What Social Media Gurus Do Not Want You To Know

If you don’t have a Facebook page your local small business will surely go under. If you’re not buying PPC AdWords, you’re bound to fail online. If your website doesn’t rank number one in your niche for local search, you may as well close up shop. These are the types of things I hear from social media marketing and seo gurus day in and day out.

Is It True?

There is a diner restaurant in the same mini mall center as my Los Angeles chiropractic office. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. It is a family owned business (one of two locations) that was started in mid-2001. Certainly a time when businesses already had website, but it wasn’t necessarily the most popular thing for local businesses to do. During lunch hours and especially on weekends, good luck trying to find a parking space anywhere nearby, the lot is packed, and so is the restaurant.

For breakfast and for lunch (hours the place is best known for) the restaurant appears to always be bustling with clientele. The weekends even more so, with lines of people piled out the door, waiting for a table so they can get full on massive bacon avocado omelettes, homemade salsa, and pancakes that are almost the size of manhole covers.

Do we have a team of social media gurus to thank for all the restaurants success? Was it their highly optimized and localized restaurant website? Is that their Facebook page, their LivingSocial, or Groupon online coupons that are driving masses to their business?

The Words Don't Fit the Picture

Being someone who has a bit of interest in local search, social media, seo, and even running a small business, I find places like Ronnie’s Diner fascinating. They do have a website, which looks inspired directly by Café Meaty Yummers. The address is an image file, and the menu is offered in PDF.

Aside from the site, there are no Web promotions, no online coupons, no discount meals, no Facebook pages, no twitter accounts, no Foursquare specials, and no personal Ronnie’s blog with posts about how he regularly puts his back out stuffing all that cash into his mattress every week.

It’s not that the owner is not interested in search and social media, he may very well be. We’ve had a conversation or two in the past on the topic, and left it at that.

What’s His Secret? Serve good food and listen to your customers.

I go to the chiropractor (hard to believe eh?) and guess what? My chiropractor doesn’t have a website, a Facebook page, a twitter profile, a blog or anything else online that talks about his business (other than the times I’ve mentioned him in the past). He does have an e-mail address, it’s an AOL account.

When I go to see him, do you think he’s sitting behind his doctor’s desk just waiting to get me adjusted? He’s not, because he’s crazy busy adjusting other patients. The guy sees more than 400 patient visits per week on average (for you non-chiropractors, that’s about four times the weekly average most chiropractors are seeing), and he’s only the second best chiropractor in Los Angeles.

So what is his secret? He’s great at what he does, provides good service, keeps his fees affordable, and asks all his existing clientele for referrals. Did you get that? Like clockwork, he asks every single person that comes to his office, to refer someone else. He tells them he would appreciate the opportunity to help them be healthier.

He doesn’t buy PPC advertising (I don’t think he even knows what it is), he doesn’t buy Facebook ads, he doesn’t participate in any online coupon specials (he doesn’t even participate in any off-line coupon specials). He simply goes to work each and every day (Monday through Saturday for about 26 hours total) and provides chiropractic adjustments to all those that want them. Think his model will be crushed by social media?

My Mother Was Right

Years ago my mom ran one of the most successful catering operations on all of Long Island, she has since retired but the principles that made her successful in business still apply today. As a caterer in New York, she organized parties, gatherings and weddings, for mayors, governors, presidential candidates, celebrities and even large Italian families. Ever watch someone put on a party for 10,000 people? She was an absolute master in the philosophy, science, and art of what she did. I grew up in the surroundings of her catering and food industry world of New York and that’s where I first learned about service.

How do you turn a group of a one 100 hungry people, who are waiting 45 minutes for a table, into raving fanatics? Four words.

Drinks on the House

Walk into the kitchen on any given night and you may had mistaken her for a military drill sergeant. Witness her out on the restaurant floor and she was loving people up. There was so much emphasis on service, it would drive the average employed person into hysterics. Trust me, I spent many hours in those kitchens, and if a drop of au jus sauce was dripped on the plate where it shouldn’t be, that plate wasn’t going out of the kitchen. Food was served hot, it was served in an organized fashion, and the place ran like it was a thing of magic.

Growing up in that environment, I experienced hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of smiles. Happy wedding goers, successful bar mitzvahs, presidential campaign galas, you name it, I worked them. And it all came down to one thing.

Service

As a chiropractor, when I say I serve God by Serving Mankind, I mean it. Yes, I have the convenience of social media and seo to help me better communicate with my clientele, but when it really comes down to providing them the very best, it’s a hands-on job. No amount of Internet marketing is going to replace the skills I’ve developed in my 16 years of chiropractic.

Service is a Hands-On Job

Will social media grow your business? No argument from me there. Does a successful social media campaign equal success in business? Does the number of Facebook friends or twitter followers determine whether you’re going to be able to put your kids through college?

It doesn’t matter whether you run a restaurant, flower shop, chiropractic office, bed and breakfast, or casino. Unless you’re employed at the Mustang Ranch in Reno Nevada, never forget the first rule of business.

Don’t Suck

Comments

  1. Great point Michael. Another great example is a local breakfast/lunch joint just a block away from here. Always packed, always busy. In fact, was so crowded one day that it took 40 minutes to seat me.

    Why did I wait? Great food, great service, and friendly conversation. The waitresses get to know you and make you feel more like part of a family.

    I myself do work in Social Media and consult, but the big problem is that many gurus and expertninjarockstars, prey on fear. That’s the absolute wrong approach.

    No one HAS to get into Social Media. Those who do get into it and/or want better results should be doing it because they recognize the value, not because they’re afraid their business will “crumble” because Mr. Big Shot said so.

  2. Glad you bring that up. I see that everywhere I go, especially here in LA. Gotta be something else to success besides marketing. Love the way you explain the value.

  3. I loved this post Michael – really did…

  4. Thanks Chris!

  5. I went to a new salon a few weeks ago. The girl who did my hair did exactly what I asked for, was friendly, and made me feel welcome. About a week after my appointment, I received a hand-written thank-you note from her, which also offered me a discount on my next appointment if I refer three people to her. Not an e-mail, not a tweet, not a form letter–hand-written, on real stationery. You can bet I will be going to her from now on.

  6. Interesting that you bring this up Michelle, because in our ever increasingly busy social media world, I think that personal touch is more important than ever.

    In my opinion, handwritten thank you notes (and even apology letters for that matter) are worth more than their weight in gold.

  7. As I drove through the sleepy town I live in this morning, I was thinking the same thing. So many of these small businesses have been around for years and I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that they aren’t on Foursquare, Facebook or Gowalla and there is nothing wrong with that.

    I think just like any other type of marketing vehicle, its about finding a way to convey your brand’s unique service in a way that makes sense for your brand. If it doesn’t make sense to you or your brand, but you’ve found other ways to keep the foot traffic up, thats great!

    Just like Mike said, NEVER go in to SEO or social out of fear that you will die if you don’t. That just leads to frustration, fear and eventually becoming an algoholic and sleepless nights.

  8. The beginning of this post had me saying (in my head) “Well, what about this local restaurant I know who has a kick ass FB page, comes in my stream about twice a week and and makes me WANT their food? Or my hairdresser, whom I convinced to get a FB page, and who pops up once in a while and reminds me to make my appointment and who also told me about this super amazing new ‘thing’ that I must have?”

    The last half of the post had me nodding in agreement though. However awesome the Facebook posts of these specific companies, their personal service rocks my world. They are the opposite of suck.

    If they didn’t have that FB page, they would still have lines around their store and be booked up solid for weeks in advance.

    Good post.

  9. Well put Levi and a terrific exercise. I love when I drive, walk, or cycle around the town and witness lines of people outside local businesses. I figure they are doing something right, unless it’s the local DMV office, there is a line there regardless. :)

  10. Thanks Kristi. As others have mentioned in the comments, it’s not about fear but another way to get the word out on what a business has to offer. Service can’t take a backseat to social media or even SEO for that matter.

  11. I certainly hope small business owners know better than to allow themselves to be bullied into leaping into the social media pool. Fear and intimidation are powerful motivators for some, but the rarely – if ever – bring about positive results & experiences. As is the case with anything, if you’re not ready and not motivated to get the most out of it, you’ll inevitably fail.

    Then, like SEO, we’ll have an army of small business owners who think Social Media is a hoax because they followed bad advice and were never ready to commit the time & resources necessary to learn how Social Media can positively impact their business, if it can at all.

  12. Appreciate the comment Alysson. There’s work to do on both sides, and as several others have also reminded me today, fear is not the way to go.

  13. Great article Michael.

    About 1 in 5 small businesses who come to me for SEO guidance end up with me providing guidance on business fundamentals instead. They come in convinced that SEO and social media are “must have” services. They walk out realizing they first need to have establish a strong fundamental business mind-set.

  14. Great point Alan, and if that’s knowledge you have, it makes your services even that much more valuable.

  15. Fantastic article, EVERYTHING you do in you business is marketing. Down to the last drop of Au Jus.

  16. Haha, like how you put that, and thanks!

  17. Great article and great advice

  18. A double great, thanks Lucas!

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