Episode 47: Superior Service-based Marketing with Chef Tony Marciante

Learn how restaurant owner “Chef Tony” uses digital marketing to maintain important touch points with his customers that keep them coming back.

Listen to Episode (43:26)


Tony Marciante, or “Chef Tony” to many who have visited his seafood and tapas restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland, has been in the restaurant business for more than 30 years. He joins Chris Davis on the podcast to talk about how he uses human touch points and personalized service alongside digital tactics in a unique approach to restaurant marketing.

Find Tony online at, on Twitter @CHEFTONYS, and on Facebook.

Related Materials:

You can also access our Education resources at and sign up for Office Hours here.


Chris Davis: Welcome to another episode of the ActiveCampaign Podcast, I’m your host, Chris Davis and [00:00:30] today I have Chef Tony, Tony Marciante of Chef Tony’s Seafood Restaurant out in Bethesda Maryland to sit down and talk about enhancing the service experience. He has one of the most unique approaches to marketing at restaurant type business and he does an extremely good job with taking the human element [00:01:00] and enhancing it with digital marketing. If you are a listener you know how excited I get about the hybrid approach of personal touch and digital marketing and this episode is a prime example of it, so let’s jump right into the episode.
Chef Tony, welcome to the podcast, how are you doing?

Tony Marciante: I’m fantastic Chris, thank you so much for having me.

Chris Davis: Yeah, I’m really really glad to have you on today because as I mentioned in the intro, [00:01:30] we’re talking about how to enhance the service experience with technology. And so often times we’ve talked about online sales and things that happen and gravitate around some digital means of exchange in communication. And I love seeing use cases where you’re not eliminating the human touch, the human interaction, in fact you need it, but you’re just enhancing it with technology.

Tony Marciante: Yeah, it’s [00:02:00] been quite a ride in the restaurant game but I’ve always been a technology person so as much as we’re hands on with people, the back end of the technology marketing side really helps to bring the whole picture together.

Chris Davis: Yeah yeah, so tell us a little bit about your journey Tony, where did you get started? Did you always have an affinity for food and did you always have an affinity for technology?

Tony Marciante: Yeah it was funny because I was interviewed for a book a number of years [00:02:30] ago and the author was very kind to say that his favorite quote of mine was that half my brain is food and half my brain is technology and I’m always trying to fit the two parts together. But I’ve been in the restaurant business about 30 years so it’s been quite a journey.

Chris Davis: Wow.

Tony Marciante: And I’ve always, I think recently the last couple years I came out as a true geek and technology lover, but it’s something that for me is I’m always a practical business owner [00:03:00] and to be able to understand the fact that you have to put people in your restaurant, keep them coming back, keep them enjoying the experience obviously. It’s really a combination of the real person in front of you but keeping in touch with them through automated marketing and hands on creating email newsletters and touch points with rewards programs, it just keeps you top of mind. So it’s been a process along the whole way, yeah.

Chris Davis: All right, so is owning a restaurant, is [00:03:30] that in your family or are you the first to start a restaurant? How did you get going with your seafood restaurant?

Tony Marciante: Well my family’s not in the restaurant business, I guess they kind of are now. But as I’ve been in it it’s been something that I had a very much of an interesting vision when I was in high school just to kind of try this out. I’ve always loved food and if you saw me in person you’d know that, but yeah it just was an idea I had to [00:04:00] try this food business out. I did have a friend growing up whose parents had a restaurant but I don’t know, it just came to me as a thing and piece by piece I got in and liked it and was able to make good money. And I got into an ownership position pretty early on in my career, a partnership in a restaurant when I was in my 20’s so it’s been a journey. I’ve worked for some larger corporation restaurant type places and mostly I’ve owned my own, I’ve been in my current spot for 10 years so we were just [00:04:30] blessed to have our 10 year anniversary recently, so it’s been a fun journey.

Chris Davis: Yeah congratulations, it is no small feat remaining relevant and profitable in business.

Tony Marciante: You can’t say that enough, it’s totally a challenge and it’s really a mindset. I study entrepreneurship with technology when I’m not in the restaurant running it every day and I tell you, it really takes a certain skill set to keep riding and be mentally ready for everything that comes your way. But it’s [00:05:00] a real blessing, we have to always remember where we could be.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Tony Marciante: So challenges are just part of the game.

Chris Davis: Yep, absolutely. So I know for you, speaking of challenges, you look around at your colleagues who own restaurants or just the food industry or the service industry in general when it pertains to food and I’d imagine of course that you didn’t see a lot of people embracing technology in their marketing of their restaurant. I’d imagine there were more traditional [00:05:30] things like billboards, ads in papers, coupons, Groupon things of that nature, if that. So what was it, do you remember the time that you, like the light bulb went off and said you know what? I need to get serious about this digital marketing thing, even though like I said the colleagues and it wasn’t widely used or accepted in your industry.

Tony Marciante: Yeah I actually do, we started like I said 10 years ago and I remember as we were constructing [00:06:00] the, we were doing some updates to the restaurant space that we bought, I remember being on my laptop at the time and just recording videos and posting them to YouTube and posting them to Twitter actually when Twitter was like right out of its infancy. And I just remember thinking like I gotta connect with people, you know? I don’t have a lot of money to throw into marketing, social media was born and I was hip on that and I was kind of an early adopter of Twitter and when Facebook [00:06:30] started rolling out and I just felt like it was a natural way to communicate ahead of people coming in. So when people walked in they’d be like oh Tony, I saw you on the website, I saw you, they already knew who we were, they already got the vibe.

So extending that into marketing, I remember my first website I made, it was God awful. I remember one person commenting like here’s the award for the worst website in the world, it was pretty bad. But you know what, that’s a process [00:07:00] and I don’t take that too hard, we’re always pushing forward and the more you’re thinking forward the more you’re going to try things, take a shot at something it doesn’t work, you adjust. So anyways, to answer your question I just started getting into it, I started doing email marketing and as it progressed I realized the benefits of automation and being able to [inaudible 00:07:22] people in sequences and tags and all that kind of stuff. So I definitely, I’m pretty sure that I’m somewhat ahead of the curve. And [00:07:30] you’re right, the traditional methods of marketing a restaurant have been pretty horrible and they worked but when people bring me something like that now I’m like, no I’m not going to invest two, three, four hundred dollars, 1,000 dollars in some print ad that I have no idea what it’s doing for me.

So I’ve tried to become more and more digital as every month goes by and just try to master the game. But I’ve seen a lot of restaurants come and go and even ones with big budgets, I see that the industry doesn’t [00:08:00] take advantage of how to connect with people and keep them in the loop and personalize it. So that’s what you guys do so well, I’ve got an ActiveCampaign now for a number of years and just looking at what the opportunities are and I’m not even where I need to be, but I’m always kind of trying to move forward a little bit you know?

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, that’s oh man it’s so good because a lot of times what’s lost in translation when you’re talking about hey you need [00:08:30] to be using digital marketing or hey you need to stop using those outdated strategies and methods, what’s often unsaid which is a huge benefit is what you mentioned, the ability to track the effectiveness of your efforts.

Tony Marciante: Right.

Chris Davis: I can’t imagine, and maybe this is a good or bad thing I don’t know, but when I was growing up my father had a restaurant but at that time, I was in high school I [00:09:00] was thinking of free food, right?

Tony Marciante: Everybody loves a chef right?

Chris Davis: Right.

Tony Marciante: And a restaurant guy.

Chris Davis: Yeah, so I never even took the opportunity to really understand the business or know how it was run or things of that nature, to even pay attention to the outdated methods and everything. But it was essentially word of mouth and it’s just like how do you measure that? How do you just buy a print ad or how do you just keep telling people hey, let everybody know that we’re open? Like how [00:09:30] do you measure that? And if you can’t measure it, how do you rest well at night knowing you have no clue on whether your business is on the rise or if it’s plateaued or if it’s never getting off the ground?

Tony Marciante: No you nailed it on the head and I feel like many people currently, but especially when I bought the restaurant for example, like the owner of the restaurant before, I think they just opened up the doors and waited for people to show up. And that’s just not working nowadays, [00:10:00] I have a number of stories, not to impress but I guess so I’ll pat myself on the back a little bit, but I’ve launched numerous offers. I’ll tell you the one if you don’t mind.

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tony Marciante: I’ll tell you one quick story, I call it my 7k Snow Day and it was two years ago we had a snowy Saturday, it was about this time of year maybe January and it was super, like five, six, eight inches coming down, icy, watery, dah dah dah. And I’m at home and we don’t open up Saturday until five o’clock and I’m checking in with my servers and they’re [00:10:30] like man it’s pretty bad out here, like one guy shot me a video on his phone, he was slipping and sliding. So I decided to close on a Saturday night right? And I’m thinking I can’t just sit here and sit around and watch TV, that’s cool but I gotta do something. So I made an offer on the platform that I use for digital offers, basically it’s a gift card platform but it also allows me to create an offer, have a link tied to it, and send it out.

So I made an offer for dinner for two for I think it was 39 bucks or 47 dollars [00:11:00] or whatever it was, sent it out to my list and I swear as soon as I pushed send, within a few minutes, I started seeing sales. I started seeing ticks, I kept refreshing, I kept refreshing.

Chris Davis: Wow.

Tony Marciante: And within 18 hours I had made almost 7,000 dollars.

Chris Davis: Jeez.

Tony Marciante: So that was cash that was coming into my business that was ahead of the scale of somebody coming in to cash it in. So it was kind of, in a cash flow wise it was a home run, and I was sitting at home so what could I do? I’m not going to waste a Saturday night. [00:11:30] And ever since then I’ve been launching offers and making money and my guests know that every once in a while, Tony’s going to put out an offer, we’re going to grab it, and it just, money’s coming in. And it just is like insurance, so I’ll launch one at the end of December to help with January February where weather can be an issue and people have gone through the holidays and they’ve kind of done their thing but if you give them an opportunity, they’re going to come back and see you.

Chris Davis: Yeah, because I mean it’s, Tony [00:12:00] you know what I was thinking of when you said this? It’s like pre-selling meals.

Tony Marciante: Completely, completely.

Chris Davis: Right?

Tony Marciante: You’re going to be hungry one day, we know that. That’s exactly …

Chris Davis: One day you’re going to be hungry and I love it so just to recap, everybody if you didn’t catch that, the restaurant is closed, it’s snow, nobody’s getting in and nobody’s getting out and traditionally you would just kind of sit on your hands and be like oh man we’re really going to have to catch up this week, work some overtime, [00:12:30] hey everybody all hands on deck this week or whatnot. But now you have Chef Tony who’s sitting back here thinking of creative solutions and I would say it wasn’t just creative, it was convenient.

Tony Marciante: Oh yeah.

Chris Davis: Right?

Tony Marciante: I mean I literally took 30 minutes to put an email together, checked my links, did a little graphics, sent it out and I mean it’s money coming in. Like and I’m screenshotting because I was like wow, and I’ve done it a number of times, like I’ve done a big launch. [00:13:00] And that just pre-loads us for business in the future you know? And I’ve done it with little offers of like a lobster for a certain price or, and I’ll give back I’ll shoot out something that says here’s a 50 percent off a bottle of wine next time you come in. So it’s just maintaining that relationship you know?

Chris Davis: I love it man, it’s service at its finest. I tell you Tony, the more businesses you see fail, the more you appreciate the art of good service.

Tony Marciante: Wow, that’s a really really good point.

Chris Davis: Right?

Tony Marciante: You’re right.

Chris Davis: Like [00:13:30] you can’t duplicate it, you can’t fabricate it, it has to be part of the vision of the business to deliver a A plus quality service, and it’s unfortunate how often that gets lost. Now talk about, just insight me a bit on how are you, I know you’re using the gifting platform, the gift card platform to send out the links.

Tony Marciante: Correct.

Chris Davis: How are you capturing their information?

Tony Marciante: Very good point, well I have [00:14:00] a capture page on my lead page of the website.

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tony Marciante: We have a sign up box of course, what I do is I give an offer, I wrote a digital cookbook basically, it’s a PDF right? It’s the same thing you see in digital marketing all the time, but it’s basically a cookbook so it’s 17 tips to cook seafood at home. I wrote this three years ago maybe and it’s a nice little piece of information right? So I offer that and a 10 dollar gift card to anybody that signs up on [00:14:30] the email newsletter site or the email capture page.

Chris Davis: Beautiful.

Tony Marciante: And so that starts them into an automation that kicks out emails every so often that gives them a little bit of an insight as to the restaurant and what do we do. And then other methods I use is within the restaurant, on the end of our payment slip when people collect their check and most people in our area pay with a credit card, we have an area to join our rewards club and our email list, name, phone number, [00:15:00] birthday, and email. So we get all that information, we enter it in, I have a virtual system that enters those into a spreadsheet for me and I copy and paste them into ActiveCampaign, tag them with the Chef Tony’s Restaurant list and then that sends them on a journey to join our system. And it works like crazy, and plus my servers are definitely aware and I don’t want to say aggressive but they certainly want people to get the opportunities [00:15:30] because certain things we just don’t announce anywhere else.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Tony Marciante: So we’re always suggesting people join our list, Tony writes the emails himself, it’s not some third party, some disassociated company that’s going to be [crosstalk 00:15:43] …

Chris Davis: Exactly.

Tony Marciante: It’s us. And I have to say one other slight complement is I give people, I don’t know Chris how many times you get this comment from any of your listeners, but people literally stop me and like look me in the eye and make that weird moment, they say we love getting your emails.

Chris Davis: [00:16:00] Right.

Tony Marciante: I mean it’s happened more than once, it’s happened a bunch of times.

Chris Davis: Wow.

Tony Marciante: And I’m humbled, I’m like well thank you, I said I write from the heart. Because I really write like yeah restaurant related but really like life related. Like I really appreciate the opportunities and I talk about the life that we’re leaving and the fact that we appreciate their patronage and I’ll attach a little recipe card or something. And it just is really fun because it really just, it does work, it just keeps people excited about coming to see us.

Chris Davis: And [00:16:30] that, you know what? You didn’t lose the human element.

Tony Marciante: Not at all.

Chris Davis: You do what I tell people all the time, automation is not about replacing humans, it’s about enhancing the human interaction.

Tony Marciante: That’s right.

Chris Davis: And when somebody can look you in the face and say we love getting your emails, that is proof, that is a prime example of them knowing that it is a personalized communication, them feeling like wow he took some time to [00:17:00] think about this.

Tony Marciante: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: Right? This is not just some canned hey this weekend only bring you and your friends here.

Tony Marciante: Right right.

Chris Davis: Right?

Tony Marciante: Right.

Chris Davis: You went and thought about it and I don’t think, Tony honestly I don’t think people who run their businesses, and it doesn’t matter what type of business you’re in, I don’t think they think about the users emotional experience with their marketing enough.

Tony Marciante: Amen.

Chris Davis: Right?

Tony Marciante: It’s so important, you nailed it all on the head.

Chris Davis: It [00:17:30] is so critical.

Tony Marciante: Yeah. It’s just I had one offer I did a thing where we just gave away meals, we gave away meals to veterans and I had a lady come down and she sat in our little side, we call it lover’s lane it’s like this little area of two top tables you know? And she was by herself, she came for lunch, she had a nice lobster and I was walking out and I said hey how are you doing? And she got up and she like really emotionally said I really, I came down from Baltimore which is [00:18:00] about 35 minutes away, just to have lunch with you because I was so impressed with what you did for the veterans. Now we could’ve done that for the veterans and had our thing, but by communicating with everybody that we did, it wasn’t about getting pats on the back but we just wanted people to know like if you’re a veteran come by, have a meal on us. And it just really impacted more than even the veterans themselves.

Chris Davis: Wow.

Tony Marciante: You know like other people could see what we’re doing and so we just share things that we’re involved in, if we’re doing a donation or we’re doing a cooking class or we’re doing whatever, [00:18:30] but it connects the people that don’t know each other in a way that’s kind of interesting. Because we did a 10 year anniversary party and I got about 50, 60 people together, I just gave away drinks and food and people were just vibing and connecting and talking back and forth and it was such a really special like, it was like a warm place you know? And I think that was a neat thing to be able to use the automated marketing or email marketing in combination [00:19:00] to get people together to enjoy that. So it was really awesome.

Chris Davis: Yeah, there’s a term that I’ve caught just recently that you said about, it could be close to 10 times already Tony, and it is gave away. Like this is a thing, just in the short time we’ve been on this podcast, there is a theme that you have with leading with giving.

Tony Marciante: Yeah, very much so.

Chris Davis: Everything [00:19:30] that you do it’s like somebody’s always receiving something on the back end, where did you, because I talk to people and sometimes they struggle so much with giving stuff away. They’re more like but if I give this away what am I going to charge for? I don’t want to give everything away for free. And really when they say that they’re really saying I don’t want to give anything away for free.

Tony Marciante: Yeah.

Chris Davis: Because it’s just like this is all I have. Where were you, was there a specific time or what was it that [00:20:00] allowed you to just embrace this give first mentality? Is it just something that’s integrated in you as a being or something you picked up?

Tony Marciante: That’s a really nice compliment Chris, I appreciate that. I mean to be frank and honest I have to thank God first and my parents because my parents, I think they did a pretty good job raising me. But that may sound like a humble brag but I really, I just, now I’ll be honest, like from the beginning we opened up at a time just before the recession.

Chris Davis: Wow.

Tony Marciante: And I’m going to tell you, year [00:20:30] two three or four, I didn’t have a nickel to give away so I’m not going to be, I’m not going to confuse the vibe there. But thankfully we’ve been able to do very well, we’re having our banner year this year, we’re in our best year ever and I feel like we can’t just take, you can’t take in life and you have to give back. And I feel like that party we did and the way we give, I mean I literally had a lady walk up to me during that party, and this blew my mind, she said Tony I really [00:21:00] appreciate all the stuff you do and you’re always giving and dah dah dah, what can we do for you?

Chris Davis: Wow.

Tony Marciante: And I didn’t really know what to answer, I’m like just keep living life and loving life and coming to see us once in a while to eat with us. Like I really, I was kind of dumbfounded but it did say something and told me something that I’m doing a couple things right. To answer your question, I think it’s just in the game of what we do in the restaurant business, it’s hospitality, I’ve always said it’s like going to grandma’s house. Like [00:21:30] if you came to my house I’d be like okay you want to take your shoes off? What do you like to drink? Are you hungry? I mean my wife would feed you no matter what if you said no or yes but like it’s just what we do. And my wife works with me in the restaurant too so we’re just in hospitality mode all the time. So I think giving is part of that and thankfully we’ve got enough revenue and profits like let’s break it down, we’re doing okay and here and there I try to do what I can do to benefit local food people.

Like I had a guy come in last week to represent a local beer [00:22:00] and I’m like yeah, we’ll take it. I mean I tried it, it was good, we’ll take it, I want to support local. We’re just a little place, we’re not a huge restaurant but I think everybody has that power of giving in them if they realize that their little bit can contribute to a bigger picture.

Chris Davis: I agree, I agree. And what I like about your approach is I think loyalty programs are good, I know it gets, my wife is a part of a few of them and it gets you coming back. But like [00:22:30] with you gifting cards, that just has an entirely, I have never, in fact yeah now that I think about it, I have never ever received an email from any restaurant that I’ve ever eaten at with any form of gifting. I’ve never received any consistent follow up, it’s just amazing, like as we’re talking I’m just going through my mental Rolodex of all of the restaurants, the ones that we [00:23:00] had really good experience, the low end the high end, and there was absolutely no follow up, there was no opportunity. So even right now if I wanted to say hey we should go back to that one restaurant, that’s what it is, that one restaurant and I have to talk to my wife and figure out what was the name of that restaurant again? Remember?

Tony Marciante: Right.

Chris Davis: And we’re talking about where it’s located, oh there it is, I think that’s the name.

Tony Marciante: Uh huh.

Chris Davis: Instead of that restaurant being connected with me.

Tony Marciante: That’s a great point.

Chris Davis: Like you mentioned, you capture their birthdate, I’m pretty sure [00:23:30] right around their birthday they receive something from Chef Tony, right?

Tony Marciante: That’s right.

Chris Davis: And this is not really complicated stuff.

Tony Marciante: No it’s not, and you know I have to say like you talk so much around the industry but ActiveCampaign to be part of my direct conversation, it makes it super easy to build out sequences.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Tony Marciante: And your support is sick, your support is off the hook.

Chris Davis: We work hard.

Tony Marciante: Like first of all I’m [00:24:00] really honored to be on your podcast because I found it like a few months ago and I’ve been binge listening and I’m like I’m going to be on that show? Awesome. But like for real, like if business owners could figure out that when you get into something like this, like I do a little bit of consulting here and there and I’ll be honest, some people just don’t want to deal with it, they don’t know how to. Like a marketing geek, I enjoy it, but like if they could figure out how much of a benefit this is, we send out a complimentary entrée on your birthday, [00:24:30] we send out announcements, we send out little give backs and you’re right like people know us, we’re going to see Tony that’s it. And it breaks down so many of the, like I don’t know any restaurants that do it the way we do it, but I wish they all would.

Chris Davis: Right.

Tony Marciante: Like you have seats that are empty, that’s your biggest cost. You still gotta pay rent, you still gotta pay the electricity, dah dah dah.

Chris Davis: Yeah you’re paying for that seat regardless.

Tony Marciante: That’s it.

Chris Davis: Wow.

Tony Marciante: And I just [00:25:00] think about there’s going to be natural ebb and flow in business because holidays are busy and you get to January and then summer people go on vacation, business is always moving. But when you can impact the flow of guests to your restaurant and you believe in what you’re doing, like you gotta start saying look I got a great spot here I know people love coming here, I just want more people to enjoy it. Obviously I get a benefit of that but the collective, you asked about gifting right?

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tony Marciante: I just feel like you gotta have the energy and the flow and the [00:25:30] zen kind of approach of like more people coming through, like don’t fight about little things, they’re going to come back, they’re going to see, like if somebody says oh I didn’t love this drink, don’t worry about it we’ll take care of it, matter of fact we’ll buy you another one. Just keep that flow going and that actually continues into the marketing perspective that I do, it is how we connect with people and people, they really vibe on it, it really works.

Chris Davis: Yep yep, and I would say [00:26:00] if you’re listening to this and you’re hearing like I want to connect more, I want to connect more, the answer is give more.

Tony Marciante: That’s right.

Chris Davis: And it doesn’t have to be monetary right?

Tony Marciante: Not at all.

Chris Davis: Give more of your time. And you’re thinking well Chris, how do I give more of my time? I’m so busy. Well give more of your time thinking about ways you could delight your audience. It doesn’t always have to be monetary right?

Tony Marciante: Not at all. And I would say this, like I’ve helped a few businesses and I said look, think of what you’re doing and how do you create [00:26:30] a five email sequence that breaks that down? In other words, like I was just meeting with a friend who’s got a tshirt, like a apparel business, and he’s kind of coming to me for some social media and we’re kind of just talking marketing. And he was talking about an infographic and this huge thing, I’m like when’s the last time you read an infographic? And he’s like well, I’m like okay I mean they’re cool but take those 20 or 10 different points, each one becomes a little graphic and an email and [00:27:00] that’s what you send out to your prospective customers. When you become the center of influence for your industry and you just give give give and you just provide value, people just know you, oh that’s Chef Tony. Like people call me Chef Tony everywhere, like in the street they’re like oh you’re wearing regular clothes. I’m like yeah I’m a real dude.

Chris Davis: Right.

Tony Marciante: Listen to this Chris, I didn’t realize this until a few years ago but people ask, is there a real Chef Tony? And my server’s like that’s him in the back cooking right now. And I always like really didn’t [00:27:30] even understand that [crosstalk 00:27:31].

Chris Davis: Wow.

Tony Marciante: I was like that’s crazy. So I don’t know if that’s good that I’ve been such a good branding and marketing guy …

Chris Davis: Yeah right.

Tony Marciante: People don’t think I’m real, or bad, but it’s funny. And I just think, I ask this question and you can take what you want from this, but I say how many businesses have you been to in the last year let’s say, where you had a good time, whether it be a gas station an auto repair place a restaurant a shoe business whatever, had a good time, you bought a product, you got [00:28:00] a service, you paid, but you haven’t been back because you’ve just gotten out of the habit of thinking about them?

Chris Davis: Yep.

Tony Marciante: Right? I mean nothing was wrong, but they just didn’t raise their hand and say hey remember us? Hey we want to see you back again.

Chris Davis: Yep.

Tony Marciante: And you guys are masters at creating a platform that can give people the power to do that with really a very easy layout and system.

Chris Davis: Yeah, and you know what? As you’re talking I was thinking of an experience [00:28:30] that is very similar to what you just said. It is a particular shoe company that I found earlier in the year and I was looking for some comfortable shoes and they weren’t cheap right? So I went and I got the shoes and I didn’t hear any, and it wasn’t just one pair it was a few pairs of shoes, and I didn’t even realize I had an expectation at that point right? I just wanted the shoes to be nice and feel good on my feet, X, Y, Z. Well months go by and now it’s a new season, I’m like well let me go, I need some shoes [00:29:00] for the new season and at this time a friend had brought to my mind a different brand and I go and experience this brand Chef, and do you know what happens? The first time I purchase they immediately gave me a coupon and that experience alone made me look at the previous brand a different way right?

Tony Marciante: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: And now I’m aware, I’m like well wait a minute, maybe I’ve missed some emails [00:29:30] or something or maybe I’ve missed something and the other brand was sending me stuff. And low and behold, before I could even get home I’ve got an email right? Personalized, with 30 percent off my next offer. So now I’ve got this coupon that they gave me in hand, in the store, and then I’ve got this email come in. And they spoil me man, I’ll admit, they spoil me, they send me so many offers and rewards, it’s not even a program and I’m just like wow can you really do that? So the second I got [00:30:00] into their ecosystem I saw an immediate difference and honestly right now as we’re speaking, I actually look at the previous company with a bit of disdain.

Tony Marciante: Wow.

Chris Davis: Because I’m like look so, I spent more money with you and got less in return.

Tony Marciante: And got not follow up or no …

Chris Davis: Right, nothing.

Tony Marciante: No relationship.

Chris Davis: No relationship man. And I’ve been so tempted to reach out, even write a letter, I’m not even the type to write a letter to a company but that’s how much it frustrated me because it’s just like you know what, you’re sitting [00:30:30] too comfortable over there.

Tony Marciante: That’s right, that’s right. Can’t ever get too fancy.

Chris Davis: Yeah, oh my goodness.

Tony Marciante: I mean the thing, and I’ll say I think that’s a great, that’s just a hardcore example of what you can do right? And I just think about when, as you said, sitting too comfortable it reminded me when we started our restaurant it was 2007 and 2008 happened and real estate and dah dah dah and the recession, I’ve forgotten about places that have closed since then but everybody I think at that time [00:31:00] was sitting too fancy, they just didn’t appreciate, like you can’t assume that every day someone’s going to come in. Like I used to run a big 300 seat restaurant, I would tell the waiters, nobody has to show up today, nobody has to come in because everybody’d be like oh we’re going to be doing busy, you gotta appreciate every guest because they’ve made a conscious decision to come in and spend money with you. They worked hard for that money and they don’t go out every day maybe, that could be their one time out in two months.

Chris Davis: Exactly.

Tony Marciante: That could’ve been the one pair [00:31:30] of shoes you bought to last you six months.

Chris Davis: Exactly.

Tony Marciante: Or a year or two years, who knows.

Chris Davis: Yep.

Tony Marciante: I mean the kind of money you spend, maybe it’s your last five years, who knows. But you know like you just can’t take it for granted and I think people in this era, and it is that perfect match of being a real person with real feelings and emotions for your guests, your customers and guests, I try to say both at the same time, and using the automated part and some of the email marketing and some of that stuff to just be out there. It’s not all one or the other.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Tony Marciante: [00:32:00] We’re all living a digital life aren’t we?

Chris Davis: Absolutely.

Tony Marciante: We all have a phone, we all have this and we all stay connected and if you’re not in that conversation then you’re kind of losing out.

Chris Davis: Yeah, it is amazing and unfortunate the amount of service providers specifically ones that provide food as their service, that really just miss out. But these timeless nuggets that you’ve dropped, really as you mentioned you were talking to a buddy who wasn’t even in the restaurant industry, [00:32:30] it doesn’t, these are things that apply to any and every business.

Tony Marciante: So true.

Chris Davis: Right? And it’s up to you as the business owner to figure out how you do it, not how someone else did it and you want to copy that or you Frankensteined your business by taking pieces of everybody else’s. But it’s really about what experience do you want your customers to have and then what experience are they telling you they had?

Tony Marciante: Yep.

Chris Davis: [00:33:00] And if it’s not aligned, you make the adjustment but you’re going to need some form of digital marketing in there to provide that feedback.

Tony Marciante: I mean I’m not going to take the credit for the quote but you know Gary Vaynerchuk perhaps you’ve heard of him?

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tony Marciante: This is the digital age that we’re living in and I follow his content so much and just realizing what we’re in, as he says, this is the current state of life, this is not like current like futuristic marketing, we’re in the digital age, that’s [00:33:30] what we do.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Tony Marciante: Right? I mean I am involved in all of our reviews, I answer them personally, I’m on Twitter I’m on Facebook I’m on a review platform I’m on, I pay a few companies even to help me manage all that. And we’re a small place, like we’re not a big …

Chris Davis: Wow.

Tony Marciante: We’re like an 80 seat restaurant, but I will say this with a little bit of pride that we stay busy when other people are slow.

Chris Davis: There it is.

Tony Marciante: And there’s just no doubt that the digital marketing part of it and the just keeping up with people [00:34:00] and, you’re so right to say that the relationship is not all digital, it’s real people talking through a medium to get to other real people right?

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Tony Marciante: So we just gotta write and we gotta communicate with video or writing and we’re talking to somebody on the other end of that electronic transmission. And I just get excited about it because for me it’s been a big part of our success and I just wish other people to get more aware of it and just start. Because you’re not going to be a digital [00:34:30] master in one day, but to get started it happens quicker than you realize and people stay in touch and they communicate and they show love back and there’s so many techniques but the mindset is really where it all needs to start.

Chris Davis: Absolutely. And it’s really like what I gathered from is you approach life with an abundance mindset.

Tony Marciante: I meant to say that actually, yeah.

Chris Davis: You don’t have your hands closed and hey back up, [00:35:00] this is mine.

Tony Marciante: Right.

Chris Davis: Get back, there’s only so much for me.

Tony Marciante: Well you know that’s so true, there’s enough for everybody.

Chris Davis: Right.

Tony Marciante: Like I don’t need 10,000 people to come into my restaurant every night, I need 80, 100. Last night we did 106 on a Sunday night.

Chris Davis: Wow.

Tony Marciante: Like we don’t need everybody, we just want you to come once in a while, and it affects how I talk to people and the way I, like you picked up on quickly, people pick up on it, I’m [00:35:30] not a super like overly in your face religious guy but I really consider myself and my family blessed.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Tony Marciante: Like here’s something else I do and this may be a little off topic but like people coming in to eat at the restaurant, like it’s all good, like you’re eating in a nice place, you’re doing fine, like you know what I mean? We all get caught up in our little things and this is the kind of vibe I speak about in my emails like you’re blessed, like you’re good.

Chris Davis: Right.

Tony Marciante: Your family got a nice grilled Salmon with plantains and dah dah dah, [00:36:00] like you’re not begging for a cheese sandwich somewhere.

Chris Davis: Right.

Tony Marciante: And like I think, I honestly think it’s part of my business directive, our business emotes that through our messaging, that life is good and we really appreciate you coming and I think that’s really why I do what I do.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Tony Marciante: Because that vibe when you’re in a restaurant and people are just clinking glasses and sharing moments and some of them are somber too, like we’ve had people that say hey my grandma passed, can I come to your place and [00:36:30] make a little party for my, make a little remembrance kind of thing. And this was from a restaurant guy and he was like man I really just appreciate you guys being there for us. So whatever business you’re in, you have that ability to connect and I think the digital part just extends a little bit into a different realm of the same messaging.

Chris Davis: Yeah I agree. This is great, I could talk to you all day Tony, this has been amazing.

Tony Marciante: Ditto.

Chris Davis: I sincerely sincerely [00:37:00] hope there are service providers, it doesn’t matter what service you’re providing but if you’re providing a service, in fact every business owner is providing a service. So let me just say all business owners but specifically if you have a restaurant or you’re in a business that touches people in person, I hope I really hope that you do not take lightly into everything that has been said because as you mentioned Gary V said, this is not a theme, this is not [00:37:30] like a trend, we are living in the digital age. And whether you like it or not, people are using their devices to do more communication, more connection than ever before, it’s not slowing down and it’s just going to keep going. So it is to your best interest for the future of your business to embrace it and just learn how to leverage it. Like what I love about just talking to you is you are a prime example of someone [00:38:00] who said listen, this is who I am, this is how we run business and any technology I use is going to have to fit into my vision of what I am and what this business is.

Tony Marciante: Very true, very true. Yeah I mean and there’s so many opportunities out there, I’ve tried a lot of things but you have to just pick and choose and try them out and get into something that gets you down the road, that’s just, you’re always progressing, life is always moving. So I just encourage people along your lines of talk there [00:38:30] of this try things, get into it, don’t be scared, the water’s warm, put your toe in and then dive in, [inaudible 00:38:37].

Chris Davis: The water’s warm.

Tony Marciante: That’s right.

Chris Davis: There it is. So Chef Tony, tell us, what are you working on? What do you have next? What’s coming up? What can you share with people how to connect with you, all that good stuff?

Tony Marciante: Oh God, well our website, you can literally see it’s a large chain of one restaurant, so if you ever want to check us out that’s where you can find us, I’m sure you can put [00:39:00] some links up in there.

Chris Davis: Yep.

Tony Marciante: For us, we’ve had our best year ever, I’m doing more and more consulting with small businesses and launching a digital product [inaudible 00:39:10] online about email marketing. So I’m a fan and I’m just continuing to evolve my small place in this world to hopefully enlighten a few people. I continue to learn every day, like it’s never done.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Tony Marciante: I want to really thank you again for having me on the show, I really have gotten a lot from your podcast so I also suggest [00:39:30] is people to learn podcasts, like podcasting as a medium, that’s actually something on my future is to create either a marketing podcast, I’ve done a couple other ones in the past but maybe even just a restaurant podcast, like what’s going on in our restaurant this week. But we always have fun events coming up so there’s always something to talk about.

Chris Davis: Great.

Tony Marciante: And I just want to be a bigger part of the industry as a whole, so I’m going to put it out there in the world that if I could be invited to speak at a big event about the restaurant business I would take it.

Chris Davis: Beautiful.

Tony Marciante: [00:40:00] Yeah, it’s all good man, it’s all good.

Chris Davis: Yeah, great great. Well again, Chef Tony thank you so much, if any of you are ever on the east coast in the Baltimore area, right?

Tony Marciante: We’re in Bethesda.

Chris Davis: Bethesda. If you’re in Bethesda Maryland, in that area, please please please look up Chef Tony’s Seafood Restaurant and experience everything that we’ve spoken about, in person.

Tony Marciante: Thank you Chris, I really appreciate that.

Chris Davis: So again, yeah this was great man, I’m so grateful to have [00:40:30] you on and I will myself when I’m out east, I will make sure that I stop by and I will meet you in person.

Tony Marciante: Oh that’d be awesome, that’d be awesome.

Chris Davis: All right, have a good one Chef Tony, I’ll see you online.

Tony Marciante: Thank you, blessings to you.

Chris Davis: Thank you for listening to this episode of the ActiveCampaign Podcast, did you not enjoy that? I know you could tell by just the inflection in my voice and everything, I really enjoyed talking to Chef Tony, someone who’s seasoned in business and whose [00:41:00] heart is on serving. He’s leading with giving and you’re seeing the results and he’s being very unique with it right? In it I should say. And it just when you do marketing that way, people feel it and that’s what i want you to think about in your business, how can you make people feel differently when they experience your marketing? How can you enhance that feeling and it’s not always just about getting money from them. We all understand that businesses need money and revenue to run [00:41:30] but at the same time we can never underestimate or forget that on the other end of our marketing are human beings. And in this digital era it’s providing us multiple channels to connect and communicate with human beings, it’s always about the people.

So anyways, if you’ve enjoyed this podcast please make sure you are subscribed. We are in iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, SoundCloud, any app on your phone that pulls podcast feeds, [00:42:00] we’re there. So just search ActiveCampaign podcast, make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss another episode or any episode I should say and if you like this one or have been listening to the podcast for a while, give us a rating, give us a five star rating, leave us a review, let me know how you’re liking the podcast, help me spread the word so that more people can hear and be educated and learn about not only the space but just business in general.

If you need any help, Chef Tony mentioned [00:42:30] our support is amazing. If you’re a user, all you have to do is log into your account and click that icon on the bottom right to chat with someone in support or submit a support ticket. We’ve got live training, I do office hours twice a week, Tuesdays at 10 AM, Friday at one PM and you can sign up for a one on one if you just need some personal guidance. So if you want a one on one or if you want to join office hours, you can go to If you want to learn on your own, you’re more [00:43:00] of a self paced learner, you can do that at Whatever you need we are providing to you for your business and your learning journey, this is the ActiveCampaign Podcast, the small business podcast to help you scale and propel your business with automation. I’ll see you on the next episode.

Follow & Subscribe