So, here in New Orleans we're in the midst of Mardi Gras! That wonderful time of the year when we line the streets to catch free stuff from total strangers. And not just junk either. Sure, some of the beads are kind of plain, but at our first parade this year, in less than an hour, our 4 year old came away with a moon pie, cheese puffs, a sword, assorted stuffed animals, go cups, doubloons, lots and lots of beads and some candy (which we quickly hid)!
So, where's the sales lesson? Well, imagine my son's delight in the kindness displayed by total strangers as they handed him strings of beads, or a stuffed animal, like the one above - with absolutely no expectation of anything in return - except maybe a smile or thank you! Imagine if we, as sales people, would go above and beyond to wow our clients and prospects in such a similar manner. Heck, maybe a sting of Mardi Gras beads would do the trick... but I'm thinking that something more appropriate to your specific transaction may be better!
Could you set out every day to commit to offering every guest, every prospect "a little something extra?" Could you commit to making their "transaction" with you more meaningful, special, unique? Could it be that the thought that goes into your gesture is worth more than whatever it is you actually provide? Probably so!
So, take a look at what you sell. What services or amenities do you already offer? Can any of them be customized for your clients at little or no cost? Would this create an elevated experience for your guest?
In the hotel and restaurant industry - one in which I do alot of business - we routinely print custom menus for group events. Often these menus have the date of the event and the restaurant logo. Periodically we also place the client logo. But, we're missing the boat. Look at all this real estate. How do we make this special for the guest? Could their agenda be added to the back - or a headshot and bio of the evening's speaker? Where's the opportunity to add a little Lagniappe - a little something extra?
Could your follow up solicitation letter include something special like a note from the chef written on a logo'd apron asking for their business, a bottle of wine accompanying your proposal that would work well with the menu you're recommending, a loaded MetroCard so they can get to you on "your dime." Use your imagination and see where your sales can go.
So, the next time you have a client, or prospect on the phone or in your office - do what we do here in New Orleans, "Throw them a little something" - and build your sales!
So, in the past I've toiled over what to write here. This year, I'm simply going to share my daily life experiences in sales, marketing, whatever and where ever I think there's a lesson or insight that may be of value. Here's today's and it's a good one!
So, I wear a few hats... marketer, sales person, mom... maid, paramour, livery and periodic chef de cuisine... But regardless of the task, everything I do, everything revolves around providing exceptional customer service - or so I try!
And, so I'm so baffled by how people who can be so exceptionally trained in delivering outstanding customer service can "F" it all up with total lack of common sense. Here's today's story.
I have a client who uses the same hotel three times a year for a small corporate meeting. The hotel has held the sleeping room rates the same for the past five stays. Today, out of the blue, they raised the rates 20%.
Now, I know what you're thinking... did they go through a remodel? NO. Are they coming to New Orleans during Mardi Gras or Superbowl? NO. What's changed? Virtually nothing. The hotel has simply decided that in order to reach their revenue goals in 2013 this is the tactic they'll pursue.
So, I reminded the sales person this is a long standing, loyal client who's rate you've honored repeatedly. Why not raise it a small increment? Or hold the line on their rate and seek your increase elsewhere? Is a bird in the hand (over the long term) not worth two in the bush?
What's more prudent? To raise rates a couple of bucks on your transient clients or one time group business or 20% on a regular client who is now, no longer coming to your establishment?
What's the most irritating about this entire transaction is that my client could care less; there are many, many hotels that are thrilled to have her business. So down the road she goes. She stayed with this hotel because it was simply the path of least resistance.
So, sales people, consider your revenue strategy carefully. Is loyalty valued in your business? Does your strategy make sense from the other side of the table? All of the guest service in the world can't make up for decisions lacking basic common sense!
Here's to building and maintaining your relationships and driving sales in 2013!
For most restaurants, this is the busiest time of the year. Ask a Chef if he'd mind allowing a group of 4 year olds to tour his kitchen on a Thursday - during lunch - in December - and you may expect to be met with ridicule - or disdain!
And yet today, a group of joyful youngsters, our son included, had a chance to visit the kitchen of La Petite Grocery in New Orleans, just as lunch was getting underway, as part of their "culinary education." They looked at quail eggs and octopus, "made" sugar cookies and learned a bit about how a commercial kitchen operates. Did I mention they made sugar cookies?
Their "take away" was, yes, sugar cookies, and, if the children accepted, the lunch and dinner menus (presumably to give to mom and dad!) A great little grassroots marketing effort wrapped in the spirit of the season!
So, thank you to Chef Justin, his wife and the General Manager Mia for hosting the children of St. Georges today! We will see you soon!
Too often restaurant companies engage the services of a public relations firm without clear understanding of what they need or want and/or what the firm can and should deliver.
One of the most effective ways to ensure you get the most bang for your public relations buck is to create integrated public relations promotions. By this, we mean asking your public relations firm to develop promotions for your business that addresses multiple opportunities or goals. This provides your PR firm a tangible program to execute strategy against and also offers a measurable means to determine success – for both the PR firm and the promotion.
For example, a restaurant company may ask a PR company to design a promotion to address the following:
•Reintroduce your restaurant(s) to local media, food-centric bloggers, etc.
•Increase awareness of the brand within your DMA.
•Reinforce your brand based on your mission statement.
•Build your database of new guests (or obtain new data on existing guests – email addresses for example if you have a large database of mail-only addresses).
•Drive new incremental revenue during the promotional period
•Drive incremental revenue after promotional period (by being able to convert new guests to regular guests)
•Provide positive ROI against promotion.
These integrated campaigns may be “stand-alone” promotions developed specifically to drive revenue in an otherwise soft period such as the summer, however your public relations firm should also be developing integrated campaigns for even your “regular” promotions such as Mother’s Day, Easter and the Holidays. Even campaigns developed to promote elements of your business such as catering or “curbside to-go” should be integrated. It’s simply a matter of identifying how to expand an existing program to “fire on more cylinders” and ensuring your public relations firm is leveraging all of your efforts for maximum return.
We recently executed a summer promotion for a client that included a sweepstakes element. The winning family enjoyed a week sailing with the company's corporate chef serving as their personal chef! The company gained incremental revenue during the promotional period, database growth, increased media coverage, brand awareness and continued lift following the promotional period.
Once you identify a promotion – whether it’s a new stand-alone promotion or the build-out of an existing promotion, your public relations firm should be able to expand the campaign to address additional goals that will benefit your business.
As an example, let’s look at Mother’s Day. Let’s assume in the past your restaurant traditionally created a special prix-fixe menu which you promoted on Facebook and your website, with check presenters and posters in the restaurant.
With the assistance of your public relations firm, you’ll be able to create a far more robust campaign. First, you need to realize that if you’re like most restaurant owners you’re going to have to start planning a bit farther ahead than you regularly do.
Next, you have to realize that your traditional Mother’s Day offering probably isn’t “newsworthy.” That’s ok. It’s up to your PR firm to determine how to put the appropriate promotion together that’s brand appropriate and will create the interest the PR firm needs to go out and promote Mother’s Day for your restaurant(s).
Typically we’ve found that adding just one or two interesting elements to an existing promotion is enough to make it stand out from the crowd, to make it a “story” and to give us the angle we need to generate buzz about our client’s restaurant(s).
From here we’re able to layer in the various components that provide incremental benefit for our clients which may include increasing their visibility in the marketplace, highlighting expanded holiday hours, menu, etc., expanding their database and driving new clients to their restaurant(s).
Tactics employed include developing interesting, hard working press releases; hosting preview menu tasting for food bloggers and local food and lifestyle writers and ensuring placement of stories about the given promotion.
We incorporate promotional elements into Facebook to increase fan engagement and activity. We leverage the website for promotion, reservations and database development. And we create a strategy to more effectively communicate with the various constituents within the database.
Executed in concert, our clients realize a greater return on these integrated public relations campaigns – and the results last far past the promotional period.
We hope you found this of interest. If you’re considering hiring a PR firm – here’s an interesting article from O’Dwyer’s. http://www.odwyerpr.com/how_to_hire/how_to_hire.htm
ABOUT THE HINSON GROUP
The Hinson Group, Inc. is an award-winning, full service marketing, strategic branding and public relations firm with a reputation for building equity for our client’s brands. We apply our collective years of experience to your business and with it, we deliver results. Specialized areas of expertise include hospitality, retail, consumer goods and not-for-profit.
For information, please contact Deborah Hinson at 888-445-7323 x713 or via email at email@example.com.
Pinterest isn't just for mom's, retailers and the fashion forward. It offers everyone from service providers to restauranteurs to non-profits a new way, visual way to interact with consumers. By establishing your brand on Pinterest your clients, fans and potential consumers can easily follow you, comment on the images you've pinned and repin them to their own boards!
You can also follow fans of your brand and prospective influencers that are in your target audience. Viewing their pinboards allows you to understand what your client is interested in; what issues they care about; how to enhance your marketing message accordingly.
Consider Dan Kim, Founder of Red Mango. He's created 33 boards to generate interest in his 150 unit frozen yogurt-smoothie chain. He's found success by being an active participant in Pinterest, engaging his consumers, commenting and repinning, not selling.
If you're interested in creating a corporate Pinterest account, click on the link below for your free guide. If you'd rather not go it alone, we'll create your account for as little as $100! Happy Pinning.
The Hinson Group, Inc. is an award-winning, full service marketing, advertising, strategic branding and consulting firm with a reputation for building equity for our client’s brands in a resourceful, meaningful and unique fashion. Specialized areas of expertise include hospitality, retail, consumer goods and not-for-profit.
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA (April 10, 2012) – Deborah Hinson was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of the International Medical Meetings Professionals Association (IMMPA). Ms. Hinson is the Brand Strategist at The Hinson Group, a marketing, public relations and advertising firm based in New Orleans, Louisiana. The firm ’s robust meeting and event division is a leader in the delivery of medical meetings within the restaurant sector.
Ms. Hinson is a recognized industry leader in the development and implementation of integrated marketing programs, local market promotions and revenue development plans. A twenty-five year restaurant industry and marketing veteran, Deborah has received numerous awards including Finalist, Best Marketing Executive, The American Business Awards and a Silver Inkwell Award for Best Corporate Communication Program.
The International Association for Medical Meeting Professionals is dedicated to promoting professionalism through advocacy, education, research and service. IMMPA's purpose is to provide conformity of medical meeting professional's education, training, certification and networking.
IMMPA supports and promotes the medical meeting industry through peer directed and operated services, advocacy, career development, and global connections.
ABOUT THE HINSON GROUP:
The Hinson Group is an award-winning, full service marketing, advertising, strategic branding and consulting firm with a reputation for building equity for our client’s brands. We apply our collective years of experience to your business and with it, we deliver results. Specialized areas of expertise include hospitality, retail, consumer goods and not-for-profit.
Our award winning creative talent, graphic designers, media experts, writers, brand strategists, researchers, public relations professionals and event specialists deliver exceptional, goal oriented, measurable results. Our current clients represent over 400 restaurants, retail outlets and non-profits nationwide.
Deborah Hinson, our Founder and Chief Brand Strategist will lead a discussion at SpinCon in July titled "How to Market Your Business in Two Hours Per Week."
Designed for those of us who already work full-time (and then some), this interactive session will show senior meeting planners how to grow and market their business by setting aside just a small amount of time each week. Think it can't be done? It can, and we'll prove it with real case studies!
Takeaways will include specific tactics to leverage social media for maximum return, making your website a lead-generating machine, specific tactics to ensure your PR efforts are seen and provide a return, managing CRM and ensuring all your efforts are integrated for maximum ROI.
What is Spin and SpinCon?
Spin is an independent network not affiliated with any other industry associations. Everything Spin does is BY senior-level planners, FOR senior-level planners.
SpinCon is their annual, cutting edge conference. The sessions were examined and selected by a group of SPIN members so the content will be interesting and relevant - and the location... well, what could be better than Telluride! If you're a meeting industry professional, I hope to see you there!
About the Hinson Group
The Hinson Group, Inc. is a New Orleans based award-winning, full service marketing, advertising, strategic branding and consulting firm with a reputation for building equity for our client’s brands in a resourceful, meaningful capacity. We apply our collective years of experience to your business and with it, we deliver results. Specialized areas of expertise include hospitality, retail, consumer goods and not-for-profit.
Our staff includes brand specialists in New Orleans, Las Vegas, New York and Southern California. Our award winning team includes creative talent, graphic designers, media experts, writers, brand strategists, researchers, public relations professionals and event specialists.
Group dining and catering provides an exceptional opportunity for restauranteurs to increase revenue and profit. Executed properly, a group dining or catering program could easily provide incremental revenue of 10 - 15% or more.
We are industry leaders in establishing private dining and catering programs for restaurant companies nationwide. Recently, we created a series of white papers on how to develop and grow group dining business. Whether you're looking to create a program from scratch, or looking to enhance your existing private dining and/or catering program, our "Getting Started" paper is a quick, interesting read.
This first paper will be available for download just a few more days. Next month will feature the next paper in this series. To receive your copy, www.hinsongroup.net.
What's not to like? When a customer checks-in to your business everyone within their social network sees that they checked-in. On average this is 130 friends.
For your business, this is completely FREE advertising and an implied endorsment of your services as well. They are telling their friends, "I like this place enough to take the time to check-in so that you all can see that I'm here!"
As a business owner, you can increase your sales by encouraging check-ins. It's as simple as posting something on your Facebook page - and even at the front door of your establishment. If you're a restaurant, place a notice at your host stand that if a guest shows they've checked-in they'll receive a little lagnaippe (something extra) such as a complimentary amouse bouche, soft drink, children's meal, you name it.
Facebook is an incredible marketing tool. Use it to increase acquisition, retention and loyalty of new and existing customers. In the end, you'll also see increased revenues! For something that takes so little time and can reap such big rewards, why wouldn't you spend a little time encouraging check-ins?
Still not convinced? According to Nielsen's Social Media Study, social media accounts for nearly a quarter of the total time Americans spend on the Internet. And this study also found almost 40% of social media users accessed their networks from their mobile devices. Still don't believe check-in's can help build your business? It's time to start believing!
Need help, give us a call. We're pleased to create and execute your entire social media strategy! www.hinsongroup.net
Here's our local restaurant marketing idea for this week. QR codes provide an incredible way for restauranteurs and retailers to reach their clients with accurate, timely and relevant information.
What can you do with a QR Code? Here are some ideas:
1. Send your clients a birthday or anniversary message with a QR code included. When they scan the QR code it links to a video of your staff singing happy birthday or happy anniversary!
2. Add a QR code to all of your check presenters. For example, if you create a special check presenter for New Year's Eve and you're featuring a special menu, have the QR code link to a page on your website with the special menu and a link for on-line reservations.
3. Add a QR code to your business card! Link to your website homepage or blog!
4. Link your QR code to a special coupon page on your site. Use the coupon to build your database!
Want to get started but still not sure? Become a consumer first. Get a QR code reader and just start scanning some of the codes you find so you can see how they work. You can find dozens of code readers for free at ITunes and Android App Stores.
Ensure your website is mobile friendly and doesn't run on Flash. Many smart phones (Apple IPhones for example) don't support flash so you'll have problems when they try to read your QR code.
To create your first QR code, try one of the many free QR code generators online. We particularly like The Customer Connection - www.thecustomerconnection.com. Give it a try - you've got nothing to lose and a lot of business to gain!
Or, if you'd prefer some help, give us a call and we'll be pleased to get you started.