Idea of The Week: Let’s head for sunny Sonoma!

>The Situation:

It’s the dead of winter here in Vancouver – and that means grey days, long nights, lots of rain, and flocks of snowbirds heading south. But we can’t all go – so – we have to find alternatives. MD regular Ellen Edwards sent us an email this week telling us about one of her alternatives, a local restaurant called The Sonoma Grill, here in downtown Langley. Her email reads: “This sort of email makes me smile – and consider a meal out. I’ve been to Sonoma Grill several times this year, and I suppose I must have signed up somewhere, giving my birthdate, but I don’t remember doing it. So, their birthday greeting was a happy surprise – reminding me of the restaurant, with a colorful glow.” (We think the restaurant itself casts a colorful glow. Here, have a look…)

>The Idea:

This idea is as old as business itself. Find a way to get customers’ names. Use those names. Personalize the relationship. Do something special, even if it’s a small gesture, to recognize loyal repeat customers. In this case, Owner Paul Mangat sent Ellen a personal email, congratulating her on her birthday, and enticing her to return by offering her a Belgian Chocolate Mousse, or a Spanish Coffee, in honor of her special day. Nicely done.

>The Risk:

As long as we’re extracting customers’ vital stats in an ethical manner (no ID theft, please), there’s no danger in this idea. In fact the reverse is true. In an economy where many businesses are still struggling (hard) there is a real danger in “not” personalizing our customer relationships. Yet, while “business as usual” is becoming a prescription for failure, it’s amazing how many still run on automatic pilot (think of the hairdresser who calls out to a colleague, “you’re 10 o’clock is here!” – without thinking about how that sounds, both to the customer, whose name should be used, and to other customers within ear shot).

>The Reward:

All else being equal or better, customers who are treated with a personal touch tend to go out of their way to promote our businesses – and remain loyal – even when enticed by lower prices from a competitor. (I felt like I was betraying a friend when I changed car brands a few years back, and started buying from a different dealership. Have you ever had a similar experience?)

>The Call to Action:

People buy from people they like. But it’s hard to like someone you don’t know personally. So this week let’s go out of our way to “get personal.” Let’s record names, remember names, use names – and, perhaps offer a little extra recognition to our loyal customers. Oh, and if you go to the Sonoma Grill, be sure to ask for a table by the fireplace (it’s still chilly up here)…and tell them Neil sent you.

Jonathan and the Social Media Challenge will be back on Thursday. See ya then!


******Our first social media training workshop******

Registration is now open for “Social Media 101 – Strictly for Business’ a one day workshop with our social media expert, Jonathan Christian. We’re delighted to announce the first in a brand new series of hands-on, small-group, one day training sessions. We can’t get to everyone who needs our help so we’re inviting our MD members and subscribers, eight at a time, to bring your laptops so you can learn and leave with the basic necessities that every business and organization must have in place in order to be “Sociable” with your customers (kudos to “Sociable” co-author @Shane Gibson).

****Our first workshop will be held on Thursday February 3rd, here in Langley, BC.****

To register call Jonathan Christian at 778 378 9100.

If you have questions please call Jonathan, or email him at

We will provide full details in a separate email.

Important Note: Registration is strictly limited to eight so that everyone receives personal attention. To secure your place, please call Jonathan now.“Just one seat left. Call now to register!”

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