Austin Breakfast Places FTW

The other day, our family decided we wanted to break out of our normal habits of eating breakfast at Magnolia and Torchy’s so I asked my Austin friends where they suggested we should try next. The original thread on Facebook is here.

In the spirit of sharing, I have created a blog post with each of the restaurants suggested, a link to the Yelp review (and menu where available). I’ve also included any notes provided by the recommender like “great brunch place” or  “good for “Bloody Marys.” If you have others you want to add in the comments, go for it. If you leave the link to the Yelp review and menu, I will go back and include them in the original list. Here goes:

Location Based Marketing for Business

This was originally posted on WCG’s blog.

This morning, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel titled “On the Location-Based Services Horizon” at the second annual Foodservice Social Media Universe (FSMU for short). Joining me on the panel were three of the smartest folks not only in the restaurant industry but also in the world of location-based services. This group included Rick Wion, director of social media at McDonalds, BJ Emerson, VP of Technology at Tasti D-lite and Lauren Barash, director of corporate communications at Moe’s Southwest Grill.

  • During the hour long conversation, I kicked us off with a few relevant mobile/location-based facts including:
  • Smart phone penetration has reached 50% in the U.S. (mobithinking.com)
  • As of May 2012, 74% of smart phone users claimed having used a location-based service. This includes things like Google Maps. (Pew Internet Study)
  • According that same report, 18% of smart phone users claimed to have checked into a venue like a movie theater using a service like foursquare. That number is up from 12% year over year. (Pew Internet Study)
  • The leading location-based service, foursquare, has approximately 24 million users (LBMA September, 2012)
  • Photo sharing service, Instagram (now part of Facebook), has grown to 80 million users in just 18 months (C|Net)

Following the industry stats, each panelist took some time to talk about what their companies were doing on the location-based marketing front. Here are a few of the key take aways from each:

McDonalds: 1) during key pilots, they have gotten good traction with foursquare in driving increased checkins. 1) After analyzing their mobile web traffic, they realized that a) store locations with details about drive thrus and playscapes b) nutritional information and c) job applications are the top three most visited areas of their site. Their mobile app features those three items. 3) In order to train franchise owners, they have used location-based scavenger hunts (check into a bar/get a tip/complete an action). This has worked well in helping their franchisees understand foursquare and how it works better).

Moes: 1) They have a check-in club that allows customers to connect their foursquare accounts to Moe’s loyalty program. Customers earn points through check-ins and can achieve “rock star” status on Moe’s leaderboard. 2) Changing offers requires a lot of training for staff which sometimes slows the pace of innovation at many retail locations. 3) Moe’s is also working together with their cheese vendor to sponsor a free queso day tomorrow.

Tasti Dlite: 1) BJ and this CEO just wrote/published a book called The Tasti D-lite Way that document’s the companies location-based and social media journey. 2) An early innovator in the location-based space, Tasti D has created a way to connect foursquare, Facebook and Twitter to their loyalty card. When the card is swiped, it auto posts across the customer’s social networks and gives the customer points for each purchase/check-in. 3) BJ thinks that one way retail stores/restaurants can create higher engagement/check-in activity with their customers is to put a customer-facing camera at each register that would capture any willing customers as they checked in.

There were a lot of great tweets from our session as well as from the conference. You can see them here.

  • I said that I believed that Google would ultimately win the race given the recent UI change it made by allowing users from the mobile Google.com page to “use your current location” and then suggest nearby bars, restaurants and coffee shops.
  • BJ thought that a great focus on value exchange from brands and more “celebrating” of mayorships should take place
  • Lauren disagreed with me that Google would win (while agreeing that having one’s place page(s) correct was critical. For her, it’s about more check-ins and better offers/value.
  • Rick suggested that based on activity they are seeing from Radian6 whether or not photos are the new check-ins (McDonalds sees far more customer photo uploads than checkins — to the tune of thousands/day)

Last but not least, here is a list of some resources that I’ve pulled together for the last few LBM sessions I’ve done. Included on that list are links to BJ’s book and a few of the reports referenced in the report. Enjoy!

 

Search Inside Yourself [Book Review]

Several weeks ago, I was asked to review the book, Search Inside Yourself, written by long-time Google engineer, Chade Meng-Tan (Meng for short). His official title at Google is “Jolly Good Fellow,” and after reading a couple of chapters of his book, it’s easy to see how he earned his title. Most impressive is that the lessons Meng shares in this book — essentially how to develop a greater sense of mindfulness — have been codified into a course that is offered to all Google employees. Given the success of the company over the last ten plus years… I’d say he (and they) are doing something right.

Before diving into some of the core elements of the book, it’s worth noting that I am a fairly spiritual person. And while I’ve grown up in organized religion, I am a great respecter of all religions, particularly those that focus on the positive elements of man, God and the universe. Because of that attitude, a lot of Meng’s book made total sense to me and I can honestly say that I’ve been unofficially practicing/living many of the tenets of the book without knowing it. With that said, you don’t need to be a religious person to appreciate Search Inside Yourself. However, before you decide whether you want to read the book, it’s worth asking yourself a simple question. Do you believe that you can become a better person by being more introspective, mindful, empathetic and humble? If the answer is no, then you are probably better off skipping this book (and the rest of the post).

Two things in particular struck me about this book that validate its credibility well beyond anything I could offer:

  • The pull quotes are arguably the most impressive I’ve ever seen. Case in point, when you get a former U.S. President (Jimmy Carter), the Dalai Lama and John Mackey, the co-CEO and co-founder of well respected, Whole Foods, that says something.
  • Meng knew that in writing this book he would have a number of skeptics questioning his methodology and possibly writing off his innovative course as quackery steeped in eastern religion and philosophy. Instead, Meng backs up all of his research with 3rd party studies and research and digs into the scientific and physiological reasons behind what he’s advocating.

Five pragmatic things that I took away from the book were:

  1. Strengthening one’s mind and getting good at focus and mindfulness is akin to riding a bike. The first several times you do it, your balance (focus) falters and the corrections to stabilize yourself are exaggerated. Over time, the adjustments become less noticeable and riding evolves into a subconscious and often, calming, activity.
  2. One of the important steps in the book is learning how to better focus in order to be more mindful and thus more in control of one’s own emotions. On page 55 of the book, Meng teaches us a simple exercise that takes place during walking.
  3. On page 57, Meng also provides details on an exercise that anyone in business could benefit from and that is mindful listening. As someone that has spent the last 15 years of my life getting better at listening, this easy-to-implement advice was a welcome recommendation.
  4. For anyone that lacks the empathy gene, the exercise on page 169 is straightforward yet transformational in its ability to remind us to be a better human being.
  5. Who in life hasn’t had to have a difficult conversation with a boss, child, client, vendor, spouse or employee at some point in their life? In many cases, some of us are unlucky enough to have several difficult conversations a month. The process Meng spells out on page on 223 is one that I plan to start using immediately.

The good and bad of this book is that the concept is relatively simple. It is singleminded in its approach. But it can only be effective to those that are willing to spend time putting it into practice. It’s hard to say whether or not business people will adopt the smart lessons and philosophies Meng shares in this book. Taking a look at the pervasiveness of the company that Meng works for — Google — I’d say he’s got better than a fighting chance.

Reluctantly Pinning My Way Around Another Social World

Guest Post by Laura Beck

Last month, I finally broke down and joined Pinterest. I didn’t want to. I held off for as long as I could, for a few reasons: I have a hard enough time keeping up with Facebook and Twitter, my two social means of choice; I heard Pinterest is a time sink hole, hours suddenly vanish and you are still pinning away; and I heard Pinterest is for housewives with lots of time on their hands: that cannot be me!

But you see, it is exactly my customer. Now at nearly 1.4 million users DAILY, Pinterest users are nearly 70% women, 50% with kids, most in that coveted 25-35 year old age bracket, and most with upper middle class or above household incomes.

THAT is exactly my customer, my target. You see, not only am I personally almost exactly that demographic (thought aged out now at 40), but this is who I market my business to. I couldn’t afford to miss Pinterest, for my brand, especially now with the opportunity to get in and “get pinning,” while it is still evolving.

My business, stripedshirt.com, focuses on fan-wear for women, kids and babies. Two color combination striped shirts to support a team, school, cause, organization. Women, aged 25-35, with kids and with disposable income are my ideal target. Pinterest gathers them all for me. OH AND my product is extremely visual – multi color shirts. Pinterest is built for beauty, color, great images, physical goods, pretty products, designs.

I’ve been on Facebook and Twitter for my business since day one, simultaneously setting up these business table stakes while getting my URL and building a website. But, I had not yet taken the Pinterest leap as of a month ago, honestly, out of fear that I’d get personally sucked in and lose more precious hours of my already-too-short days to yet another online social time suck.

I was intrigued, of course, especially by the recent “tipping point” for Pinterest. See, Pinterest is hardly new. It started Thanksgiving 2009. It’s been around over two years now. But this one is a strange one: it took off very slowly, plodding along really until something magical happened that other startups would likely kill to replicate. Somewhere around September 2011, Pinterest started taking off like a rocket ship. (Was it truly the power of PR? Pinterest was included in a Time Magazine Top 50 Best Websites of 2011 list in August. Who knows. Again, if the magic trigger could be identified, oh, how others would jump on board!)

Per Wikipedia, in January 2012, comScore reported Pinterest had 11.7 million unique users, making it the fastest site in history to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark. And founder Ben is now a beloved name and face to thousands of Mommy Bloggers and average middle aged American women. I heard he was mobbed, rockstar-style, when speaking at the AltSummit conference in January.

Somehow, refreshingly, Pinterest ignored the latest start up mantra of “Fail Quickly” and stuck with it until that magic moment when it went viral about six months ago. Shouldn’t be a surprise, Pinterest was BUILT to be viral – pinning and repinning is all about the “network effect” and, like Twitter, you don’t have to be friends to follow, or like, or pin. Also like Twitter, search in Pinterest is great (unlike Facebook), to find what you like, dig into topics of interest, find other inspirations.

And, a bit like Etsy, Pinterest is super easy, and all-inclusive about “selling” – simply add a dollar sign ($) to your image description and it beautifully tags the image as something for purchase. And you can post and pin your own stuff with ease, pimp your own goods! (Please, Pinterest, take your time in monetizing this feature, I know you will, but for the poor start ups out there, take your time!)

For all these reasons, I broke down and personally joined Pinterest, to be able to promote stripedshirt, my ecommerce business, THROUGH my own personal account. That’s deliberate. I do believe there will be strict rules for businesses on Pinterest, soon, regarding ecommerce and affiliate programs, percentages of sales to Pinterest and others. And I know soon we’ll be hearing a lot more about trademark and copyright rules with images. The big guys, and brands killing it on Pinterest like Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living can roll with those punches. Little startup me wanted to be more cautious.

For now, I’m one of the 12 million pinning away in Pinterest, and my business images, my products to shill, are clearly featured on my own boards, with information, URLs, pricing details indicating they are products for purchase, easy clicks to transactions. My friends are repinning my stuff and the images are starting to spread beyond my personal network to the wider Pinterest world.

Have I gotten a sale yet directly from Pinterest? Not that I can tell. But brand building and visibility is king. And again, if I’m a brand that cares most about Moms with kids, it would be dangerous to dismiss the power of Pinterest and be absent from it. It’s where my customers are, it’s where I need to be.

How about you? Have you also reluctantly pinned your way into a new social corner?

Laura Beck IS Pinterest. She’s a 40 year old Mom of two with a disposable income that could easily be blown on the gorgeous products featured on Pinterest. With 20 years of PR experience, she threw it all to the wind and started www.stripedshirt.com May 2010. stripedshirt is two color combination shirts to support a team, school, cause, organization, worn by exactly the kind of women – and their kiddos – who are loving and living in Pinterest today.