Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Justin Levy



Justin Levy of New Marketing Labs sparked my interest when I found him on twitter. 

Justin is a partner in a restaurant and their website made me hungry!  He's done some incredible marketing things and I knew I had to interview him.  It's a long interview and I promise you'll see some things in it that you can put into practice today for your business. Enjoy the read! 

Hi Justin. All of our readers love to  know more about the person I interview.  Who are you? Okay, seriously - tell us a little about yourself.

I live in  Boston with my fianc√©, Laura and our dog and cat.  I love the Boston Red Sox, Celtics and New England Patriots.  I enjoy working out, watching movies, being an audiophile and doing research on new media, productivity, business process, communities, human interaction, and a whole bunch other topics.

You are a partner and general manager of Caminito Argentinean Steakhouse. How did you get into that?

I have been involved in the restaurant business for about 10 years now. I started in restaurants when I was 15 years old and was mentored at an early age in all aspects of a restaurant.  I worked in various restaurants over the years.  When my best friend, Joseph Gionfriddo bought Caminito, where he was the Executive Chef, from the  original owner, I took on the website development for the steakhouse.  I also helped Joe with marketing and business until at the beginning of 2008 we formalized the relationship and I became a Partner and General Manager.

When we talked, you mentioned that over the last 14 months business has grown 22% each month straight.  In this economy, how have you managed to do that?

We've done a spin off blog, Prime Cuts, where we talk about grilling, cooking, kitchen tips, recipes and more.  (http://primecutsblog.com)  There is PrimeCuts TV on YouTube, Viddler and Blip.tv featuring how tos. All restaurant news is distributed via a social media press release on the web.  We also publish a monthly enewsletter and have MySpace and Facebook pages for the restaurant.

 For a lot more information on some of the other things we’re doing, this was a great study that Jason Falls did on the restaurant which highlights many of the things we’re doing:click here to read it

Besides our new media strategy, we also took a close look at exactly what we were selling and during what times of the year. We then adjusted our menu and wine selection accordingly. We also constantly run experimentations involving events, price points, specials, etc. to determine what is the right fit and what will get our customers excited and in the door.

You also mentioned you've put together new media content, less traditional marketing and you nurture your current customers. Let's start with them.  How are you keeping tabs on who your customers are?

Well, we can’t know who every single one of our customer is even if we really want to. However, we do encourage people to sign up for our monthly newsletter, our Facebook fan page, and to interact with me on the many other social networks that I’m involved in.

 Then what do you do to nurture them?

One of the ways we nurture them it by continuing to regularly reach out to them via our newsletter and other emails.  For those who interact with us on our Prime Cuts blog or on the various social networks I’m involved, I will regularly ask them what they want to learn about or see posted.  We have done this in the past for our Prime Cuts TV content as well. The customer or viewer then feels like they contributed and that you listened to what they asked for.

 Now -- less traditional marketing. Spell that out for me please. Would you give me an example?

Most restaurants run frequent ads in newspapers and magazines as well as radio and television spots. Some will even run billboards ads. We never run billboard ads. We also don’t run any television spots. During 2008 we cut our traditional marketing budget by approximately 80%. We evaluated all of our marketing including newspapers, magazines, radio spots, digital ads, website traffic, etc. and decided where we were seeing the greatest returns. Our greatest impact and returns were with the digital ads, our website, blog and other new media. We cut out everything that we weren’t seeing returns on even if every other restaurant was involved. We have kept some of our newspaper ads and radio spots because they help us continue to reach a group who isn’t active online or aware of our online presence.

 In case you can't see where I'm going here, I want our readers to be able to use the example you set and lay it over their own businesses. We need to help each other grow if we can.

New media content -- your website is very well done. How often are you adding or changing content on it? Any recommendations for what to do with a website for a small retail business?

We change or update content on our website about once per week. About once per quarter we go through some major revision.

 As far as recommendations for small businesses, that could be another interview itself just because there is so much that goes into it. But I would say that you should have a strategy for your website. Understand how search engine optimization and marketing works. Do your research before you rush into just putting up a website. Remember that it is your brand presence online and that approximately 65% of people will search for your brand online before they ever do business with you.

 I have a brick and mortar business and need some help from someone like you.  What do you recommend? 

I am General Manager of New Marketing Labs along with Chris Brogan.  http://newmarketinglabs.com  Additionally, the Inbound Marketing Summit (http://inboundmarketingsummit.com) is our big conference series.  You could attend one of our conferences.  We will be in San Francisco, Dallas and Boston during 2009.  We also run Inbound Marketing Bootcamps (http://gonmbootcamp.com) and several webinars.  Visit the site for more information on these events.

 Other than those avenues, I also regularly speak at marketing and business conferences around the country and blog regularly at http://justinrlevy.com about marketing, social media, and business strategy.  As always, you can reach me through one of the many social networks that I’m on and am always willing to help as much as I can.

 You're a busy guy. You have a family, several businesses, blogs, websites and you interact in social media. How do you do it all? What tips/tricks/secrets can you give me that you use regularly?

I don’t sleep much, I type fast, consume content at a extremely fast rate and have an ability to multi-task. J Sleep is an opportunity cost for me. While I’m sleeping there is someone that is staying up just a little longer. I stay motivated and highly focused. I have certain goals and continue to drive towards them. Also, I have created a series of tools and lean processes that help me. I continually evaluate my productivity and I make tweaks, test new tools, etc.

 

Gary Vaynerchuk says that Hustle is the most important word for small businesses today. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Hustle is the most important word, bottom line. http://justinrlevy.com/2009/02/12/are-you-focused/

 What three things can I as a small business owner do this week or this month to create more customers to my business?

1. Listen to what your current customers are telling you (OR not telling you). Don’t just hear them. Listen and take action.

2. Evaluate your marketing. Is it working? Can you point to actual real revenue or positive brand exposure from it? If not, then why are you doing it?

3. Hustle! Bottom line. If you really want to win in your space, then you need to hustle more than you are now.

 What is your contact information?

Justin Levy
jlevy@newmarketinglabs.com  Twitter: @justinlevy | Facebook: justin.levy@gmail.com |

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/justinlevy 
http://newmarketinglabs.com | http://justinrlevy.com | http://primecutsblog.com