As an MBA student and a proponent of more conscious consumption, I am completely divided on the value of advertising.
On one hand, it’s how a business says “I’m here”, hopefully loud enough to be heard by the right customer over the vast sea of potential alternatives. On the other hand, if everyone is trying to shout “I’m here” just a little louder than the competitor, it’s a useless cacophony.
I think this is a problem with nearly all direct-to-consumer products and services today, and it’s why we feel overwhelmed by “stuff” – millions of products that we don’t need are vying for our attention – on TV, in magazines and blogs, and even from grocery store shelves.
And advertisers are very good at getting our attention. From a psychological perspective, I find this part of the process exciting and pretty cool. It also makes me feel a little dirty. I know about the tricks. I know they work. I’m very interested in the research on why they work, why our brains respond the way they do(PDF). Advertising tricks work on me even though I’m expecting them!
Recently, my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore started a major renovation of their indoor sale space. Furniture and accessories are now staged in little room scenes instead of grouped by type – it’s startling what a difference it made in the way I perceive their offerings. Couches that looked worn out and sad suddenly appeared cozy and comfortable when surrounded by other artifacts of home life.
This kind of manipulation, changing what people think they want, is pretty easy to do because people in general are terrible decision makers.
I don’t have any answers to solve my issues with advertising. I like the trends I see toward social responsibility and interactivity in advertising, but these are ultimately new tactics to accomplish the same goal. Is this a chicken-egg dilemma, with a culture of overconsumption creating a stage for constant advertising? Or do advertisers need to do a better job targeting consumers, making it possible to say “I’m here” quietly and just to the right people?
After being in Belize for a few weeks I’ve established a taste for their awesome food. It’s not haute cuisine but red beans and rice with spicy stewed meat and an array of fresh vegetables is a healthy and filling standard. Now that I’m back I’ll have to find a place to go when I want to relive those flavors.
Belizean restaurants are a rare thing but Asheville is home to at least one Jamaican restaurant (last I saw One Love had closed it’s doors). But there’s Nine Mile, which I haven’t yet visited but will soon. In preparation for a visit I’ve decided to check out their web presence and bring you this version of WNC Website Review.
Nine mile has a fantastic online face for their business. They have strong search results for ‘asheville jamaican’, ‘asheville caribbean food’, and similar searches. They’re even the first restaurant page (#3 overall) for ‘north carolina jamaican food’ at google. The site itself (http://ninemileasheville.com) has a very modern and simple layout with a bold logo, prominent and high quality photos of their food and the most important and requested information (phone number and hours) displayed clearly at the top of the banner.
They only have 3 nav items – home, press and store, but all of the information someone might need about them fits in these three categories very well. Subtle gradients, consistent color scheme and a tasteful use of transparent PNGs completes a look and layout that indicates that this restaurant is nice, clean, and professional.
The code is clean, content and layout are appropriately separate and everything is well-organized. Surprisingly there is no tracking code for analytics or other tracking package. Again, the host may be tracking visits but it is not likely that it is reviewed often or is of very good quality.
Overall it is evident that June Allison (listed in the footer as the designer and developer) knows her stuff very well. June, if you end up reading this, kudos on a job well done!
Nine Mile has a very solid community connection presence. At the bottom of their home page they provide links to their TripAdvisor, UrbanSpoon and Yelp profiles. They have a host of positive reviews (google finds 161 with an average of 4.5/5). This is the best and most convincing resource for someone thinking about visiting. If other people love the food there, I will probably love it too. Making sure that there are a lot of reviews from various pages reflects very well on their online presence.
Not surprisingly, Nine Mile has a very solid social network presence. Just above the rating links mentioned above are their social network links which are appropriately active and get good community response and interaction. Their foursquare page is semi-active and could be leveraged a bit more, but they are certainly active and easy to contact via Facebook and Twitter. They also have a flickr photostream which is interesting and allows me to get a more intimate feel for what they’re up to over there.
1. Install analytics – it can’t hurt and you may find out that a shuffle of information can help your customers find what they want faster.
2. Keep an eye on new networks – foursquare may or may not take off but staying on top of how people find out about you is key.
3. Send a thank-you to June Allison for doing a great job!
Now I’m looking forward to some Caribbean spice, too bad the snow makes travel impossible. See you when it melts, Nine Mile!