Can Social Media Save a Local Business?

John Andrews from Simply Gourmet Grand Opening John Andrews runs the Simply Gourmet Bistro and Groceria in Peabody, Massachusetts. I was fortunate enough to attend a grand opening ceremony the other day, and sample some of his amazing hot food.

John’s situation is like a lot of other small businesses. Things are tight, and he really needs more business to stay afloat. For those of you in Massachusetts, swing by and visit John at 297 Lynn St, Peabody, MA 01960 or call (978) 530-1100. For those of you on Facebook, check out the fan page.

But seriously, is there anything that we could do with social media that would save John’s business?

I really don’t know. Because if you don’t live near John (and I don’t really), I can’t buy his food often enough to keep him funded. If you do live near him, as @CharJTF from Twitter does, you already know about him.

So how would you help John?

And, some pictures:

Simply Gourmet Ribbon Cutting
Char James-Tanny at Simply Gourmet Grand Opening
Vera Simply Gourmet Grand Opening
Simply Gourmet Grand Opening
Simply Gourmet Grand Opening
Vera From Simply Gourmet Grand Opening

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  • http://gigharborhomeselling.com Alvin Mullins

    I wish you great success, wifey and I will be in MA in June for a wedding, if I can will stop by. Good service, good food will keep you in business.

  • http://gigharborhomeselling.com Alvin Mullins

    I wish you great success, wifey and I will be in MA in June for a wedding, if I can will stop by. Good service, good food will keep you in business.

  • http://www.debworks.com Deb Brown

    Okay, here’s some ideas for John:
    start your own free newsletter published once or twice a week (hook up with a printer, give them free advertising in exchange for say, 100 copies) — just a page or two is great. Write about what you provide, but also publish local events and the weather. Make it fun, put in jokes, funny stories. Highlight some of your customers. Be creative. Then put them out for people to read. Hire a high school kid to take them around to local companies (with lots of employees?).

    Does it work? You betcha! I’m doing it right here in Iowa and my business partner (she owns a local bookstore, I set up memberships) have kept our businesses afloat – because people know of about us – and we stay in their face.

    We also publish every day — and have an email list for people who can’t pick up the paper!

    Just an idea ….. we local independents have to stick together!

    @debworks

  • http://adrielhampton.wordpress.com Adriel Hampton

    While social media might save a large business or a chain, not so sure about this fellow. Unless everyone wants to send $.

  • http://www.debworks.com Deb Brown

    Okay, here’s some ideas for John:
    start your own free newsletter published once or twice a week (hook up with a printer, give them free advertising in exchange for say, 100 copies) — just a page or two is great. Write about what you provide, but also publish local events and the weather. Make it fun, put in jokes, funny stories. Highlight some of your customers. Be creative. Then put them out for people to read. Hire a high school kid to take them around to local companies (with lots of employees?).

    Does it work? You betcha! I’m doing it right here in Iowa and my business partner (she owns a local bookstore, I set up memberships) have kept our businesses afloat – because people know of about us – and we stay in their face.

    We also publish every day — and have an email list for people who can’t pick up the paper!

    Just an idea ….. we local independents have to stick together!

    @debworks

  • http://adrielhampton.wordpress.com Adriel Hampton

    While social media might save a large business or a chain, not so sure about this fellow. Unless everyone wants to send $.

  • http://www.wolf-howl.com graywolf

    Why not use something like twitter to announce events, wine tastings, gourmet chocolate samplings, best baked tastings that kind of thing. Heck even have pre super appetizer party make samples of appetizers to give to people so people can place catering orders Mix it up with different food types things every week.

  • http://www.wolf-howl.com graywolf

    Why not use something like twitter to announce events, wine tastings, gourmet chocolate samplings, best baked tastings that kind of thing. Heck even have pre super appetizer party make samples of appetizers to give to people so people can place catering orders Mix it up with different food types things every week.

  • Lori

    What about reaching out to some of the dining or foodie groups of meetup.com. I know many like to try new places and are looking to find a place that will accommodate them. It looks like an interesting place that would be good for conversation for a singles meetup too.

  • http://twitter.com/journik bob wan kim

    @chris Looks like a lovely place!

    I have a simple formula.
    Ship nationwide.
    Produce educational or entertaining content around the product for youtube.
    Make local customers youtube celebrities.
    Collect EVERYBODYS email.
    Never sell. Just provide value.
    - @journik

  • Lori

    What about reaching out to some of the dining or foodie groups of meetup.com. I know many like to try new places and are looking to find a place that will accommodate them. It looks like an interesting place that would be good for conversation for a singles meetup too.

  • http://twitter.com/journik bob wan kim

    @chris Looks like a lovely place!

    I have a simple formula.
    Ship nationwide.
    Produce educational or entertaining content around the product for youtube.
    Make local customers youtube celebrities.
    Collect EVERYBODYS email.
    Never sell. Just provide value.
    - @journik

  • http://dannybrown.me Danny Brown

    The problem is that social media, for all we praise its strengths and connection benefits, still isn’t accepted on a wide enough scale to make a difference.

    Unless John can find a way that he can reach out beyond his local audience, and offer gourmet services (or similar) to people online, he and countless other small/local businesses are in the same boat.

    Perhaps he can look for ex-denizens of Peabody and offer that “taste of home” that they miss. Yet then you’re looking at shipping costs and admin overheads for an online shopping cart.

    It’s tough and I wish John the very best – we need more small businesses over larger faceless ones. But in a market that’s as competitive as the leisure/food industry, that can be easier said than done, sadly.

  • http://dannybrown.me Danny Brown

    The problem is that social media, for all we praise its strengths and connection benefits, still isn’t accepted on a wide enough scale to make a difference.

    Unless John can find a way that he can reach out beyond his local audience, and offer gourmet services (or similar) to people online, he and countless other small/local businesses are in the same boat.

    Perhaps he can look for ex-denizens of Peabody and offer that “taste of home” that they miss. Yet then you’re looking at shipping costs and admin overheads for an online shopping cart.

    It’s tough and I wish John the very best – we need more small businesses over larger faceless ones. But in a market that’s as competitive as the leisure/food industry, that can be easier said than done, sadly.

  • http://thispersonstinks.wordpress.com Tracy Tran

    This one is a little tricky because it’s food. He could ship the food like some other restaurants have tried, but some would not pay for the additional S&H costs for the food. For abusiness like recruiting or clothing, that’s easy, but the food is more local. Are he needs to hope for is find local people on the social media sites and do a search and try to become friends and promote his store. But, it is limited.

  • http://www.coffeetalkee.com Coffee Talkee

    Hi Chris! I’m no business expert but why not do deliveries. Use Twitter for orders. Nowadays, I think selling the products or services is just the other side of the coin. Convenience is the other side.

    Just my cup of coffee.

    Rob

  • http://www.coherentsalesconsulting.com/blog/ Ed Callahan

    I think the best short term SM option is to try to generate some buzz on Twitter and perhaps tie that back to his business page on Facebook. He should invent some remarkable (in all senses of that word) dish, drink, whatever and start the buzz in both SM vehicles. The goal has to be to raise awareness in Peabody and within 25 miles of Peabody. Those are the people who could come and eat. He should id peeps he knows on Twitter or get peeps he does know to register on Twitter and begin the effort. We all know it takes awhile to get a following but if he doesn’t start asap then SM certainly can’t help.

    Ed (twitter:edcallahan)

  • http://thispersonstinks.wordpress.com Tracy Tran

    This one is a little tricky because it’s food. He could ship the food like some other restaurants have tried, but some would not pay for the additional S&H costs for the food. For abusiness like recruiting or clothing, that’s easy, but the food is more local. Are he needs to hope for is find local people on the social media sites and do a search and try to become friends and promote his store. But, it is limited.

  • http://www.coffeetalkee.com Coffee Talkee

    Hi Chris! I’m no business expert but why not do deliveries. Use Twitter for orders. Nowadays, I think selling the products or services is just the other side of the coin. Convenience is the other side.

    Just my cup of coffee.

    Rob

  • http://www.coherentsalesconsulting.com/blog/ Ed Callahan

    I think the best short term SM option is to try to generate some buzz on Twitter and perhaps tie that back to his business page on Facebook. He should invent some remarkable (in all senses of that word) dish, drink, whatever and start the buzz in both SM vehicles. The goal has to be to raise awareness in Peabody and within 25 miles of Peabody. Those are the people who could come and eat. He should id peeps he knows on Twitter or get peeps he does know to register on Twitter and begin the effort. We all know it takes awhile to get a following but if he doesn’t start asap then SM certainly can’t help.

    Ed (twitter:edcallahan)

  • Xanthe

    With local businesses, the key might be to use social media to coordinate and co-market with complementary businesses in the area: coordinate purchasing coops (e.g., all pizza places in the area get together and buy organic tomato paste for a reasonable rate), co-market events or specials (e.g.,f you buy a bottle of fingerlakes wine at such and such store in Ithaca, get a discount on local cheese at the green grocer down the street)…

  • Xanthe

    With local businesses, the key might be to use social media to coordinate and co-market with complementary businesses in the area: coordinate purchasing coops (e.g., all pizza places in the area get together and buy organic tomato paste for a reasonable rate), co-market events or specials (e.g.,f you buy a bottle of fingerlakes wine at such and such store in Ithaca, get a discount on local cheese at the green grocer down the street)…

  • http://ericzdisposal.com Marcel

    I live nearby. So you’ve gotten one person to commit to stop by.

    Small suggestion: wait for some positive review to flow in on Yelp! and pull those into the simply gourmet restaurant.

  • Stephen Smyth

    Review him right now on :

    Yelp
    Advisory
    And hIs local Google listing

    Find a way to ask for feed back from his customers on how he can improve his service and offerings … and if they love what he is doing ask them to review!

    Herein lies the rub for most small business…they have to be passionate and truly have a great product and customer service … if not they will shutter their doors after a few years of misery!

    Here is one idea that could be adaopted very easily from @toddlucier blog

    http://www.tourismkeys.ca/blog/2008/12/how-to-boost-revenue-20-climb-to-1-on-tripadvisor/

    Cheers

    @StephenSmyth

  • http://ericzdisposal.com Marcel

    I live nearby. So you’ve gotten one person to commit to stop by.

    Small suggestion: wait for some positive review to flow in on Yelp! and pull those into the simply gourmet restaurant.

  • Stephen Smyth

    Review him right now on :

    Yelp
    Advisory
    And hIs local Google listing

    Find a way to ask for feed back from his customers on how he can improve his service and offerings … and if they love what he is doing ask them to review!

    Herein lies the rub for most small business…they have to be passionate and truly have a great product and customer service … if not they will shutter their doors after a few years of misery!

    Here is one idea that could be adaopted very easily from @toddlucier blog

    http://www.tourismkeys.ca/blog/2008/12/how-to-boost-revenue-20-climb-to-1-on-tripadvisor/

    Cheers

    @StephenSmyth

  • http://ericzdisposal.com Marcel

    Bahhh…correction:

    Small suggestion: wait for some positive reviews to flow in on Yelp! and pull those into the simply gourmet restaurant website. **

  • http://ericzdisposal.com Marcel

    Bahhh…correction:

    Small suggestion: wait for some positive reviews to flow in on Yelp! and pull those into the simply gourmet restaurant website. **

  • http://www.southplattewebdesign.com Bill

    Using something like the TwelloHood service could benefit him greatly, it will allow him to find local Twitter users and maybe gain more local followers that way. http://www.twitip.com/twellowhood-find-local-twitter-users/ or http://www.twellow.com/twellowhood/

  • http://www.southplattewebdesign.com Bill

    Using something like the TwelloHood service could benefit him greatly, it will allow him to find local Twitter users and maybe gain more local followers that way. http://www.twitip.com/twellowhood-find-local-twitter-users/ or http://www.twellow.com/twellowhood/

  • http://www.stinginvestigations.com Mr. Sting

    Social media is a great long term investment. An investment in relationships. Relationships take time to build. If he needs a quick save, social media probably won’t do it. If he is in it for the long haul, I think social media will help him for years to come. That is if his food is great, his service is better, and he can genuinely connect with people with a honest concern for their needs.

    Mr. Sting
    Sting Investigations, Inc.
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    http://www.stinginvestigations.com

  • http://www.stinginvestigations.com Mr. Sting

    Social media is a great long term investment. An investment in relationships. Relationships take time to build. If he needs a quick save, social media probably won’t do it. If he is in it for the long haul, I think social media will help him for years to come. That is if his food is great, his service is better, and he can genuinely connect with people with a honest concern for their needs.

    Mr. Sting
    Sting Investigations, Inc.
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    http://www.stinginvestigations.com

  • http://twitter.com/newwavemarketer Josh Williams

    Without knowing too much about this business I havea few ideas. Why not position John as an expert on how to make the ultimate sandwiches? I was searching online the other day for would you believe, the best toasted cheese sandwich recipe.

    He could start a blog and put up photos of all of his sandwiches. People in the local area could be informed of these recipes so they could try to make them at home. Because everyone is so time poor these days they would probably end up buying them from John on a regular basis.

    He could use twitter to post links to latest recipes and invite other people to suggest their own recipes. He could also start an online shop to sell his specialty gourmet oils and condiments, even setup affiliate links with amazon for good cookbooks? Maybe a Youtube channel on how to make the ultimate sandwiches also. I am just talking about sandwiches because thats all I can see on the menu board from the photos.

    Any other ideas? I guess time is also an issue – social media strategies sometimes take a while to see a return and if he wants more sales this week I doubt a blog would do much for him short term. Any feedback on these ideas?

  • http://twitter.com/SpaceyG SpaceyG

    Twitter a special deal-a-day… only for those following on Twitter. They’d have to show they had added Simply Gourmet/John to get the special. Make it a good special too! Everyone loves to get free food. Or free lunch if you bring a Twitter friend with you. Something like that. Of course that initial deal should be a limited-time offer. But would help build-up a Twitter network for other ways of getting people in.

  • http://twitter.com/newwavemarketer Josh Williams

    Without knowing too much about this business I havea few ideas. Why not position John as an expert on how to make the ultimate sandwiches? I was searching online the other day for would you believe, the best toasted cheese sandwich recipe.

    He could start a blog and put up photos of all of his sandwiches. People in the local area could be informed of these recipes so they could try to make them at home. Because everyone is so time poor these days they would probably end up buying them from John on a regular basis.

    He could use twitter to post links to latest recipes and invite other people to suggest their own recipes. He could also start an online shop to sell his specialty gourmet oils and condiments, even setup affiliate links with amazon for good cookbooks? Maybe a Youtube channel on how to make the ultimate sandwiches also. I am just talking about sandwiches because thats all I can see on the menu board from the photos.

    Any other ideas? I guess time is also an issue – social media strategies sometimes take a while to see a return and if he wants more sales this week I doubt a blog would do much for him short term. Any feedback on these ideas?

  • http://mostlymedia.wordpress.com/ Grayson

    Twitter a special deal-a-day… only for those following on Twitter. They’d have to show they had added Simply Gourmet/John to get the special. Make it a good special too! Everyone loves to get free food. Or free lunch if you bring a Twitter friend with you. Something like that. Of course that initial deal should be a limited-time offer. But would help build-up a Twitter network for other ways of getting people in.

  • http://blog.freshid.com Kris C

    Chris, you just did do something, using social media. These pictures are amazing and they tell a story about the business that if I were local, I would love to see and hear about. I live in a very small town in Kansas, and cannot tell you the number of times my husband and I have logged on, looking for a phone number, menu or address and have an enormous amount of trouble finding the most basic business information.

    John, ask Chris to use these pictures and start a blog and Twitter account of your own. Follow people in your area, including media folks. Go to every yellow pages type directory that does local listings you can find, and make sure your address, phone number and link to blog site (if they allow website url) are listed. Take more pics. Print up cards and takeout menu’s. Spread the word online and off. The visuals of your actual atmosphere look awesome – never rest (initially) and get the word out online and offline in your area, and I have a good feeling about your business. I wish you much success!!

  • http://blog.freshid.com Kris C

    Chris, you just did do something, using social media. These pictures are amazing and they tell a story about the business that if I were local, I would love to see and hear about. I live in a very small town in Kansas, and cannot tell you the number of times my husband and I have logged on, looking for a phone number, menu or address and have an enormous amount of trouble finding the most basic business information.

    John, ask Chris to use these pictures and start a blog and Twitter account of your own. Follow people in your area, including media folks. Go to every yellow pages type directory that does local listings you can find, and make sure your address, phone number and link to blog site (if they allow website url) are listed. Take more pics. Print up cards and takeout menu’s. Spread the word online and off. The visuals of your actual atmosphere look awesome – never rest (initially) and get the word out online and offline in your area, and I have a good feeling about your business. I wish you much success!!

  • http://www.pabamedia.com Paul Baiguerra

    Host a Social Media event to get local twitterers talking about you, make it a weekly gathering place for tweetups.
    And ditto for Deb’s comment above – I used to live in a saturated bar/restaurant area and was amazed at how few did intense Real Life Social Media. The ones that really reached out to the locals you noticed.

  • http://www.pabamedia.com Paul Baiguerra

    Host a Social Media event to get local twitterers talking about you, make it a weekly gathering place for tweetups.
    And ditto for Deb’s comment above – I used to live in a saturated bar/restaurant area and was amazed at how few did intense Real Life Social Media. The ones that really reached out to the locals you noticed.

  • http://twitter.com/cmwooll Cyndee Woolley

    Social Media is NOT going to save this local business. A well thought out integrated marketing strategy would.

    It is a common mistake to jump straight to the tools and forget all about the WHO you need to reach part. You need to identify your target market and the best channels to reach them.

    What are the business that surround you (likely lunch crowd)? Is this a techie area? Or more price conscious? Would people be more interested in coupons or gourmet selection?

    Is Peabody MA a hot tweet-spot? Can you specialize in hosting tweetups?

    If Peabody is not a social media hot spot… Can you become the influencer by inviting informative speakers to teach local businesses about social media? about gourmet food preparation? about wine / coffee / chocolate tasting?

    Another spot for suggestions… Submit your case study to Joan Stewart, http://twitter.com/publicityhound … She has her ‘hounds’ submit ideas for free publicity.

  • http://twitter.com/cmwooll Cyndee Woolley

    Social Media is NOT going to save this local business. A well thought out integrated marketing strategy would.

    It is a common mistake to jump straight to the tools and forget all about the WHO you need to reach part. You need to identify your target market and the best channels to reach them.

    What are the business that surround you (likely lunch crowd)? Is this a techie area? Or more price conscious? Would people be more interested in coupons or gourmet selection?

    Is Peabody MA a hot tweet-spot? Can you specialize in hosting tweetups?

    If Peabody is not a social media hot spot… Can you become the influencer by inviting informative speakers to teach local businesses about social media? about gourmet food preparation? about wine / coffee / chocolate tasting?

    Another spot for suggestions… Submit your case study to Joan Stewart, http://twitter.com/publicityhound … She has her ‘hounds’ submit ideas for free publicity.

  • http://ericzdisposal.com Marcel

    “Host a Social Media event to get local twitterers talking about you, make it a weekly gathering place for tweetups.”

    This is a great start.

  • http://www.letseat.at/simplygourmet john andrews

    I am speechless guys, really thank you all for the advice I am not opposed to trying anything and a few of these things I have already implemented including a twitter page @simplygourmet . And publicly for chris to take his time out for me is just one of the nicest gestures imaginable. It has been a rough road but this is a momentum builder that couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you all once again and happy eating!!!! John

  • http://ericzdisposal.com Marcel

    “Host a Social Media event to get local twitterers talking about you, make it a weekly gathering place for tweetups.”

    This is a great start.

  • http://www.letseat.at/simplygourmet john andrews

    I am speechless guys, really thank you all for the advice I am not opposed to trying anything and a few of these things I have already implemented including a twitter page @simplygourmet . And publicly for chris to take his time out for me is just one of the nicest gestures imaginable. It has been a rough road but this is a momentum builder that couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you all once again and happy eating!!!! John

  • http://www.southplattewebdesign.com Bill

    Sorry to post two comments, but another thought would be to search meetup.com for meet-ups in his area and offer to host them at his cafe – or maybe start his own meet-up and host it there.

  • http://www.southplattewebdesign.com Bill

    Sorry to post two comments, but another thought would be to search meetup.com for meet-ups in his area and offer to host them at his cafe – or maybe start his own meet-up and host it there.

  • http://kabai33.com Yemoonyah

    He has Nutella? (see picture number four) I didn’t know you guys have that in the States.Last time I checked it was nowhere to be found. It’s originally from Germany (where I live) and I love that stuff! That should be reason enough to go and try his food. Trust me, it’s addictive!

  • http://kabai33.com Yemoonyah

    He has Nutella? (see picture number four) I didn’t know you guys have that in the States.Last time I checked it was nowhere to be found. It’s originally from Germany (where I live) and I love that stuff! That should be reason enough to go and try his food. Trust me, it’s addictive!