How to Make Clients See the Importance of Marketing?

32 replies
I'm working with a restaurant owner who doesn't understand marketing or know the importance of marketing and has tunnel vision about how their website looks.

He wanted me to remake his flashy Flash based website in HTML and when I mentioned the idea of designing an SEO friendly website, linking it to promotional offers and focusing on online marketing/ social media to get more people through the door he replied saying he just wants the exact same site in HTML and can run a Groupon... then continues with how nice the current site looks.

That's all well and good but if people don't even know about the restaurant that may be all he'll have months down the road.

It also is partly my fault for not getting him to see how marketing tactics will help bring him more customers in a way he can understand. Restaurants with no site and outdated decor are filled every night.

How have other offliners snapped business owners out of their obsession with appearance and made them see the big picture?
#clients #importance #make #marketing #methods #persuasion
  • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
    Well, the Google Keyword tool can be a good place to start.. give him some numbers that he can bite into.

    "You can see there are 1,500 people looking for restaurants to eat at in New York on a daily basis, you will also notice that 500 of those searches are from mobile devices.

    Not only are you missing out on this massive opportunity, but your competitors are reaping all the benefits of getting in front of them on a daily basis."

    Here you can also show him if his site looks like crap on a mobile device or not.

    You could also explain that if he has no form of customer retention methods ie SMS marketing, he is throwing money down the drain with the Groupon ads, because a lot of the people that respond to those Groupon ads have very low CLVs.

    There's tons of things, and really, don't try too hard, there's plenty of people out there that do understand the importance of it, they're just looking for somebody they can trust.
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  • Profile picture of the author jimmyjackson
    I have had the same problem and I have used the following metaphor to help them understand the importance of online strategy, not just the appearance of the website.

    "Imagine your shop or restaurant in the online environment just as you would here in the real world... it has all the same propertys - a store front (landing page), fitouts and decorations (graphic design and layout), a sales team (calls to action on the website) and hopefully it is built somewhere where people are going to find it!"

    "Now online instead of roads, we have "links" that people arrive at your website from. The busier the street or "link" the more traffic naturally flows through it and the more exposure your shop gets. Imagine the big social sites as 'broadway' or 'timesquare'!"

    "Now imagine if you built an offline shop and you only relied only on the fitout and the decorating to sell customers. If you built the nicest looking shop in the middle of a ghost-town and had no sales people inside helping customers make the right decisions, could you really expect to sell anything?"

    "Silly as it may sound this is the exact mistake that most website owners make! A poorly designed shop will still get more customers than a well designed one if it is in the right location and your customers know what to do once they arrive there!"


    Anyways you get the picture. Just try to connect the logic of online marketing to what they know about offline businesses.

    Sometimes it makes no difference though and you have to move on!
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  • I wouldn't spend too much time trying to educate them. Your time is better spent with clients that already know the value of a good site. If you want to give it a go, instead of making the same arguments with him, propose a creative promotion using your ideas. Once he sees you can produce tangible results, it will be easier to get him to see your way of thinking overall.
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    • Profile picture of the author thriftgirl62
      Business owners already "know it all" so you can either show him for free [performance based] or move on...because they won't pay you for doing what they don't believe they need or want.
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    • Profile picture of the author jtchaschowy
      Originally Posted by Joe Ditzel View Post

      I wouldn't spend too much time trying to educate them. Your time is better spent with clients that already know the value of a good site.
      That to the max.
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    • Profile picture of the author WorkitSmart
      Originally Posted by Joe Ditzel View Post

      I wouldn't spend too much time trying to educate them. Your time is better spent with clients that already know the value of a good site.
      Exactly!

      I just got back from a conference with Mike Koenigs. AWESOME, btw.. but one of the speakers.. I think it was Mike or maybe Ed Rush said: "Stop trying to work with pp who don't have money. Market to the ones who do"

      And I wholeheartedly agree.

      Don't try and educate your guy as Joe points out. There are bigger fish out there who welcome your expertise... and will gladly pay for it.

      ~ d
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Yup. Sort.

    Separate those who understand the value of marketing from those who don't. Do it quickly.

    Then spend your energy on those who do.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      This will not work. But I say it in speeches at the beginning to explain why marketing is important. Maybe you'll get something out of it.

      "In your business, today, there are Success Stories. How many here have heard success stories in your business? (every hand goes up)

      These are Marketing success stories. They aren't success stories because of their remodeling, new paint, location, hiring, or business hours.
      They are all marketing success stories.

      There are Legends in your business. They are legends because of their marketing. The stories you read in magazines about great Entrepreneurs? They are all about the marketing.

      All businesses in your niche have the same things. They have a location, employees, signage, good customer service, good training, and owners that are trying. The differences are always in the marketing.

      Everything in your business..every activity...contributes to cost. Marketing and sales alone are what create profit...create wealth. Which is good, because that's what we'll be talking about today."

      Again, I don't see how you'll use this, but I wanted to give you a pep talk.

      When I get bored, sometimes I'll play "convert the prospect" just to see if I still have the skills.
      I ask questions about other businesses that are doing well. I talk about their plans. I look for hooks that I can use as a leverage point to change their point of view. Usually this ends with a "Well, If you can't beat them, join them, I guess. What do you recommend?"

      But these presentations are tiring. I'm tired, they're tired, and the next morning their brain snaps back into its original shape.

      So, I would do what the smart guys above said "Sort".

      If I'm doing a Power point presentation, sometimes I'll show them this video. I made it a year or so ago. Try to sleep through this puppy!

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  • Profile picture of the author misterme
    Obviously he loves his web site but do you know why he wants it now in HTML instead of Java? I'm guessing it's because someone told him Java doesn't rank. He figures that'll take care of satisfying the search engines and he doesn't care about social media or promos because he figures Groupon's the answer to bringing in customers, so he figures why pay you to do anything else?

    You're trying to get him to see the value in what you think is the way to go, but he doesn't care. You can't convince him by trying to convince him.

    You need a different strategy here. First, you need to be on board with the HTML conversion and the Groupon deal. This way he feels you're on his side. Has he run a deal before? Then he knows what the Groupon numbers are to expect. If not, you can estimate that for him, ok? But what you need to also do are two things: 1. Google a few articles where they show that restaurateurs have lost money doing groupon deals. I think the NY Times had an article like that some time ago. That'll be your proof that he can lose with Groupon. 2. Show him the least he can make with your ideas and offer to do those in addition to what he wants to do. Not in lieu of. This way, if he still wishes to go ahead with groupon despite the articles, he can have his cake and eat it too. Or maybe he'll say, "you mean I'll only make $5 per diner with groupon but $25 per diner with SMS marketing? Hmmmm."

    Hey, you're in NYC? So am I.
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  • Profile picture of the author Swapnil7
    We as online marketers and designers come across many such clients who tend to stick to a point of their discussion and do not tend to listen or take the advise which we experts give to them specially in case of designing a website, such clients should either be given a live trial of your points if not so, should be left....
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  • Profile picture of the author jayspann
    First... restaurants are not the best clients. According to the National Restaurant Assoc. the average margins for a restaurant is 2-4%

    It's easier to target businesses with 40-50% margins. The small business ave. is 36%

    Second... look for business already spending money advertising in papers, YP, radio etc. They already understand that they need to be advertising. Makes for a much easier sale.
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    • Profile picture of the author jrobconsult
      Originally Posted by jayspann View Post

      First... restaurants are not the best clients. According to the National Restaurant Assoc. the average margins for a restaurant is 2-4%

      It's easier to target businesses with 40-50% margins. The small business ave. is 36%

      .
      I think you are talking about two different things. If a restaurant's margin is 2-4%, they would be out of business. I was a store manager for Walgreens for many years and our gross margin was in the 30+ , but the company was happy to make 3 cents profit after all expenses on a $1 sale. That is what they must be referring to.

      There is no way a restaurant could pay its employees, taxes, insurance, rent, utilities, supplies, etc...................with that margin. Let's say a restaurant does $5,000 daily with a 4% margin that is $200 and just the payroll would results in a loss.
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    • Profile picture of the author Eddie Spangler
      Originally Posted by jayspann View Post

      First... restaurants are not the best clients. According to the National Restaurant Assoc. the average margins for a restaurant is 2-4%

      It's easier to target businesses with 40-50% margins. The small business ave. is 36%

      Second... look for business already spending money advertising in papers, YP, radio etc. They already understand that they need to be advertising. Makes for a much easier sale.
      You may want to recheck you facts before giving bad advice here. That 2-4 percent restaruant numbers are net margins whereas the other numbers you state represent gross margins. Massive credibility killer.:confused:
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  • Profile picture of the author Eddie Spangler
    Not to turn this into an econ lesson, but it seems evident that many do not understand this concept.
    Generally when people are talking about margins they are referring to the gross margin


    Net margin is calculated


    Where net income =revenue-cost of goods sold-operating expenses-interest and taxes.
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    • Profile picture of the author jrobconsult
      Originally Posted by Eddie Spangler View Post

      Not to turn this into an econ lesson, but its seems evident that many do not understand this concept.
      Generally when people are talking about margins they are referring to the gross margin


      Net margin is calculated


      Where net income =revenue-cost of goods sold-operating expenses-interest and taxes.
      Yep, those are the formulas. Many businesses make a gross margin of 30-55%, but the net revenue will only be a few pennies per $, if they are lucky.

      Restaurants make great clients, if you can convince the owners to do business with you.
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      • Profile picture of the author ERPLeadsWriter
        Originally Posted by jrobconsult View Post

        Yep, those are the formulas. Many businesses make a gross margin of 30-55%, but the net revenue will only be a few pennies per $, if they are lucky.
        Thanks for the explanation. Although, from the first post, I'm not sure Ehanson's client might get it either.

        I'm seconding the post of mjbmedia. Focus on simplicity. I have friends and family who are all small business owners. First-timers are quite averse to a lot of business terms and I'm pretty sure some of them still have a layman's understanding of business.
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  • Profile picture of the author ambrking
    First thing first, you cannot explain to him in SEO terms. Use layman terms that he can understand. Remeber , he has not idea what SEO or SEM is. Site some example of how it work and how his company can benefit from it. If you have resources that you can use, the better.
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  • Profile picture of the author kaytav
    The best and challenging part of every job is to get the clients. How your mind works and how you can convince people is the best part. You should show them your past results where you have achieved great success. You can tell him how much competitive the world has become and why every person should do marketing seriously.
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  • Profile picture of the author mjbmedia
    OK , get some of his plates/ cutlery/ drinks etc, ask him where he got them from. He may tell you. Ask him how he found out about those companies as suppliers, the answer will be some form of marketing, hello , ask him if these suppliers didnt use highly effective forms of targeted marketing whether he'd be their regular repeat client now, answer is likley to be a no. so in that case how does he think more people will find out about his restuarant unless he has highly effective and targeted marketing
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  • Profile picture of the author BarbaraMcKinney
    As marketers, it is our obligation to make our clients satisfied to our services and part of it is to help them drive into the realization that these and that things are essential for their business. Let us face the fact that even today there are still businesses that uses traditional marketing and don't see the importance of online marketing. As knowledgeable enough let us make them understand. Provide them with materials that will help them.
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  • Profile picture of the author kellyyarnsbro
    You don;t have to let him see the importance of marketing literally, he'll figure it out sooner. Just prepare yourself he'll be asking for your help then and will start to listen to you.
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  • Profile picture of the author ronrule
    Jimmy's advice is good, but I'm inclined to agree with those who say "pass" - you don't need this client.

    The "low information customer" is never a long term source of revenue... they want quick results for as cheap as possible, don't have the stamina to pay and wait for a strong optimization strategy, and even if you deliver it they'll say their increase in business has nothing to do with it because people aren't walking in, standing on the table, and shouting "I FOUND YOU ON THE INTERNET!". If it takes another two months to get solid traction, they'll just say "Well, it was cold then, we always do more business in the spring".

    You shouldn't have to build too much value in this pitch. I would just point out that 85% of the people who search for restaurants from their Smartphones convert. So do you want them to find YOU, or that guy up the road? If they don't get it from that statement alone, it's going to be a huge time suck.
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  • Profile picture of the author Hesster
    Peter Bowerman wrote about the salad dressing rule. It's easier to get people who eat salad to buy your dressing than it is to convince people who don't eat salad to start and buy your dressing.

    What Do You Think of

    If he doesn't know jack and is willing to accept your input, that's great. You can work with that. If he doesn't know jack and wants to push back on everything and fight you tooth and nail, all I can say is he'd better be paying you very, very well to make it worth the aggravation.

    Sure he wants to make his business profitable, but so do you.
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    • Profile picture of the author Ehanson
      Thanks all for the advice and suggestions.

      I ended up dropping him since over the past few months he morphed into a problem client wanting the same exact, ineffective website that didn't retain customers. Plus, I found out he's personally attacking people who leave bad reviews on Yelp so it's better not to work with a client shooting themselves in the foot.

      It wasn't worth having a client who thinks it's all about appearence of their restaurant and website to bring people in the door. :rolleyes:
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      • Originally Posted by Ehanson View Post

        Thanks all for the advice and suggestions.

        I ended up dropping him since over the past few months he morphed into a problem client wanting the same exact, ineffective website that didn't retain customers. Plus, I found out he's personally attacking people who leave bad reviews on Yelp so it's better not to work with a client shooting themselves in the foot.

        It wasn't worth having a client who thinks it's all about appearence of their restaurant and website to bring people in the door. :rolleyes:
        Good move.

        I remember in my first radio sales job I called on this tire dealer relentlessly. He only advertised in the paper.

        At the time I was determined to prove to him he needed to be on the radio. He just wasn't having it.

        I wasted a lot of time I could've spent with better potential clients. Sometimes you just have to let them go.
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  • Profile picture of the author damasgate
    I find with the restaurant market in particular the easiest thing to do is try to sell them SMS services that will help them with their biggest problem:

    Filling empty seats during non-peak hours.

    I find with regular SEO it'll be harder to show them the results of what you're trying to do for them. Which is bring them more business.
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    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      Why educate?

      Isn't it easier to show them before and after photos?

      In this case:

      website traffic/leads of a past or current client of yours before they hired you

      vs

      website traffic/leads of the same past or current client of yours after you did your magic.

      If that doesn't educate them right fast, why bother?
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      • Profile picture of the author taranisman
        It always irritates me when dealing with owners. It's so hard to make them understand how important marketing is.

        I wish I could just flat out ask them how much they spend every month on crappy Print ads and Yellowpages when the most important thing is their reputation and their social signals.

        If no one online is talking about them, why would anyone choose them over a business that has great reviews and social citations? "We're doing fine and not interested" BS> Ok. well, just continue to waste your money then.

        It's frustrating when I know that I can show them real results and a much better ROI than what they are currently doing...argh.
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        • Originally Posted by taranisman View Post


          It's frustrating when I know that I can show them real results and a much better ROI than what they are currently doing...argh.
          Stay in touch with them and try again a few months down the road. When the student is ready, the master will appear.
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          Marketing is not a battle of products. It is a battle of perceptions.
          - Jack Trout
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        • Profile picture of the author ronrule
          Originally Posted by taranisman View Post

          It always irritates me when dealing with owners. It's so hard to make them understand how important marketing is.

          I wish I could just flat out ask them how much they spend every month on crappy Print ads and Yellowpages when the most important thing is their reputation and their social signals.

          If no one online is talking about them, why would anyone choose them over a business that has great reviews and social citations? "We're doing fine and not interested" BS> Ok. well, just continue to waste your money then.

          It's frustrating when I know that I can show them real results and a much better ROI than what they are currently doing...argh.
          I used to get that all the time when I was in the offline ad business. "Nobody reads those things" was my favorite. Sixteen years ago I was 17 years old and selling advertising on the back of drug store receipts, I sold my first-ever advertising package to a pizza shop who wasn't interested by saying "I'll tell you what, I'll run your ad for free if you let me write it."

          The owner dismissively says 'sure kid, whatever you want' so I created an ad that said "BUY ONE PIZZA GET 10 FREE" and showed it to him. He gets all pissed off, I thought he was going to hit me, and he says "What are you doing, kid? You'll put me out of business with that sh--"

          And I say "Nah, nobody reads these things."

          That was how I closed my first sale, and I used that same strategy over and over to sell to other restaurants. You just have to figure out what triggers that market to respond to what you're saying.
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  • Profile picture of the author TJ Rose
    Have you ever tried taking a screen shot of the Google Keyword Tool with "restaurant YOUR CITY" to show them how many people search for that term?
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    • Profile picture of the author bkbiloxi
      Truth be told there are some "butt ugly" websites that earn in excess of $10k per month. That's where I would start.

      I just don't spend a lot of time with business owners who don't have the sense to understand how to make money online.

      If they're caught up in flash, beauty or server side includes I just let them drift off to "dream land" and wish them luck.

      There are too many business owners out there who really want to learn how to do this stuff and my business is to get with them.
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