BluShark Digital 0:00
Welcome to the SEO Insider with your host, Seth Price, founder of BluShark taking you inside the world of legal marketing and all things digital.
Seth Price 0:10
Welcome everyone. We got Matt here and Matt is a really interesting guy from the marketing space. So thankful to get to meet you in Miami recently and hear your story. You know, you’re playing in… Legal may be tough but restaurants, that’s another grade of toughness dealing with that world. Tell us a little bit… How did you end up with that as a niche?
Matt Plapp 0:32
So my agency… I started in marketing in 1999 in advertising sales. And then 2008, I started a, what I was planning on being a digital agency but nobody back then knew what a digital agency was. So I had to start off with “Hey, my expertise is in radio, TV, direct mail, all that type of marketing.” And so that was how I started was helping businesses locally, by their media. And then on top of that, I would layer in “Hey, by the way, there’s this thing called Facebook we need to be on.” Email marketing is not dead – still isn’t in 2023 – and getting them into the digital world. And so from 2008 to 2015, I built up a direct local agency with about 35 clients typically, and had one employee a couple part timers. And in that space, that time, we built up nine restaurants. So I was exclusive for every category. But we had one client that had three restaurants, and then his guy that managed that company owned three other restaurants, and then he referred me to two others. Next thing I knew I got nine restaurants. And it was the first time that I had ever been able to share what I was doing with other people. And so what I mean by that is I had a car dealership, they had 46 locations, and it was a great account. And we did a lot of really cool stuff. But I couldn’t leave the car dealership and walk into the restaurant go “Oh my gosh, we just did this awesome Facebook ad campaign.” It wouldn’t transfer. And so 2015, we had a really big success. Ironically, Yesterday was National Pretzel Day, April 26. And April 26, 2015 was the first time I had done a promotion for the restaurant where they gave me the complete… Gave me the reins. And I said, “Hey, here’s what I want to do. I want to connect the dots from our digital marketing audience to walk into the restaurant and then build a relationship with them via email, texts and retargeting campaigns.” And they told me I was crazy. It would worked. Well it worked. And so at that point, I kind of threw gas on it. And by 2016, I found a guy named Billie Jean Shaw out of California, who became my first online coach, became good friends with him. And he helped me go next nationwide with restaurants. Because that was when he looked at my problem said, “Matt, you’re trying to you’re trying to work with 34 different industries.” We had, at one point, we had 34 clients from 31 Industries.
Seth Price 2:49
So you’re the screaming example of where niching makes a difference. It’s like a circus trick. You can do it but like you got to reinvent yourself in each vertical.
Matt Plapp 2:58
Yeah, I mean, put it this way. This month, we doubled what I did in 2011 the entire year with our agency, and it’s because we niched out. We went really, really narrow and it took me a while. I mean, it took me from 2016 was when I realised I could do this. And it’s kind of a funny conversation, Billy had said, “Matt, you need to” – because we had three breweries we were killing it with. And when I say killing it, like just the email part of what we were doing was tracking about 40 grand a month in sales at a restaurant, just from the email marketing, because I had built a system to say, “Hey, this person came from the website, from inside the restaurant, from Facebook, joined our email and text list. Got these digital promotions, came in.” And so he’s like, “You need to replicate this with breweries across the country.” I’m like, “Well, I don’t want to fly across the country and go to restaurants.” He’s like, “Well, no, dumbass, there’s a thing called Zoom.” And I’m like, “Oh.” And so I had always had local relationships. None of my relationships were not one to one relationships. So it was foreign for me. So it took me I’d say 2016/2017 to really figure out that dynamic. And we went, I think we ended up like 19 restaurants the first year, then we went like 35 or 40. This is like 2017/2018. And then that was when I really… I realised I couldn’t be a slave to two masters. And I had the traditional agency and I had the restaurant agency. And so over 2019-2021, we wound, I guess, 2018-2020, we wound down the traditional agency. It still exists. It’s got five clients locally, because there are people that really need our help. And it’s really easy to do what we do. And then we wound up the restaurant to where… I think last year we served about 800 restaurants between two departments.
Seth Price 4:39
Let me ask you something. Like I see it as a guy who’s focused on the legal vertical, which is hyper-competitive where we don’t get access to nothing, right? They’re not giving us client lists. They’re not letting us do the – you know we can do retargeting online but we’re not, you know, we’re not getting involved with their list management per se. It does seem that to work in restaurants… This is not just about getting a website to be in the three pack for Italian, or, you know, spending money on Yelp or something like that. I mean, this sounds like a holistic, “Hey, how are we going to totally bridge the gap between what is available from email to social to potentially organic or paid?” But how does that what does that continue on that path to get a butt in seats? I assume that with promotions, and discounts, and free desserts or drink – whatever it is – that you’re able to get better tracking than most, because that will follow. But talk to me a little bit about what you’ve done, because it sounds like it is beyond with my definition of digital, which is website SEO, PPC, paid social… You know, maybe, you know, email beyond that. Like, not what is the secret sauce, but what is the playbook for restaurants generally, even if we’re not going into your secret sauce?
Matt Plapp 6:04
Let me give you a stat. And I actually just wrote this this morning, because I’m working… I’m doing two focus groups today with a bunch of restaurants because I’m trying to just bounce some ideas off them. I’m like “Well shit I might as well just talk to them.” The average American checks their phone every 5.5 minutes. They do it 11 times per hour, 62 times a day, 2000 [per month]. Like, think about that. That was 2000 times a month. I think it’s closer to 3000 times a month based on these numbers, because I was doing the math, but 11 times an hour, somebody picks this phone up. Now in the restaurant space– being different than a lot of other spaces– somebody buys a car every three to five years and they’re going who has the car they want, who has the deal they want. If there’s a relationship, they’re calling an attorney, when the shit hits the fan, and they need something. They’re eating at restaurants two to three times a day sometimes. And so for a restaurant, the idea is, how do you show up on one of those touches every five minutes, because there’s on average, eight apps they’re visiting per day. And within those apps are Facebook, Instagram, Gmail is one of the biggest ones, and then email on top of that, YouTube, and then the browser on their phone. And so when you think about what needs to happen for success as the restaurant, the problem they have is you look at social media. If you chop it in the middle, you got social, you got media. What we have found is that over the years restaurants have morphed into “Hey, I don’t have to buy radio or TV or billboards or direct mail anymore. I have Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and email. I’m just gonna morph that timeline into a shitshow of posts about media. And all we do is advertise on it.” And people tune it out. So if you look at Papa John’s, 7 million followers, and they get 100 people some days engaged in their posts. They have completely lost the entire 7 million people because they’re not using the platform right.
Seth Price 7:59
And they likely liked it for some promotion back in the day and just don’t care.
Matt Plapp 8:03
Yeah. And so what we teach restaurants… What we found, you’ve got consumers go into eight apps every five minutes. They’re getting on the phone… We do it, you and I do it. We get on there. Look at our texts… And so it’s how do I get a restaurant to show up in one of those? Well, it’s not going to show up if all you talk about your food. You need to talk about the high school football team that just won the state championship, the girls lacrosse team that just won the championship, the high school band that was just flown to Hawaii to be one of eight bands in the Pearl Harbour Day Parade, which happened to my kids High School. Nobody talks about it. Well, if you talk about topics that are social, you get on people’s timelines. If you send emails out that aren’t always about your restaurant, people will open them. The other day. I got an email from a company called The Goat, it’s a shoe place. I wear orange Jordans every day. I have a bunch of them. I have like 30 pairs of orange shoes and I bought a lot on from The Goat. I got an email from The Goat not about anything else, but about Air Jordans. I opened the email, guess what? There’s an orange Air Jordan. Guess who clicked it? Me? Guess who bought another pair of orange Jordans? Me. They came in yesterday. And so I was telling this to a restaurant. I’m like, “think about it. If they over 52 weeks a year, just randomly email me stupid crap about shoes. Eventually that email becomes not open never clicked.” But because they look at what I’m doing with their brand, and they email me very specific stuff, I open and I buy. So look at that from your restaurant standpoint. People don’t need it. They eat at your restaurant, they love your pizza. They do not need to hear about your pizza every week. But they would love to hear about something in the community, that something’s happening down the street. They know that you’re a parent that lives in that zip code. “Hey, by the way, there’s a Fall Harvest Festival happening, they got a cool corn maze. They got this, they got that. Here’s a here’s a link to their tickets.” So it’s It’s how do you create those marketing touches as social versus media?
Seth Price 10:04
You know, look, and that’s something same same in legal, right? Legal is probably less exciting, at least here something delicious. You might be like “free dessert.” I’m like “I like free dessert!” But you know, lawyers, usually the substance is bad. Things to do with a car accident. So yes, there’s a push to that. But let me ask you this, is there an avatar of an acceptable client that has the sort of gravitas to play this game? You look at restaurants for the first two years success rates. Not great. You see people who replicate a restaurant, at least in my community, once something is popular, they’ll get four or five, six locations in the different regions of our DMV. You know, is there, do you need to be at a certain point on continuum before you have the resources to do it? Or is this something that like, people right out of the box are doing?
Matt Plapp 10:51
So you’ve got to have, from what we’ve seen, and this is our research and our internal and I will say we’re the largest. So I think we’ve probably got the best data. But the two biggest things we start off with, is you’ve got to be growth minded. And you’ve got to be collaborative. That if you’re not seeking how to grow, then you’ve already lost. And if you’re not collaborative, then you’ve lost even worse. Because, what do I mean by that..
Seth Price 11:19
I get it.
Matt Plapp 11:20
That if you’re a restaurant owner that thinks you have the answers and thinks that you know how to do it, then you’re screwed. Take it from me, for example, I’ve been in the fitness world for the last… I was a college athlete, I’ve lifted weights consistently over last 12 years. I owned a gym for 10 years, my office has a gym, my house has a gym, and I have a lifetime membership to the gym that I sold to my buddy. I drove an hour and a half yesterday to train with my daughter where she’s a trainer at a college, and then drove back. Drove three hours for a 45 minute workout. Why? Because she knows what I need to do at a higher level. Tomorrow at 5pm, I drive 10 minutes to Jared, he’s a personal trainer. He trains me once a week. So I’ve got two personal trainers that help me, I’m getting ready to bring on a nutritional person. I know fitness, I know how to work out. But at the same time, I need help. I’m collaborating with people to help me get to where I want to go. And so from a restaurant standpoint, the people that we find that are the ones that are going to succeed are the ones that look at and go, “Okay, I’m not doing my own taxes. I’m not gonna go on LegalZoom and be my own attorney. I’m gonna have an HR company, I’m gonna have a payroll company, I’m gonna have a marketing consultant on retainer that helps me make better decisions.” And that’s a big part and the other aspect… Like I tell my clients, I’ve got eight books on my desk I read all the time. We’ve got three books we send to our clients when they become a client of ours. And then I suggest books them all time. If you’re not…
Seth Price 12:47
What are your three core books?
Matt Plapp 12:49
So the three core books we send them are: Dot.com Secrets, by Russell Brunson, because I believe that book resonates with somebody who is a level one on digital marketing and a level 10. It’s very elementary the idea behind it, but even somebody that’s very seasoned – if they haven’t read it – goes, “Oh, shit, this makes sense.” And it takes you back to the roots. If you’re a restaurant owner who doesn’t really understand digital marketing, it gives you a good base. The second one is Grant Cardone’s 10X. I believe, I’m not a huge fan of some of his stuff. But I 100% believe in his analogy that we all are capable of doing a lot more. And what I’ve seen in the restaurant space and even small business is that the majority of people are just doing enough. And I’m like screw doing enough. I want to step on people’s throats and get to the next level. I want to I want to go hard and fast. And then the third one is my book, Restaurant Marketing That Works. Not because I wrote it. But because it’s the next step. You understand the commitment and effort you need. You understand… there’s actually a fourth book I lied… It’s a this one right here: Restaurant Prosperity Formula. This is a restaurant industry book, The best one I’ve ever seen. The guy is the beast on operations in restaurants. And so we have one for mindset. We have one for basics of digital marketing. We have one, my book, which is this is how you take Russell Brunson stuff, and put it into the restaurant world. And then “Hey, by the way, I can’t drive people to your restaurant.” Like we had a client, this goes back July of last year, 500 customers on average were coming in the front of their funnel into the restaurant. Two months in she calls my rep says “Man, we’re losing eight grand a month from your programme.” How are you losing eight grand a month we can see 500 people walking through the front door? “I don’t know I can’t figure it out”. By complete coincidence, I’m not a big religious guy, but shit happens for a reason. The rep — and this is a restaurant that’s hour and a half away from our office – her rep from Performance Food group walks in our front door. He happens to be up here, wanted to stop by and say hi to our headquarters. He’s like, “Hey, by the way, I was down at that restaurant the other day.” I’m like, “Yeah, I just talked to her like what’s going on?” He’s like, she’s selling the pizza using the BOGO. She’s doing a ‘buy one get one free’ that’s driving 500 people. I’ve been telling her for a year that item, she’s losing $2 on. So you drove 500 people in to get an item, she’s losing $, on, so there’s $1,000 gone. And then she’s giving those 500 people a free version, which is that’s now $10 times 500 people, there’s five grand. So there’s $6,000, she just gave away because she’s improperly pricing her food. That’s where this guy comes in. This guy’s business is all about understanding how to operate a restaurant, which restaurants unfortunately, a lot of times go, “Hey, why is my burger $10? Because the place I worked at three years ago had a $10 burger that did well.” Not it’s $10 based on the fact that I have $8.72 in it, I need to mark it up as much.
Seth Price 15:39
It’s so funny, you say this. But I’m an consumer, I will tell you, I’ll come back to the analogies to my world in a second. But I am finding something with COVID, post COVID, inflation, etc. That there are places that I shied away from because I always thought they were, by my standards too expensive for what they were, that are now smack in the middle. That there’s an like, it’s an interesting world that we’re in right now where… You’re right, for many years, people didn’t raise anything. And at least in our market, everybody’s shooting up like crazy. Some people disproportionately making it so that elite places are now… the $17 Burger used to be an extraordinary burger. Now it’s sort of in the middle. And that you can now actually arbitrage in places that were sort of like obnoxious. They, you know, are now a value-buy by comparison to the schlock places that have now raised prices. It’s just interesting. I don’t know if you’re seeing stuff in the market like that.
Matt Plapp 16:36
Oh, yeah, yeah. Exactly that. And that’s where this instance comes in is, I’ve got to arm our clients. Here’s a book on how to operate your restaurant better. Here’s a book on how to understand digital marketing. Here’s a book on how to understand restaurant digital marketing. And here’s a book on how to get your mindset to realise that you need to quit trying to grow by 20 grand and try to grow by 200 grand.
Seth Price 16:54
Well, right, it’s interesting, cuz I see the same thing. So we have a rule at BluShark, for example, that for advanced SEO, and I call that for like $4,000 or more a month, where you can get some real meat, you know. We go 4 to 40, but like to spend, to do SEO and not just have a website with local and hope that it works, or have a building block for the future. That 400,000, for a lawyer, is the over-under on gross revenue before we’re comfortable pushing somebody to that world. Unless it’s family money, or you’re independently wealthy or something like that, you’re not going to cash float, you’re not going to be happy, you’re not going to wait for SEO, for example, to kick in. You’re not gonna have enough paid to make it worthwhile, yada, yada.
Matt Plapp 17:34
It’s also too much stress on their cash flow, which puts stress on them.
Seth Price 17:38
Exactly. However, what you just said is something that I have not heard it articulated as well, which is, and I talked to people. Hey, if you’re a lawyer, just like you have one restaurant, and you’re like, “Yeah, I’m getting by or improve a little bit.” Like, the marketing doesn’t work nearly as well, as somebody that says, “Hey, I’m solo now with an admin, but I want three associates in the next five years. ” That’s, you know, there, that would be the equivalent of like three other locations in your world. Like, if you want to have a four or five location Juggernaut, what you’re going to need to get there is not something that’s likely within your own DNA if you started it, because you were really great at making pizza. You know, if you’re a savant in the kitchen, the odds of you knowing that… And so when I look at who succeeds, and who are the guys that are now pulling down, you know, nine figure verdicts in my world, it’s the guys who allowed us and had that growth mindset. And it sort of, do you do… You know, when we hire people, we do personality testing. Do you guys use any sort of filter on the way in so that you don’t just, you know, have people come and leave? How do you sort of vet for that X factor?
Matt Plapp 3 18:43
We have our core values. So in… from 2008 until now, we’ve had one employee quit, and we’ve had three fires. And we’re sitting right around, right now 50 to 55 employees. And about, I guess about eight months ago, we had these core values that we believed in: positive mindset, growth oriented, collaborative. That when you come on board, like for example if a salesperson – like I have 16 salespeople when I’m hiring eight more – I show them this. This is my non negotiables. This is what got MP, me Matt Plapp, to this seat. If you want it, come get it. And I have on here like The Blueprint, this song by Jay-Z you know. You must have a positive mindset, be growth oriented, be ready to take whatever action is necessary.
Seth Price 19:29
Oh what’s the flip side?
Matt Plapp 19:31
And the flip side, like this is a salesperson. Workout five times a week, read and study every day, card on you Monday through Friday, works 65 plus hours a week, no outside distractions, head always on a swivel and think about your goals daily. I put this in front of people. I don’t want my sales guys to work 65 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. But I want them to understand that if you’re going to play my world, you better be ready to run hard and quick. If that intimidates you do not apply. I show it to them and when they get hired, they get it and it’s on their desk. I walked in this morning, I have a portable speaker I carry around, I walked in our sales bullpen this morning, playing the Jay Z song, The Blueprint. And they all knew why I was playing it. And so we have something similar with our clients. So we have a core values, it says, “Here’s what we stand for.” And what happens like in our world we have, we have two divisions that sell two separate products that piggyback. But then in the main division, the marketing services side, there are three, there’s three levels: 10 thousand, 2 thousand, 30 thousand. And then the 30,000 kind of goes up from there based on number of locations. The 10, the 20, you can come play in our world, it all you want. You get a product, you get a training, cool. You want to get to the 30 Plus, you have to be signed off on by an executive on our team that you fit our core values. And we literally just after the third phone call, or on the third phone call the Google/zoom call, we share our core values. And we say “Hey, here’s what’s near and dear to us. Positive mindset, growth oriented, and collaborative. And we have a page for each one of those.
Seth Price 20:58
And that’s monthly spend for each restaurant?
Matt Plapp 3 21:02
No, that’s 30 grand, 30 grand annually. So for them to hire and have access to our team, to be in essence a mobile marketing department, they have five people from our team that helped them manage their entire online and marketing period. In person, radio, TV, whatever, they have to pass that test. Like I asked the guy the other day, we talked about said, you know, positive mindset. You know, we’re here to win and so are you. We have a client we fired three months ago, because he always was bitching about this $100, that 50 bucks, he tried to negotiate our rate. And he’s like, “Matt, I don’t care about your company’s profit. I care about mine.” I said, “Well, that’s why you’re fired.” Because if you don’t care about mine, why should I care about yours, I have to be profitable to help you, you have to be profitable for us to stay on as a client. And so that is a positive mindset. But it’s also collaborative. And so we lay those out and that flyer, there’s actually there’s four pages. And the fourth page is two QR codes to two songs that I tell people “Listen to the songs.” They get a copy of it. Listen to the songs, these should be things that resonate with you, if we’re not on the same page. I don’t want you as a client, because what’s going to happen is my employees, I’ll live by this. And what happens is if we get somebody in our world, that’s not positive mindset that “Oh shit COVID, the president this…” Like, we don’t do that crap. Like it’s it’s about how can we make money? How can we help create a better product? How can we help get more customers? How can we do better? It’s all positive. And if you come into our world and start spewing that crap, or “hey, this sucks, that sucks.” Well, guess what, likemy success coaches now get mad because they have a client that sucks. And that trickles down to the operations, which trickles down to this and then three months into the relationship, we get a client that’s like, “Oh, this isn’t gonna work?” Well, it’s not gonna work because you don’t fit our core values. Well, shame on us for, I don’t know, 12 years for never showing our core values. We always just kind of did it and we got bad clients. Now, we show that and say is this you? This is a one year commitment no matter what level you’re at. And if you’re going to be at the bigger level, and play directly with my team and have access to my team, seven days a week, or five days a week, 12 hours a day, then you need to be exactly how we are. And if you’re not, I don’t need the money. Have fun.
Seth Price 23:14
Let me ask you a question. Because you obviously, I love this. I mean, this is, this is passion. That is there’s a reason why you’re agency of the year. I get this, you do something that’s sort of counterintuitive. A lot of people say “hey, it’s a one year commitment. It’s 800 a month, 1600 a month or 2400 a month.” You’re using a scary number. I think we talked about this once offline, talk to me, you make you’re making it you’re talking about it this way. Why that way? Most of the world is the opposite, which is let me give you a non-scary number. 800 a month? Who cares? I’ll do that. 10,000 Oh my God, that sounds scary. Why do you go that way?
Matt Plapp 23:49
Because they have to realize the buy in. I had a friend about four years ago who’s been on a weight loss journey. Every six months, he quits, he starts. And the reason he quits is nobody has sat down with him. And I said, “Dude, you got fat over 10 years, you’ve got five years of sucking, you have to eat a lot better. You have to exercise a lot more. You have to exercise a lot more intensely, you have to control your sleep, you have to manage your stress. You have to eat, you have to stretch, you have to do a lot of things. You have a five year journey, because you neglected yourself for 10 years. Suck it up.” Well, our restaurant clients are no different. They have gotten fat when it comes to marketing. They aren’t very good at it, they do not know how to sell. And so it’s like, “hey, if I tell you that were $2,200 a month,” okay, you’re thinking that in a month or two, this is gonna get fixed. No, tough shit. It’s not. Like what you’ve created cannot be fixed. Where I got that from, what really resonated the most with me was I saw a video of Grant Cardone years ago, where he’s in his office, and he walks up to the desk and he sees one of his sales guys on the call and he’s listening. He walks up and he hits speakerphone. And he’s like, “Hey, I’m sorry to interrupt this is Grant, who am I talking to?” Guy’s like, this is Mike. “Mike, let’s talk. What are you doing? What do you got going?” There’s been like five minutes with him hearing about his business. And he’s like, “I’m looking at the screen” (because he had the notes from his sales guy). He says “this call is for you to sign on today. Are you signing on today?” “Well, I’m not sure yet…the 1500 hours a month?” He goes “It’s not 1500 a month chief?” “What do you mean?” He goes, “it’s $100,000.” Because in order for this to work, you’re gonna have to put in place what we teach you for the next three years. If you think $1,500 a month, you’re gonna look around at two months and go “well, does this really work?” But if you think this amount, it’s a bigger thing. It’s kind of the opposite of cars and homes.
Seth Price 25:44
That’s why I brought it up.
Matt Plapp 25:45
Yeah, I crack up because like, a lot of people I’ll talk to you like, it’s two ends of it. People buy a car and go, “Oh, 500 bucks a month cool.” But they don’t think like what they actually bought or what they’re paying for it. And on a house the same way, like I had a friend the other day, who was complaining about like, 10 grand on a house. I’m like, dude, 10 grand on a house like what was that? 20 bucks a month who gives a shit put away Chipotle five days a week. And it’s the mindset.
Seth Price 26:12
Clearly you’re not in… You’re in Kentucky not in the DC/DMV, where ten grand is the monthly mortgage?
Matt Plapp 26:17
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, here, here, you can get a 600,000… Like we have a guy going to move from New York, and a $600,00 house here is 2 million in New York.
Seth Price 26:28
Easy. A lot itself is one point something.
Matt Plapp 26:31
So with regards to our clients? Yeah, I want our clients to understand what they’re spending, I used to be the opposite way. Hey, it’s 599. It’s this… Like, no, it’s $30,000 to $50,000 a year to do it right. And it’s gonna take you two to three years. Because if you think… Like, I’m right now I kind of recommitted. I’ve been working out consistently for 12 years, the last two years, our company has grown so much that I’ve just been going through the motions at the gym. I turned around at the beach three weeks ago, and I’m like, “holy crap I got, I’m not gonna complain, say I’m obese, but I need to lose about 12 pounds.” And I committed to myself, I said, “I’m going to make a change in the next 12 months, I’m going to lose that 12 pounds.” Now somebody will go 12 pounds, you lose that in a month. I want to lose it correctly. And I’m also setting expectations, I didn’t get this extra 12 pounds. It took two years of me going to the CrossFit gym and kind of working out, I was going through the motions. I barely crawled out of there Tuesday night, I went so hard, I was on the ground for 20 minutes, like trying to get where the hell I was at. I want that commitment from my clients. If you own a restaurant, you’ve signed on the dotted line for equipment, you’ve got 30 to 50 employees that depend on you. You’ve got their house payment, their car payment, you’ve got all of this stuff. If you’re not willing to take this type of approach to your marketing and commit the money, then why? And 30 to 50 grand at the end of the day isn’t a big deal. That if you’re you know I had a guy the other day was like talking about and I said we’re about like, we’re about 500 to 700 bucks a week at our highest level. That’s what you pay a dishwasher. And he’s washing dishes. My team gives you five people and an expert coach that helps you get from 800,000 to a million to the next couple years. That’s why we talked about the bigger dollar amount up front. Because I can easily say “Oh, it’s you know, 500 bucks a week is all it is.” I’m like no, it’s 30 to 50 grand, which breaks down to this once we have a conversation.
Seth Price 28:30
That fascinates me. I love it. In our limited time left, I wanted to pivot to a topic that is, is a hot topic in the legal space and I’m sure in the restaurant space, which has reviews. Because you know, on the digital side, one of the areas, you know, whether it be from you know, Google, which dominates our space, I assume you have to deal with Yelp and TripAdvisor to a lesser extent, depending on the market. What are some of the best practices you see? Because for us in legal, we are in a world where based on the proximity update about two years ago that Google really wants to see close to home. And for you guys, that’s not as big a deal because you know, you’re not going to drive 45 minutes for a restaurant. Google used to give us in the legal space, a single location could dominate a market if it was optimised right? And now they’re like, ‘Yeah, near me is essentially a precursor.’ Even if you don’t type it in for every search. What do you – which means we need not just reviews for one location, but we’re now the regional restaurant with five places in a DMV – what are some of the best… You know, I’ll tell you my story and shut up but I was in Vegas, my friends all left, one guy was left, we wanted Korean barbecue. So we go to Yelp. Type it in. Found a place with 600 5-star reviews. It was awesome. Go there. It was cheap. Good. It wasn’t great. It was fun. B/B+ Korean barbecue by my standards. And I’m like how the hell do they have that? And then is it Oh, it’s time for dessert. And it’s like, Oh, if you review us on Yelp. It’s that here’s a free scoop of ice cream. You know, it wasn’t like you have to give it five stars, but who’s gonna show the waiter that it’s not there? I thought was brilliant, I’m sure violates their terms of service. So it’s not what you want to do, like loud and proud. But that said, what, what are you doing? Because that is something that is not necessarily natural. How do you get the review kept up?
Matt Plapp 30:16
So, a couple things that are important with restaurant reviews. So Seth, let’s say that, let’s say I own a restaurant, and you’re sitting there eating a steak, and you know, I own the restaurant. And I walked by your team, and you go, “Matt, amazing steak.” In any circumstance, would I ever just keep walking by you? [Shouldn’t] I don’t think I would ever happened in person. But it happens digitally every day. And so the one of the things we teach our clients is, ‘hey, you guys are focused on the negative reviews, you get 10 negative views every month, you get 200 positive.’ Get into that review, and comment: ‘Mike, we appreciate your five star review. We’re stoked that you loved your steak and our blue cheese that comes on top of it. By the way, who was your server?’ ‘Oh, it was Mary’ ‘Oh my god Mary’s a rock star.’
Seth Price 31:08
It becomes user generated content.
Matt Plapp 31:11
And so it’s like, how do we, number one, you talk to everybody, because you would never ignore someone and when I tell that example, to restaurant owners, it’s funny. 90% of them do not respond to their reviews and if they do, it’s some robotic BS. And I’m like, ‘No, take the time.’ A busy restaurant in most markets we deal in might get five reviews and on a good day. You’re telling me your lazy ass can’t pull your phone out and reply to five reviews? Very specific. Who was your server? What did you have? And even we’ll tell them also like we give them little tips? Because there are some of the platforms that helps with SEO? And it’s like, “Hey, Mike, we agree. We think that we have the best steak in Florence, Kentucky, who was your server?” Now all of a sudden somebody Google’s best steak Florence, Kentucky. I mean, I’m not an SEO guy.
Seth Price 32:00
I wish, I wish that was one thing I’d be cautious… because what we’re seeing, I’m waiting for that maybe it’s happened. I haven’t seen it yet. Where the clients or the patrons’ review is searchable. Generally, the comment is not. Look if I could keyword stuff every response…
Matt Plapp 32:18
And it’s and some of that pulls through to the website.
Seth Price 32:21
But just take it easy. You are reading a conversation out of the review, which is not just… like if you could get a string going… At what point, because look, this is I tell people in the legal space, we get negative reviews when somebody calls and we don’t do that area of law, they get upset, or we can’t take their case or whatever it is. As you do, somebody calls and the lines too long and they don’t want to come in. Right? So how are there points of happiness that you find are better than others to get a review? That owner comes by with a direct ask from the owner in person be better or does a text message afterwards? You know what, what do you see is the best practices? Because the restaurants have such a volume that if you could send; if somebody joins a loyalty programme, where you get there, I’m amazed how many times there’s no information given. You take a tour on vacation, and you get 17 follow ups to like leave them a review. And not that you want that for a restaurant, but at least one saying how was it? You know, Google doesn’t love the gating of reviews… But you know, you could also just personally find out for yourself, how was it? Anything we could do better? And if it’s good, here’s the opportunity. So what you know, you must have some Rockstar clients that have have hid the secrets. Give me some sort of like, what are some of the hacks or things that you’ve seen? I’m looking, you know, whether it be legal or medical or whatever, so many fewer patrons coming through. But the same principles apply. What do you see the guys who get not five a day, but the guys who get 25 a day? What are they doing differently?
Matt Plapp 34:06
So they have a program in place that we’ve built for them that allows for people to reply privately, based on we know a visit. So for example, I’ll give you some scary stats. 93% of restaurants do nothing inside the restaurant to gather data. So if you don’t know Matt Plapp was there. How in the hell can you have a conversation? The 7% that actually have a tool inside the restaurant that can, only 3% use it correctly. So like I want you to think about this. When was the last time you walked into a restaurant that somebody engaged you in a way that got you to give you their your information. Probably never.
Seth Price 34:46
The only ones are the ones with loyalty programmes.
Matt Plapp 34:48
Yeah, and here’s a good stat for you. Their loyalty programmes apply to eight to 11% of the customers at restaurants. And 50% of the usage comes from the top 10% of the loyalty members. So in essence You got 50,000 customers a year coming to your restaurant, there’s about 400 to 500 that are engaged in loyalty. So that’s useless as a winner take all, it’s a bullet and a gun. The way we do it is that one of the things we focus on big time is how do we acquire the customers data with an ethical bribe? Free burger. ‘Hey, your next visit, once you have a free dessert, scan this code for your next visit, boom.’ You’re on Facebook, comment below, click this link to get something for a visit. And then you’re on the website. So our goal is to get the people to walk into the restaurant with a digital promotion. They walk in the restaurant that does a promotion. And this is where it’s funny on our end, because some restaurants like ‘oh, I can’t get away and buy one get one free burger.’ I’m like, you’re thinking short term. Number one, that customers data is worth probably $500. So if you get my name, phone number, and visit frequency and email address and my birthday, that is worth hundreds of dollars of future sales used correctly. But even more important, we can see about 30% of them walk in the restaurant the first 60 days, they use that buy one get one free burger. And I now know that you are in the restaurant. So digitally through Facebook Messenger, we say, ‘Seth, we appreciate you coming by today. How would you rate your visit one to five.’ If somebody gives that a one, two or three, we already have their contact info. It sent… they click that it goes “man, we apparently dropped the ball. We would love to have a conversation with you to find out how we can fix what we did, we apologise.” Well then at the same time, a text and an email just went to the contact for that restaurant that said, Matt Plapp had lunch today spent this much money. Here’s his phone number. Here’s his name. Here’s his customer classification. He’s a new/frequent/lost. So that way the owner can call and go “Matt, I apologise. We messed up your first visit.” That language changes when they know certain things. So then the next part, let’s say a four or five review. I’ll give you an example of this. Dean, one of our clients from Fire Brew Cafe who’s down in Virginia Beach is the number one rated restaurant TripAdvisor in his region. You know why? But one he gives badass service, that’s the key. So that’s that’s there. But we got people to give him a review because we target locals and tourists through Facebook and Instagram. We get them to join a VIP programme. They walk in the restaurant, they use that irresistible offer. It’s not hey, here’s a free appetiser with a purchase of four entrees and 17 drinks. It’s here is a free appetiser. Walk your ass in here and be a customer, well, then they then leave a review. And his reviews that they give a four or five it says we appreciate your business. We appreciate your four star review, we would love if you left this on TripAdvisor. Here’s a link. And people go there. I’ll actually pull up my browser. I’ll pull up a screen and see exact give me the exact numbers on his progress. We track all this. And one of the reasons we used to early on give people three links. We’d give them Google, Facebook and like TripAdvisor. We found out that like nobody’s clicking three links. And so we said Dean, what is the most important for you? “Matt, with me being tourism and locals, TripAdvisor is key.” So on his dashboard. Let’s see here. He has had 226 4 or 5 star reviews come in. He’s had four one two or three. So in our our internal system, he has a 4.9 rating right there. And it goes to those 222 people. And this is just the last month, those 222 people were given a link and said, “Hey, we would appreciate if you shared this. I think there’s a message that like this means a lot to us. This would help us be found by other customers would appreciate if you shared this with TripAdvisor.” They click the link.
Seth Price 38:56
Do you do then Moneyball it? Okay. Tripadvisors locked, you’re 20 you know, 20% more than next best. Do you then say let’s take on Google. With Google. And with Yelp. This is this is one that we don’t deal with a lot. But it’s you know, obviously follow it industry wide. You know, it’s a miserable situation, we need to be an active Yelp review of any mechanism to try to figure out who’s an active Yelp or to be able to target those people.
Matt Plapp 39:23
No, we just look at where the client needs the juice. And we’ll rotate it and say, ‘hey, you need more Yelp.’ Like we had a client recently that had a 4.3 on Yelp, which isn’t terrible, but I’d like to see 4.5 the 4.7. But we also looked and he only had like 60 reviews, I said dude, it ain’t gonna take much. In his database, we have we had built a database of like 3000 people, and a 2000 told us they were frequent or or they had become new customers. Well, we can look in there and see, “hey, these are 1500 frequent customers.” Email them out, text them out: “Hey, we’d love a review here.” Next thing you know, you get 50 5 star reviews and your 4.7.
Seth Price 40:06
What question was Yelp specifically? Like knowing that you only some customers were counted if they don’t use Yelp? Do you add you screen at all to figure out who’s on Yelp or just send it out there?
Matt, this is awesome. I appreciate it. I’m going to return the favour from being here. Restauranteur friend in DC, you guys gotta meet who has a place called Medium Rare. It’s a concept about to go national. There are three in the DC market. It came out of Paris where you get for 20 some odd bucks, a Caesar salad and two portions of steak frites. That’s it. That’s the whole menu. There’s one off menu vegetarian option. But alcohol/desserts are extra. He’s crushing it, he did a huge feed. Well, here’s a feed the fridge programme that spun out of COVID where he took excess capacity at restaurants during COVID had them do meals at cost and then put them in fridges in poor neighbourhoods where people needed that’s awesome. So it’s awesome. And this is red meat in a market that is very blue. Where red meat is not in vogue necessarily. And they have been crushing it because like just the goodwill so this is our market is one that people vote with their pocketbooks. Some guy comes out as a nasty restauranteur, you know bad in the kitchen with women. Next thing you know 20 restaurants gone. Literally this has happened in DC. So anyway, I’m gonna introduce you to Mark, great great friend of mine and hopefully you guys can figure out how your your genius and and his blossom in business come together. But Matt, thank you so much for being here and hopefully meet you in Miami or some other place fun sometime soon.
Matt Plapp 41:45
Sounds good. Appreciate you having me on.
Seth Price 41:47
Thanks so much.
BluShark Digital 41:49
Thank you for tuning in to the SEO Insider with Seth Price. Be sure to check back next week for fresh insights into building your brand’s online presence. Episodes are available to stream directly on BluShark Digital’s website