weakest link

Most restaurant menus are bad. Really bad. If you’re a restaurateur, here are some tips to help you create your restaurant menu.

An eager entrepreneur is passionate about food. He scrimps and saves with the dream of opening his own restaurant.

Why invest in other restaurant startup costs if you're going to butcher your restaurant menu in Microsoft WordOne day, the opportunity presents itself. He sinks all of his financial resources into the building, fit-up, and other start-up costs. His success hinges on the success of that restaurant. He has spared no expense to make it the best it can be.

Opening day approaches.

He cranks up Microsoft Word and makes the menu complete with typos and freakish justification.

The end.

***************

While I’m on a rant about restaurant menus…

  • If I’m eating something in a restaurant, then logically it CANNOT be “homemade” (unless you’re in trouble with the health dept). The word you’re looking for is “homestyle”.
  • Do you sell salads? Most people eat salad dressing on those. How about a listing of your salad dressing choices?
  • Own a restaurant? Have a website for it? Do you know why people come to a restaurant website? The menu. Why have you hidden it, strung it out on 8 different pages, and made it a 25MB PDF?
  • Dear Fast Food Behemoth: How about listing what you have and the prices on the menu boards instead of blinky-flashy tv screens that change about the time I start reading them?
  • And to the original point of this post – If you own a restaurant, please hire a graphic designer to design a menu that works. Proofread it. Pass it around to people who are not your friends to see if it makes sense to them. It’s amazing that the single most important marketing piece for a restaurant is so badly butchered by so many restaurateurs.

we don’t like the masses

So someone sends me a link and when I get to the page I get this:
ie nonsupport

Really? You chose not to build first for the browser that 76% of people on the internet use? You chose to build for the browser that only 16% use?

Sure. It’s a hip and trendy tech-friendly 16%. And Firefox is a better browser. And Microsoft is evil. And etc. And etc. But as I’ve said before, you can’t be elitist if you’re wanting mass market success:

Yes. They’re using an inferior browser. They’re shopping at big box stores. They buy crap to eat. So build your website so it’s at least functional in a crappy browser on dial-up, stock your stuff at Wally-World, and put out a plate of Slim Jims and Twinkies.

If you want to succeed with the masses, you have to hold your nose and work with the masses.

CtrlAltDel

So today was Bill Gates’ last day. However, there was an incident. As he tried to leave the building for good, this popped up in the door:
bill gates
He couldn’t get it to go away and none of his keys worked. Eventually, he just had to turn the power off to the building and walk away in a huff. When they open back up Monday morning, Steve Ballmer will have to run a scandisk before he can come in.

There is a widely held belief that Bill is the devil. I don’t necessarily think HE’S the devil. But his company and his products certainly can be. I think it’s because the brand and the company didn’t develop along with Bill. He would have been a good candidate to develop an accidental brand, but the growth probably overshot him.

Seattle PI’s Todd Bishop found a Bill Gates e-mail from 2003 by sifting through the documents in the antitrust suits. When you read the email, you can see Bill’s frustration because everyone of us has had the problems with Windows that he’s describing in the email. And there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that Bill was concerned about usability and making the product work. The problem with MSFT was (is?) the company culture and the individuals below Bill.

The lesson for any organization is that fanatic attention to detail and quality assurance can’t fall on one person. It has to permeate the entire group. The one guy approach may work when the company is small. But if you grow enough to be called a monopoly, it can’t work.

Users First

There’s been quite a bit of talk over the past few days about some remarks that Jim Buckmaster, an executive at Craigslist, made at a media conference in New York last Thursday.

It seems that Buckmaster stated that he has no intentions of “monetizing” his online classifieds service with any sort of advertising. The room full of ad and media folks apparently looked at him like he had a second head.

Why no ads? Get this….It seems that Craigslist’s users haven’t expressed an interest in seeing ads…..Mmmm.

First off, they ARE making money…( a few million a year). They just aren’t doing it with “ads”. Craigslist does a fabulous job of hitting the sweet spot on pricing. The rates they charge for job and for-rent ads in a few of the many cities they serve are high enough to pay the bills, keep other sections and cities free, and still make a very respectable profit…but the price is low enough that competitors can’t keep up.

And that may be one ulterior reason that Craigslist is still ad free. Their success is coming out of what used to be spent in newspaper and other print classifieds. Craigslist may be handing out the free classified smack to get people addicted. When the local newspapers decide that the classifieds aren’t worth the dead trees and ink, the papers will discontinue their classified business. At that point, Craigslist may suddenly decide to monetize their monopolistic position with ads or other items.

But there may be a more pure motive.

Maybe they understand that the user/consumer/reader is what “monetizes” the business. Maybe they see that the most effective long term marketing strategy is to grow a base of dedicated loyal users.

Maybe they realize that a clean uncluttered useful page invites people to return and build loyalty to a site. They see that the customer (the single most important element of a business)should not be harassed by pop-ups & pop-unders, irrelevant email, interstitial ads, floating & expanding ads, trick banners, and everything else that webmasters slap onto a website to make a dollar today…only to cost them $100 dollars tomorrow. They see that you can train a customer to mistrust ALL the content on your page because you’ve tricked them too many times into clicking.

Maybe Craigslist sees that simply because you CAN place an ad on a web property (or any place), doesn’t mean that you SHOULD.

It’s a lot like the story of the goose that laid the golden eggs. The biggest mistake that alot of today’s web (and brick&mortar) businesses are making is developing short term strategies that kill long term gains.

But why worry about tomorrow…when you can make 58 cents today off an AdSense sidebar?

tags::