Monday, January 16, 2012

Above Average Marketing at Not Your Average Joe's

As someone who's passionate about social branding, PR and marketing, I pay a lot of attention to tactics and campaigns of the brands I interact with in my daily life. Sometimes, I just like a brand for the good old fashioned reasons - good quality, good service and brings value to my life. So when a brand goes above and beyond all that, I'm very impressed. Here, I'd like to talk about a company I interact with that I feel deserves some attention - outside of the usual people I talk about, like Starbucks and Apple. Don't be alarmed by the brief and sudden change, but I'm stepping outside the world of technology here. - gasp!

Anyone who's spent a brief amount of time with me knows that I'm a foodie. I'm not picky about it, I love all kinds - seafood, bar food, Mexican, Indian, Thai, Japanese - I'll try any dish once, and I usually go back for more. Though I like to cook, I'm a sucker for a killer appetizer and glass of wine with a clean, friendly atmosphere out at a restaurant or bar. NYAJ's does this insanely well. Most of the time, I try to support my friendly locals over chain restaurants, but NYAJ's stole my heart - and my paycheck a lot of the time. See, the Beverly NYAJ's and I are neighbors, directly across the street from one another. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from in the area, but I keep going back here for more. Why? Outstanding service. Incredible appetizers. Reasonably-priced drinks. Perfect atmosphere - not too loud, and not too quiet - essential for date night, catching up with a few friends or bringing a crowd for a celebration. Since this isn't a food blog, however, I'll focus in on the service aspects and treating customers right. Though I do encourage you to give the Ahi Tuna appetizer a whirl.

I've never once had poor service here. That's not to say mistakes haven't been made. Sure, one time I ordered a goat-cheese stuffed chicken which didn't have goat cheese. The waitress handled a disappointed customer exactly how she should, with an apology, a smile and offered to remedy the situation however I, the customer, thought was best. Within minutes after she brought me the goat cheese I asked for, a manager came by to apologize and make sure the situation was handled. That's the thing though, a manager coming by isn't out of the ordinary at NYAJ's. One always comes by to check in when I dine there. And when they ask how everything is, I my reply is always, "Excellent."

NYAJ's isn't just asking to ask, they actually cares about customer satisfaction. While ordering mimosas for brunch this past weekend, the waitress looked a bit surprised. Turns out that they don't get a lot of mimosa requests there. After we had a chance to enjoy a few sips, she came back to check in.

"Are they alright? We don't get a log of requests, so if she (the bartender) can make them differently for you, let me know," the waitress told us. We let her know they were great, but it was good to know she cared that they actually made the drink to the customer's liking.

But NYAJ's doesn't stop there - "Joe" wants to know all about your visit. So at the end of the meal, your waitress brings an iPod Touch to your table, loaded with a customer feedback survey. Quick and easy, I'm always happy to fill it out and let "Joe" know that my food and service were excellent. Oh, did I also mention that they always ask if you've been there before, and newcomers receive a nice little discount? So if you haven't been there, that's your reason to go.

Let's not forget to mention Joe's email marketing. Not spam, but a nice weekly reminder about menu changes, specials, tastings and events. And Joe is supportive of the local community as well, offering a 15 percent discount for anyone who brings a ticket stub from the local performance theatre. So after date night at A Christmas Carol at North Shore Music Theatre, it only made sense to enjoy a meal and drinks at NYAJ's. But that's not all, each NYAJ's locations serves a different local nonprofit. Every Tuesday evening, those nonprofit organizations get 15 percent of all purchases made by its supporters at that location. Nice cause-related marketing, Joe.

What They Could Do Better.
Taking it all in, I'm hands down a fan of this place and I'll keep going back. Here's a few things I do think they could do a bit better, from a marketing perspective, because I won't attempt to criticize their delicious menu.
  • Rewards Program: I live across the street, and I'm already signed up for marketing emails. I'm sure I'm not the only local who's signed up for emails. Why not show us how much you value our continued patronage, and offer us a discount. Maybe a Joe's BFFs card for those of us who keep coming back, and want to know we're valued.
  • Foursquare: I may not be the mayor of NYAJ's right now, but you can bet I would be if they offered a free appetizer to the mayor. Or how about a 10 percent discount for checking in? Maybe swapping those two ideas? There are a lot of ways to do this, and I think that Joe's has the social know-how and clientele to pull it off. Sel de la Terre in Boston, Mass. offers free Pomme Frites for checking in. As a result, when I'm in between a few different places for lunch, I always choose there. It's an incentive, a nice reward for the social-savvy customer who shares their dining habits with friends.
Wrapping up, I've got to recommend the place. For the picky eaters, for kids, or for those who enjoy good old-fashioned burgers, go ahead and give it a shot. Maybe it's not for everyone, but I think they're doing things right, and they value their clientele. Other restaurants, especially chains, could learn a lot from NYAJ's, in my humble opinion. That's my food-based PR thought for the day.


  1. NYAJ is my FAVORITE restaurant. I am so sad that we moved to Western Mass and am no longer close to one. Whenever I head back to the Boston area I always try to find an excuse to go to one. I agree that I have never had bad service at a Joes. I always recommend this restaurant. I also love how they treat for a meal on your birthday too if you are an email subscriber.

  2. We love NYAJ's! And while it is a chain, it's nowhere near the same as the large national restaurant chains. Each location works hard to support local farms and businesses. We've always had fantastic service and find them incredibly knowledgeable and accommodating to dietary restrictions and food allergies.

  3. Thanks to both of you for reading and for your comments! Glad you both agree that NYAJ's has wonderful food and a great marketing strategy.

    Attie's Mom, my birthday's coming up so I'm looking forward to that email!

    Katie, I didn't know that they were so accommodating to dietary restriction since I don't have many, but that's great to hear. They really know how to treat customers right!