motivated by the sense of loss.

The only trouble is that the system can be cheated. If I live nearby, I can check in every day, and become the mayor and get my special. That’s one of the downfalls of Foursquare. It was never designed for verifiable check ins.

That’s why I advise giving a mayor special that’s not going to hurt your business if someone does cheat the system, but is still a great offer that it makes them want to come in and use that offer.

The Loyalty Special

The third special is the loyalty special, which allows you to reward people based on the number of times they’ve checked in. Notice I said checked in, not the number of times they’ve purchased. This system requires the honour system. And that means that you have to trust your customers not to cheat, though a small percentage will. It’s just a given fact.

Let’s say a customer checks in 10 times, then you can give them the offer of a free sandwich on their 10th check in. It’s assumed that the person actually did buy those ten times.

In my opinion this is a bit risky. People will check in for fun after hours, or they might legitimately check in eight times and then cheat on the other two. Though only a small percentage of people will actually cheat.

In my opinion this one is of the highest risk. If you want to see if the offer would be successful, I would suggest doing a trial period and see how it goes. See how many people are checking in during after hours, and keep track of how many of these specials you’re giving away by having a tracking code attached to the offer that requires your server to punch the code into the POS.

This way you know exactly how many of that particular special you gave away and can start comparing to your costs in case there’s shrinkage.

The Flash Special

A flash offer is an excellent way of driving in customer traffic during slower times of the day. How the flash deal works is that you get to limit the deal to a certain amount of check ins, let’s say the first ten check ins, and those first ten people get something special like a $10 gift certificate when they come in for an entree.

And this check in deal can be set between very specific times, so that it encourages people to come in during your slower hours. This might be between 2-4pm for example.

This is a great check in offer to drive traffic during slower times, and you can limit how many people get to use it.

All these offers can be made in real time, and so hold a flash deal the moment you feel it’s necessary, or decide to plan one out a few days or hours in advance and promote it on your social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

The Swarm Special

The swarm special is a little bit trickier to execute because it requires random co-ordination of groups. The basic premise of the swarm special is that if a certain amount of people check in to your restaurant within a 3 hour period then that special is unlocked.

This type of offer can only be unlocked once per day for your restaurant.

This deal would work well during really slow hours of your restaurant when you can afford to have customers potentially hanging out for three hours. The industry standard of table turnover is two, so personally I don’t recommend it.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t many uses for it. Let’s say that you plan regular networking events at your venue, and you want to create more social buzz. Since an event will most likely last more than three hours you can create the swarm badge so that when, let’s say 50 people have checked in, that they unlock an offer for a free gift from a sponsor, or everybody gets a free beverage when they show the offer to the bartender.

Friends’ Special

The friends’ special is where an offer is given to a group of friends on Foursquare who check in at business at the same time. As a restaurant owner you get to set how many friends must check in at once before the offer is unlocked.

There’s a lot that you can do with the friend special. If you feel that your restaurant is small, and that you mostly have a lot of pairs come in to eat, then you might want to create an offer that if two friends check in then a complimentary appetizer is given.

Or if your restaurant can accompany large groups, then to encourage large groups to come more often, you might create an offer where a minimum of 8 people check in at once then they all get 15% off their total bill.

Check in Special

And lastly, the one that is the most plain Jane is the check in special. This is a special given to someone that checks in to your business every time regardless whether they are new or not. If you find that your area is very competitive with similar businesses, then this offer could be helpful in giving a competitive edge.

For example, if you know that there’s another cafe that’s about 6 stores down, then you might offer a check in special that allows someone a free up size on their coffee every time they check in. This way you can maintain a stronger and loyal relationship with that particular customer, and ensure he doesn’t head next door if there’s a long line up.

Foursquare Allows for Social Sharing

The great thing about Foursquare is that it not only allows for people to share that they’re eating at your restaurant with their Foursquare friends, but with Foursquare, people can share their location information on Twitter and Facebook.

Some of my Foursquare friends have push notifications on, so every time I check in they’re aware of exactly which restaurant I’m in. Again, more free advertising for your restaurant.

People that tend to be social media savvy won’t just check in, they’ll spend that extra .5 seconds to share with their other two networks. So when your customer checks in and shares on a network, she’s sharing that information with dozens of people. If it’s someone really popular on the social networks, then most likely it’s reaching hundreds.

Now imagine that this person checks in at your restaurant often. Eventually people on Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter notice. This is a quiet way of suggesting that it’s a good restaurant to eat at.

Foursquare itself is quite a powerful tool for referrals, but its ability to spread the message of where people are eating, and then having them notice how often is even more powerful.

Not bad for a tool that’s provided for free to restaurants.

For more information on how you can craft a Foursquare special for your specific needs, feel free to contact us at vince at or call us at 604 782 0801. And we’re happy to offer a quick one hour free consultation for your restaurant.

Help with Yelp
Yelp Banned this Marketing Book from Amazon

Tired of good 4 and 5 star reviews being taken down by Yelp? We know businesses are frustrated at Yelp, and we’ve found out some of the secrets that Yelp has that they don’t want business owners to know. That’s why they banned the book. Inside MCNG Marketing’s book it covers:

1) How to keep genuine reviews from your friends and family to stay on Yelp and not get “flagged.”

2) How Yelp ranks which reviews to show first and how long they stay up for, and how you can use this to your businesses advantage. (I don’t know anybody else that has studied Yelp Engine Optimization)

3) How to deal with aggressive and poor reviews to gain customer loyalty and much more.

MCNG has worked with a business that has over 140,000 visitors a year with their Yelp reputation and business and this book can do the same for your restaurant.

The book is priced at $4.99, which is less than a price of appetizer at your restaurant, but can save and earn you thousands off dollars a year.Let’s be honest, Yelp is here to stay.

If you’re not satisfied with your purchase you can get back 100% money back within 30 days of purchase. Payments are secure as we process via credit card through Paypal. Purchase now.

Buy Now