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Epi’s Basque Restaurant in Meridian, Idaho

March 2nd, 2007

If you have ever eaten at Epi’s Basque Restaurant in Meridian, Idaho, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that the experience is like none other. The food, ambiance, and service may be down home and arguably “unsophisticated,” but the charm and simple elegance of the friendly staff in combination with delicious Pyrenees-style cuisine are enough for me to make the 40-minute trek out to suburban Meridian.

As a native to the Treasure Valley, I have grown up surrounded by the Basque culture so Epi’s appeals to me from an emotional, nostalgic standpoint. However, Epi’s offers those unfamiliar with Basque culture and cuisine a fantastic venue to try exotic entrees of fish, mutton, beef, and pork along with a large selection of complementary wines that will certainly keep the curious and adventurous giddy with culinary excitement. Oh yeah, no Basque meal is complete without a generous appetizer serving of fried croquettes, absolutely delightful!

Although I’d love to continue on in regards to the wonderful attributes of Epi’s food, I’d like to devote the remainder of this post to how the restaurant thrives without having to advertise on television, radio, or print media.

In this day and age, just about everyone knows about word-of-mouth, referral, and guerilla marketing … but what so few achieve to comprehend is the fuel that drives these concepts. Although I could exercise my theoretical MBA brain and rattle off a litany of fancy words to impress you as to how Epi’s is conquering the universe through a 15-step approach, I will spare you the pain and narrow it down to these three simple principals:

1) Hard Work – Epi’s staff, from owner to line cook, go the extra mile to ensure the customer enjoys the ultimate Basque dining experience. This is accomplished by serving top quality food, complimented by outstanding staff members who bend over backwards to make sure you’re happy. On a side note, the restaurant is spotless in the sanitary department, which scores points with the wife.

2) Being Different – As I mentioned earlier, there is no dining experience quite like Epi’s. Not only is the customer treated to a unique and tasty menu, but the ambiance of the venue can only be described as comfortable and inviting. The facility and décor rush you back to a different Idaho era that existed long before Flying-Wyes, Cheesecake Factories, and sky-rise condominium projects. Without a doubt, Epi’s has become a one-of-a-kind Idaho establishment.

3) Making Meaning – Along with being different, it’s easy to tell within minutes of entering the establishment that owners, Chris Ansotegui and Gina Urquidi, sisters by the way, truly desire the opportunity to serve you not as a customer, but as a family member or a close friend. Entering Epi’s is like going back to your grandmother’s home where she always had that wonderful food prepared on the table, waiting there just the way you liked it. It’s not uncommon to be waited on by either Ansotequi or Urquidi, and if you’re blessed to meet their acquaintance, you will be treated to an evening you won’t soon forget.

It is my best estimation that Epi’s has established itself as a successful restaurant simply by employing these three principals; which in turn fuel customer loyalty and testimonial activity like this blog. Over the past six years, I would guess that I’ve referred at least 50 people to Epi’s as a premier Boise-area eatery. I know I’m not alone in this referral effort, as it is a good idea to call ahead and/or make reservations to secure a table before driving to downtown Meridian.

In conclusion, Epi’s has succeeded where so many have failed and they haven’t had to rely on gimmicks, promotions, advertising, or compromise to do so. As business owners, we must continually strive to work hard, differentiate, and make meaning so as to build a fortress around the heart of our customers. If you own a startup or a small to medium sized business, please take these principals to heart … and don’t forget to try the croquettes!

Digg and Del.icio.us

February 23rd, 2007

With the number of questions I’m getting from clients about why we included Digg and Del.icio.us tags on their site, I’m starting to realize that I’m not doing a very good job of explaining why upfront. So, in an attempt to reverse this trend, here’s a bit of an explanation.

Digg and deli.cio.us are two of the most popular services for social networking. As you may be aware, social networking is a huge phenomenon powered by the newest web technologies (aka Web 2.0). For more insight look up “Internet Social Networks” on Wikipedia, but the essence of social networking from a business perspective is that it provides an unique free opportunity for an organization to get their message heard and propagated.

Social networking is relatively new to mainstream but growing fast and many believe that it will play a key role in the future of the Web. In addition to providing a medium for referrals, it also provides a means by which your site can be more visible to the Internet as a whole through indexes and search engines. Sites with quality, well targeted and frequently updated content are good candidates for success using social networking. For example, Idaho Business Review recently deployed a Web 2.0 site on which they utilize social networking links prominently in each of their online articles (see
an example
). There are a lot of dynamics to be in place before a site is going to grow exponentially from its inclusion in social networks, but it comes down to a principle that an old sales veteran once told me, “If it can’t hurt, and might help, why not do it?” And of course, having Digg and Del.icio.us links make you look hip.



Sir Isaac Newton

February 16th, 2007

As a former boss of mine used to say, “Having a great idea and not telling anyone is the same as not having any ideas.” Do you have a great site with a valuable message? That’s a significant achievement but if you’re a relatively new company you need to think back to high school physics and Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion, “An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion.” We’ve built the mass into our site to keep it going but the challenge for now is to take it from rest to motion. Our slingshot will be Google et. al. who, if we treat them right, can serve as our matchmaker to unite us with those people out there who need our solutions most.

Will work for backlinks

The good news is that Google and company claim to want the same thing…they want to serve up the most valuable sites to their users for any combination of keywords. The most important means by which Google and the other major search engines claim to decide which sites are truly the most valuable is by taking a vote from the Internet community. The votes they use are link backs from other sites.

So your mission is clear, submit your URL for consideration to as many other sites, indexes, and directories as possible. There are many options for where to submit, but some of the most important ones I’ve listed below. I recommend to our clients that they go through this list methodically to get the best exposure possible for nominal cost. Keep in mind
the process and protocol for getting your URL listed at each one of these sources will vary…some are an automated submission and others will require you calling the organization to make a case for being listed, yet others may require
you make a contribution of value to their community.

  1. All the major search engines of course, you might consider using a service like Traffic Blazer from RisingLineWeb.com
  2. dmoz.com (open directory project)
  3. Superpages.com
  4. Local business directories
  5. Technorati.com
  6. Public Library Sites (you’ll need to make a convincing case as to why they should list your link)
  7. MyPages.com
  8. blogflux.com
  9. blogtopsites.com
  10. blogwise.com
  11. iblogbusiness.com
  12. Blogger.com (your profile)
  13. goarticles.com
  14. syndic8.com
  15. blogdigger.com
  16. weblogs.com
  17. Press Release Sites e.g. prweb.com
  18. Squidoo.com
  19. Craigslist.org
  20. Digg.com
  21. del.icio.us
  22. Furl
  23. Shadows.com
  24. MyWeb
  25. StumbleUpon
  26. blog-directory.org

The process of submitting to these potential partners can be time consuming. To keep from being overwhelmed, consider setting aside 15-30 minutes every week or two for backlink hunting. As always, I would be interested in your feedback or suggestions.

Avoid Site Monkeys

February 14th, 2007

Imagine driving down the freeway…you see a billboard with a message about an accountant specializing in international business, just what you’ve been looking for! As you start to read a few sentences at 70 mph, a giant helium-filled monkey that’s anchored in place next to the billboard begins clashing it’s synthetic cymbals while cables retract and expand it’s eyelids. Hey look there’s some sort of logo on the monkey’s shirt for the accounting firm….too late, you’ve sped by the sign.

Site MonkeyAs ridiculous as this example sounds, it’s exactly what happens many times on websites. We find a site in a Google search that looks like it might be what we’re after, but on its front page were confronted by too many snippets of ambiguous information and distractions and no clear statements of what this site is about.

One of the most ludicrous distracting features that I’ve seen recently is “SitePal.” A zombie-like animated talking head that speaks in slow broken computer generated speech…”Welcome (octave lower) to our Website (two octaves higher) Please mouse over my (pause) face to make me talk. What’s even creepier is that on some versions the characters head slightly bobbles and it’s eyes cross as it attempts to follow your mouse movements.

Having some sort of animated or technical feature on a site can be tempting for its novelty factor. But just because something can be done does not mean that it should be done. Research has consistently shown that superfluous elements are often detrimental to the overall communication and persuasion goals of web sites. For
access to solid research on the topic visit the  Stanford Web Credibility ResearchOpens in new window site or, in keeping with the theme of efficient communication, check out the all-time classic, Don’t Make Me Think, by Steve Krug.

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