Friday, April 27, 2012

Pinterest Creates New Customers and Brand Loyalty

Should bar, nightclub and restaurant owners and operators begin using this new social-media channel called Pinterest? It’s too early to tell, but one thing is certain: Its popularity has grown faster than that of almost any other social-media site in history.
Pinterest is one of the fastest-growing standalone websites. Pinterest had 17.8 million visitors in February, up from 11.7 million in January, according to comScore, a market research firm based in Reston, Va. It is especially popular with women (84%), but male interest is growing.
The average time a visitor spends on Pinterest is more than 1½ hours per month. That amount of consumer time speaks volumes about the interest the site creates!
Unlike other new social-media sites, the early adopters aren’t techie types, but rather “middle America.” Therefore, chances are that an owner/operator’s target audience includes Pinterest users.
It’s important to understand the implications Pinterest may have on an establishment and how owners/operators can use it to their advantage to increase customer traffic and sales. In simple terms:
• Pinterest operates like a virtual corkboard, letting users upload, sort, save and manage photos, videos and other content on pages known as “pinboards.”
• Users add content — referred to as “pins” — by “pinning” to a board using the “Pin It” button.
Bars, nightclubs and restaurants can best use Pinterest in the following ways:
• Post pictures of food and drink specials or even an entire menu. Customers can visualize their future drinking and eating experiences and leave feedback after the visit.
• Pinterest allows owners/operators to engage with customers. This helps put a personality behind a brand, resulting in a more satisfying customer experience.
• Users can view other consumers’ pins simply by browsing the site. There are no private pins or boards; this is a great way to keep a close eye on competitors who also pin.
• Users can “follow” individuals, groups or topics, which helps populate an establishment’s Pinterest homepage with content.
Suggested marketing strategies for Pinterest include:
• Add Pinterest link/app to a website or Facebook page.
• Tweet about pinned content on Twitter.
• Pin daily photos of food or drink specials as well as wines and beers.
• Pin food or drink recipes instead of photos.
• Pin a printable coupon.
Legal Considerations
Because pins are essentially copying content, such as a photo, from one source and displaying it in another, many consider the practice to be copyright infringement; the original owner did not give permission to copy content and use it elsewhere. Pinterest’s own terms of service make it clear that the user is completely responsible for any copyright issues that may arise. It is important that each company review and understand the Pinterest terms of service.
Next Steps
Whether internal or external marketing resources are available, be sure to review the current marketing plan (and legalities) and determine the right fit for Pinterest. Make sure Pinterest complements any Facebook, Twitter and other social-media marketing plans.
For tips on how to bolster your establishment's Foursquare presence, click here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Facebook Timeline Presents Branding Opportunities

Whether you are a business owner or marketing executive, you probably have heard about the recent changes made to your Facebook page. Those companies that have adapted to this new “timeline” format have discovered unique branding opportunities. 
What are the major benefits?
  • Facebook’s timeline gives businesses a greater capacity to build their brand.
  • Individual pages and campaigns can be branded easily at low cost.
  • There are significantly more opportunities to create a visually compelling page.
  • Companies and brands are challenged to offer a more visual experience.
  • It allows businesses to tell their story and connect with customers better than ever.
  • The timeline cover photo and tabs can be changed often at low cost.
Imagery can be used effectively in three key areas:
1) The Cover Photo
The most visually significant change for pages with the timeline is the addition of the cover photo, an area where users can upload a single image.
Some tips:
  • Use a unique image that represents your page. This might be a photo of a popular menu item, album artwork or a picture of people using your product.
  • Be creative and experiment with images to which your audience responds well.
  • Use the space to promote a specific promotional theme.
Red Robin
2) The Profile Picture
What Facebook calls the “profile picture” is now a square image that is inset into the cover photo in the lower-left area. The picture integrates with the cover photo and makes a great thumbnail icon.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Whiskey and Pinnacle Vodka integrate the profile picture so that it extends the cover photo and provides a great brand icon.
Jack Daniel's
3) Custom Tab Images:
A maximum of 12 tabs are available. Create custom tab images to fit your overall branding. Following are examples of how Applebee’s and Red Bull use tabs:
As you can see from the above examples, the new Timeline for pages format provides far more opportunities for visually branding your page — but it’s up to you to take advantage of these opportunities.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Running Social-Media Contests

As operators, you may very well be enamored with — or overwhelmed by — the various ways social media can be used to drive traffic and increase sales. Many people claim to be “social media experts,” but there are intricacies involved which they may not understand.

For example, while I claim to be educated on social media marketing, I admit that I know little about the legalities of launching social media sweepstakes and contests. To get up to speed on this very important subject, I interviewed attorney Kyle-Beth Hilfer of New York-based Collen IP Intellectual Property Law. Collen IP is widely recognized throughout the intellectual property law and corporate communities for providing legal counsel on advertising and marketing initiatives, including how to run social media sweepstakes and contests.

Hilfer has identified five mistakes that can invite trouble in launching a social media prize promotion. For a more detailed list of promotion mistakes, read her blog.

1. Failure to determine if the event is a sweepstakes or contest. If you fail to consider the distinctions between the two, you may be unwittingly running what the law considers an “illegal lottery.”

2. Drafting incomplete rules. Too many operators act casually in this area. If you do not draft a set of comprehensive rules that address all of the legal issues, you are not only foregoing an opportunity to mitigate risk but also might be creating additional risk.

3. Entry by “liking” a Facebook page. Operators can only require patrons to “like” a page as a precursor to entering a sweepstakes or contest, not as the actual method of entry itself. Facebook will shut down promotions that use its functionalities to operate a prize promotion. Additionally, operators often forget that they need entrants’ email addresses and cannot contact winners through Facebook.

4. Trading “likes” or “tweets” for sweepstakes entries. Offering sweepstakes entries in exchange for mentions in social media creates a material connection between the promotion sponsor and the consumer and may violate Federal Trade Commission Endorsement and Testimonial Guidelines.

5. Solicitation of entry via mobile devices. Operators should not send text messages to customers without their express opt-in consent to a specific marketing program. Legal counsel can help determine whether a prize promotion would require opt-in consent to solicit entries on cell phones or tablets.
To reach your customer base creatively but reduce the risk of liability as you incorporate social media into your marketing plans, consider contacting a specialist with experience in social media law.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

5 Tips to Improve Beverage Product Quality

Guy Fieri visits America's most interesting and unique restaurants on Food Network's “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” He walks into kitchens, lifts lids, opens doors and asks questions, quickly gauging the quality of the food. While this show is designed forInspection glass entertainment purposes, it has a message that operators should not ignore to improve bar product quality.
I recently completed a beverage operations evaluation for a client who had been receiving customer complaints about the quality of drinks served and wanted to find out why.
My client prides himself on the quality of food served. On a shift basis, the manager and chef perform an inspection of every hot and cold food item on the food line.
“We take pride in what we serve, and this is what brings our customers back,” he explained.
My client was a former chef who enjoys working in the kitchen and talking with customers. In keeping with his line of interests, he hired managers with food backgrounds who focused on perfecting customers’ eating experiences, but did little to supervise the bar side of the business.
After observing the bar operations over a series of lunch and dinner shifts, several issues became clear:
  • Beer temperature: The temperature of the draft system was 42˚F when it should be 38˚F. The beer companies were cleaning the taps, but the long-draw glycol system had not been serviced, resulting in higher temperatures, foaming and waste.
  • Post mix brix: The soda poured was too sweet, and the tonic was weak. The proper brix service and maintenance had not been completed for months.
  • Garnishes: Lime and lemon wedges were different sizes. The fresh fruits were mixed with old garnishes, and containers were not labeled or dated.
  • Ice levels: Bartenders were half-filling glasses with ice, requiring them to add more mix and, consequently, making the drink recipe weaker.
  • Pouring levels: Glasses were overfilled, and drinks were spilling over the sides.
  • Pre-mixes: Again, containers were not labeled or dated. Partial cans of pineapple juice, energy drinks and tomato juice were not stored at room temperature.
  • Refrigerators: Temperature gauges were not working, shelves were dirty and filters were clogged.
  • Pour spouts: Pour spouts were worn and leaking.
  • Bar cleanliness and organization: The floor mats were worn, the backbar was cluttered with personal belongings and the bar top had not been cleaned. Plus, fruit flies had invaded the bar!
  • Glassware: The glassware was spotty and chipped.
You don’t have to invite a Food Network star to one of your restaurants to start lifting lids, opening doors and asking questions to improve beverage product quality. In fact, these steps should be taking place regularly within your restaurants to ensure that the drink quality is on par with the food.
Here are five steps to get started:
  1. Implement a “we do everything fresh” mentality in the bar, at every location.
  2. Hire managers who have experience in food and beverage.
  3. Make sure each location’s management builds pride with bartender staff to serve quality in product and presentation.
  4. Implement a product line check before every shift, chainwide.
  5. Encourage managers of each unit to randomly inspect drinks during each shift.
Contact Dronkers Beverage and Social Media Solutions at and receive a free bar-inspection checklist.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tips to Bolster Your FourSquare Presence

With more than 10 million users, FourSquare may be the most used social network, behind Facebook and Twitter. If you own a nightclub, bar or restaurant, you most likely serve guests who check in on FourSquare. But are you strategically engaging your customers? Review the checklist below to see if you are up to date on three of the most important FourSquare practices.

1. Claim Your Location

To those well versed in FourSquare, this is a no-brainer. Venues on FourSquare fall into two categories, “claimed” and “unclaimed.” Claimed locations have been officially identified by the owners of their establishments to the corporate FourSquare office, which then gives claimants the special privileges of running promotions, editing the page’s information and retrieving statistics on visitor usage. Unclaimed locations, though unmanaged, allow visitors all the same options of checking in and leaving tips but without promotional incentive.

2. Remind People to Check-In

This tip, like the one above, may seem fairly obvious to heavy FourSquare users. Yet it is important that a business not rely solely on customer word-of-mouth to attract traffic to its FourSquare page. Remember that a check-in is a visit to your establishment, so the more you get people to check-in to your venue, the more business you will receive. Proactively encourage check-ins by posting the Foursquare logo in your establishment and on your website, reminding people to check in.

3. Run Promotional Offers

After claiming your location, give people a concrete incentive to visit your establishment by offering them a free drink or appetizer on their first, fifth, or tenth visit. Such practices can end up turning any initial loss in resources into a profit by attracting a greater number of customers to your establishment. These need to be strategically executed with an eye toward increasing current sales.

Following initial competition from other geolocation applications, such as Facebook Places and Gowalla, FourSquare has emerged as the No. 1 GPS-determined location-sharing service. Don’t waste your resources by checking out these other websites; focus on catering to customers on FourSquare by following these tips and tricks.

For a complimentary list of effective Foursquare promotions, contact Dronkers Solutions at

Monday, January 9, 2012

8 Best Practices to Promote Alcoholic Drinks on Facebook

Facebook takes the issue of underage drinking seriously. The site requires that all alcohol-related advertisements use tools and demographic targeting options to restrict the ad’s visbility to users who are over the legal drinking age.

While that statement is targeted to “Facebook ads,” it also applies to any alcohol-related wall “posts.” As a consequence, many operators have stayed away from promoting alcohol beverages on Facebook. This is unfortunate, as adding alcohol beverage posts to your restaurant’s Facebook page has many benefits, including:

• Creates excitement about beverage products/recipes/specialties.
• Generates quick feedback so you know what’s important to your customers.
• Promotes beverage offers and contests.
• Tests new beverage recipe ideas.
• Keeps your finger on the pulse of beverage trends.
According to our surveys and discussions with restaurant chain operators, many want to know how to promote alcohol beverages and stay within Facebook policy or the law. Here are some guidelines:

1. General Rule: What can be printed legally to promote alcohol also can be posted on Facebook. Never use the words “free” or “complimentary” when promoting alcohol, and check state and federal beverage laws before proceeding.

2. Pair Beverage with Food: Post a picture of an appetizer/entree and a beverage. Work with your chef and lead bartender to ensure proper taste pairings.

3.  Show Off: Post an invite visitors to extol the virtues of the Margarita and invite them to become fans at the same time!

4.  Educate and Offer Value: Convey product education about alcohol beverages and promote the purchase by posting a value.

5.  Keep It Simple: Buffalo Wild Wings got 6,000+ responses simply by asking people to “Like this if you could use a Guinness now.”

6.  Attach a Video: People love to see videos, but make sure it’s short (2 minutes), informative and entertaining.

7.  Facebook and Website Integration: Here is a post describing Margarita Mondays. If a visitor clicks on the ad, they are sent to the main website for additional detail.

8.  Beverage Surveys: Asking fans to fill out surveys gets a remarkable response rate. Use surveys for fun or have fans vote on a drink-recipe name for the next summer feature. Don’t forget to post the results of the survey!

Don’t let the fear of the legalities or regulations surrounding alcohol beverage promotion or misunderstanding of the Facebook policy keep you from integrating beverage into your social-media marketing tactics. Yours is a food and beverage company, so make sure to tell your visitors about the virtues of both through all of your marketing outlets. Follow these eight tips and enjoy the benefits!

If you want more insights on presenting your alcohol beverages program via Facebook, contact Dronkers Solutions at

Thursday, November 17, 2011

QR Codes 101

Dronkers is happy to continue its partnership with VIBE! Please find our second guest post in its newsletter, a variation of our first original article on QR codes, below: 

While everyone wants to know how to use Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and YouTube to better their online marketing strategies, in our work, the conversation inevitably turns to quick-response (QR) codes: What are they, and how should they be used?

Take a look at how two national restaurant chains deploy QR codes to promote their businesses.

• T.G.I. Friday’s uses QR codes on the backs of its children’s menus to engage guests and bring them to the company's Facebook page, which now boasts 740,000+ fans.
• An Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar franchisee used QR codes on table tents to help promote the 14-minute lunchtime guarantee, resulting in 43,000 scans and a website traffic increase of 9.8% during lunchtime periods.

Furthermore, a June study from Internet marketing research company comScore estimated that 14 million people (6.2%) of the total U.S. mobile audience scanned a QR code that month, revealing that QR codes are, in fact, being used by mass groups of consumers.

Given such potential to drive marketing and growth, why have QR codes remained a relatively niche marketing tool? Of the casual dining chain restaurants we surveyed, less than 5% had attempted to use QR codes, although 100% exhibited some type of Facebook and Twitter activity.

A lingering lack of education and prevailing misconceptions about the benefits and uses of QR codes at the consumer and operator level may provide the answer to that question. So, let’s demystify QR codes, alleviate skepticism and confusion, and explain how QR codes can work for your establishment. Even if QR codes evolve into a different form down the road, understanding their potential now will put you ahead of your competition.

Basics: QR Codes 101

• QR codes are similar to the barcodes used by retailers to track inventory and price products at the point of sale. The key difference between the two is the amount of data they can hold or share.
• Bar codes are linear one-dimensional codes and can only hold up to 20 numerical digits, whereas QR codes are two-dimensional (2D) matrix codes that can hold thousands of alphanumeric characters of information.
• When you scan or read a QR code with your iPhone, Android or other camera-enabled smartphone, you can link to digital content on the web.

Getting Started With QR Codes

Before creating your QR code, define an objective you want to achieve. Do you wish to promote an event, offer customers digital coupons, link to your website or provide the public with an informational resource?

Decide what you would like to link to and how you will distribute the QR code. Some popular modalities of sharing QR codes include: print advertisements in newspapers and magazines, public transportation posters, business cards, pamphlets and menus. Clearly identifying these goals before creating your QR code will help to ensure the success of your campaign.

Creating Your QR Code in 5 Easy Steps
You can download a free QR code generator online in just a few minutes:

1. This one by Kaywa is a popular choice, while websites like allow you to manipulate color schemes for a more attractive image.
2. Download and print your code.
3. Download a free QR code reader (we like Kaywa, which gives users step-by-step instructions) onto your smartphone.
4. Test your QR code with your QR code reader.
5. Apply your QR code to items of interest and share them with the public!

While it is still early for QR codes, they are steadily gaining ground among consumers and marketers alike and are moving closer to widespread adoption. Stay ahead of the trend by incorporating QR codes into your marketing strategy. In doing so, you will expose your business to a wider network of consumers.

If you want to receive a complimentary list of 10 effective QR Code promotions for your restaurant or bar, contact Dronkers Solutions at