Food, Photos, & Going the Extra Marketing Mile

March 26, 2013
Going the extra mile to surprise and delight customers doesn’t have to be diffic

Social media has forever changed the way we interact with businesses. Fortunately many companies are embracing these changes and giving customers great experiences.

Food as advertising

Between the stream of baby photos and silly memes flying through your Facebook newsfeed you’ve probably spotted photos of thick steaks, bizarre dishes, and perfectly-sculpted exotic desserts.

It’s not uncommon these days for people to take pictures of their food and share it with their social circles through apps like Foodspotting — they’re experiencing something fun and want to share it with others.

Customers’ snapping and sharing should make restaurateurs proud, especially when the photo includes a statement like, “Isn’t this dessert beautiful?” or “Best pizza in town!”

It’s free advertising — something many businesses pray for, and that social media is perfect at spreading.

No photos, please

Despite its potential benefits some restaurants, particularly in New York, have banned food photography outright — and not always without cause. “Foodies” are everywhere, and some are not shy about using bulky cameras, flash photography, standing on their chair to get the best shot, and other distracting behavior.

While I understand the impetus behind these bans (can you imagine someone at the table next to you at a fancy restaurant standing on his chair to take a photo of his food?), I think restaurants are going about it the wrong way.

They may be stopping distracting behavior, but they’re also cutting off any potential for free, positive advertising from customers who share their snapshots online.

Share the love

We’ve written a lot about developing your brand and the importance of maintaining it; however, your brand is never really yours.

What your customers say about you has just as much—if not more—of an effect as what you say about yourself.

You can’t force customers to say good things about you, but you can give them such a great experience that they sing your praises to anyone who will listen.

Say cheese (pizza)

Rather than yelling at customers from the kitchen or frisking them for cameras at the door, some restaurateurs are coming up with creative ways to let everyone have their cake and take photos of it too.

When diners at New York’s Bouley restaurant get snap-happy, Chef David Bouley invites them into the kitchen to take their photos.

“We’ll say, ‘That shot will look so much better on the marble table in our kitchen’...It’s like, here’s the sauce, here’s the plate. Snap it. We make it like an adventure for them instead of telling them no.”

Other restaurants even go as far as providing professional, digital photos of customers’ meals along with their checks.

Go the extra mile

What’s a customer’s typical experience with you like? Do you ban photos, ignore or delete negative social media comments, or otherwise stifle their actions?

Social media is here to stay, and if you want to survive you need to do more and better for your customers.

You don’t have to spend every waking second obsessing over how to surprise and delight your customers — some efforts just aren’t scalable, after all, and may do more harm than good.

Sometimes it’s the little things that matter. It doesn’t take much for Chef Bouley to invite customers to the kitchen to take photos, and it makes the customer feel special. A customer who complains about you online doesn’t need to be fawned over — sometimes they just need someone to listen and acknowledge the issue.

Try going the extra mile, or even 100 yards, for your customers — I guarantee the results will be delicious.

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[Image: Amy Peveto]