1st Restaurant Digital Marketing Conference: Serving Up Everything You Need

The 1st Restaurant Digital Marketing Conference in the Philippines happened last October 23, 2013 at Enderun Colleges in Taguig City. People from the food service industry, particularly restaurant owners and operators, gathered and were treated to a full day of learning.

Program of the Restaurant Digital Marketing ConferenceDr. Edgardo Rodriguez, the President of Enderun Colleges, kicked the day off with a very modest yet inspirational keynote. People at our table were fortunate enough to meet Ed (that’s how Dr. Rodriguez introduced himself; very smart and humble gentleman), and he definitely set the mood for us. He’s cool like Gandalf.

The first speaker of the day was Don Anderson, Senior Vice President and Director of Regional Strategic Digital Integration of APAC FleishmanHillard, Asia and Pacific. Don discussed trends and cases in restaurant digital marketing, and how trends in North America, Europe, and APAC may eventually have relevance in the Philippines. He also presented the best cases from other regions and shared what he learned from them. It was a lively presentation as Don’s charisma was somehow a cross between Barney Stinson and Stephen Colbert.

Smoothly following the Don Anderson Show was the Managing Director of Myfoodtrip.com, Michael Rastas.

Michael RastasHe talked about websites and how it’s a restaurant’s online calling card, its main asset online. What makes Michael relatable is the fact that he used to be restaurants’ target market, and still is. He’s a foody, and he was very concise about what he wants and what he doesn’t want in a website. He made a lot of sense because after hearing him speak, you’ll realize that the things he likes and doesn’t like in a website are the same things you like and doesn’t like in a website, and should serve as pointers to restaurant owners and operators planning to create or redesign their website.

Jennifer Marquet, eCRM Director of CashCash Pinoy, educated everyone about database building, email marketing, CRM and deal sites.

Jennifer MarquetHer testimony about email still being effective opened a lot of eyes that even in this day and age, pre-WiFi marketing in the form of email is still alive and well, and that direct marketing through database building can be very successful when done properly.

A couple of young Nuffnang representatives, on the other hand, gave tips about blogger relations. They provided very good advice on how to deal with bloggers – the new media that’s relatively still foreign to a lot of restaurant owners and operators.

One of the speakers who piqued the interest of the crowd was social media strategist and restaurant owner Ros Juan. She understood that almost everyone at the conference manages a Facebook fan page and/or a Twitter account for their respective establishments, and therefore had to provide important and up-to-date reminders about managing these two social media platforms. She spoke about things like creating a “voice” for your brand, content plans for both Facebook and Twitter, analytics, gaining followers, free third-party apps and tools, the works. She was very informative.

While Ros spoke about the free stuff, on the other side of the spectrum was Jonathan Joson of Havas Media Ortega. Jonathan talked about the different type of paid online ads, how they work, where to start, effective targeting settings and ad copy for restaurants via Facebook and search ads, and how to leverage on the diverse features of the Google Ad Network. He didn’t have to provide tips about the free tools, but he was gracious and gave everyone a heads-up about free online tools anyway.

Asia-Pacific Mobext head Art Policarpio excited the crowd with mobile case studies. The cases he presented were a glimpse into the not-so-distant future of the role in the food service industry of mobile apps, in-store tablets, mobile sites, mobile ads, and mobile social media among other things. He made very valid points about how his field of expertise is the future and that there are more cellphones in the Philippines than people. He discussed traditional SMS advertising, as well as newer strategies like geotagging, which will probably be discussed further in next year’s 2nd Restaurant Digital Marketing Conference. (Yes, I said it! There will be another one next year. If there isn’t one, there should be!)

The last speaker of the day was Carlo Ople, Managing Director of DM9-DI9IT. He opened and closed with a quote from his grandfather. “Umiikot ang mundo. Hindi puwedeng nakatayo lang tayo.” (The world keeps on turning. We can’t just stand still.) It was very appropriate because he talked about integrating campaigns for restaurants. He discussed the success factors of putting it all together – traditional marketing and digital marketing. While he was holding on to tradition, he was also embracing change in the form of digital marketing.

Ana De Ocampo, co-owner of Wildflour Cafe + Bakery, and PJ Lanot, one of the owners of Pino Resto Bar and BRGR: The Burger Project (among other things) capped the night off by sharing their experiences. It’s amazing that social media played a huge part in spreading the word about their respective establishments. Ms. De Ocampo bared that she had very minimal online presence at the start and didn’t have a Facebook fan page for Wildflour. She believes in making the product talk for itself, and it did because soon enough people were raving about Wildflour on Facebook and Twitter. PJ also got a lot of social media attention because people like Pino and The Burger Project, and they are not shy to share it online. Both entrepreneurs are traditional in a way. They also didn’t seek social media, nor paid for online advertising. In the end, social media sought them. Their success is a testament that digital marketing, specifically social media, is the new word of mouth.

The 1st Restaurant Digital Marketing Conference was a long, fun, educational day. You should have been there if you’re a restaurant owner/operator because one of the many things I’ll always remember were the looks on their faces. They were excited and eager to learn (as was I). Seeing them jot down notes was like watching Charlie as Willy Wonka showed him around the chocolate factory. See you next year!

All photos courtesy of Cherish Acosta

1st Restaurant Digital Marketing Conference: Serving Up Everything You Need

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