Part of me is allergic to the headline I just wrote—or, at least, the “15 minutes a day” part. Because starting out with a stingy marketing mindset runs counter to the spirit of the rich content marketing opportunity.
It reminds of me of punching a clock at a job you hate: How little do I have to work? How much responsibility can I shirk?
But, still, businesses—especially very small ones—have certain constraints and often-ungenerous realities. What if you really have only mere minutes a day to focus specifically on marketing? What if you run, say, a restaurant or a pizza shop—and you’re squeezing out a Facebook post in between the lunch and dinner rush?
Can it be done?
Yes. But only with a solid plan and strategy in place.
At least, that’s the message Shelly Kramer and I gave a few weeks ago at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.
(Yes, a pizza expo is a thing. And, yes, there was a lot of pizza there. And wood-burning ovens. And industrial dough mixers. And did you know you can buy crushed tomatoes in containers the size of trash barrels…?)
At a session I co-presented with Shelly (of V3 Integrated Marketing), titled Content Marketing in 15 Minutes a Day, we focused on helping the mostly small restaurant owners in our audience think about dumping boring corporate messaging and embracing social media and content as a cornerstone of their marketing. In other words: Quit marketing, start engaging.
(Side note: I talk to a lot of marketers, and talking to a group of mostly owner-operators is always a good bubble-bursting reality check.)
In addition to the why of social and content, we talked about the how, advising them on two primary things:
1. Creating a strategy and a road map. That means focusing on what’s reasonable and sustainable for a small retailer with limited time, few resources and a budget smaller than a personal pan pizza.
2. Using short-form “micro-content” mobile marketing to get the word out about their businesses. Some restaurants and pizza companies do have more ambitious publishing efforts—Otta Pizza in Portland, Maine, has been publishing its engaging blog for almost three years now.
Take-out delivery service Eat24 has a highly entertaining blog, and two weeks ago, its open “breakup letter” to Facebook went viral. But for most time-strapped, budget-conscious pizza joints, a blog is likely a bit of a stretch.
And not entirely necessary. Because this is pretty much what all of our customers look like these days:
Content—especially short-form social media content like Vine, Twitter, Instagram, Instagram video, Snapchat and Facebook—presents an immense opportunity to connect in wholly different ways with our customers: not by broadcasting our silly old messages, but by treating our prospects and customers with respect, engaging with them directly in brief snippets of conversation, with personality and humor.
And it’s not just for fun: Consumers who engage with brands via social media demonstrate a deeper emotional commitment to those brands and spend 20 to 40 percent more than other customers, according to a report from Bain & Company, as reported in MarketingProfs.
For Inspiration (Slightly More Than 15 Minutes a Day)
For inspiration, restaurant owners can look how Taco Bell has been killing it on Twitter—creating a hip, fun presence to turn customers into evangelists. Based in part on its snappy, very human interactions, the fast-food giant generated enough early buzz last year to make Doritos Locos Tacos its most successful product launch to date. (Taco Bell reportedly sold 100 million in the product’s first 10 weeks, and its parent company, Yum Brands, registered a 15 percent increase in profit during the launch quarter.)
More recently, Taco Bell created the first Snapchat “film” to introduce its latest Doritos-taco mashup, the Spicy Chicken Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos.
I know, I know… Taco Bell is spending way more than 15 minutes a day on social and content. So what about smaller restaurants with nowhere near that luxury of time and budget?
Here are three content hacks Shelly and I shared for creating and sharing content:
1. Curate, don’t create. A few weeks ago, the MarketingProfs team bonded after hours at Bowl and Barrel, a Dallas-based bar and bowling spot. I shared a photo from there, because it’s what I do when I’m in a ridiculously photogenic place: the interior brickwork just begged to be Instagrammed.
So I did, and I geo-tagged the location. A day or so later, Bowl & Barrel featured my photo (with full credit) on its burgeoning Instagram feed.
Content hack: Monitor social feeds for fans creating content at your own establishments. Seek republishing permission and republish on your own feed. You’re recognizing your customers and making them a star for a day, while also sharing relevant content with your own audience. Win-win.
2. Crowdsource utility. I like the way Comodo, a Latin American restaurant in NYC, crowdsources an “Instagram menu” to help customers decide what to order. The restaurant includes the hashtag #ComodoMenu on the bottom of its real-life menu, subtly encouraging guests to check out menu items and add their own. In the past year and a half, Comodo customers have shared almost 1,800 dishes.
Content hack: People are going to take photos of their food anyway, right? #ComodoMenu goes one step further—encouraging useful content designed to serve the needs of customers.
3. Tap into conversations already happening. Go where your customers are, and align yourself with what they are already talking about, assuming that also aligns with your brand sensibility.
DiGiorno Pizza is the poster child (poster pizza?) for this idea, tapping into trends and events their customers are already talking about on social channels. I particularly love the way they do it with a sense of humor; the brand’s live-tweeting of last December’s Sound of Music Live was epic:
They also routinely jump into ongoing conversations—like March Madness, or Sunday’s MTV music awards—with on-brand, funny commentary.
Or look at how Dunkin’ Donuts consistently does this, across several social channels. Here’s Facebook:
Content hack: Quit trying to get patrons to pay attention to you. Instead, talk about what interests them.
To Sum Up
Shelly and I shared more ideas, which you can see in the deck below. But to sum up our philosophy as well as give some context to the content hacks here…
- Be a person, not a faceless corporate entity.
- You get what you give: Give your customers content “gifts.”
- Have fun: Never underestimate the power of a smile.
- Don’t be a jerk.
- Quit marketing.
- Technology can help, but it can’t do it all. Real social success requires you.
Content Marketing in 15 Minutes a Day for Restaurants from Ann Handley
Header pizza photo credit: Greenville Avenue Pizza Company
Jonas Ellison says
Ann, amazing post! I’m going to talk to a local golf course tomorrow about their content (which, as of now, is non-existent) and this gives me some great nuggets to work with. So much of it is the mindset, or, like you said, the philosophy behind it.
Stop marketing… Love it. Thanks again!
Ann Handley says
I’d love to see a golf course take a swing at some of these ideas. (Ha! Get it?!) 🙂
Let me know how it goes, Jonas!
Jonas Ellison says
I’ll “fore” sure let ya know… Ugh, geez. Golf humor.
Will keep ya posted!
Ann Handley says
Good luck with the… green.
(And now I’ll stop.)
Andrea Goulet Ford says
Here’s what I love about you, Ann: not only do you give rock solid advice, you back it up with fantastic examples. I know this takes extra effort but it really sets you apart. Thanks for taking the time to do it right.
Ok…back to working on my manuscript. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. 🙂
Ann Handley says
Thanks, Andrea. Examples make things real-world for me. Otherwise concepts remains too academic.
And YES! KEEP SWIMMING!
Shelly Kramer says
Did we talk about the part where you dragged me through the Expo floor, clutching your “swag bag” in hand, determined to find great stuff? Oh, and that there WAS no great stuff? Nooooo, we didn’t mention that did we ……
Ann Handley says
LOL But I DID manage to find some tasty pie!
Great post Ann. Definitely the first thing I hear from small businesses, most still spending more money than they should on traditional channels. Love the very useful examples and illustrations that may help ease the angst for so many.
Jonas Ellison says
Looking through Otto’s blog. Amazing. Noticed that their “Slugger’s Walk From Fenway to Hadlock” is a lot like Howard Gossage’s campaign from 1969, “Coach Stahl Wants YOU to Walk to Seattle!”
Love seeing how certain themes are timeless:)
Ann Handley says
It’s surprising how compelling a pizza blog can be! Otto does an amazing job.
Matt Powell says
Hi Anne, I’m an ex-photographer moving into a digital marketing career. Very interested in some of the techniques you’ve mentioned in this post. One question: You mentioned: “Bowl & Barrel featured my photo (with full credit) on its burgeoning Instagram feed. Do companies have to ask your permission before re-posting your instagram to their feed? Or is attributing credit to the photographer sufficient?
Ann Handley says
Hi Matt – Thanks for the note!
It’s better to seek permission and not forgiveness, on Instagram or any other kind of content creation effort.
There are 3 ways to repost an Instagram image to another feed/site:
1. Via an app called “Repost” which allows you to… well, repost (!)… an Instagram image on your own feed, with credit. See it here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/repost-for-instagram/id570315854?mt=8
2. Via the embed code on any Instagram image (website only).
3. Taking a simple screen shot.
Of the three, the last is less preferable… but it’s acceptable as long as you get permission and tag the original photographer. But again, I think it’s better to seek permission and not forgiveness!
Good luck — thanks again for the comment.
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Andy Detweiler says
I really appreciate the viewpoints here. Yes, there’s rarely an “easy” answer and everything worthwhile takes effort. But it seems silly to say anyone who can’t spend tons of time or money on content marketing should just resort to the same old and disruptive techniques.
The examples you gave revolve around the restaurant setting. Can you offer any similar strategies for a B2B environment?
This is the first article I’m reading in your blog, and I gotta say it’s one of the finest I’ve ever read. The clever phrases and quotations you’ve used are simply inspiring (I’ve saved a couple of them). http://i.imgur.com/zjlyDf6.png
I even visited all the links you’ve used – the Eat24 blog post was an eye opener! You’ve gained a follower today! 🙂
Ok now this is a kind of article any reader would love and share. The way it is written, the way each example is given makes this content super informative. Yes, indeed I agree with you that on social medias brands have to be social to their consumers and the engagements guarantee more new and returning customers from networking sites. Content creation is all about being social, humorous, creative, engaging and informative. I am not sure whether these can be done in 15 minutes a day or not but the points you raised are very good & handy (& can be productive as well) for various types of businesses who have reasonable amount of budget for their social media marketing or optimization.
Nancy Flowers says
Awesome post, Ann, I like when you said that it was an eye opening experience for you when you were talking to small business owners. Because I feel that some small business have knowledge and know how to do content marketing. But most small businesses do not know how to do content marketing at all or correctly. I also agree that 15 minutes is not enough time to do content well. But it is a good starting point. The technology is important but it is more important to be a nice and courteous person to your customers.
Content Marketing says
Great article, in the Netherlands we like to use Content Marketing to promote our products and services, for us it’s a great way for finding new customers.
This is also possible if they offer SEO as part of their service.
You will also need to delegate your domain name to the hosting space, details on this are
provided by your hosting provider. You can be diligent about protecting your website but someone else on the same
server might not be.
Maria Mudley says
You got a good one here Ann! You know, it may sound complicated, but by keeping your site visually engaging, your content insightful, knowing your target and by posting regular updates, you are on your way to internet marketing!! If you need help when it comes to creating a good website for your market, I recommend this one: http://xtensio.com/. They are great!
Creating a strategy and a road map,Using short-form “micro-content” mobile marketing is the basic thing of social content thanks for discussion about point.
Ben Parker says
Its a interesting post and one i think i marked up that all the party guys are busy with their mobile .. so why they are coming to party they should better be at home .
party is for refreshment and enjoyment.
Marcus Alonso says
Hello Ann, I stopped by your blog and am truly amazed by your content marketing strategy. I heard about content marketing few years back and how it is going to change the future of online marketing. I am doing a lot of researches lately to find the best content marketing strategies to promote oneself online. Let me tell you that your advice is useful for getting thousands of new readers to your blog.
Rijschool Delft says
Rijschool Delft says