Boston Seafood Show Tweet-up
Wednesday,23 March,2011 08:54:24
After explaining what a “Tweet-up” is about 35 times, I was ready to kick my feet up at the 2nd annual IBSS Tweet and Meet up yesterday. What’s a Tweet-up? I am glad you asked.
The Tweet-up at this year’s Boston Seafood Show brought together a small group of social media savvy show attendees and exhibitors for a great evening of thought provoking discussion, idea sharing and some laughs - and I don’t think I saw a smart phone come out the entire time!
If you noticed a lull on in #IBSS11 tweets for a couple of hours, its because a Tweet-up is a face-to-face event that serves as a great reminder to Twitter newbies and old salts alike - if you don’t unglue your eyes and thumbs from your phone for a couple of hours, you miss out on a lot.
We pondered the role of Twitter (and Facebook, YouTube, Yelp, and LinkedIn) in our industry - who’s using it effectively, who’s choosing to ignore it and who’s just plain against it. It’s safe to say the consensus was that social media isn’t going away, and if you continue to hesitate to use it, you risk alienating your increasingly techno-loving customer base.
It’s also amazing the amount of time social can take up if you let it. If you’re new to the game, make sure you’re scheduling enough time to do it well. Everyone at the event agreed that the more time you can devote to your social media program the better, but that you need to be careful about letting it dominate your agenda. Spread the work around, let your coworkers share the load - even if they’re not in marketing. Chances are you have more than one person who’s already comfortable on Facebook or LinkedIn on your team, you just need to find them and give them the tools they need to be successful.
The Twitter wall at this year’s show was abuzz with quotes, suggestions, breaking news, jokes and questions. I found a bunch of interesting, connected people to follow and I hope we picked up some new followers for our account.
I should mention that we also enjoyed some delicious appetizers and ice cold beer at the Tweet-up (thanks @BostonSeafood) and talked about things other than social media - if you’re curious just what Tweeters talk about when they get together, join us next year at the 3rd annual Tweet-up!
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From Boston: Educating seafood staff
Monday,21 March,2011 16:44:40
Steve Hedlund moderated a panel called Educating the Educators that provided a boat-load of usable information and actionable ideas for anyone thinking about putting together a training program for staff.
Chuck Anderson from Sousa Seafood led off with a reminder that before you even think about a training program you need to build a strong base, which starts with the quality of your fish. “It doesn’t matter how great your sales people are if your fish stinks,” Anderson said.
A successful retailer must also have standard operating procedures in place, including an operating manual that details case set up, break down and sanitation details. This also makes it easier to get the basics to new hires.
Training isn’t just for your staff, Anderson noted, training is needed up and down the chain and even executive teams can benefit from scheduled training sessions. Don’t wait to get trained, educate yourself and get out and get dirty. "You can‘t teach fish if you don’t know fish,” Anderson said. Add to that list store visits - and not just your own - visit your competition not to criticize, but to see what they do well and to learn from them.
Another great point Anderson made is to seek help from your suppliers. Bring them in for training sessions, source educational materials from them and actively involve them in your employee training efforts. A question from the audience did prompt Anderson to note that if you're a supplier producing educational materials to be used in training, try to avoid using it as a sales opportunity. Focus on education and the sales will follow naturally.
Anderson also recommended a weekly notice or newsletter that focuses on a simple idea - something that can be communicated in less than 5 minutes. There’s a million ideas for topics out there, but pick something your employees might share with customers: health information, product knowledge, food safety and sanitation, cooking techniques, etc.
Rich Castle from Giant Eagle theorized that seafood customers have a higher expectation of customer service; they come to the seafood counter with different expectations because seafood is so complicated. Our customers often get confused with all the mixed messaging that bombards us about seafood. What’s better -wild or farmed? Is there really mercury in this fish? Your staff has to be able to answer these questions. “Building trust with the consumer starts with having knowledgeable people behind the counter,” Castle added.
Aiden Coburn of The Fish Market Restaurants led by saying, “We can’t afford ignorance" and then introduced us to the idea of Menu Master vs. Order Taker. What is a menu master? Someone who can guide and teach the customer about whats on the menu, understands seasons, can explain wild vs. farmed seafood and can give real reasons for pricing changes our outages. Menu masters equal success in the form of return visits, positive guest references and increased tips.
Hedlund had a few questions for the panel, including asking why they thought education often gets neglected.
Anderson replied that since it’s not a “hard benefit” and it's difficult to track ROI, it's something that often gets pushed off the table.
Hedlund also questioned the role of technology in the modern training program. Aiden described it as a “double edged sword”, but said we need to understand it. He suggested using your website to educate your staff.
Anderson said he feels that Facebook is a valuable place to answer questions quickly and can get you in front of a lot of people. He talked a bit about the future of technology and mentioned MyGulfWild.com as a great idea that will bring traceability right to the customer.
Castle also noted that technology is playing a very key role within training sessions. He mentioned using a video camera to tape training sessions to then share with other stores and computer-based scales that provide information in addition to weight, such as information about the fish, where and when it was caught and recipes.
All the panelists recommended a variety of available sources for training information including local Sea Grant offices and organizations like the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
Seafood doesn’t sell itself. A great training program not only helps energize and inspire your employees, but it forms a framework for your company’s success.
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Boston Seafood Show day one
Sunday,20 March,2011 19:14:38
Naked, guitar-toting cowboys, ping pong tournaments, giant plushy catfish, the NCAA on television, men in kilts - the floor of this year’s show has something for everyone! Plenty of fresh marketing ideas out there; take your pick of innovative ways to bring potential customers into your booth.
Interaction is a sure bet. Several booths are using iPads to give show-goers a fun, hands on way to learn. The Prince William Sound/Copper River Marketing board (booth 713) has a couple out in their booth, a modern twist on reprints of magazine articles or brochures. Over at the Fish Choice booth (176), iPads are being used to make survey taking that much easier - instead of trying to get people to come over to a lap top or flat screen, bring the screen over to the customer!
Australis (booth 1953) is showing off a new marketing tool in their booth: a free, on-line training tool designed to help customers boost sales by anticipating questions about sustainability in general, as well as about their product. “Understanding Sustainable Seafood” is designed to educated restaurant and retail counter staff on seafood sustainability issues quickly and efficiently.
iPura (booth 2365) wins the award for social media focused marketing at the show - their innovative “Tweet and Blog Fest” offered local Boston bloggers free show passes to blog about the event, and the chance to win a $1000 prize (does this blog post count?!) Jason Simas, communcations director for iPura, wanted to recognize the important role that bloggers play in the modern marketing plan. The impact that bloggers can have on our industry is huge. It’s Simas’ hope that one local blogger will write about a company or product that catches their eye at the show and that mention just might catapult them into an actual paying gig. Could a blog mention bring your company or product international recognition? Keep your eye on iPura to find out!
Oh yeah, if you want to see the naked cowboy, he’s in booth 2213!
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