From the Editor: Talking It Up

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The Oxford Dictionary defines the term marketing as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.” As we all know, as the world evolves, words take on new meaning, but few could have predicted how the meaning of the term ‘marketing’ would morph.

Watch TV’s Mad Men, featuring the über-cool retro world of one New York ad agency, and it’s quite clear the TV drama’s marketing universe is different than today’s reality. But, if Don Draper and his team were around today their marketing campaigns would undoubtedly include social-media platforms. Certainly, the power of the people has never been as strong as it is today, causing us to forever change the way we look at marketing.

Still, strip away the verbiage, and successful marketing is about talking up a subject. When done well, it helps to create the need for a product, whether or not the need truly exists. In fact,
great marketing makes you believe in the power of a product, whatever that product may be. But, these days, marketing isn’t as cut and dried as it used to be. Ironically, in an era of strident  consumerism, social media has made us all marketers. Whether we’re using Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, we’re promoting ourselves, our events, our interests, our likes and dislikes 24-7.

As a result, today’s operators need to be more astute than ever about how they promote themselves and how they market their menus, and, in fact, all aspects of their business operation. It’s  no longer just about taking out an adin a magazine or a newspaper or doing a spot on TV or radio, although these are important considerations and integral to a successful marketing campaign.  These days, the dialogue about restaurants is just as likely to take place on the social-media platform, drawing customers in with a very targeted and direct message.

And, the conversation is likely to be more intense than ever. But, interestingly, though restaurants can initiate  the conversation, more often than not the conversation, and the marketing, is also being done independently of the operator’s efforts. For example, go to any restaurant and you’ll undoubtedly see customers snapping pictures of the dishes they’ve ordered as they arrive at
the table, disseminating their reactions and feedback of the dish — good or bad — to a waiting world via social media. If a dish is to their liking, that spells good news for the operators with the
resulting great PR driving potential new customers. But, should the opposite occur, and the customer doesn’t like the dish, or any aspect of the business, and you’ll suddenly have a viral campaign that could potentially wreak havoc on a restaurant’s business. Welcome to the brave new world of social media.

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