Jhoanny Perez of Tin Marin Restaurant: “Study your market and know it well”

Study your market and know it well: Know who uses your product, who has the problem that you solve? Who are they, their gender, age, ethnicity, level of education, where do they live? Where do they hang out online? What podcast do they listen to? Marketing a product or service today is easier than ever before […]

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Study your market and know it well: Know who uses your product, who has the problem that you solve? Who are they, their gender, age, ethnicity, level of education, where do they live? Where do they hang out online? What podcast do they listen to?

Marketing a product or service today is easier than ever before in history. Using platforms like Facebook ads or Google ads, a company can market their product directly to people who perfectly fit the ideal client demographic, at a very low cost. Digital Marketing tools, Pay per Click ads, and email marketing can help a company dramatically increase sales. At the same time, many companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools often see disappointing results.

In this interview series called “How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, & Email to Dramatically Increase Sales”, we are talking to marketers, advertisers, brand consultants, & digital marketing gurus who can share practical ideas from their experience about how to effectively leverage the power of digital marketing, PPC, & email.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jhoanny Perez.

Jhoanny is an immigrant from the Dominican Republic that teaches other immigrants the step by step formula to open their dream restaurants in order to create generational wealth and security for their families.

In 2012, Jhoanny and her family brought their dream to life. They built three 7-figure restaurant businesses in New York City Tin Marin Restaurant, Tilila Casa Pública & Cocina and Canave Cocina & Bar within nine years, each restaurant was completely built from the ground up. Since then, they have been featured in various media outlets for their success in accomplishing the American Dream as Latina immigrants. Some of these features include the New York Times, New York Post, The Riverdale Press, Riverdale Press #2, Edible Bronx Magazine, NYC CBS Local, Urban Matter and on The Patch.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Owning my own restaurant was not the original plan for me and my family. Prior to opening, I worked at McDonald’s as a shift manager when my family and I came up with the idea of purchasing a McDonalds franchise. To our surprise, we were unqualified to own a franchise because we failed to meet one of the necessary requirements: owning an existing business for two years.

Next, we tried purchasing an existing bar from a friend, who backed out at the last minute. This was a blessing in disguise because it led us to finding an empty space and renovating it into a restaurant which would soon become our own.

From this, our first restaurant, Tín Marin Restaurant, later created two more concepts: Tilila Casa Cocina & Bar and Canave Cocina & Bar all located in NYC (two in the Bronx and one in Inwood Manhattan).

When the pandemic hit and the restaurant industry started struggling, I decided to turn my nine years of expertise into something that would significantly help food entrepreneurs. I wanted something unique that would honor my mother’s legacy and hard work. As a result, I created an online coaching program to mentor upcoming restaurant owners with techniques to pivot and reinvent their businesses to remain open during the pandemic.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

Thank you for this question, for it’s important to look back at one’s growth in marketing. We all should constantly be reflecting on our failed practices vs the ones that yield good results.

The funniest marketing mistake I made was when I paid Facebook ads to promote any video or photo. The Facebook ad was suggested automatically on any post and it would result in a couple clicks but there were no bookings, or sales.

As you may know, digital ads should always be well thought out and targeted to a specific audience with content that converts. It has to have a link where people can be directed to, in other words, a call to action that leads to either finalizing the sale, collecting emails or registering to an event.

I’m grateful that I had this early exposure to digital marketing because I would rather take messy action then no action at all. From this, I now study my insight often so I can make my marketing better to yield more specific results.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Absolutely, I have many role models throughout my life that have shaped the woman I am today. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and business minded people. My grandmother sewed and made beautiful dresses, gowns and home based products which she sold while I was growing up. My father runs his own Facebook live channel which he found a way to monetize by allowing other production teams to pay him for a slot on his channel. My mother and her husband created three independent restaurant concepts.

I’m especially grateful for my mother and grandmother, two single women who raised me. They came to this country unable to speak the language and brought me when I was two years old. My grandmother worked long hours at a factory and my mother endured abuse at a store she worked long hours in. Their braveness has inspired me to do something for those trying to achieve what we achieved: the American Dream.

This is why as restaurant owners we want to share the tools and resources to help other restaurateurs and upcoming food entrepreneurs entering the business. I know what it is to live paycheck to paycheck, come to this country, and want to work hard to achieve success.

Just like my mother and grandmother have helped me become the business leader I am today, I want to help and inspire others.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What makes my company stand out is the dedication and commitment we have, as owners, that makes us desire to be at the restaurant day by day. Restaurant owners usually aren’t seen much at their business, especially after so many years in operation. Nine years later, we still show up everyday and our staff loves that we are there working alongside them. Customers also notice how humble we are as owners and love returning to our restaurants because they know that even the creators of the business are there attending to them.

One day we ran out of ice and a couple customers volunteered to purchase some for us. When I saw those customers basically volunteering to work I knew that the welcoming environment we have cultivated has even been projected into the atmosphere that our customers experience. This shows us that as a community when we gather at one of our establishments it’s not just customers and staff, but we’ve created a family. .

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Thank you for asking this question, it’s so important to talk about leadership and what kind of leadership really motivates employees.

The following character traits have helped me as a leader make other leaders:

  1. Being vulnerable and letting your true self show: With our team we go out to eat and share past experiences as a way to show our employees that they are family, that they can be personable with us and that we are just like them. Several of our employees have expressed that they have the best bosses and that no one else has a boss like them.
  2. Giving others opportunities to grow: We once hired a new immigrant that came to the country, he started as a dishwasher, was trained as a food runner, then waiter and last as a bartender. Other former employees who were trained by us went on to open their own restaurants. Usually in other restaurants it is very tough to reach a promotion. We strive to make the best out of our staff and show them the ropes to the restaurant business.
  3. Getting our hands dirty as owners: After nine years, we have the ability to hire a general manager and sit back and relax. We choose not to because it is our belief that nobody can take care of your business better than you. David, one of our regulars, is always saying great things about the atmosphere and great entertainment we provide. His friends who are also regulars have become bestest friends with us and enjoy being at our restaurants because they feel like home. What would a restaurant be without its creator there?

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes I am. I just finished raising capital for a woman entrepreneur in South Africa. We were able to help her purchase a mobile food kitchen and train her on menu creation and sales. I am now working on putting together a crowdfunding campaign for a group of food entrepreneurs in the Philippines. My work does not stop here in New York or even the United States. My work is global and is helping food entrepreneurs around the world create job opportunities and accomplish their dreams at the same time. I am always excited when someone reaches out for guidance on creating the food business of their dreams.

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. As we mentioned in the beginning, sometimes companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools like PPC campaigns often see disappointing results. In your opinion, what are a few of the biggest mistakes companies make when they first start out with digital marketing? If you can, please share an example for each.

Mistakes are an important piece when we start our business. We have to shift our mentality to growing from each experience and learning from failure.

The most common mistakes I see people make are:

  1. Starting a digital campaign without knowing their target audience: For example, promoting a post to multiple cities instead of your local neighborhood. This would look like promoting a shake shop to seniors instead of school age and college age customers.
  2. Hiring a company to market your business: When first starting out I recommend not hiring a 3rd party company who does not know your business and probably is not local to you. Instead hire someone from your local community who can bring people and manage your social media content.
  3. Not using local artists: It doesn’t matter what type of business you have, you can add some spice to it by having live music. These same artists can bring in traffic and their followers to your business. This is truly word of mouth marketing.

If you could break down a very successful digital marketing campaign into a “blueprint”, what would that blueprint look like? Please share some stories or examples of your ideas.

A very successful digital campaign should:

  1. Have a clear message, a call to action and a way to track clicks, registrations or sales. Eg: Start with why people should keep listening: what’s the pain point? Direct them to what it is you want them to do for more information.
  2. Touch the five senses of the customer: Eg: Provide a visual for your product? What does it look like, feel like, taste like, smell like and sound like?
  3. Have very clean and professional eye taking photography and or high quality video.
  4. Be short and straight to the point. Make the ask for the customer in the first minute and a half.
  5. Make the intro about their biggest pain point. Touch on the root problem of the customer. Is this a solution they want to hear about? People don’t want to hear about you unless you first tell them why they should listen.

Let’s talk about Pay Per Click Marketing (PPC) for a bit. In your opinion which PPC platform produces the best results to increase sales?

You should first find out where your customers hang out the most. Is it facebook, LinkedIn, Are they reading Yahoo and searching for you on google?

For me, it really comes down to tracking from where most of your customers came from. From this information you can then make the decision of where to do PPC. But if I had to choose a platform, I would choose google. When you are on google you are legit. You reach those who are searching for that product you have. Google is an amazing tool no matter what, especially with great search engine optimization (SEO).

Can you please share 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful PPC campaign?

  1. Tell your customer why click on your ad for more info: Again, why should the customer click on your ad. What is in store for them?
  2. Direct them to the sale: The ad must have an end result: a booking, a purchase, a reservation.
  3. Collect their information: You want to stay connected to them now that this customer finally found you! Collect their email and phone. Text them coupons, and offers!

Let’s now talk about email marketing for a bit. In your opinion, what are the 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful email marketing campaign that increases sales?

Email campaigns are crucial to any business. It’s the way we can communicate outside of social media, and a backup in case any one social network we use stops working.

Here are my three tips for creating a highly successful email marketing:

  1. Make sure to send out emails on days and times when your customers are more likely to read them. You don’t want to send an email on a Monday morning when most people are rushing to work and stressed out.
  2. Bold key phrases, words and call to actions- people are busy, they might be screening your email for the main point. Help them understand your message and offer by just glancing at your email.
  3. Give people a reason to look forward to your next email. Give them a sneak peak of the next coupon, or free coffee email that you’ll be sending next!

What are the other digital marketing tools that you are passionate about? If you can, can you share with our readers what they are and how to best leverage them?

Promoting local artists at my business is something I’ve become very passionate about. People are looking for a good time, whether they are shopping, getting a service or eating out. Therefore, when you offer them something extra that increases their mood, makes them grow an affinity towards your business and creates a community that will withstand.

Host a poet, a band or a live painter. Whatever it is, make it interesting and promote it on digital advertising platforms. You’re appealing to people’s souls and giving them a reason to come spend their hard earned money at your business.

From my nine years of experience managing restaurants I can share the following 5 things to create a highly successful career as a digital marketer:

  1. Study your market and know it well: Know who uses your product, who has the problem that you solve? Who are they, their gender, age, ethnicity, level of education, where do they live? Where do they hang out online? What podcast do they listen to?
  2. Attend local events and network with others: Be a brand ambassador for your business or the business you represent. For example, attend a social mixer online, introduce yourself, mention your business and tag its social media and website in the chat. Encourage people to follow them and visit your website.
  3. Be authentic and creative: put a twist to digital marketing. Take shots and videos of employees in action. Showcase your product, connect with similar accounts and comment on their post.
  4. Track what’s working and what’s not. Go back to each ad, post a promotion and examine the results. What could be done better? How many sales, clicks and emails did it collect. Which ad worked better? Compare it with other marketing campaigns.
  5. Host a focus group and get feedback from people who got your ideal customer. Gather a group of people, show them a digital ad and ask them for their opinion on it. Ask them, would you watch this ad? Would it call your attention, would you click on it? Is the message clear? Is this a problem you have and is the solution or product attractive to you?

What books, podcasts, videos or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?

I am reading the book Uncloned Marketing by Audria Richmond where she talks about going the extra mile to wow customers with personalized touch and spice to marketing campaigns.

I watch Latesha’s videos to learn about video as a way to bring customers to you. As well as Dana Channel who is the founder of Curl Bible and is a genius at marketing on Instagram.

I constantly try to stay updated with what’s going on in the market so that I am keeping up with new trends in my marketplace.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am working on founding a non-profit organization for youth and students in NYC with the aim of training teens and youths in full food entrepreneurship.

To see this come into fruition, I am putting focus on teaching skills in the kitchen and in admin through hands-on-training by one-on-one classes. I hope someday, these teens will go out there to start their own businesses, be chefs, kitchen managers, administrators, or bartenders, using the culinary skills they gain through their participation in my organization.

My organization does not stop at the desk of only the young. In the long-term, there will be classes for adults on the weekend in the Hispanic community.

How can our readers further follow your work?

They can follow me on Instagram and check out my website.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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