Category: Restaurant Marketing

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!

Lately, I’ve been focusing on the experience that customers have when at restaurants (stay tuned for some exciting news about that!) and when I saw a photo that a friend uploaded on Instagram, I was inspired!Check Presentation

The photo (featured to the right, thanks Xavier!) was taken at Founding Farmers, a restaurant in Washington, DC. The photo had a caption that read, “The check is in the mail! Please raise the flag when you’re ready.” How fun is that?

At Exakt, we’re always on a quest to find interesting and unique ideas for our Tampa restaurant marketing clients. When I saw this photo, it was like a light bulb went off and I thought back to a couple of unique check presentations that I’ve recently encountered. Hamburger Mary’s gives you the check in a stiletto; Oxford Exchange presents the check in an antique book. All small details that can improve the experiences that their customers have!  And hey, it probably numbs the sting a bit when a check is delivered in a unique fashion. Not so much focus on what the check says but more about how the check was delivered… 😉

So, restaurant owners, I ask you this…does your restaurant create a unique experience for your diners? If so, does that experience end abruptly with the check presentation? Think about it! Although a small detail, it’s something that your customers will remember and appreciate.

And for the diners out there, I’m eager to hear if anyone else has been to a restaurant with a unique check presentation! Please let me know either in the comments below or on Twitter!


P.S I’ll be the guest of #MediaChat this week on Twitter and we’ll be discussing the customer experience! Thursday night at 10pm, hope you can join!

american flag

To close or not to close: a question that many restaurant owners debate when it comes to the Fourth of July. If you’ve decided to stay open, you might as well do your best to try and get in some extra business during the holiday. After all, with a day devoted to America, good food and cold beer it only seems right.

We’ve only got a week to go before the Fourth so here are four last minute restaurant marketing tips to help boost sales!

1. Catering – If your restaurant has the capacity for catering, the Fourth of July is a great holiday to attempt to push that business. Most people are gathering with friends and family to eat, drink and be merry. Take the load off for the host and suggest cooking for them! If you offer American staples like burgers, wings and BBQ you’re at an even bigger advantage. I’d recommend putting together a quick flyer that can be distributed in the restaurant as well as incorporated into your restaurant marketing strategy (social media, email blasts, etc).

2. Delivery – Do you deliver or work with delivery services such as Doorstep Delivery or Take Home Delivery? If so, try flyering a few local apartments (if they allow it) a day or two before the Fourth with your delivery menu. This tactic targets those “last minute” planners who won’t realize they don’t feel like cooking until the day of…

3. Social Media Special – Use social media to announce an exclusive special only available to those who see it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any platform that you and your restaurant marketing company see fit. Make it fun and require customers to use a “secret phrase” to redeem the free item. (Ex. Anyone who comes in on the Fourth of July and says “Uncle Sam sent me” gets a free beer!) Don’t giveaway the bank though – pick a menu item that is low-cost and easy to prepare. This not only brings in some extra business but it also allows you to measure how much of an impact your announcement on social media has on your sales for the day.

4. Involve the Staff – The staff might not be too happy knowing that they have to work on the Fourth of July but try to get them involved and excited! Allow the staff to dress out of uniform and wear anything American themed (that’s appropriate, of course). You can also get staff excited by executing a friendly staff competition. Have the staff create a Fourth of July themed drink (or use a current menu item or special) and the staff member that sells the most of that item that night gets a small cash bonus (or a desirable prize). If your staff is made of up entrepreneurs (See post: Five Ways to Transform Your FOH Team into Your Marketing Team) then it shouldn’t be too hard to get them excited. More business affects their wallets too!


Please feel free to reach out to me (Emily Sarecky) directly or in the comments below if you have any questions about implementing the above tips. Happy Fourth of July!




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Play in New Window

Being passionate about marketing, restaurants, food and well … eating … I always enjoy talking with restaurant owners about just those topics and more. And on my most recent business development trip to build Exakt Marketing’s Fort Lauderdale marketing services, one conversation in particular stood out for me.

The conversation took place during late May as we were heading in to the off-season. (Florida residents know that June 1st marks the start of a routine that involves sprinting to and from your car as quickly as possible to get into your home or office, i.e., moving quickly from one air conditioned space to another!). As I always do during those conversations, I asked something like “what’s the biggest challenge that you’re currently facing.” And before he could respond, it was as if a lightbulb had gone off in my head and we almost answered in unison: “the slow season!

Fast forward just two weeks from that meeting and I was lucky enough to cross paths with Kyle Battis of Restaurant and Bar Profits, based in New Hampshire. When we connected, Kyle told me about his podcast series and asked if I would be interested in being a guest for an upcoming podcast.

On the heels of my recent conversation regarding the challenge of the off-season that restaurant owners in Florida are facing right now, I graciously accepted the invitation and suggested the topic. Kyle agreed, knowing that at the end of the summer restaurants in the Northeast would be heading into their off-season. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Definitely check out the original post: Episode 5 – The One With Derek Lee About “Surviving The Offseason In The Restaurant Business”. Big shout-out to Kyle for the great work he’s doing at Restaurant and Bar Profits, helping restaurant and bar owners get more profit and enjoyment out of their businesses.

We’ve got more timely information on this topic coming your way. Stay tuned for our latest guide “Restaurant Marketing: 50 Tips for Surviving the Off-Season” by Joe Imbrogno, due to hit inboxes and mailboxes in the next week.

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Now Hiring Entrepreneurs Image

Want to supercharge your restaurant marketing and ultimately grow your restaurant? Then hire entrepreneurs! Ok, bear with me, there is an important take-away here, I promise! Let me describe the profile of the entrepreneur that you, as a restaurant owner want on your team:

  • Great personality, outgoing; what you might call a “people person”
  • Customer-service focused; someone with a genuine interest in making your customers happy
  • Perceptive; someone that is adept at reading people and situations and is able to connect with your customers in a sincere, individual and appropriate way
  • Smart, wise, career-minded; someone that views a position on your team as an opportunity to grow and make a lot of money, (as opposed to someone who “waits tables” at your restaurant)

You might even have one or two people like this working for you now. If so, you already know their value to your restaurant. If not, you don’t know what you’re missing! Here’s why: it’s those “entrepreneurs” within your restaurant that are enterprising enough to build their “client base” by creating unique experiences for your customers that will keep them coming back and spending money. It’s a win/win/win … the diner wins because they feel special, like they have an exclusive “in” at your restaurant; your server/bartender, etc., win because they make more money as a result of increased tips; and you, the restaurant owner or restaurant GM win because these efforts help your restaurant to grow and flourish over time.

So what can you do to foster this type of environment in your restaurant?

  1. Make sure that every one of your employees understands their role in your restaurant marketing activities. Create a “sales-focused” organization. (Be careful here: there’s a fine line between tasteful “selling” and obnoxious harassment!).
  2. Encourage your staff to get to know your customers. Learn their names, their favorite dishes, their special requests.
  3. Profile your staff on your website, on your Facebook page, (see A New Facebook Layout: Secure Your Business Success for more tips), on your Instagram profile, (See Your Restaurant on Instagram for more tips), etc. Allow their personalities to come through; with their permission, share periodic updates like “Hi, this is Shelly and I’m working on the patio tonight. Stop by to see me!”
  4. Hold a seminar about “personal brand” with your team to help them understand how they can individually contribute to the growth of your restaurant … and their paychecks … by building a strong brand for themselves and associating that brand with your restaurant’s brand. (Careful here too: your staff needs to understand both the opportunity and the responsibility that comes with building their association with your restaurant).
  5. Although this seems obvious, it’s important: Require that they are personally knowledgeable about your menu; develop an opinion about what they like/dislike; above all else, they should be honest and sincere AND it would be great if they preferred some of your high margin/premium items.

When hiring and training your team, ensure that your servers, bartenders and other FOH staff understand their role in your restaurant marketing and empower them to become enterprising business people with a strong repeat client base (your customers) and a great product offering (the dining experience at your restaurant!).


If you’re a restaurant owner, don’t forget to download our free Tampa Restaurant Marketing 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

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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!!”