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Restaurant Loyalty is Dying and What to Do About It

Exit Sign When I first started off this marketing business with my business partner, I was focused on working with restaurants. Since then the company has expanded with working with tech startups, mining companies and with food and hospitality. But what has become an alarming trend among restaurants in Vancouver is the number of closures of restaurants in this city, increasing your restaurant’s profits andcreating customer loyalty are more important than ever.

Dale Mackay is a celebrity chef, and the winner of Top Chef Canada. He opened two restaurants, both of them, sadly didn’t survive. It’s not only just those restaurants, it’s the fact that even chain restaurants like Moxie’s are having trouble succeeding. There are a few issues that are related to why I believe restaurants in Vancouver, and most likely every where else is having a tough time keeping afloat.

Restaurant Loyalty Mistake: Aiming Too Much at Gen Y

Restaurants hoping to build loyalty by aiming exclusively to Gen Y’s and trying to get them to come back again and again to the restaurant hoping to get them to be a life time customers is a big mistake. Marketing to millenials is a tricky business. With discovery tools such as Yelp, Urbanspoon and Open Table, young adults are no longer interested in eating at the same establishments.

When I was growing up, my parents and I would go out and eat at the same Chinese restaurant almost every other week. It was one of the better Chinese restaurants in the 70’s and 80’s. We went their as a family until they closed in the 90’s due to retirement.

This was because competition was low for Chinese food at the time, and the customer service was excellent. They truly treated us like a family, and always complimented on how good looking my older brother was.

But today’s youth aren’t loyal to a restaurant, they want go to where it’s trendy and what’s hot in the moment. They go to where all their friends go for that particular moment and then they’ll move on to the next restaurant that opens up that has the next best cuisine.

Because young men and women love novelty they don’t want to experience the same food, they want to take their money and make the most of it.

Younger generations don’t want to want to feel shunned by friends, and so they try to keep up with the foodie talks by going to those places so that they ensure they have a place in the foodie hierarchy.

The harsh truth is that if you’re using old school methods to keep the young people in, it’s not going to be very successful. All you have to do is look at how Facebook is slowly being abandoned by teens, to realize that younger generations skip and hop like hop scotch.

Restaurant Loyalty Mistake: Forgetting Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers are working beyond the traditional 65 years old, and accumulating more wealth, and are considered the largest demographic with money to spend. I find that baby boomers are starting to lose loyalty to restaurants as well, but many restaurants that have catered to an older generation and baby boomers with sophistication have, in my opinion, survived much longer.

Baby boomers have more money to spend, and have a stronger understanding of wine and alcohol and are willing to spend more during special occasions. One of my favourite restaurants that I enjoy in Vancouver is Kits Daily, an upscale and professional restaurant that has done extremely well at attracting both baby boomers and generation X and Y’s.

I truly believe that the intent of the restaurant was to provide the greatest, freshest quality of food on a daily basis. But never at the expense of making food cheap. I think this attracts a certain type of clientele, not too mention that the menu changes on a daily basis.

What Can You Do to Create Loyalty?

1) Create Loyalty Cards

Hotels (even 5 stars) and large retail markets have used loyalty points and cards for a long time, and have been very successful at it. Starbucks has even offered different levels of loyalty rewards to ensure that customers feel special. When a customer attends your restaurant, casually ask if they would like to receive a loyalty card to collect points.

Your restaurant may not be able to have the same sophistication that these large chains have, there’s still no excuse not to have one. One of my favourite sushi joints, Sushi Zero One has a loyalty card, and the place can only seat about 13 people.

2) Change Up Your Menu with Specialties

If you’re not able to attract the baby boomer crowd, but want to increase loyalty among younger people or to create a great word of mouth referral, make sure that your menu has changes from time to time. I’m not just talking about seasonal changes, I’m talking about weekly specials that can be tested and promoted.

I would also strongly suggest that you post your seasonal changes on your website and on your Pinterest boards.

I worked with one restaurant where loyal customers wanted to come in, but they always asked if there was anything new on the menu. They had tried the old stuff, but were getting sick and tired of eating the same menu items six months later. They were craving for something different.

By creating something different, it keeps people on their toes. Even in the world of advertising, we try not to use the same print advertisements because people tend to go, “Oh that’s been done.”

3) Treat Your Customers Equally

While baby boomers are the ones that are spending more money, and they are most likely to come back, don’t forget to treat all your customers equally. It’s a very hard balance int he world of restaurant marketing. The reason is because baby boomers are the ones that will spend, but it’s the younger people who are going to be the one telling people about your restaurant on social media faster than most people.

Young people are the ones most likely to introduce new customers into your restaurant, while baby boomers will too, they won’t be able to do it at the speed that Gen Y’s do.

But this also means taking your customer feedback seriously, and responding to their Yelp Reviews, or reviews on Trip Advisor. Respond to both good and bad comments, and just taking that extra interest will show that you’re quite serious.

Great customer service to all is vital, and if you’re finding your staff isn’t motivated in delivering the best, consider using gamification in your restaurant. This is how I increased sales at a cafe I managed a few years back.

What are you thoughts, do you feel that restaurant loyalty is dying and competition is too fierce? And what do you believe the solutions are.

Photo courtesy of Oliver Biederbeck.

How to Use Pinterest for Marketing Your Business

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Pinterest Isn’t For Every Business

I would like to state that Pinterest is not going to be an effective marketing tool for every business. However, I do encourage businesses to use Pinterest to help with their brand awareness, and depending on the specific industry, it can drive web traffic to your business site to help generate leads.

Did you know that Pinterest drives more referral traffic than other social networking sites, with the exception of Twitter?

How to Use Pinterest for Marketing Your Business

Show off Your Best Work

If you’re in an industry that requires the use of visuals such as graphic design, web design, interior decorating, photography, event planning, or fashion (the possibilities are endless), then Pinterest will definitely be a great social media tool for you. Here’s an example of my Pinterest “Contact Us” board.

Show off your best work, because this will encourage others to repin and capture the attention of potential leads (similar to reposting or retweeing). Pinterest is your visual portfolio that you can to show the world.

Also imagine Pinterest as an online shopping catalog where you rely mostly on photos.What kind of products do you want to show off? How are they being laid out for maximum efficiency to be able to turn browsers into shoppers to your website?

Have Your Pictures Link Back to Your Website

In order to make the most of your pictures, you want to ensure that pictures are attached to a specific url where the picture is being shown for that page.

To drive more leads to your website, you may have a landing page linked to the picture of an e-book that you’re offering for free, and this way it can help populate your e-mail list.

Or if you’re finding that your Linkedin has been great for marketing and lead generation, then start a board that is a “contact us”, and Pin Your Picture and label it underneath clearly that it goes back to your Linkedin profile.

There are two ways to get photos onto Pinterest.

The first method requires you to add pins through a specific url. Let’s say I use my fear based marketing article url.

Add a Pin

Once this url gets pasted into the entry, Pinterest will recognize all the pictures in that urfl (with the main exception being Flash based pictures) and will allow you to choose which of those photos you wish to pin.

For that blog post, since I have 3 pictures that I thought would make excellent visual content, I pinned all three pictures.

And now when people click on the pictures, they will be redirected to the original blog post.

Uploading photos can be done the same way. You can edit them so that they are linked back to the specific url that they are on. I find this way a little more time consuming since you have to upload an actual picture file, and then go back to the edit section to have them linked to the specific url.

Uploaded photos don’t have to be linked back to the site, but I would assume businesses would want to in order to get more web traffic.

Label your Pins and Boards with Keywords

I highly suggest you caption all your pins and label your boards with keywords that your potential customers may be searching for. This is search engine optimization for Pinterest. The bonus is that your boards can also be SEO’ed for Google as well.

The url created for your board will say The end part, name-of-board, will have some influence in the search engine results (SERP).

If people are looking for the newest fashion trends and want to optimize for New York fashion, then you should name one of your boards “Newest Fashion trends in New York” or to have a caption for a pin that says “Latest Jimmy Choo shoes released at New York Fashion show.”

Or if you’re looking to aim for local keywords, then you may have one of the board’s name be “Wedding dresses available in Vancouver”, and have those words in some of the captioning in pictures as well. Just like the way people started searching for information using Twitter, they will do that with Pinterest.

Also, Pinterest doesn’t recognize hashtags within their search, so if you want to label certain pins with those hashtags, don’t, put keywords in with the captioning instead to make it more easier to read. Pinterest is not Twitter or Google Plus. Don’t # it to death.

Engage with Others

Pinterest is a visual cocktail party. There’s so much that’s going on that it can be hard to decide where you want to start. Like Twitter you can search for terms like your city to potentially see who other pinners are and to actively engage with them or to search for them by keywords.

Repininning and Liking are two ways of engaging these members, but the best way is to leave comments about their pins as this is much more noticeable to the pinner as well as to those that may come across the picture. It’s the equivalent of the Like vs Comment on Facebook.

It may take some time, but follow and engage people you really like, and forget about the number of followers you have for now. The number of followers will increase as the type of content that is produced is relevant to the type of audience you want to build.

Find out what’s Working

This is a really cool tip that I learned from Beth Hayden about Pinterest, if you want to find out who’s been pinning your stuff from your website then type in the following into your web broswer search. (for your website, don’t add the www , example mine would be , to find out what’s being repinned

You can also use this to find out what’s popular among your competitor’s website to find out how you may differentiate some aspects of your Pinterest from them.

Start Your Business Account

Pinterest recently announced the launch of business accounts, the look and feel won’t be much different from personal users. The plus side of registering for your business account is that you’ll have resources, such as case studies, badges and widgets that will make it much easier to promote your Pinterest account.

To register for account visit

There’s no doubt that there are going to be some exciting changes happening with Pinterest in the future and it will no doubt be a growing network that will help drive new leads to your business. This is one social network you don’t want to be left behind.

For more information on how to use Pinterest for your business, contact us.

Twitter Marketing Tips for Beginners

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How to Get Started on Twitter for Marketing

I wouldn’t say that I was an early adopter of Twitter (I am the 21,547,942nd user to join) but I was on the social media network early enough when it was still a wild wild west, and having motivational quotes was considered the rage back then and people followed you back because you followed them. Now, Twitter has over 500 million registered users, and has changed a lot since I’ve joined.

Twitter can be overwhelming to those that are starting to use the social media tool. There’s so many conversations going on, and so many different people to follow. To top it off, you’re limited to writing 140 characters per tweet.

Where does a business or person start with Twitter? Here are 6 Twitter marketing tips for beginners.

1) Start Small and Slowly Build

I once had a lunch meeting with someone at Sun Life Financial who was overwhelmed on where to start with Twitter. I suggested that he approach Twitter like any other type of medium and start off with dedicating about 15 minutes of his day using the social network.

Choose a dedicated time during the day, such as lunch time, and spend 15 minutes each day so that Twitter becomes part of your daily habits over time.

This way it doesn’t consume your whole day, and your brain can slowly rewire itself to get used to the multiple conversations that are going on at any given moment. It’s like meditating, you can start off meditating for an hour a day, but it’s quite hard to do that. Approach Twitter in small time chunks to get started.

2) Follow People who You’re Interested In

When marketers are starting off, they often measure the success of their Twitter account by the number of people that are following them, and sometimes buy followers.

Unless your account is being purposely followed by users who are interested in your content, the number of followers really doesn’t mean much. It’s better to have 100 dedicated followers, than 10,000 followers who won’t pay attention to a single thing you’re saying.

In order to build this Twitter tribe, you should follow people that you would like to engage with or learn from. This could be other locals. You can get an idea of some Tweeters who are prominent in specific areas of an industry or a geographical area. Visit wefollow since it’s a great tool to start off with.

3) Start Engaging in Conversation with Strangers

Once you’ve started following people, start having mini conversations with people on Twitter. Your tweets can be about comments about a blog post that was shared or photo that a tweeter poster, or it can be responding to their question. It’s important not to discriminate from the start, but to have fun and meet people like you would at any cocktail party.

I tweeted @MissDestructo on Twitter regarding a comment about playing political bingo on Facebook with words that were popping up people’s Facebook status, such as 9/11 and Illuminati.

We started to have a small chat, but it was her friendliness and openness are what really impressed me. She wrote an article on the difference between left and right brained social media marketers, which is worth a read. And she added me on Linkedin after, if that’s not a great example of social media networking then I don’t know what is.

Just because your start a conversation with someone, doesn’t mean that he’s going to respond back right away, or respond back in general. Twitter users with a lot of active followers generally don’t have time to respond to everything. This doesn’t mean that they don’t read their tweets though.

If you continue to tweet certain people with engaging conversation or share articles of interest, they will eventually tweet back to you. Over time, you’ll find out who the tweeters are that are open to discussion and those that aren’t. Focus your energy on building relationships when starting Twitter, not selling. Your integrity and character will sell more than any tweet can.

Also if you feel there is a tweet that may be valuable to your followers, then feel free to RT it. The authour of the tweet will know and this is also a great way to start relationships with others on Twitter.

4) Share Interesting Content, and do Only a Little Bit of Selling

While Twitter is a great tool for marketing, it’s important to remember that it’s not a place to hock your wares. You don’t want to be known as the stereotypical second hand car salesman of Twitter.

In order to be able to promote your services and products, you must be able to provide your Twitter tribe with valuable information such as great blog articles, or informing your followers of relevant events first and foremost.

The general rule is engage and share great content 80% of the time, and spend 20% of your time promoting your services and business.

5) Create Lists

As time goes by, you may find yourself following a lot of people. This is when Twitter’s option of creating lists can be helpful in segmenting your followers. This should be done from the very start since it can be hard to locate old followers when the number of your followers start to grow.

The great thing about lists is that you have the option of customizing different lists depending on your business goals. Lists that I have created in the past include media contacts, locals, previous customers, and marketing agencies.

For a restaurant client, I created a list of all the previous customers who had eaten at our restaurant who mentioned the restaurant on Twitter. When business was slow, I would use that list to start talking to customers to try to lure them back into the restaurant. It’s always easier to get an existing customer to come back, then to get attract a new one.

If I didn’t create that list it would have been a nightmare for me to engage with previous customers that had not attended the restaurant for a month or more.

6) Use HootSuite to Manage Your Accounts

HootSuite is a social media dashboard that allows you to manage your Twitter account (as well as other other social media networks like Facebook), and to be able to customize columns of information into one place. This means that you can create a live feed of your Twitter account, and have next to it your lists, and even have a column that has tweets that mention your city in it.

HootSuite will also allow you to shorten links so that you’re able to use analytics to find out what type of content is being clicked on the most to help guide you in what type of material to post in the future.

The dashboard also allows you to schedule tweets so that you can share articles around the clock with your followers, but remember not to spam.

Using HootSuite from the very start can be overwhelming. I highly recommend that you follow principles 1-5 to start off. Once you’ve gotten a hang of Twitter as a tool on it’s own, then move onto the next level and study the different capabilities of HootSuite.

To help you get started with your social media campaigns, feel free to contact us at MCNG Marketing.

Guerrilla Marketing Tactics for Small Businesses

Guerrilla Marketing Calgary Farmer's Market What are guerrilla marketing tactics? Guerrilla marketing tactics are forms of promotions that rely more on time, energy, and imagination rather than using a big marketing budget to attract brand awareness and the attention of customers.

There are many examples of guerrilla marketing tactics, but it’s important to remember that all these tactics should be used as a part of a marketing strategy. Creating unconventional marketing methods for the sake of shocking isn’t necessarily the best way to market any business.

Here are Five Great Guerrilla Marketing Tactics for Small Business

1) Guerrilla Marketing Tactic #1: Reverse Graffiti

Have you ever walked around a sidewalk and noticed that one area of the sidewalk was particular clean to form a logo? Well this isn’t a coincidence. Since many city walking blocks and large walls are covered in grime, these places are ideal for reverse graffiti. These places, depending on how high traffic is, are quite easy to do reverse graffiti with to promote a marketing message.

To see how this form of green graffiti works, you can take a look at how Domino’s Pizza used this marketing tactic in front of their building to get people’s attention. This type of “graffiti” is considered a grey area for most of the law since technically in most cities it’s not illegal to clean streets. If you’re looking to market your local business around your town, this is a great green way to market.

The other form of green graffiti that’s become more popular is using moss murals. Moss murals can form pictures and letters with moss being stuck to the side of walls. It’s becoming quite common and is a very eco-friendly way of advertising.

2) Guerrilla Marketing Tactic #2: Start a Protest or Mini Parade

You’ve got to love freedom of speech, but a great way to get some attention is to hold a fake protest outside of your business and around the block, or to have a small group of people with a single megaphone calling for the end of bad pizza, or the end of terrible customer service.

In order for this tactic to be successful you need to choose a cause that people can be emotionally interested in, but also make sense.

Imagine that you own a flower shop. You may start a protest about the end of women receiving terrible, generic, and boring flowers, and gather 15 of your female friends to protest about it. The cause may be to have women receive nothing but beautifully handmade custom bouquets on dates. Then you start handing out flyers to state that every women deserves only the best bouquets on their dates. Say “No” to boring flowers.

Choose a cause that your business can really rally behind, and get your friends and family to parade around in the neighborhood to bring attention to the “cause” and attract local customers who are most likely to use your service or product.

3) Guerrilla Marketing Tactic #3: Be the Poster Child


Postering can still work wonders around your neighborhood or around town. Let’s say you run a marketing company. You can go around town and create posters that say , FOUND: Great marketing company. Company has marketed for the Vancouver Christmas Market, Bluebat Games, Dajin Resources and Novo Pizzeria and Wine Bar. If you have lost your marketing edge, please call 604 782 0801 or e-mail We want to return your marketing edge ASAP. These posters would be put around areas where executives and owners of small businesses live, since this would be MCNG’s target market.

This type of postering can do wonders for any type of business.

4) Guerrilla Marketing Tactic #4: Start a Fight with a Business

In order to drum up business for two restaurants that we were working with simultaneously, MCNG decided to start a public fight among both restaurants by announcing that they each had better food than the other. At the time, this wasn’t being done by any restaurants in Vancouver on social media.

We were creating buzz through Twitter and stated that we were eventually going to have a showdown to see whose executive chef was a better chef. This definitely got people to pay attention to both businesses, as MCNG wasn’t just creating something different, we were actually engaging tweeters into the battle as well to try to pick sides.

People love friendly conflict , and being able to choose sides to see which business will come out on top.

BMW versus Audi Billboard Start a fight, and then get a competition going, and start announcing it to the world. Remember. The goal is to be friendly, not viscous. Kind of like the whole BMW versus Audi billboards.

5) Guerrilla Marketing Tactic #5: Hang Coupons (or Apples) on a Tree

In the very first picture you can see that the Calgary Farmer’s Market did a brilliant job in getting people to stop in their tracks during their cold weather to pay attention to their “apple trees.” Chances are that many local small businesses are struggling due to the lack of awareness of business.

Instead of trying to push your brochures through mail order, go around and hang notes that read like fortune cookies around trees in your neighborhood and around the city. Hang them in high traffic areas. Ensure that the type of material that you are using is also bio degradable or recyclable.

My favourite brand of cereal is the Granola King from North Vancouver. At the bottom of every package is a little slip that reminds me of how wonderful life is. And every time I see it, I can’t help but smile. It’s their ability to surprise and delight every time is what will make this an interesting guerilla marketing tactic.

Along with each quote that’s written, attach a coupon for your business and encourage a call to action.

Guerilla marketing takes time, energy and a lot of creativity. But when done right it will increase brand awareness, and attract the right customers. Follow us on MCNG’s Facebook Page to keep up to date on great marketing tips.

Maximizing Your ROI on Facebook Offers for Restaurants

What is Facebook Offers?

Like Like Drive Inn
You’re looking for a way to help your restaurant gain more profits and you’ve decided that you wanted to explore Facebook Offers for your establishment.

First off, not every restaurant or hospitality Facebook Page will have the ability to have Facebook Offers. To know if your Facebook Page does, all you need to do is look at the area where you can post a status on your Page and it will say “Status /Picture /Video /Offer/ Events.” If you don’t see Offer, then your business hasn’t been selected and most likely doesn’t have enough “Likes.”

Facebook Offers allows you to create a deal or special offer for your Facebook fans and users. There are 3 different options to promote your offer: in store, online/in store and online. Since we’re going to be focusing on restaurants in this blog post I’ll focus on creating in store offers.

The first part of this blog post will look at daily deals compared to Facebook offers and which one is better.

Why it Makes Sense to use Facebook Offers and not Daily Deals

You’ve looked at working with a daily deal company and you’re thinking to yourself that there must be a better way to be able to attract customers than by taking a 75% loss. Let’s take a look both type of deals from a mathematical perspective. Let’s say that you run a restaurant and you’ve decided to use a daily deal offer.

And let’s say that you’re able to get about 500 people to buy your daily deal offer, and your daily deal offer is $10 for $20 worth of food. The daily deal generally will take another 50% of the $10 you rake in (you’re left with $5 from it all.) This means that you’ve earned $2500 from the deal and you took a loss of $7500 to potentially get those new customers in.

I would say that’s a pretty heavy loss for any restaurant. About 30% of the people aren’t going to use the daily deal because they forgot to. This would still indicate a loss of $5000.

Let’s look at Facebook Offers. Assuming that you’ve built up a good “Like” fan base and say that you have about 800 Facebook fans. With using Facebook Offers you can limit how many people can claim an offer.

Let’s say the limit to claim this coupon is 500 (the offer won’t be limited to just your Facebook Fans, it will show up in the news feeds of their friends as well.) And let’s say you get the full 500 claimed. This means that at most you’re going to give is $5000 in discount. Then let’s say you need to reach about about 12,000 people then that’s going to cost you, at the time of this writing about, $15. Let’s say that 75% of the coupons are redeemed. That means you will have earned about $3750 for the deal.

Even if all the people came in and used the daily deal offer, your max revenue from the deal would be $2500. The max amount from Facebook Offers if everyone decides to redeem is $5000.

Best Practices using Facebook Offers

1) Create a Mind Blowing Offer

Before you decide to offer a discount 10% off, you have to really ask yourself what kind of offer your customers would like and most likely share with their Facebook friends. I might claim a 10% offer, but the truth is I would probably wouldn’t print it out and come to your restaurant unless I’m already a regular.

Creating an offer that offers 30% off your meal and a free dessert is mind blowingly awesome. Or you can have people choose between two different options such as 50% off entrees or the offer above. Creating wimpy deals won’t get Facebook fans and users to come to your restaurant.

The way that the offer is stated is very important, if you want to seriously rock this part, I would suggest that you write down 10-15 different ways to write the deal and then look at them again the next day. What seems like an amazing offer the first time around, may not be so amazing when you see it the second time around.

2) Choose a Food Photo that Keeps Eyes Glued to It

Keep in mind that your offer is going to be on the top of the newsfeed of Facebook users. You have to make sure you have a picture that grabs their attention. Highlight a food item that looks amazing, and make sure it looks good within a small square.

3)Set Your Limits and Terms

It’s important to be able to understand how many customers your restaurant can manage. Ensure that you set a proper limit, and when in doubt set it lower claim amount as a test phase. If it works, you can always go back and do another offer. However if you offer too many and you and your staff can’t handle the flow this can lead to some dangerous results, such as poor Yelp and Urbanspoon reviews that will hurt your long term business.

Have a proper expiration date, and the terms that people can use the offer such as good Sundays to-Thursdays.
Write down what you would like the terms to be. Let it sit over night and then add on any additional terms needed. Inevitably that there’s something else that comes up that you may forget, such as, “May not be combined with any other offer.”

4) Set Your Budget

It’s important to remember that you still run a business, so you need to set a budget that’s appropriate for the return that you are expecting. You can increase your reach by tens of thousands who will see you offer by spending an additional $20-30.

Also understand that this is not a long term solution. This is just a great way to get some of your customers that love your restaurant to come back. This should be considered as part of your advertising and marketing budget.

5) Facebook will E-mail Claimants

Once a Facebook user has claimed an offer, it will be e-mailed off to the user’s e-mail address. Make sure you train your staff and let them know what to expect from Facebook users, and to help them handle the volume of people using the coupons.

The majority of daily deal and offers users will come into restaurants within the first month after claiming the offer.

6) Dazzle Your Customers

While there’s pretty much close to a billion of us using Facebook, that doesn’t mean a billion people know your Facebook page exists. The good news is that those that did come in to use the offer are people who are using Facebook. This also means these are the people that have the potential to create some loyal relationships with and to encourage Facebook users who are not fans to be fans of your page.

Based on personal experience, I find that Facebook users tend to love take photos of food, and willing to share those photos. They may share on Twitter and Instagram as well. There are definitely a lot of side benefits.

Those are the best practices for creating some amazing Facebook offers for your restaurant. Feel free to sign up for our newsletter for great business tips or contact us any time.

Photo courtesy of Rossa Say

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.

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5 Marketing “Tricks” to Get Customers Engaged with Your Brand

I wouldn’t necessarily call them tricks, but they are marketing tactics that can create wonderful brand engagement under the right circumstances. Some of these tactics are designed to hook the consumer’s subconscious mind while others will be more obvious to your customers. Here’s the beauty of it all, if you don’t plan to use any of these marketing tactics with your marketing, then you can definitely use them as conversation topics. Without further ado, here are 5 marketing “tricks” to get your customer engaged with your brand.

1) Create Puzzles that People can Figure Out

When looking at the above picture, start from the top left hand side. It’s advertising for 42 Below vodka . Once you’ve figured it out, you should have a good laugh. If not then feel feel to e-mail me at vince at and I’ll be happy to tell you. (Don’t ask your kids!)

The tricky part about using puzzles is that some of your audience won’t get it, but those that do will feel a sense of intelligence and reward. The downfall of using puzzles is that if customers have to take longer than 4 or 5 seconds to figure out your puzzle then they give up and the advertising message is lost.

As consumers, we like to be on the inside joke. We just don’t want to take more than 5 seconds to figure it out. Or else we start feeling a sense of ignorance. And nobody likes to feel ignorant.

2) Show People Using Your Product or Service in Photos

This happens a lot among the food service industry. Restaurants show pictures of food on their website, but they are not showing people eating their food in their photos. Ask yourself, are you more engaged looking at food all on their own, or do you personally find it more interesting when you see people eating the food?

Neuroscience has shown us that when we see people act in a certain way, we subconsciously process parts of our brain (mirror neurons) that start to imagine that we are in that specific situation. The more emotionally charged a picture is – the more we imagine ourselves in that situation.

Imagine seeing a picture of a needle on its own in a black background. Now imagine a picture of a needle being poked inside someone’s right shoulder. Which one is going to make you squirm a little more?

Same with food photos. Use photos of a person eating your food and who’s having a good time and you’ll be able to create more of an emotional impression with your customers.

3) Create Novelty

It’s a good idea to change your marketing messages once in a while (for big brands this is every few years, and small businesses have more flexibility). Here’s the truth. We don’t like seeing the same things over and over again. This is why fashion changes every few years. This is why designs for websites don’t look like Geocities now(remember those sites?). We like change (just nothing too erratic).

We are hardwired to look for change, and to go out there and explore. How do you think we conquered the earth as the dominant species? We sure didn’t do it because we were afraid to go out and explore. As a species, we get tired of staying in the same place. We needed change, we needed the new. This is why to this day, traveling is still in our blood.

Change it up once in a while. If your Twitter is too serious all the time, offer some humour that’s aligned with your marketing strategy. Could you imagine if every single blog post I wrote was about engaging customers with Twitter? Even I would be bored.

4) Tell the Truth

Some of the most engaging campaigns have little to do with brilliance, and more with the core truth that touches u. Nike does a brilliant job with this video.

A mistake that people often make is thinking that marketing needs to be creative, original, and fresh, when in reality most marketing is about simple truths. Truths about how our products serve people, truths about society, truths about how as human race we can improve. Truths in advertising is absolutely profound, because it isn’t used enough.

5) Cuteness Sells

Cuteness doesn’t sell to everyone, but it definitely does sell. Cuteness in the design of cars has played a major role in their sales. Here’s an interesting fact, neuro marketers did brain scans of consumers looking at the Mini (and I have a gut feeling that it was the same for the VW Beetle) and they found the parts of the brain that “lit up” while looking at cute babies also lit up when looking at the Mini.

Now if you’ve ever looked at babies, you’ve probably had the sudden urge to want to hold them, cuddle them, and want to just squeeze their cheeks. Ultimately you want to create a bonding experience with the baby. Evolutionists have suggested that it is our nature to be drawn to “cute.” Or else babies wouldn’t be able to survive.

All you have to do is look some of the most viral themes on YouTube, and it’s mostly about cute. Cute cats. Cute dogs. Cute talking twins. Cute “Charlie bit my finger.”

When cuteness is designed right for a product, it will trigger the same brain patterns that remind of us of looking at a baby. It gives us that strong impulse to buy it and take it home with us and somehow take “care of it.”

Social Media Experiences are the New Form of Advertising

Traditional Advertising Makes It Hard to Create Emotionally Engaging Experiences

Traditional Advertising isn’t dead, and probably never will. Just because TV was invented, doesn’t mean that people still don’t listen to the radio. With these forms of advertising you were able to reach a large audience and most it was about pushing messages onto the public.

Then the birth of social media came along, and it was now possible to reach large audiences in a more economical and consistent manner, especially to reach a local audience. Yes, you could advertise about your small business in the newspaper or put up large posters around town at bus stops, but this still makes it had to create an emotionally engaging experience with customers.

It’s About Engaging Experiences

In a day and age where millennials and Gen Y’s are expecting more engagement advertising and engagement marketing, it’s only a matter of time before traditional advertising will move to the geriatric ward. As young consumers become adults, we’ve become desensitized to push advertising that’s not entertaining, engaging or helpful to us.

We’re now looking to have experiences and entertainment mixed in with our advertisements. Seriously, we don’t mind, that’s why we enjoy watching the Old Spice commercials on You Tube . Then there’s the next step, creating actual experiences with your social media community.

Yelp Creates Experiences for Thousands of Users Every Month

Yelp is the master of such promoting for their website. Almost every month Yelp holds a Yelp Elite party in their major markets to encourage their users to continue to write reviews and to revisit the website again and again. This is no easy feat to do with so many different social media network sites out there. They understood very early on that by creating experiences for their most loyal social media users, that they would earn their loyalty. But the fact is that they brought the community together through the feeling of the experiences being earned.

Create a Twitter Scavenger Hunt

Another great way for small businesses to create memorable experiences is to start a Twitter treasure hunt that gives away your product. Place your product (or an item that is uniquely yours) all over the city for people to find. Reveal the locations of these items at different times of the day through Twitter and Facebook. For example, if you run a retail shoe store, you may offer a free pair of shoes to the person who finds the item located on a specific street corner, and whomever is the first to find it gets to keep it. The famous skateboarder, Tony Hawk has executed this strategy very well.

There’s a Whole New Level of Scavenger Hunts with Mobile Apps

Catch the Flash campaign is one of my favourite campaigns, because it was able to combine social media, digital and traditional media (they used radio promotion) to get people to try to catch the runners all over the city to help promote Nike’s Vapour Flash Jacket. There were 50 runners in total wearing the jackets numbered 1-50, and Nike provided an app that would allow participants to know where the runners were because the runners had a GPS tracker attached to them. The event took place at night, where people had to use flash photography and catch the number on the back of the runners. The person with that had the most photos of the different flash runners won a 10,000 Euro platinum bar.

Some of the best social media engagement we’ve gotten for a restaurant was through creating a unique experience for one of their loyal customers. She tweeted a few days before she was landing at YVR airport that she would enjoy having a breakfast pizza at 8 am in the morning. It started off as a bit of a joke. But as the marketing agency representing the pizzeria, we took the initiative and delivered a great pizza to her, and she and her best friend loved it! Here’s the post detailing it all.

Good marketing and advertising is about spending your marketing budget wisely. While a newspaper or printed advertisement MAY get the attention of your target market, social media campaigns with proper experiences can cost as little as a giveaway. If you feel that you don’t have the social media following to conduct such experiences yourself, pair up with a local online celebrity to help promote your particular social media experience.

Put back the social in social media and get people involved with your brand. One of the newest trends to get people to have experiences with your brand is through gamification. Something you’ll definitely see much more of in the next 20 years.

6 Deadly Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Marketing is essential to any small business. Whether you run a restaurant, a hair salon, or are a travel agency, without proper marketing, barely anyone will know your business exists with the exception of your closest friends and family.

However, you can’t rely on them to help make your business a success. Often, small businesses underestimate the complexities of what goes into marketing to make it successful. After all, is what you do in your business that simple, or does it require a lot of planning, understanding and behind the scenes work? It’s trying to keep up and understand social media. And if people just dived into your business without proper training then you can imagine what type of disaster it would be.

In order to create some great marketing campaigns for your small business you need to avoid these 6 deadly marketing mistakes and how you to stay on track.

1) Deadly Marketing Mistake 1: Executing Fast and Furiously

Do you know what happens when you focus too much on executing marketing without proper planning? You get death. When you execute any marketing campaign without careful thought it can drain you and your team of a lot of time and money. The worst part, it can hurt your business’ reputation. Execution of a marketing plan is only a small part of what needs to be done. Too many businesses fire as many shots as possible, hoping that one lands right on target, this is not a smart way to do marketing.

I was talking to the executive chef at a large lounge and restaurant, and he told me how frustrated he was with their current marketing agency because management brought in people who were doing fashion and event marketers, who had no familiarity of how to market for restaurants.

They ended up executing a series of events that drew in the wrong target market, and the restaurant spent thousands of dollars with them. Their result: Lack of being able to bring in new customers and an Urbanspoon rating of 36%. Don’t execute any marketing without proper planning and understanding.

2) Deadly Marketing Mistake 2: No Marketing Research Was Done

This is probably the biggest mistake that small businesses make when they start their marketing. They didn’t even do any market research. What makes most businesses successful is their ability to solve a person’s or business’s pain point. When you start to understand your target audience’s pain point, then you can create some wonderful marketing material.

I was doing research for a product that was targeting mothers. By doing research I was able to find out that mothers were highly educated, were the dominant decision makers in grocery shopping, felt insulted by advertisers who created unfair gender stereotypes, had a strong need to be a part of a community, were interested in maintaining their beauty, and loved shopping for items in the kitchen. Using this information we were able to position the product properly in the mind of the end consumer, and to create a strong and unique brand compared to their competitors.

3) Deadly Marketing Mistake 3: There Was No Marketing Strategy

One of the sure fire ways to watch your business fail is a lack of a marketing strategy. A marketing strategy is the big picture of how you want to accomplish a big marketing goal, and the “how” of all your marketing relates to that big picture goal.

Let’s say you owned a bakery and you want to be known for quality baked goods and want to attract 80% of your business to come from locals that live within a 2 km radius. Then you need to ensure that all your marketing is aligned with this new strategy.

Based on your strategy, you wouldn’t go and sponsor a community event held 50 kilometres away, nor would you send out direct mail campaigns that have a “cheap” look. Instead, you would focus on sponsoring local community events that are a walking distance away from your store (such a neighborhood festival), or giving away samples to people who walk by the bakery. You would also create marketing material that highlights the superior quality ingredients in your baked goods.

4) Deadly Marketing Mistake 4: You Lack a Brand

Branding is more than just a logo or the visual design that you create for your business cards and invoices. Creating a strong brand is about how to ensure you stick out from the clutter of competitors and create an unmistakable identity that a product or service belongs to your business.

If you look at the different hair salons that are out there, they all essentially offer the same service.

But your salon might specifically aim for men, and make a salon a man cave. It might have sports playing on televisions and offer business and tech magazines to read. You might have a Foosball table in the waiting area so that men can play while their waiting for their stylist to call them. All to add to that essence of your hair salon being branded as “The man cave salon.”

Brands are worth a lot of money, and are often known as “goodwill” in accounting terms. Here’s how valuable a brand can be. When Coke came out with a holiday polar bear can that was white, it confused and led to complaints by loyal Coke customers.

There were a few people who I talked to that thought it was a Diet Coke can (the colours are very similar, which caused product confusion), which included myself. The first batch that was in stores were the only batch out of 1.4 million Coke cans and bottles produced. But by then, it was too late. Confusion set in and it costs Coke quite a bit of money to produce those collector cans which the majority never reached store shelves again.

Crowd 5) Deadly Marketing Mistake 5: You Tried to Reach Everyone

This happens a lot when I’m dealing with small businesses that are starting up. They want to try to reach everyone, and in return they reach no one. It’s like trying to have the same conversation with a person who is 21 who loves Katy Perry, and someone who is 31 who loves Spice Girls, and someone who is 41 who loves Madonna.

Your business needs to know what specific market that you want to reach and to focus your marketing efforts on this particular group. A good example of this is Justin Bieber. When Bieber’s marketing team first started, they focused on their core market which was young girls and teenagers. But because they became so well known within that target group, mothers in their 30’s and 40’s also became big fans.

When you become known for a very specific target market, you will attract more business from other groups. When you try to reach everyone, your business will fail.

6) Deadly Marketing Mistake 6: You Didn’t Measure Your Marketing

I hate soft metrics. I really do. I hate it when marketers measure results based on the number of “Likes” or “Followers.” If that was a really important measure, I would have bought followers for my clients a long time ago.

Before you ever start any marketing campaign or marketing material, you need to ask yourself, “What is my ultimate goal by doing this?” and “How will I measure the success of this marketing tactic?”

A restaurant might put an advertisement on a bus, but it’s really just an advertisement. How would a restaurant owner know for sure how successful the ad was without guessing? It can be as simple as saying “Get 10% off when you mention the bus ad at our restaurant.” This way you know that it’s not coming from a newspaper ad, or from a coupon that they printed off from the Internet.

This way you can keep track of what campaigns were successful and ones that weren’t.

Too many small businesses spend too much time and money on marketing, only to create the wrong marketing strategies. They lack time and effort to do a thorough job, but it’s always better to do it right the first time than to have no budget left for marketing the next time.

If you have questions about small business marketing feel free to reach me directly at vince at

Do Small Businesses Need Social Media?

Should My Business use Social Media Marketing?

Social Media Cartoon Hubspot

With all the talk about social media in the last few years, and now that it has become part of our every day language, the question to ask is, “Does my small business need to be on social media?”

The answer – depends. The question should be more of, “How does this particular social media tool help my business reach the marketing goals?”

Not All Social Media is Created Equal

The nature of marketing isn’t about using what’s the latest tools or what’s cool, it’s about being able to use the tools in measurable and creative ways to ensure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck (or the most out of your time invested). The trouble begins by lumping all social media together as one group, but like the way that radio stations work, each social media tool has a specific demographic it reaches.

Being able to know which social media tool fits the type of customer or client that you’re looking for will help you a lot in determining which social media tool is right for you to use.

Not Every Business Has to be on Facebook

I don’t advocate every business be on Facebook, unless they are truly prepared to be active on Facebook on a weekly basis. With the proper Facebook engagement, content, and advertising, your business can gain Facebook Likes much more easily than just leaving it alone.

Facebook isn’t a static website, it always needs to be under construction. And while there are reports that people have done B2B, it’s not always going to be the most effective.

What often happens is that small businesses neglect their Facebook Business Page for months, while customers are trying to reach them through that particular social media channel. What kind of experience do you feel a customer has if they don’t get an answer to their inquiry?

It might not be a big deal, but how do you like being e-mailed back 2 weeks later for an inquiry you had about your phone bill?

Twitter is the same. It’s a social media tool designed for engagement. Learning where to start with Twitter and not be overwhelmed by it is important.

For restaurants, retail, hospitality, and businesses that have customer service, being on Twitter is a smart move. It allows you to engage with potential customers and ensure ties with existing customers to continue to build relationship loyalty.

Or if you’re in the business of real estate, then you may actually want to target people who are on Linked In and create online relationships there. Or you may want to develop relationships with people on Yelp, surprisingly, almost 1/3 rd of users earn more than $150,000.

Social Media Marketing is Strongly Suggested

I don’t think small businesses NEED to have a social media presence, just like most business owners don’t need to go out and network. However, those small business owners that make it a priority to go network also know that by networking, they can grow their business. As long as they don’t suffer from networking overload and forget the other aspects of their business.

Social media operates in the same manner, once you’re able to find a network where your ideal customers and clients are digitally hanging out, it allows you access to a whole different community of people and referrals that you would have never been able to reach before. The most important part is not to put too much time so that it takes you away from the core of your business.

There are times that it’s better for your business to be a part of old school discussion forums. For example if you run an automotive shop, search for local car forums, and offer advice on how to fix cars. Develop credibility by offering your opinion and recommendations.

Social media marketing should always be part of a larger integrated marketing plan for your small business. Rarely does it succeed purely on it’s own, with the exception of a few industries such as food trucks. But before jumping into any social media tool, or any marketing tool for that matter, always ask yourself, “How does this help my marketing goals?”

If you don’t have clear answer to that question, then you’re using social media because everybody else told you to. Not because your business needed to.

Corkage Now Legal in BC Restaurants | Bring Your Own Wine

BC corkage

Bring Your Own Wine to BC Restaurants

British Columbia has long been known for its archaic liquor and wine laws. But as of July 19, 2012, restaurants with a liquor license in BC will legally have the right and option to serve wine brought in by guests.

While there are some mixed reviews about this depending on who you ask, it’s a serious boost for small businesses that have been suffering from such an outdated law. The BYOW (Bring Your Own Wine) program will be an interesting one to see in the upcoming months, as restaurants will vary their service charges from complimentary to $50.

Once we heard the news, we were really excited to the point were we messaged our client Novo Pizzeria and Wine Bar and insisted that we write a blog post for them about it, since they were such fans of legalizing corkage fees.

The province of BC is one of the last to legalize such activity. It’s already legal in six other provinces, which include Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba and Ontario. Not to mention that if you head down South from Vancouver, BC it’s legal in Washington State as well.

What does this mean for your restaurant business?

1) Small local restaurants that don’t have the space, nor the financial cashflow to carry large volumes of wine should begin to partner with liquor stores nearby. Liquor stores are probably more than happy to promote restaurants that provide corkage because this becomes a win/win situation. People that visit specialty wine shops are more inclined to want to know which restaurants in their neighborhood offer the service as well.

2) Happier customers. In this day and age, the average consumer is looking to save money. This gives them the opportunity to bring a wine that they truly enjoy and be able to feel elevated when dining in your restaurant. Those that are quick to let customers know first, will benefit from those that don’t. I highly suggest letting people people know on your website and your social feeds.

3) You’re still responsible for their well being. Regardless of how many bottles of wine someone brings to the restaurant, it is still the restaurant’s responsibility to manage their patrons alcohol intake. Your restaurant could be held liable for any cases of intoxication.

4) Remember that all of this is voluntary and that not every restaurant has to participate. I would advise that you scan around your local area to see which restaurants are participating as this could potentially affect customer flow. And based on your customer base decide weigh the pros and cons.

For the official announcement made by the BC government please feel free to visit this website: