We Can Learn from Restaurants
I believe there are social media lessons to be learned from restaurants. The other day, after finishing a meal at the Olive Garden, I started thinking about what does my business and the businesses of my customers have in common with a restaurant. What can we learn?
I started thinking about the entire sequence of a meal and how that affects the customer.
The first thing that the restaurant owners decide is what type of restaurant do they want. Will they be fast food or full service? Will they be inexpensive, moderate priced, or expensive? What type of food will they offer: a wide variety of foods, a particular specialty, or a specific ethnicity.
Where will they locate the restaurant? Who will be their target market or customer?
Once you move beyond fast food, most restaurants understand that they need to get the food moving to the patron. There is nothing worse, than a table full of people just sitting and waiting. Restaurant owners have learned that you need to get the customer or patron involved immediately.
In the past they would immediately serve you water, but today they start by taking your drink order. Why? Because it is quick and easy. People decide quickly on what they will have to drink. The next question is whether you want an appetizer; again these are food choices that are quick to assemble and get to the table. After the appetizers are ordered and before they are served your main course order is taken. This takes longer to prepare, but you have your drinks and your appetizers to keep you occupied.
So What Does This Have To Do With Social Media?
How are you doing at deciding the questions to be asked for your business? What are the parameters for your choices and decisions? Why are you doing what you are doing? What are your goals and objectives?
10 -15 years ago businesses began creating web sites. The question I ask is why? The answer for many was that they were told if they did not have a web site; then they were not serious about their business. A few years later the question was whether they were using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and keywords; because, if they were not, then they were not serious about their business. Today the question is whether the business is using Social Media; because if they are not then they are not serious about their business.
The problem I see with all of these options is that the reasons were often incorrect. Instead of doing the methodical process that a restaurant or any business, for that matter, follows; businesses rushed into web sites, SEO, and now they are rushing into Social Media.
Choosing to Participate in Social Media
A business’s participation in Social Media should be thought out.
- What is the goal?
- What is the expectation?
- What is the expected benefit?
- What is expected of the visitor?
- Who is the expected visitor?
- How do you want the visitor to respond?
- Are you going to capture visitor information?
- What information do you want to capture?
- How are you going to capture the information?
- What do you have to offer in exchange for this information?
If you are not asking and answering these questions; it will be like driving without a destination. You will not:
- Know where you are going.
- You will not know whether you are heading in the correct direction.
- You will not know when you get there or if you get there.
- You will never be able to correct your course.
Social Media is not something you put on auto-pilot and then leave it alone. The great thing is that it is easy to change course, but only if you know the course you are taking.