Target Marketing

Ryan Gosling, Coffee, and the Little Cafe that could…2018 edition

Many of you may have heard that the Toronto International Film Festival is currently ongoing. All the Hollywood stars come to see and be seen and showcase their new films. It’s a media frenzy with paparazzi combing the streets looking to take pics of any stars wandering about our fair city and the chance for local businesses to get lucky and actually serve a celebrity.

It’s also the time that Joelle Murray, owner of Grinder Coffee House in Toronto, launches her annual celebrity campaign. The goal of the campaign is simple, invite a Hollywood star to come have a coffee with her at her cafe. And this year’s “Ryan needs Grinder” campaign (#ryanneedsgrinder), was a massive success with Ryan Gosling coming in and having a cup of fresh coffee (taken black) and posing for pictures with Joelle and some star struck patrons.

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I wrote an article on last years campaign, #idrisneedsgrinder which, unfortunately, didn’t result in Mr. Elba showing up for coffee and snack. His loss, Joelle says. But why did this years campaign succeed? Especially considering that Mr. Gosling doesn’t really maintain an active presence on his social media. Here are some takeaways from this years campaign.

Leverage what you have for what you want

Joelle is passionate, funny, warm and relatable. She has the right personae for a small business owner who is active and involved in her local community. For news organizations looking for a subject to feature, Joelle and her cafe are perfect. While Joelle maintains that she didn’t do anything, she forgets that her outgoing personality and her enthusiasm makes supporting her very natural. Her likeability makes you WANT her to succeed. She was perfectly positioned to be the lead in a feel good story of a small “mom and pop” business trying to get noticed in a sea of competition. People rallied behind her and she received press even before Ryan came.

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As other new outlets started to pick up her story, eventually, someone influential noticed. In this case, it was Ryan’s mother who played a key part. Kudos to Mr. Gosling for doing what his mom tells him to do.

Doing it right means investing time, money and energy

Last year, the #idrisneedsgrinder campaign used a simple cutout of Idris’ head on a popcicle stick. This year, Joelle invested in a lifesize (cut off at the waist) cardboard cutout of Ryan Gosling and she had a friend photoshop a Grinder coffee cup in his hands.   For Grinder, this was a $50 dollar investment in materials (and a free cup of coffee to her friend with the photoshop skills). That’s a great ROI, isn’t it?

Joelle also scheduled staff in so she had time to gather content for her campaign. Every day she’d take “Ryan” around the neighbourhood for photo opportunities. Joelle knew from last years campaign that it’s a great way to get other businesses involved and supporting the campaign on their social media as well.

Do some research and have a plan

Joelle had an idea of how she wanted her campaign to play out. She had a start and end date and an activity planned for each day of the campaign. She researched and knew when Mr. Gosling was in town, when he’d be busy premiering his movie, and when his press conference was planned. Joelle had something scheduled for every day of the campaign including taking “Ryan” to local businesses for a haircut, a spa and massage, and shopping at her local mall.

Joelle knew that the window to have Ryan come by was very small and so she came up with an idea to solve that. She’d tell Ryan directly how close Grinder was and how simple and easy it was for him to drop by. Joelle made a simple post that was a map from Tiff to her cafe with the caption noting Grinder was only an 18 minute car drive across the city. Hopefully, that would remove a significant barrier that Grinder was not far away and was easily accessible.

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How successful was this campaign? Well, Huffington Post, Newsweek, People, CTV, CBC, The Globe and Mail, CityTV, FoxNews, Toronto Life, National Post, Esquire, and ETCanada are just a few of the organizations who picked up the story. Joelle says a patron told her that they saw #ryanneedsgrinder on a russian website! Joelle didn’t capture all the statistics but she was able to share the following results from her campaign:

Facebook– 75,924 people reached, 36,176 post clicks and almost 10k reactions, comments and shares

Twitter– 504,415 impressions, 70,690 total engagements

Instagram– 34,640 accounts reached, with 4,054 total engagements

Not bad for $50 eh?


Thanks for reading and I hope you find my information useful. As usual, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment below.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and visit my website, to see what I can do for you.


What do you serve your guests?

One of the toughest lessons to learn in the hospitality industry is that you don’t just offer your customers food items from your menu. Once you realize what your product offering is, the sooner you can start to understand the value you offer. And once you understand that, you can determine how much value to ask for it.

Let’s talk about what an ‘offering’ is in marketing terms. Simply put, your offering is the TOTAL amount of value you offer your customer. It’s beyond simply the product or service you give. It includes things like;

-quality of ingredients and materials

-convenience, hours of operation, take out menu, is delivery available

-reputation, experience, pedigree, etc

Your product offering should be specifically designed to satisfy the needs and wants of your target demographic. Essentially, you choose your customer, research what they need and want, then deliver it. Obviously, it’s possible to deliver more than 1 product or service and these form the basis of your product mix. In the case of a restaurant, your product mix is basically your menu.

A feature is a characteristic of an offering. For example, having delivery available is one thing but being accessible through UberEATS, Door Dash, Feast, Foodora, etc offers much more value to your customers.

When a feature satisfies a need or a want, then that’s called a benefit.

To really have a chance at succeeding in business, your goal, as a restaurateur and a business person, is to offer more value and more benefits to consumers than your competition. You want to establish yourself as THE place that understands your customer and gives them complete satisfaction.

It’s not the easiest thing to do, I’ll admit. But the trick in business is to choose the most attractive target demographic. Are they big enough to sustain your business? Are they close by and convenient to access? Can you research them easily and understand their needs/wants? These are the types of questions you should be thinking of before you even get into business because they’ll help you decide what offering has the best chance of success.

So take the time to understand and clearly define your product offering. Treat it like you do your daily special. You’ll find that it’s extremely valuable to you and your staff to know exactly what you serve your guests every time you greet them at the door.


Thanks for reading and I hope you find my information useful. As usual, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment below.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and visit my website, to see what I can do for you.

Is the customer always right? Finally! The answer revealed!

Boom! And that’s how you do clickbaiting, kids.

Seriously though, I see this question get asked and answered a lot and since I’ve been in the hospitality business for 20 years and I’ve dealt with the business side of restaurants, the impact of social media, word of mouth, negative Yelp reviews, etc, etc….I have a strong opinion on this.

Is the customer always right? The short answer, no.

The long answer is customers and restaurants aren’t adversaries fighting to get food-for-free vs. low-cost/quick-bucks, respectively. Buyers and sellers have a relationship where each side trusts the other to exchange value that are (roughly) equal. In the case of restaurants, it’s food and a quality dining experience for cold, hard cash.

In all my years of serving and bartending, I never thought that customers who were complaining were trying to get a free meal out of me. But let me show you this diagram and make a few points.Diagram service

The main point, is clearly that the customer leaves happy. Although, yes, it might be incredibly challenging to influence a customer’s mood such that they go from upset to happy, it is possible. Don’t underestimate the power of…

-recognizing and acknowledging a customer’s issue

-apologizing humbly and sincerely

-offering to make restitution and fix any concerns

-and lastly, thanking the customer for bringing their issue to your attention and telling the customer you hope you can do business again, and further deepen your relationship.

Notice in the diagram that a dining experience is a process. The ideal one for a server is one where there is limited engagement because it’s unnecessary or intrusive. The ideal experience for a customer is one where they have the server’s attention whenever they need it during dinner.

Hospitality is a business whereby both the buyer and seller have prior expectations of how the interaction should play out. Both sides have had plenty of both positive and negative experiences to form a good idea of what the ideal dinner is. The job of the restaurant is to ensure that you communicate, clearly, the value of the dining experience and then deliver what you promised.

When a customer enters your restaurant, all the hard work of marketing has been completed already. The customer has made their purchase decision and there’s no need to understand the customer’s “black box”, consumer behaviours, buyer’s characteristics, and it’s too late to try to change and rebuild your marketing mix.

To sum up, when a customer looks at your menu and chooses their meal, remember the phrase “It’s 10 times more expensive to find a customer than to keep an existing customer”. Building a positive relationship with your customer is the cheapest option in the long run and well worth the food cost of a free dessert.


Thanks for reading and I hope you find my information useful. As usual, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment below.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and visit my website, to see what I can do for you.


What happens when you “Just Google it”?

The following post is part 1 of 2 introducing the basics of how Google operates and understanding this is extremely important to knowing how and why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is useful to businesses.

Google is everything and everywhere and is an indispensable part of the daily lives of billions of people around the world. And not too shockingly, most people have no idea exactly what happens when they type words in the search box and press enter.

Why is it important to know how Google works? Probably because we humans tend to be lazy and rely on others to do the work for us. If I want to know “Where is the best taco restaurant in Sacramento” all I have to do is type that exact phrase in Google and voila!

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After the paid advertisement, there’s a nice map and a list of tacos places in Sacramento. Now, if you owned a business selling tacos in Sacramento, wouldn’t you want to be on this list? That’s why knowing how Google works is so important for businesses.

How do we/you know they’re the best tho? Well, let’s pretend we’re looking for information to decide that. I assume that the “best places” are usually the most popular, the most talked about, the most shared and referenced. We might look for key words like “taco, best, Sacramento” and see how many of those words are grouped together. And in essence, that’s what Google does. Only the Google algorithm uses over 200 different criteria to decide what the answer to “Where is the best taco restaurant in Sacramento.”

Obviously, the process and algorithm Google uses to rank search results is complicated but I’ll try to simplify it to show the more important points. First, let’s do a little searching…on Google..for the answer to the question, “How does Google work”?

These are the rough steps google uses when analyzing a search query;

  1. Determine users needs such as location, country, and language
  2. Determine users intent and reason for the search including recent searches, past behaviour, popular search items,
  3. Rank search criteria such as the quantity, quality, reputation and relevancy
  4. Factor in penalties and filters such as online ads, untrustworthy sites, sites misusing or overusing keywords
  5. Display results 

There’s a great infographic on seobook that show’s a more in-depth breakdown of these steps.

Once you understand how Google works, it’s possible to optimize your website and increase your chances to be selected as the relevant answer to a search query. And by using simple search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and tips, I can help drive traffic to your website.

That’s the beauty of SEO.


Follow my blog for part 2 when I’ll discuss ways that can increase your chances to be found first in a Google search query.

What You Say Isn’t As Important As Who You Say It To.

Today I’d like to share my thoughts on content creation and targeting.

It’s been drilled in my head that one of the basic tenets of marketing is choosing which piece of the pie is yours. And market segmentation and target marketing work on the premise that you’ve done your research beforehand. That means knowing who your customer is so you can deliver more value than competitors.

We’ve all seen examples of ads in unfortunate (or terrible) locations. It’s particularly funny for OOH ads that juxtapose an image or message with the most unlikely or inappropriate environment. But it can happen anywhere and in any context that advertisers try to deliver their message to consumers.

Now I know that there are advantages and disadvantages of both mass marketing and niche marketing but in the end, I believe this boils down to how well you know your customers. I often ask myself when I see an ad, how can you be the best choice in a sea of possibilities when you don’t even know me or what I want. Are you speaking to me directly?

I’m not saying that content doesn’t matter, of course it does. Say something offensive and just watch how fast the public backlash happens in response. Content is king and offering something of value is what will win you market share over competitors. The key is to make sure you’re choosing the right eyes. And you should always be customer focused with the end user in mind. Otherwise what’s the point? You might as well advertise light bulbs in a dark room.

One size does not fit all.

I always remember the Five Ws of journalism, “who” comes first and that’s the way I think it should be.