Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Are you or aren’t you?

Are you kid friendly or not kid friendly? That is the question. There are a few kid friendly criteria your restaurant should meet before targeting families as your customers. Go beyond providing two crayons and a coloring sheet to providing a fully thought through experience for your diner.

 Just because a restaurant has a kids menu does not make it child friendly and the same thing goes for a store selling children’s clothes. Have you thought through you customer experience? Does your restaurant have the appropriate baby gear to meet your customer’s needs? Do you think about the parent’s experience dining with a child?

As a new parent I had not thought of these things as necessities till recently but the restaurants that successfully meet the following needs are my top choices. Here is the recipe:

  •          Call Ahead Waiting. Waiting for an hour and a half before you get to the table is a recipe for disaster for the parents and the fellow diners. Children no matter what the age, have short attention spans, are frequently hungry and almost always tired and cranky. Parents have a small window of time to get in, dine and get the kids home. Help out by offering call ahead waiting. 
  •          Comfortable Tables. I don’t mean cushy seats. I am talking about a table away from the drafty door as little kids are sensitive to the temperature. Also a table not in the walkway. As graceful as people think they are both wait staff and other patrons bump tables and chairs. Let’s not run the risk of someone knocking the baby carrier over or waking a sleeping child.
  •          Secure Seating. I don’t want to just sit the baby carrier on the seat and hope that no one bumps the chair. Two plus a high chair, please. I don’t want just any high chair; I want the baby sling that can accommodate the baby carrier or the high chair that can be flipped over. Both of these options will keep baby safe and secure while mommy and daddy enjoy a nice glass of wine and a tasty dinner.
  •          Kids First. Restaurants that bring the kids meals before the parents’ entrees get brownie points. This is a simple and much appreciated gesture. There are a few key reasons why this is needed. Kids are hungry from when they walk in the door. Keep them calm by keeping them busy…eating. Parents can get the kids fed and then when their meal arrives they can actually enjoy what they ordered without stopping every few seconds to cut up chicken tenders.
  •         A Changing Station. If you have a kids menu, obviously you are expecting kids in your restaurant. Have you provided a place for diapers to be changed? I think this should be a part of operating requirements but anyways. Make sure there is a place to change a baby. Having a pedestal sink and no Koala station is not helpful. Get a counter top before I have the urge to use my table as a changing station.

Making your restaurant kid friendly is easy and is not a budget item. Most of your employees probably have kids. Treat them to dinner on the house and ask them to document their experience. Then send them over to your competitor and see how you rank.

This is so important parents that Open Table has begun giving awards for Top 50 Kid Friendly Restaurants., http://www.opentable.com/promo.aspx?pid=386

Sunday, March 20, 2011


All parents fear something happening to them and their child growing up without parents. As a new mom, this runs through my mind all the time. This weekend I watched Life As We Know It (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1055292/) and bawled my eyes out when the parents died. It is a parents’ worst fear.

I recently I heard about a five-year-old boy, Trey, who lost both parents. His dad died serving our country and his mother past just a few weeks ago. Trey is now without parents but not without a loving family. His grandfather will now care for and support him.

Trey’s mother, Melissa, graduated from Archbishop Chapelle High School in Metairie as a member of the Class of 2000. After hearing about her passing, classmates immediately rallied to aid her son. Over a dozen girls, some just acquaintances, spearheaded a fundraiser. A car wash was held on Sunday, March 20 to help raise dollars to help the grandfather pay Trey’s school tuition at St. Ann School and costs with raising and supporting him.

After an article ran in the Times Picayune (http://www.nola.com/east-jefferson/index.ssf/2011/03/st_ann_student_is_beneficiary.html), the community response to help Trey not be without was absolutely amazing. I am very proud to be a member of this community who can help a little boy with open arms and open wallets.

Although Trey will be without parents, he is not without a positive road ahead of him. If you would like to help Trey, you can make a donation at any Capital One Bank branch to the Michael Scott Evans III (Trey) Fund.

The car wash not only sent a message to Trey that his community supports him, but enough money was raised to pay his tuition and then some. http://www.wdsu.com/video/27257158/detail.html

Special thank you to Auto Zone and Advanced Auto Parts locations in the Greater New Orleans Area for providing the supplies needed for the car wash. Also,thank you to Eva Barkoff, the Times Picayune, nola.com and WDSU-TV for helping to spread the word. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

No Research Needed, Just Grab a Stroller

You have spent thousands of dollars trying to market to me. I have seen your print ad, received an email blast or was chatted up on Twitter either way…it worked! I am in your store! You would think that would be the end of the marketing game, that now I am a loyal customer…think again.

No matter how you reach your target audience, if the store experience does not match up you have wasted the dollars spent on the campaign. If your target audience is mommies, please borrow a baby stroller and try to navigate your store!

I have discovered this problem only five months ago when Baby Crawfish joined me in my shopping adventures. I never knew that this problem existed before but as a mommy it is a big problem and very frustrating. When shopping in the children’s department you would think that a mom and baby team would be able to cruise between the racks with ease but this is not the case. If you add to the mix a sleeping baby and hitting the stroller on the racks while trying to navigate, this can only lead to disaster and immediate surrender back to the car to return home.

Marketers spend so much time carefully researching what influences purchase decisions. Not being able to access the products on the rack or make it to the checkout counter is a challenge that is easily fixable. It won’t take thousands of dollars spent on research to experience your store as a mommy, just grab a stroller and go.  I understand that retailers need to maximize their product per square foot but keep your target audience in mind.

It is so hard to get around as a mom. You have to pack enough supplies for what seems like a month, find a parking space big enough to park and be able to get the baby seat out, you have to pull out the stroller, load up the stroller with all the stuff you packed and then once you have crossed those hurdles you can make it into the store. Help your target audience have an enjoyable experience while in your store and then you will create a loyal customer. 

Here is another example on Knowing Thy Audience, http://www.blueacorn.com/blog/ecommerce-business-issues/know-thy-audience-members/

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Job Well Done- Marketing Sophie The Giraffe

If you are a mom to a drooling baby who appears to be getting teeth but there are no factual signs of teeth, then you know everything goes in the mouth. Finding the perfect chew toy that can occupy their hands and mouth at the same time and not be your hair, cell phone, car keys...is quite the challenge.

Baby Crawfish was given Sophie the Giraffe as a baby shower present. At the time that I received her she was just a cute little chew toy that a few mothers recommended to me, I did not know the power or controversy that she possesses.

Baby Crawfish is in LOVE with Sophie. I don't know what makes her magical but she is and it works I am not asking any questions. I am going with it and always have Sophie on hand at all times like I she has trained me to do. The controversy comes in is that Sophie is $25. People, including my mother, gawk at how expensive that is for a chew toy and that it looks like a dog should play with it. Let me share my view... I don't care!! Sophie's magical powers allow Baby Crawfish to be quiet and well behaved just about anywhere we go. If those magical powers cost $25, do you take debit?

Through fantastic celebrity endorsed product placement, Sophie has become a status toy. Parents who don't have her want her for their child because not only does their favorite celebrity baby with a food name have her, but the baby two cribs over at nursery does. This is the start of the child's need for the most popular toy and the cool tennis shoes. Bravo to Sophie's marketing team. Your product placement has led to Sophie being the number one baby toy for 30 years!

The LA Times did a fantastic article on the powers of Sophie, http://www.latimes.com/features/home/la-hm-sophie3-2009oct03,0,2251259.story.

My New Box

Marketers tuck each target market nice and neatly into a little category. The ads and messages you receive are based on your age, location, family, income, and on and on. This is what happens when you change boxes!

As a PR professional I know the tips and tricks of the trade but as I mommy I am learning about new products, services and companies. It is hard to turn off that marketing mind so Crawfish Tales was born- marketer meets mommy.