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November 1st: Torsten Jacobi, CEO of Creative Weblogging, joins host Anita Campbell. Sponsored by Six Disciplines. Show details.
Sunday, October 10, 2004
PowerBlog Review: Horsefeathers

Editor's note: Welcome to the thirty-fourth in our regular weekly series of PowerBlog Reviews of business weblogs.

This week's PowerBlog Review is being guest-blogged by Paul Chaney of the Radiant Marketing Blog. Paul Chaney is Principal of Radiant Marketing Group, a consultancy focused on helping small businesses improve their marketing communications through the use of email newsletters and weblogs. When he is not spending inordinate amounts of time assisting clients on the web, you will find him about 4,500 feet in the air spending inordinate amounts of time with his other passion, aviation....

By Paul Chaney

Google the phrase "restaurant blogs" and you will find self-styled critics talking about restaurants in their locale, blogs linking to restaurant websites, and a few journals where the author describes in more or less detail the gastronomic delights of that evening's meal.

What you won't find are links to restaurants with blogs. They seem to be few and far between. But, if you're lucky, you just might come across one, a restaurant in North Conway Village, New Hampshire, USA called Horsefeathers.

Horsefeathers is a long-established restaurant that spends much of its advertising budget on loyalty marketing, the emphasis being on maintaining their present customer base. Because they are located in a resort town just starting to see the influx of chain restaurants, the owners felt they needed a tool to stay in touch with regular customers before they were lost to the chains. The tool of choice was a weblog.

The owners felt restaurant web sites (theirs included) tended to be dull and static. Customers would look at the site once and never return. The blog format has allowed Horsefeathers to have a current, relevant web presence geared to topics that capture the interests of their guests.

The restaurant began blogging about six months ago, and sees ease-of-use and immediacy of content as the greatest advantages of the format. They use TypePad as their blogging platform, and have developed a visually compelling website filled with great content.

The blog serves as the restaurant's main website. They are just starting to involve "guest authors" in blogging. Most of the posts are written by the owners at present, with Ben Williams doing much of the blogging. Soon, they hope to have both staff and customers authoring posts, not just submitting comments.

Content on the blog consists of a variety of regularly updated posts talking about the kinds of things you might expect -- restaurant events, menu updates, and entertainment listings. However, they also try to position themselves as "experts" on subjects their guests enjoy. They promote the resort nature of their location with foliage reports, and ski conditions. They talk about seasonal food & beverage products, and paste in off-beat restaurant stories from RSS feeds. Employee profiles, customer photos, and sports predictions (including the Red Sox ultimate World Series win) round out the content categories.

The Power: In terms of small business blogging, Horsefeathers has captured the essence of why the medium exists. They have turned a once-static web presence into an ongoing conversation with their customers that is engaging, informative, and entertaining. They serve as an A-list example of how small businesses, regardless of type, can use blogs to enhance their marketing communications.

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