Category Archives: Random


Every time I sit down to try to share my thoughts on Groupon, I get so caught up in it, that I can’t send an effective message. So excuse the post for its broad generalizations and the lazy suggestion to google… but here goes, it just finally had to come out of my brain.

Here is what you should know about Groupon:

It is a deceitful company built on the broken backs of small business owners. Groupon does not express to small business that it is a short-term financing proposition. It suggests that they are helping to market the small businesses to new customers and a wider audience. What they do is create a discount so deep that there is no recovery. If you have a margin so large, that you can afford to offer Groupon deals, you do not need Groupon in the first place. Groupon will not suggest to limit the number of deals. They will simply ‘grope-on’ to a business’ cash flow without ever stepping foot into the establishment.

Some business owners are making horrible decisions to raise capital this way, and sure, that is their fault. Keep in mind that they are being misled by all the slick stuff on Groupon’s site and by the sales staff on the streets.

Here is what the businesses who have participated or are considering it should know:

This isn’t a way to raise money, but a way to spend money. Your target customer is never a coupon clipper. If you want to attract a wider audience, you should define it, assign a budget and market to them yourself and measure the results. Think: I want to attract folks within so many miles of ‘x’ who earn ‘y’ and have an interest in ‘z.’ I want to spend ‘a’ with expected results of ‘b.’ It isn’t that hard, and you don’t need a giant legalized mafia-esque company coming into your company to take funds that give you completely unwanted results and costs. Are you prepared to service on only deep discount customers? Can you hire and train additional staff to keep up with the needs created by this offer? Do you want this customer at all? Will they return and pay full price?

Here is what a person who buys a groupon should know:

Go back to the place that served you up at an extreme discount when you used the Groupon and support them at full price at least 10 times. Are they even still in business? Don’t demonize these companies, or help to demolish them. They are the backbone of your community, providing jobs, feeding the tax machine, and always working far more than 40 hours, to passionately bring you their best.  If you try to use a groupon and are turned away, realize  that they are just trying to get by. They have been deceived by Groupon in the first place and can’t necessarily handle the situation. Groupon isn’t there to help. They are somewhere else, conning the next business and counting your money.

The Take Away from this post: #Grouponkills small business

At the heart of this all, is that Groupon has done an extremely great job of blurring the lines between marketing and financing. Buyers all beware!  I will try to find time to be more specific, then update and suggest other avenues for ‘marketing’ and ‘financing’ separately. I am not in the business of either of those things, but I can tell the difference! I just want folks to think hard about all of this. Please feel free to comment and post links to your experiences here.

Do your own research:

Google “Groupon is bad” or “Groupon kills” to find numerous stories on what has happened to some businesses that have participated. You may also find more specific definitions about how the offer has been made, how it ‘really’ works, and better examples of my broad statements above. If you know anyone thinking about buying, offering or using a Groupon, please help them do their research.


Twitter is the new Pony Express

These questions were asked of me recently. Do I need a break from social media? Sure, I really think that a day off once in a while is a great idea. Will I grow tired of it? Do I feel weighted down by it? No, I am a communicator. These are just the new tools to communicate and log life experiences. Isn’t it obvious that a huge migration is occurring from phone and email, to text, twitter and other social media tools? Isn’t it obvious that social media is making us more productive, or at least more informed in real-time? I think the original questions here are valid, but what I heard is, “Will you grow tired of communicating?” And the answer to that is: NO WAY.

I do see a lot of hesitation out there when I am talking with small groups or even family members about ’embracing social.’ I can see them looking at me like I have three eyes when I say, “Twitter is the new TV,” or “you can’t afford not to be on Facebook and Foursquare.” I suppose owning and running a small business makes me just a bit more in tune or sensitive to these methods of communication, since I can clearly see the effectiveness they have had on brand recognition and customer loyalty for my business, Bocktown Beer and Grill.

While I am online building my brand, I mostly see individuals utilizing Twitter and Facebook, not businesses. These people are there for a variety of purposes: to search out car rides, seek advice, make plans for a date or party, some are helping raise money for charities, they check on traffic and weather, others are blowing off steam, there’s always someone trying to find a new spot to eat, we are playing games, most are keeping in touch with friends, or making friends on the other side of the world. I guess my point here is that people are not just talking to ‘outer space,’ they are communicating!

Think about it, twenty-five years ago, we were moving away from corded phones and sitting down in front of the first Apple computers, now we have one device small enough to fit in our pocket that is a computer and a phone! We are now able to communicate quicker than we can type a letter and mail it, heh, and to more people, perhaps millions of people at one time! Isn’t Twitter is just a new form of the Pony Express?

I can’t wait to see what technological contraption I will be using to communicate with when I am 80 years old! I know if I am here, I will still be talking… er… communicating via some device. I may not make sense, but I will be communicating. If my fingers are crippled, my eyes start failing, or to my husband’s pleasure, my vocal cords give out on me, I know that I can still communicate and create, and that technology will keep new ways coming at us faster than we can say ‘social media.’

If you are reading this, you are already here with me in this social world, shaking your head, mostly in agreement with the points made here. What I am hoping comes from this, is that each of you can help one small business or individual get on board, using these tools to grow their business or hobbies. Use one of these points or analogies to demonstrate that this is nothing new! A few of my other posts may help convince them to break out of the mold of traditional forms of advertising and communication, and I would be glad to chat over a meal or beverage about my experiences with anyone.

It’s truly great to see the light bulb turn on. Will we soon be saying ‘I saw the LED go on?’ Admit it, you are glad you don’t have to make a daily trek to the post office, watching your every step for horse manure. Now we just wince at banner ads and spam, the new manure!

Too much of a great thing?

I am not complaining! Tech toys are amazing. My husband surprised me this Christmas with an iPad. I am wondering why i need one at all, but am simultaneously thrilled to have it. I can do most of my work from my blackberry storm 2. I can have most every form of communication known to man through the bb… Sans sex, beerby and face to face communication. But that is debateable!

I am typing this blog post from the ipad, but I can do that from the phone as well… So why? Is it just what all the cool kids are doing? Is it to keep me better organized? Is it to allow me to catch up on my reading or netflix subcription? I guess I am just here at the doorway to another world, and I am not shy at all. I’m running with eyes closed into it. Too much of a great thing be damned.

Notes to self:
I think this thing needs a pet name.
I better schedule some non-tech time with my husband or he will regret this gift.
I better start playing words with friends.
I need to figure how to turn this sucker off.
I have to remember to eat.
I have to remember that I am building a second restaurant!

Send Halp! Please use my comments to suggest your favorite uses for the iPad.

Can we stop just for a minute?

This post originally appeared on Techburgh earlier this year. Thank you Andy for your encouragement and advice.  I highly recommend Andy’s blog. You will learn something amazing with every post! That is a promise from me. Here is my very first blog post from March of this year:

Can we stop for just a minute?

Everyone take a breath. How much technology, information, statistics & convenience do we need? Will we be living in the world depicted in movies such as Wall-E, Idiocracy and Surrogates? Do we need more so we can do less?

I have to admit that I was hesitant to guest write for a blog called Techburgh. I poked around there and found things that I never heard of and will never use. I see references to technological wizardry that I will never understand. Then, I had an ‘Aha’ moment. If Andy walked into my world and looked around at over 400 bottles of American craft beer, listened in on my meetings where we discuss pairing chocolate beers with raspberries and cashews, or infusing an American craft beer with bourbon soaked oak, he might be a bit overwhelmed with it all too. He might be interested to learn a little more, but he’d be satisfied by just tasting the final product, rather than worrying about the sources and the methods used to bring that amazing beer to his taste buds.

I took those concepts above and shook them around in my snow globe of a brain, which led to a bit of personal growth on my part, or at least personal acceptance and understanding of just how technology has improved my quality of life. I am old enough to have owned an Insta-matic camera with a big square disposable flash bulb. I had a Walkman that was just a transistor radio and a cassette player. As a teen I fought to use the one telephone in my household which was on a 25ft cord enabling private conversations in closets and on porch roofs. I am also old enough to remember that my dad’s cars were all rear wheel drive, and that he would ‘can’ cucumbers, peaches and tomatoes to last throughout the winter. Today, I will gladly admit: I love my digital SLR, my satellite music on my XM Roady, my smart phone, front wheel drive and traction control, and the convenience of a fresh vegetable being a just few miles away year round.

So yes, change is good, new technology save lives, entertains us and helps us do the tasks we must do just a bit better. Now, enter the idea of social media, (which is what this blog is supposed to be about) location based services, cell phones that are smarter than their users, and placing your most important and previously, private thoughts all over the world through something called twitter or facebook. Again, I was hesitant. Wow, everyone can hear me think! This is a change that might not be so good for some. I will sit on the sideline here and see what this is all about. I don’t really want to be texting instructions to the staff, or accepting their texts for call offs. I surely don’t want to know whether they are playing Mafia Wars rather than working. I don’t want to be a spy or voyeur in this world, nor do I want to be spied upon. Can I get past this? Is forty-five the line for me, to say “Go ahead technologically advanced world, pass me by.” Is this a mid-life crisis? Will I have to hire a social media coordinator? What is a social media coordinator? Do I need an IT person? Wait, what does IT stand for again?

As I wrestled with just how much was enough, along comes another player to this game, foursquare. Here, this is really creepy stuff… Oh, good, this is exactly what I don’t like about this all, right in a nutshell. Why does anyone need to know this stuff? What is the benefit? Why do I care if someone is picking up their dry cleaning or buying shoes? Why would I want to tell anyone what I am doing and when? I hope most everyone is too busy for this one. It’s gonna #fail. Ha, ha, slang and a hash tag is creeping into my everyday lexicon. What is going on? I think I am actually getting caught up in this. (I hope I don’t use an emoticon before this is done.)

As a business owner, I realized I never accept status quo and I have to push the envelope daily, these social media leaders do the same. By the time I am done writing this there will be a new gadget or widget, a new platform, and we will all adjust. I had to hop in. I don’t want to be on the outside looking in. My personal makeup won’t let me. So here I am with a fan page, a few twitter accounts and now a foursquare ‘special offer.’ Most all it is for the business, but some of it is personal, too. I just put the foursquare application on my phone last week to understand it better, and I have to admit, it is fun. I am already the mayor of something! It’s not too creepy. If someone is going to creep on you, they can do it with or without social media. And hell, let them creep away, if they have nothing better to do. If you’re talking, you ought to want someone to notice, right? If you are bothering to type your innermost thoughts, check in, post a picture of your dinner, voice frustrations or give advice, someone better be on the other end of the ‘conversation.’

So hop right in, if you want, understand it or don’t. I am glad it is there and I don’t need to understand API, GPS, or 3G to get by. I just need to understand that there are many new ways of communicating out there, and that I, personally, love to communicate and that my business needs these channels to grow. Thank you ‘technogadgetry’ for giving me new avenues to share my thoughts, my living history, and a few swear words and emoticons. Oh, and the benefits from a business stand point are endless. Here is a living billboard! Social media has given us a free method for reaching a targeted audience, a way to embrace your fans, followers, and mayors. No matter what you call them, they are your customers. You ought hang out your sign in this virtual world, or the train will not stop at your station.

So the next time someone stops for just a minute, hopefully they will be checking in on foursquare, shouting something to someone, and adding something new to this world, and if you do your part right, it may just be about you or your business!

Post Podcamp Tuck and Roll

Thank you Podcamp Pittsburgh for inspiring us to be better bloggers. You know it has been awhile when you have trouble with login on WordPress! I am going to cheat a bit, and repost some things I wrote elsewhere, but the coming posts have great context to this past weekend.

I enjoyed every minute of Podcamp and the great minds that I met there.

If you have no idea what Podcamp is, google it, and find events in your own town.

Time to tuck and roll. C

My Little Train Station

This post originally appeared on Techburgh! Thanks Andy for allowing me to re-post it here.

In my first blog post in early March, which Andy Quayle from Techburgh talked me into writing, I talked about hopping on board the social media train. I said:

“Social media has given us a free method for reaching a targeted audience, a way to embrace your fans, followers, and mayors. No matter what you call them, they are your customers. You ought to hang out your sign in this virtual world, or the train will not stop at your station.”

Hopefully you have read my post in full and already know that my little train station is Bocktown Beer and Grill. I am in my fourth year of business, and this is my first business venture. I opened the restaurant in a shrinking economy when many things were heading in the wrong direction. Lending was tightening; fuel prices, fees and utilities all increased tremendously in a very short period. Costs skyrocketed when I was trying to show the community that we were a place for affordable quality dining! How to survive? Which way to turn? Would people still eat out? Could my staff afford to stay through lean periods? Would I be able to borrow more money if necessary?

Somehow, in spite of all of those concerns, in our first three years, our sales have grown steadily. I think it was as simple as providing quality and creativity, and delivering on our promises. Our patrons took it from there. They were out there doing our ‘social’ networking for me. Everyone refers to this as ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising. These outside salesmen have been building the train tracks and talking to the passengers on the train, and by doing so, have led other folks straight to us, since day one.

How funny is it that some of the people who are shunning Facebook and/or Twitter are actually primaries in the process of social networking? After all, it all begins with a conversation. Someone is saying something, and somewhere, someone is listening whether the conversation is held in person, over the phone or online. Win, win, and win. It’s human nature to interact socially. We just have new modes to do so.

Fortunately, for small business, mass acceptance of these new modes of communication has been wildly successful. You now have thousands of real customers with new ways to communicate, and hopefully they will communicate about your business. It’s word of mouth to the extreme.

With that understanding, last month I dedicated myself to finding more fans and followers. Someone recently said to me that on Facebook you keep your customers, not find them. I see why they feel that way, but logic tells me that they are wrong. With messaging, special offers, contests and in house marketing we have grown our fan base by over 33% in one month. We have seen more interaction and replies on both Facebook and Twitter. Our foursquare check-ins have soared. We are seeing people come into the restaurant reacting exactly to what we are ‘selling’ in our posts. There is no doubt at all in my mind that this increase in the number of ‘outside salesmen’ will lead directly to more passengers on the train, and therefore, more customers stopping by.

I did work on a few other things this past month in the social media realm, including tying some accounts together, running a Facebook ad, setting up Foursquare specials and changing our twitter name to a shorter, and much more appropriate @Bocktown! None of these things are easy to accomplish quickly. There are a lot of logistics involved in creating a successful contest or promotion. One of the most common complaints I hear from other business owners is that this just takes too much time, and that they can’t afford the luxury. I say if we didn’t have these tools to communicate and advertise, how long would it take to build a promotion? How successful would it or your business be? How long would it take you to grow 1000 cheerleaders the ‘old-fashioned’ way?

This work isn’t going to get any easier anytime soon and you may need some help, I know I do. New widgets and mobile apps seemingly show up daily! My best advice: Just get involved even if you aren’t sure about all of the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’ of it. This is definitely learn-as-you-go stuff and a fringe benefit is that it is actually fun.

Listen, I think I hear a train slowing down out front. I’ve got to run. It’s time to get some food prepped and some beer flowing!

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Wee wee

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Wee wee weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Weeeeeeeeee. Weeeee.

What is in a name?

I figured I’d start my foray into blogdom with an explanation of my virtual name.  I am Uncapd. It isn’t particularly catchy, I might change it, but for now it suits me.  People have asked me why I spell it that way, why not ‘uncapped’?  Quite simply, it is a play on my initials and my inability to quit talking.  I figured it best represented the virtual me, the real me as well, the me who can let loose, the me who can type freely, the me who will be raving more than ranting, and the me who likes to get to the bottom of things with grace and true comprehension.

I had two people encourage me just today towards this moment in time where I begin to self publish.  I consider them both advisors and friends, and suppose that the time has come to pop off the cap.  Thank you Lew and Marla for your little pats on the back that gave me the momentum to get this started.

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