Justin Levy of New Marketing Labs sparked my interest when I found him on twitter.
Justin is a partner in a restaurant and their website made me hungry! He’s done some incredible marketing things and I knew I had to interview him. It’s a long interview and I promise you’ll see some things in it that you can put into practice today for your business. Enjoy the read!
Hi Justin. All of our readers love to know more about the person I interview. Who are you? Okay, seriously – tell us a little about yourself.
I live in Boston with my fiancé, Laura and our dog and cat. I love the Boston Red Sox, Celtics and New England Patriots. I enjoy working out, watching movies, being an audiophile and doing research on new media, productivity, business process, communities, human interaction, and a whole bunch other topics.
I have been involved in the restaurant business for about 10 years now. I started in restaurants when I was 15 years old and was mentored at an early age in all aspects of a restaurant. I worked in various restaurants over the years. When my best friend, Joseph Gionfriddo bought Caminito, where he was the Executive Chef, from the original owner, I took on the website development for the steakhouse. I also helped Joe with marketing and business until at the beginning of 2008 we formalized the relationship and I became a Partner and General Manager.
When we talked, you mentioned that over the last 14 months business has grown 22% each month straight. In this economy, how have you managed to do that?
We’ve done a spin off blog, Prime Cuts, where we talk about grilling, cooking, kitchen tips, recipes and more. (http://primecutsblog.com) There is PrimeCuts TV on YouTube, Viddler and Blip.tv featuring how tos. All restaurant news is distributed via a social media press release on the web. We also publish a monthly enewsletter and have MySpace and Facebook pages for the restaurant.
Besides our new media strategy, we also took a close look at exactly what we were selling and during what times of the year. We then adjusted our menu and wine selection accordingly. We also constantly run experimentations involving events, price points, specials, etc. to determine what is the right fit and what will get our customers excited and in the door.
You also mentioned you’ve put together new media content, less traditional marketing and you nurture your current customers. Let’s start with them. How are you keeping tabs on who your customers are?
Well, we can’t know who every single one of our customer is even if we really want to. However, we do encourage people to sign up for our monthly newsletter, our Facebook fan page, and to interact with me on the many other social networks that I’m involved in.
One of the ways we nurture them it by continuing to regularly reach out to them via our newsletter and other emails. For those who interact with us on our Prime Cuts blog or on the various social networks I’m involved, I will regularly ask them what they want to learn about or see posted. We have done this in the past for our Prime Cuts TV content as well. The customer or viewer then feels like they contributed and that you listened to what they asked for.
Most restaurants run frequent ads in newspapers and magazines as well as radio and television spots. Some will even run billboards ads. We never run billboard ads. We also don’t run any television spots. During 2008 we cut our traditional marketing budget by approximately 80%. We evaluated all of our marketing including newspapers, magazines, radio spots, digital ads, website traffic, etc. and decided where we were seeing the greatest returns. Our greatest impact and returns were with the digital ads, our website, blog and other new media. We cut out everything that we weren’t seeing returns on even if every other restaurant was involved. We have kept some of our newspaper ads and radio spots because they help us continue to reach a group who isn’t active online or aware of our online presence.
New media content — your website is very well done. How often are you adding or changing content on it? Any recommendations for what to do with a website for a small retail business?
We change or update content on our website about once per week. About once per quarter we go through some major revision.
I have a brick and mortar business and need some help from someone like you. What do you recommend?
I am General Manager of New Marketing Labs along with Chris Brogan. http://newmarketinglabs.com Additionally, the Inbound Marketing Summit (http://inboundmarketingsummit.com) is our big conference series. You could attend one of our conferences. We will be in San Francisco, Dallas and Boston during 2009. We also run Inbound Marketing Bootcamps (http://gonmbootcamp.com) and several webinars. Visit the site for more information on these events.
Hustle is the most important word, bottom line. http://justinrlevy.com/2009/02/12/are-you-focused/
1. Listen to what your current customers are telling you (OR not telling you). Don’t just hear them. Listen and take action.
2. Evaluate your marketing. Is it working? Can you point to actual real revenue or positive brand exposure from it? If not, then why are you doing it?
3. Hustle! Bottom line. If you really want to win in your space, then you need to hustle more than you are now.