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Larry Maiman: Small Business Blog Interview

by Brian Brown (follow me on Twitter): August 25, 2006

One of my favorite blogs so far has been from a bakery/cafe in Los Angeles called Mäni's. I hadn't heard anything from them after writing the review in mid June until a few days ago when one of the owners left a comment on my review. He had found the blog using the Google blog search which means I never sent him an email telling him that Mani's had been featured. Whoops!

So I sent an email right away and Larry responded promptly. Here's some insight into one of the best blogs we've seen:

"For any business to be able to have a fast low cost way to be in touch with customers, this is fantastic."

Mani's Bakery and CafePajama Market: How has the blog impacted your company?

Larry Maiman: We have been very focused on growing our company. We have a model of openess with both our team members and customers. So the blog allows us to dialog with everyone very regularly. As a matter of fact, at this point there are 5 of us who are regular writers on the blog and we need to adhere to our assigned publish dates so all our blog stories get top billing for at least the same day they are published. Since our blog and our website are one seamless site, it's easy to direct our customers to get the information and dialog they're looking for.

PJ: What has the response been from your customers/clients?

LM: Our guests/customers are a pretty loyal base in the first place, since our concept is somewhat of a niche market. We have many customers logging in regularly to see what's new. Our blog consultant, Denise Wakeman from Build a Better Blog sends our customer base an email each week letting them know what's new and a link to go directly to our site.

PJ: What types of things about your work day inspire you to write a post on your blog?

LM: There's quite a buzz here at Mäni’s on Fairfax. There always seems to be something new or news worthy to report. Doug Miller, our Culture and People Manager is always excited about something either regarding our team, new products, new training, new improvements, etc., so it's really not an issue to inspire one of our writers to write something. Check out the blog and you'll see what I mean. The stories are quite varried, so many interests are covered.

PJ: What have been the biggest surprises with your blog so far?

LM: One of my biggest surprises with the blog is how much content is generated, searched, read and talked about. For a small bakery/restaurant (only 2000 sq ft) we really keep things happening. I think we surprise ourselves and our customers simultaneously.

PJ: What blogging program do you use for the blog? Did you create this blog yourself? How do you like the program?

LM: Our designers, Hop Studios in Vancouver, reccommended Expression Engine. We told them we wanted a system we could manage ourselves for the most part. We're quite happy with it. We're just beginning to start a dialog on re-designing our home page to accommodate the viewing of multiple stories at the same time.

PJ: Is there anything else you would like to share about your blogging experience?

LM: For any business to be able to have a fast low cost way to be in touch with customers, this is fantastic. There's just so much than can be done and said in a blog. Especially one that connects to the company's website. Also great designers like our visual/graphics designer gives us a great look that matches the feel of our restaurant/bakery, that's Michelle Beilner, mbeilner[at]sbcglobal[dot]net. And thank you Brian for writing a comprehensive summary of our business and our blog.

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