Category: Restaurant + Hospitality

I remember it like it was yesterday.  The steaming hot melted mozzarella.  The banana peppers.  The sautéed mushrooms.  The perfect crust.  And this sausage that practically melted in your mouth, with a flavor that could make you ‘slap your momma’.

Well not literally slap my mom, because that would’ve landed me on the floor, probably picking up some teeth.  But the point I am trying to make as I remember this pizza is that the sausage tasted so good…that you might just think for one, fleeting minute about slapping your momma!

It was from Italo’s Pizza in North Canton, Ohio.  I was 5.  It was 1978.  And though I haven’t had Italo’s Pizza in well over 20 years (mainly because I won’t visit Ohio between the months of September through April – leaves me a very small travel window), I know that I would patronize that place in a heartbeat (regularly) if I lived closer.

That was a really long way to say I freaking LOVE PIZZA!  I could eat it morning, noon and night.  I’ve tried so many different types of pizza from different places that I could probably write a book on all of the little things that made each place unique.

It’s my love of all things pizza that made me sniff out this piping hot story about a new pizza place (Blaze Pizza) coming to the Fort Lauderdale pizza shop market.  Not only have these guys actually come up with a genuinely fresh pizza concept, but they’ve managed to get some great press with titles like “Lebron James-affiliated restaurant…”.

Should the 12 other pizza joints within the 3-mile radius around the upcoming Blaze Pizza Cypress Creek location be worried?

Let’s see…hmmm…that would be a big fat YES THEY SHOULD BE WORRIED!  Because Blaze Pizza – marketing juggernaut.

Personally, I think it’s a great thing.  Blaze Pizza is simply raising the bar.  And if the existing places want to compete, they’ll do something about it.  And if they don’t…well I hear old Pizza Huts make great morgues (this is not a joke).

6 Marketing Lessons to be Learned from Blaze Pizza

  1. Their website is 100% built for their audience.  These guys have clearly identified a primarily millennial audience and they’ve nailed the way to connect with them.  It’s interactive.  It’s responsive.  And it’s FUN!
  2. They have mastered using Facebook to engage with their audience (more on that later).  I’m not going to name any names (of the existing pizza places near where Blaze will be)…but a Facebook group started in 2011 with 34 members is not quite going to cut it.  With the saturation of businesses on Facebook these days, it’s damn near impossible to get much in the way of organic engagement.  But these guys know the secrets, and they’re using them.
  3. Their Twitter feed is alive with the sound of music…well, maybe not music, but it is definitely alive.  People love this place and it shows.  They are very logically using hashtags and photos instead of an endless drivel of their daily specials that nobody really gives two [insert your favorite descriptive word here] about.
  4. They get Instagram.  They may only have 42 posts, but it’s not their profile that should interest you as much as the 7,197+ posts for #blazepizza.  That’s a lot of ‘free advertising’ if you ask me.  Write that down.
  5. When they have a grand opening, their events are kick-ass!  Free pizza for an entire day?  Yes!  Now that’s the proper way to get some good press young grasshopper.
  6. They are very much in touch with where the trends are heading.  I read a staggering statistic the other day that something like 72% of the U.S. population is overweight.  Seriously?  Almost three quarters of the population?  Not good!  Pizza could very easily be placed in the “no-no” category, right?  Blaze has the answer for that too – How do I know that before a slice of this sure-to-be heavenly pie passes through my lips that I will know exactly how many calories, protein and other stuff I will be consuming?  Because of this.  BRILLIANT!

Here’s the bottom line: the energy that these guys are creating with their marketing is contagious.  PEOPLE WANT TO EAT HERE and more importantly, tell the world about it.  This is the best kind of marketing for a pizza shop.  Heck, it’s the best type of marketing for any restaurant.

Do the places already in business stand a chance?  Sure.  But if they want to ‘blaze with the big dogs’, they’re going to have to heat up their marketing efforts or get out of the kitchen.

Operating a pizza place and have questions about the ways that you can boost engagement from your marketing efforts?  Shoot me an email.  I’ll be happy to spend a few minutes to discuss.  derek [at]

Come back next Monday, July 14th for number 1 in my 6-part series detailing the 6 lessons above.  Or subscribe below to receive the post via email automatically.

You know how they say, “Someone’s always watching.”? Well, that same idiom goes for social media and online marketing. And that person “always watching” is me (along with the rest of Team Exakt)! I wanted to put together a list of my top social media pet peeves so anyone out there who is also watching and perhaps, exploring and evolving can take a step back to look at their brand on social media.

  1. Unresponsive Brands- If you have someone capable of tweeting or scheduling tweets, Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 1.19.43 PMthey should be able to respond or at the very least, throw me a ‘favorite’. Push notifications make Twitter very user friendly! Red Bull Tampa rocks on social media.
  2. Untimely Brand Posts- If I’m checking my social media accounts in the morning (as I always do… morning routines FTW) and I see your happy hour specials at 7 a.m., I’m uninterested. Let’s see those specials 1 hour or less before they start. Like many others, I have a lot going on each day and I’m going to forget about your specials or event postings if they come earlier than your business even opens. Plus, those awesome happy hour specials that you’re posting will get lost in the abyss that is the news feed.
  3. Facebook Links on Twitter- You may have, at one point in time, scratched your head and thought, “My Facebook fans are much different than my Twitter followers.” And you thought right! Connecting your Facebook to Twitter may seem convenient but it is not attractive in the least. Facebook allows you to bare your soul and be as descriptive as possible with your posts while Twitter does not (140 characters or bust, baby). Twitter users are kind of like Jimmy Johns customers, they like it fast. Get your message out there and put a creative brain behind it so it sounds awesome and you can rack up those retweets! I solemnly swear to never click a Facebook link on Twitter, who’s with me??
  4. Automated Direct Messages on Twitter- I truly dread seeing a direct message notification pop up because 80% of the time it’s a spambot telling me how they lost 15 pounds (by the way, I report you!) and the other 20% it’s from an account that has a populated Followers list. Either way, I don’t care about that message and I know there are others who support the idea that this technique of thanking your followers is an annoyance. You know what will really say, “Thank you for following me, we think you’re awesome too!”? An interaction.
  5. Brands Stealing Photos- I know at this point in the Internet’s life, all photos seem “up for grabs” but something just makes me want to hide when I see a brand using a photo that isn’t theirs. First of all, copyrights do still exist. Second, many a time I see these photos they’re not even good quality or they’re in poor taste. Be honest: Did that stolen meme or “someecards” image really sell a bottle of wine at your restaurant the day of posting? I get that for some business owners who are also running their social media, it’s important to get your personality across so your brand doesn’t look dull. I just think there are better ways to accomplish that and social media is after all, a form of restaurant marketing.

I hope that these social media pet peeves have helped you or at the very least entertained you! If you think I’m way off or have a bigger pet peeve to share, let’s tweet about it.

P.S.- Red Bull Tampa Bay did end up bringing Red Bull to the office! Thanks again!

In today’s world, simply having a website for your restaurant is not enough. There are many pieces that must be carefully put in place to create a successful restaurant website. Mainly, you want to make sure your website contains the information your customer is looking for in an organized, visually appealing and easy to access layout. How do you do this, you ask? Here are 10 tips to create a successful restaurant website:

1. Responsive Design

These days, people are constantly “on-the-go” and therefore rely on their portable devices (like phones and tablets) to provide them the information they need to survive, including eating. If your restaurant website design is not responsive to portable devices, you are losing out on valuable customers!

2. Make crucial information visible and accessible

There are a few specific things users looking for when visiting your website, restaurant hours, location and phone number are the top three contenders. These items should be highly visible and on every page, including the homepage.

3. Easy to navigate and read

It is key to start with organizing the content of your site in a logical way, this means the content on the page as well as the pages that make up the site. Utilize the homepage of your site by using bold, larger fonts for key information or items you want the reader to notice. Word play can create intriguing headlines and keep the user reading and graphics can be used to lead their eyes where you want them to go.

4. Minimal text

Most likely people are visiting your site to look for something to eat! Not to learn the history of your restaurant or the names of your staff members. Information like this is good to include but don’t go overboard, keep it pertinent to the user’s goal which is deciding on a restaurant and a meal. Avoid large blocks of text and replace them with smaller chunks of easy to digest information.

5. Photography

Give your customers some eye candy. People like pictures, but when it comes to food they only like a certain type of picture, a good one. If you do not have professional photos of your menu items, then hire a photographer. Don’t currently have a budget for a photographer, save up – it will be worth it in the end. Truth is, people like fresh healthy looking ingredients. When it comes to food, a bad picture can do much more harm than no picture at all.

But, its not all about the food. Restaurant websites should include photos of the restaurant itself, not just the food items. Using photos of the interior and exterior of your restaurant can convey the atmosphere of your place to your customers. A tip for restaurant photography: have the restaurant at least 3/4 full of happy, excited customers, but make sure to obtain written permission before using any of the photos!

6. Provide a text Menu, not a PDF

While its not a bad idea to have a printable pdf menu handy on your website, ideally you should have a interactive live text menu. Writing out your menu in text on your website gives you invaluable search engine juice because you are including keywords of your menu items. Plus, your customer will appreciate not having to go through the trouble to download a file to their computer to see what types of meals your restaurant offers.
As far as price goes, include it! If customers don’t see a price, they will typically assume your menu items are too expensive for their taste and move on.

7. Honorable Mentions

If your restaurant menu, or certain dishes on your menu, cater to vegetarian or vegan dieters – say so! Same goes for menu items that are gluten-free, kosher or diabetic. If you have a kids meal, include it in your online menu, your customers that are parents will appreciate it.

8. Keep up to date discounts, specials and events listed

Discounts, specials and events, not only intrigue new customers but can make them repeat customers. If your restaurant offers discounts, specials or holds events then make sure to call this out on the homepage or have an easily accessible navigation tab. But most importantly update, update, update! You don’t want to disappoint your customers, or worse make them think you do not pay attention to the details, by having outdated information on your website.

9. Social Media

Having your social media links easily visible and accessible encourages your visitors to explore and engage in your online community. Customers like to read reviews from others who have visited your restaurant or see personal photos restaurant visitors have shot and shared. Having these social media links available may inspire them to join your restaurant’s online community, getting your restaurant’s name “out there”.

10. Quick Loading Website

Everyone knows time is money, if your site takes too long to load it can deter potential customers. If your site is slow to load, chances are you need to edit some of your information or graphics, in the case of restaurant websites often “less is more”.

Follow these 10 tips and your restaurant website should be on the path to success. Need help implementing these tips or have questions about creating a successful restaurant website? Contact Exakt Marketing today!

It’s been 1 year since Facebook acquired Instagram and boosted its users to “more than 100 million monthly active users” by making the app available to non-iPhone users, according to Mashable. It’s all about being seen. Let’s talk about your restaurant on Instagram.

You might be thinking to yourself, “why should my restaurant have an Instagram?” or perhaps you’re questioning the functionality of it all. Let me just break this all down for you to help you understand why you should create an account for your restaurant and how to use it to its full potential.

The Why:

  1. You will have the ability to explore what your customers are eating and hear their input/comments.
  2. Repair a bad experience– if there is one. Chances are, if customers are taking pictures of food and drinks at your restaurant they are probably enjoying everything.
  3. You want to create a unique experience for your customers by taking advantage of their desire for pictures. Social media users love photos, especially of your food!
The How:
  1. Connect and follow up on customer experiences. There are 3 main ways that you can keep tabs on who has been at your restaurant: the user has tagged their location (your restaurant) and you can search for all photos taken there; the user has hash-tagged the name of your restaurant or perhaps a particular dish or drink; or the user has tagged you (the restaurant’s handle) directly.
  2. Feature your specials and leverage real-time events happening in house.
  3. Encourage your team and staff to acknowledge your restaurant’s Instagram presence. Utilizing Instagram as a marketing tool will bring in new and potential customers, especially those who already have a burning interest to visit.
Have you had an experience with Instagram that is worth sharing?
We would love to hear it!

If your restaurant or company is in need of a full-service marketing agency, please contact Exakt Marketing. We believe that every interaction is an opportunity to create a unique experience.

It’s no secret … we at Exakt Marketing love food and we love to eat … which is why we love to design restaurant websites and to provide restaurant marketing! We have the honor of working with both national brands like Original Hooters and Hungry Howie’s as well as great local brands like Green Lemon and Green Iguana Bar & Grill to name a few.

And we also love working with new restaurants. Sitting down with other people that are passionate about food to discuss brand vision, menu planning, restaurant marketing approach, restaurant websites, social media presence, online reputation management and restaurant mobile apps really gets us jazzed up. So we were inspired to create a new product offering specifically for restaurants that are just starting out or those that have been around for a while but that would like to refresh their brand presence on a limited budget.

Introducing, the most affordable and complete restaurant marketing packages available! Whether you’re primarily interested in the do-it-yourself approach, or if you’d like us to handle all of the details, the team at Exakt Marketing is ready to help restaurant owners establish or refresh their online presence to drive business through the door. Our packages include:

  • Professionally designed, responsive and easy to maintain restaurant websites
  • Social media setup (details vary depending on the package selected)
  • Claiming and optimizing profiles on the leading review sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon, depending on the package selected
  • Table tents and business cards (depending on the restaurant marketing package selected) and lots of other a la carte items

Visit the following links for more information on, How it Works, Restaurant Website Designs and Restaurant Marketing Package Pricing, or give us a call at 888-949-5487 ext. 2 to speak to someone on our team. In the meantime, don’t forget to download our free white paper by submitting the form below: Restaurant Marketing 101: The Restaurateur’s Guide to Doing It Right.

Download the Restaurateur’s Guide to Marketing

Fill out my online form.

You won’t drive sales by posting on Facebook. In order to have a successful restaurant social media presence, you’ve got to lay off the sales push and focus on your relationship with your customers. Sure, on the surface social is a great avenue to promote upcoming events, specials, deals, etc. But it goes beyond that.

Your absolute main focus should be customer service and the experience that you’re creating for customers online. You’d think that this would be obvious to professionals in the restaurant industry, but it’s not unlikely to see restaurants on Facebook sharing their “daily deal” and then disappearing… leaving customers with unanswered questions, concerns, and even compliments – I can’t take it any longer! So, I had to share what must have been a secret. 😉

If part of your restaurant marketing strategy is to post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc., you’ve got to realize that getting word out there is just half of it; your response to those engaging customers is the other. Here are a few tips to keep in mind after that post gets blasted to the social media world.

  1. Acknowledge as many customers individually as you can. Whether it’s a “like” or a personal shout out, make them feel special and build that relationship! The stronger the relationship, the more likely they’ll think of you next time they’re looking for a restaurant to go to.
  2. Don’t let too much time pass. Let’s say you post a photo of one of your appetizers on special that night and a customer responds with a question and then no one replies… you just missed a huge opportunity to engage and influence that customer! (Example to the right is from the Green Lemon in Tampa.)
  3. Be human. Don’t be afraid to use “I” instead of “we” and let your personality come through. Customers will feel much more connected to you if they know a person is behind the scenes.
  4. Download social media applications so you don’t miss out on an opportunity! Facebook Pages, Twitter and Instagram all allow you to set up push notifications so you know what your customers are saying in real time.

Of course there is always the issue of time, but if you’re going to post, you better have a reaction plan in progress! If you cannot personally commit to looking after your restaurant’s social media presence, turn to a trusted employee or social media marketing professional.

And the thought I’ll leave you with tonight is… no one likes to be ignored, especially when it comes to an industry where customer service could make or break you. So, like your mama always said, “treat others the way you’d like to be treated!” and if yours truly could add to that… “this includes online!!”