Posts Tagged ‘Brand Evangelism’


Old Practices Haunt the Triangle’s Bar Industry

Durham, NCBralie’s Sports Bar has been a staple in Durham’s nightlife for years, and while some knew it as Arnie’s, many more have always known it as Bralie’s.

Bralie’s Sports Bar, named after a combination of the sibling owners (Brad & Leslie), is primarily run by Leslie Crabtree who is a local Durham, NC resident.

Recently, Ms. Crabtree came under heavy scrutiny by local media outlets for failing to abide by the newly effective North Carolina Tobacco Ban that prohibits the use of smoke producing tobacco products within all North Carolina businesses; only excluding non-profits and venues in which tobacco sales produce a majority of the transactions.

The complainant against Leslie Crabtree is Dan Richardson, the owner of Sunset Grille in Durham, which is a bar and grille establishment within proximity of Bralie’s Sports Bar.

Regardless of the validity of the claims pending against Bralie’s Sports Bar, which are completely based on a second-hand complaint, the fundamental key lesson I wish my readers to take away from this recent media fiasco is not whether or not Bralie’s was in violation of the North Carolina Smoking Ban; but the fact that regardless of what industry your business is inherently in, Social Media and Online Reputation Management can fundamentally change the desired outcome to one which may be the opposite intended.

The Bar Business is a Cut-Throat Industry

Bars have traditionally used such cut-throat tactics to put pressure on competitors. Typically, certain local area bar and club owners have been known to bring to light certain infractions regarding fire codes/regulations, Alcohol Law Enforcement regulations, marketing/copyright infringements, and other tactics which utilize tax payer resources to investigate complaints against competitors.

Why Should Businesses Reconsider Cut-Throat Tactics?

In today’s ever increasingly internet connected society, a fundamental lesson is becoming blatantly clear. Due to the increasing acceptance of Social Media technologies and Communities, businesses can no longer simply view their industry rivals as competitors, they must also consider the effects of their actions on their own clientele.

When Dan Richardson performed what is considered a “public service” by notifying the Health Department, it may have been a better course of action to have done it anonymously. One could assume that by blowing the proverbial “whistle,” that Sunset Grille may have gotten some positive press for helping the Health Department.

However, as it turns out the audience that frequents Sunset Grille was less than enthusiastic about the complaint. This is not to say that Mr. Richardson did anything wrong. In fact he did indeed do what any concerned citizen should have d0ne, but what Mr. Richardson failed to do was to adequately engage and understand his own clientele.

The North Carolina Smoking Ban is a highly controversial topic which remains fresh in the minds of many North Carolinians, especially since North Carolina was built upon the tobacco industry.

However, those that frequent nightlife venues such as Bralie’s Sports Bar and Sunset Grille are also a unique group of patrons. Many nightlife venue owners can validate the fact that is it often difficult to gauge how their patrons may react to even the littlest of things.

The Sunset Grille Case Study

In Mr. Richardson’s case, his public complaint against Bralie’s Sports Bar did in fact cause some patrons to reconsider their loyalties concerning his establishment. Social Media and the internet have made traditional practices within the bar industry finally come to light, and for their patrons to decide whether or not the tactics deployed by their favorite pub should be commended or reprimanded.

As of currently, various news organizations have picked up the story since Friday, January 8th, including ABC, NBC, and the Herald Sun. The articles were quite neutral regarding Mr. Richardson’s involvement in the complaint, however, comments from the readers (and on other online communities) were less than neutral.

“Dear Sunset, Great publicity for Bralie’s. Fail! Love, Former Sunset Customer”

“The complaints coming from another “local bar” are just a joke. Sunset Grille, as a now former regular Customer, your childish “snitching” just lost you a regular Customer.”

“Boy, what a way to “Level the Playing Field”, Never have been to The Sunset and now will never Go. BOYCOT THE SUNSET GRILLE, What a Doorknob.”

Lesson Learned, the Take Away…

The emergence and general adoption of social media trends over the past three years have brought to light a very important lesson which business owners must take into account. Now more than ever, it’s the PEOPLE that business owners must focus on, and less on their competitors. Social Media has changed the dynamics of businesses and marketing.

Today, businesses are no longer what they TELL their customers they are, but what their customers SAY that they are. Meaning that it’s not enough to promote how wonderful your business is anymore. Businesses must win over their customers, and convert them into brand evangelists. Customers are more likely to trust a business due to a personal recommendation, than from any marketing collateral they may stumble across.

If businesses don’t start focusing more on their own clientele, their needs, their wants, and turning them into brand evangelists, they will find that their customer base will shift to competitors that do.

Cut-throat business tactics are no longer in the shadows, and regardless of whether or not a rule or newly effective law was broken, the way a business conducts itself can result in hugely different reactions from their own clientele.

I’ve frequented both establishments and the service and environments of both venues is commendable, but public bickering and cut-throat tactics could easily sway my own personal venue selection, and while I am obviously a vocal clientele, I can guarantee that I am not the only one in the area.

Some situations require a certain level of anonymity and tolerance, while other situations should be brought to light. This entire situation between Bralie’s Sports Bar and Sunset Grille should have been handled with a little professional courtesy; a simple email or call to say “I just wanted to give you a heads up that smoking isn’t allowed in venues anymore. I’d hate for the Health Department to issue you a fine…” would’ve been a positive outcome for everyone involved.

So in closing, if you’re a bar owner (or owner of any business that deals with clients in person and online), please focus your energies on positive customer experience, engagement, and building brand evangelists; and please leave out the archaic cut-throat tactics, the people are watching, listening, and speaking…


Bojangles’ Brand Evangelism…

A Bojangles’ T-Shirt & a $10 Gift Card, overnighted via FedEx

First of all, I want to preface this blog post by saying that I am in no way an official representative nor promoter of Bojangles’, though many of my friends may say otherwise. I am merely an individual that believes in evangelizing brands in which I believe in, and that I actually use in real life (both online and offline).

Bojangles is one of those brands that I fully evangelize whenever I can, because I truly love the way that they manage and promote their brand. If you’re not aware of what Bojangles’ is, I am proud to say that they are a North Carolina original. Bojangles’ is a restaurant which is famous for their Cajun Fried Chicken, mouth-watering seasoned fries, “dirty” rice, and award-winning sweet tea (among a menu full of other tasty entrees).

So why would I bother myself with evangelizing a fried chicken restaurant? Well why not? Isn’t that the point of Social Media and Marketing? As a consumer, I truly enjoy not only the food at Bojangles’, but the level of service and professional courtesy that they give my friends and I each and every time we visit one of their restaurants. I frequent Bojangles’ in Raleigh, Apex, and Durham weekly, and have always been given exceptional service (with a smile too!).

Bojangles’ is one of the few “fast food” restaurants that actively tells you that “sure, it’s okay to leave your tray on the table, we’ll clean that right up for you…” Of course, being that I have worked fast food in my “younger” teen years, I never leave my tray at the table. Instead, I gladly clean up after myself and take my tray up to the trash receptacles, where an attendant almost always greets me with a “Oh, you didn’t have to do that. I was going to get it for you.”

Most importantly to my line of work, Bojangles’ is a true pioneer in the Social Media realm of advertising, marketing, and promotions. Not only has Bojangles’ invested resources into their website, but they have invested enormous time and effort into building large groups of fans on various websites.

Bojangles’ has “home grown” a fan base of over 27,000 fans on Facebook, which is an amazing feet for a Fried Chicken restaurant. They have User Generated Content (UGC) like photos on Flickr, and videos on YouTube which loyal Bojangles’ fans have created to show their appreciation for a brand that is important to them. They have even amassed over 300 followers on Twitter, where they engage directly with their followers.

Bojangles’ has successfully engaged and incorporated their customer’s opinions into their recent launch of their Fish Fillet sandwich in select markets, by posting questions and listening to their fans.

Bojangles’ has even tapped into their fan-base by utilizing small but effective contests on their Facebook and Twitter channels. Just yesterday, Bojangles’ posted the following post on their Bojangles’ Fan Page:

“OK, we hope everyone is ready! First, thank you for loving Bojangles’ so much. We couldn’t have any better fans than you guys:) So with that…… The first 20 fans that tell us why they love Bojangles’ will get a Bojangles’ T-shirt and $10 Bojangles’ gift card. Thanks again for being the best fans ever!!”

There were over 150 comments made under that Facebook post! Of course, as a loyal Bojangles’ Fan, I had to comment on that Facebook post with “It’s all about the Yellow Box! :) ” …and sure enough, along came Mr. FedEx this morning with a package from that company with the delicious yellow boxes, Bojangles’! Enclosed, as promised, was my free T-Shirt and a $10 Gift Card, courtesy of my friends over there at the Boj’! LOL! Thanks! :)

So, what is the lesson to be learned here?

Regardless of whether or not you are a Fortune 500 Corporation, or a small “mom and pop” shop, or even a Cajun Fried Chicken restaurant; if you’re not utilizing Social Media channels to grow Brand Reputation, promote Brand Ambassadors/Evangelists, expand your Online Properties, create and manage Conversations about your Brand, or to simply reach out and LISTEN to your customers (and potential customers), you need to take a look at Bojangles’ and see what you could be missing out on.

In today’s economy, social media is opening the eyes of large and small companies alike. Businesses are no longer telling their customers who they are anymore… Businesses are what their customers SAY THEY ARE.

In my opinion, Captain D. Michael Abrashoff says it best:

“Since, by definition, new ideas don’t have metrics, the result is that great ideas tend to be stillborn in major companies today… Stasis is death to any organization. Evolve or die: It’s the law of life…”


Bojangles’ Love Yields FedEx’d Sweet Tea!

Bojangles' Sweet Tea

After winning a quick Bojangles Contest on (@GottaWannaNeeda), they said they’d send me a 1/2 gallon of Sweet Tea…  I fully expected to get gift certificates in the mail… instead, they actually FedEx’d me a 1/2 gallon of Bojangles Sweet Tea!!!  Bojangles, FTW!

Selected Photos from my Bojangles’ Photo Album

[miniflickr user_id="27200567@N07" tags="bojangles"]
View the Entire Album on

View the Entire Album on