The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship and resources that support each stage of a business's development and growth.
When a restaurant owner recently asked about investing in her online marketing strategy and if there were any lesser-known applications out there that she should know about, YEC members had the following to say.
I met the owner of a marketing application called PromoterBee at a conference. I told him I would give it a try, and I have been using it ever since. It basically aggregates all of your company's online profiles, and it e-mails you when new reviews, @mentions, etc. come in. For a restaurant, it's awesome to be able to stay on top of Yelp, Google and CitySearch reviews in real-time. —Logan Lenz, founder and president of Endagon
2. Reputation Thrusters
Customer reviews are important for every industry, but they're even more important in the restaurant business. Customers want to know that other people have enjoyed the food quality, service and the ambiance of a restaurant before dining at the establishment. Use Reputation Thrusters to manage and improve your online reputation. —Anthony Saladino, co-founder and CEO of Kitchen Cabinet Kings
3. Conduit Mobile
I recently discovered Conduit Mobile. It's an amazingly easy way to create apps for blogs, restaurants, businesses or almost anything. It takes no time to create a beautiful app and, before you know it, publish it in the app store. —Ben Lang, founder and CEO of MySchoolHelp
Buffer lets you easily maintain a constantly-updated queue of content to regularly post to Facebook and Twitter with no manual effort. It's a great way to keep your Facebook and Twitter streams active without spending all day on them.—Tim Jahn, co-founder of Entrepreneurs Unpluggd
5. Engage your customers with text alerts
One glaring hole I see in most restaurants' marketing efforts is the ability to quickly notify past customers of specials, special events, etc. E-mail is too slow for a quick "lunchtime special," and apps require the customer to be on the app to see it. But SMS/text messages are a real-time communication platform you can use to reach customers. Call Loop is great for this because of its automation. —Trevor Mauch, co-founder and marketing director of Automize
If you are looking to automatically tweet the articles that get posted to your blog, use Twitterfeed. It takes any RSS feed and publishes the articles to Twitter, allowing you to post relevant content to your followers automatically. You can even insert hashtags into the tweets. With Twitterfeed you'll never forget to tweet your last blog post, especially on a company-run blog. —Matt Wilson, co-founder of Under30CEO.com
A great social media management tool that you can use is Hootsuite. Although it's not free, it gives you tons of options with which to control your social media. You can schedule Facebook and Twitter posts, establish RSS feeds, create analytics reports and more. There are tons of other options you can use, as well, by connecting a Wordpress blog, LinkedIn profile or other social media account. —Lucas Sommer, founder of Audimated
8. Scout Mob
Promotions like Scout Mob are very effective for marketing a local business online. They are more effective than the Groupon model because they tell people that a product is 50 percent off if they purchase it within a certain time frame rather than people having to purchase a Groupon before they purchase the actual product. —Lauren Perkins, CEO ofPerks Consulting
Pictured (clockwise from top left): Logan Lenz, Matt Wilson, Lauren Perkins, Tim Jahn, Trevor Mauch, Anthony Saladino