7 Traits for Successful Digital Marketing Agency Client Relationships


The relationships that we form with other people are an inherent part of being human. Some relationships stand the test of time while others become a distant memory. Relationships (good and bad) are not bound to our personal lives. Every day your interactions with coworkers, customers and other business contacts work towards building strong professional relationships today.

One of the larger investments that many organizations make today is in partnering with a digital marketing agency. The job of an agency is to understand who you are as a client and translate that message in a way that helps your brand better connect with target customers. Unfortunately, while 90% of agencies say they truly understand their client’s business, only 65% of clients agree.

Since the beginning, TopRank Marketing’s company mantra has always been “Client, Company, Community, Self”. Understanding what our clients do and what is important to them has been a driving force that has enabled us to deliver (and often over-deliver) results in a way that meets or exceeds client expectations. One of the most important elements that allows us to accomplish this is the relationships that we form with clients from the very beginning.

If your company is searching for an agency partner, look beyond the surface to ensure they possess the following traits that will help you get the most out of your investment.

1 – Strive to Set Clear Expectations

Setting expectations in terms of timelines, results or processes means less surprises down the line for you. This can provide a sense of predictability that helps you to feel in control and confident in the process.

When approaching search engine optimization, for example, it can be easy to assume that once you hire an agency your search engine rankings will be boosted overnight. In reality, website optimization is an ongoing process that can sometimes take several months to see notable results and is dependent on many factors. When an agency fails to address program expectations ahead of time, they risk leaving you feeling under-served or mislead. A great agency under promises, and over delivers.

2 – Offer Transparency & Authenticity

You should be able to rely on your digital agency to give you the expert advice and consultation that comes from their collective wisdom and years of marketing experience. Long gone are the days when agencies can expect that spurting marketing jargon and mumbo jumbo will leave clients impressed. A great marketing agency will educate you on every facet of their strategy, offer honest advice and admit when the topic has shifted outside of their expertise.

With an authentic and transparent digital agency at your side, you’ll feel a weight lifted off your shoulders knowing you can lean on them as true partners.

3 – Respect Your Time

Your workweek is booked, your inbox requires constant attention and you may sometimes find yourself scrambling to get your job duties completed. Any great digital agency will recognize that long-winded emails and unstructured meetings are inconsiderate of your time. Good partners will ensure meetings bring value to those involved and are respectful of your time by:

  • Sharing agendas ahead of time,
  • Sticking to the allotted time scheduled
  • Avoiding tangents and off-topic conversations
  • Concluding with next steps for each party

4 – Provide Top-Notch Communication

In today’s fast-moving digital marketing world, you don’t always the option of waiting a few days for an email response or returned call from your digital agency. To maintain great communication, your agency contact should be:

  • Responding to emails and calls within 24 hours
  • Sending a follow up email to reiterate next steps following each meeting
  • Conducting quarterly check-ins with you to gather feedback on program performance and opportunities for improvement

When a digital agency can demonstrate this type of attentive and organized communication, you’ll feel confident in their ability to manage the various digital campaigns you’ve entrusted them with.

It’s easy to get comfortable shooting emails off from behind a desk, but there are definite times when a simple phone call will go a long way in building that agency/client relationship. Your digital agency account manager should not hesitate to give you a friendly call every once in a while to answer a quick question or provide a progress update.

5 – Form the Personal Connection

Sometimes everyone finds themselves getting sucked in to the tasks at hand, without taking a minute to step back and get to know the people they are working with. This leads to skipping the small talk, and getting right down to business.

Meaningful business relationships are fostered through conversation beyond the work-related task at hand. An invested agency contact will find ways to connect on a more personal level by asking how your day is going, or what your weekend plans are – not for the sake of small talk, but because they truly care.

6 – Suggest In-Person Meetings

Did you know that human contact releases hormones that act as neurotransmitters in the brain that build trust and bond? You can’t get that kind of science with a conference call.

In-person meetings allow us to observe and respond to facial expressions and body language, which builds stronger, more meaningful business relationships. In a world full of conference bridges and screen sharing, your agency should make an effort to meet with you in person – even if you’re located in different states.

An agency that’s willing to make the time and monetary investment to secure occasional in-person meetings is demonstrating their dedication to strengthening the agency/client relationship.

7 – They Advocate for You

At the end of the day, you should feel that your digital agency is working diligently towards your shared goals. There should be an understanding that they are your true marketing partners. A dedicated agency will commit to providing the level of service that exceeds your expectations, and provide compelling results that keep you coming back for more.

You know your agency “gets it” if they provide results and progress reports in a format that is easily shared and consumed by stakeholders at your company. That means less work translating reports to the higher-ups, and more time focusing on your responsibilities.

When you’re in search of a digital marketing agency, look for hints of these characteristics that indicate the level of respect, dedication and organization you’ll receive in the client/agency relationship.

On the hunt for a new agency that has these traits? Contact TopRank Online Marketing to learn how we can become your digital marketing partner.

Image via Shutterstock

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. | 7 Traits for Successful Digital Marketing Agency Client Relationships | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Digital Marketing Spotlight: Rishi Dave, CMO at Dun & Bradstreet

Digital Marketing Spotlight

Marketing executives are more challenged than ever to create effective organizations and operations to succeed in an increasingly converged, content and inbound marketing world.

In this latest TopRank Marketing Digital Marketing Spotlight interview, Rishi Dave, CMO at Dun & Bradstreet, talks about the strategic responsibility differences of entering a CMO role, advice on creating an effective inbound marketing organization, the importance of content, the convergence of marketing and PR and whether senior executives should focus on their personal brand.

Rishi Dave Dun & BradstreetIt’s been nearly two years since you moved from being Executive Director, Digital Marketing at Dell to your current role as CMO at Dun & Bradstreet. What are some of the changes you had to make in terms of your responsibilities, marketing organization and the change in industry?

A CMO role differs greatly from a senior marketing role. I cover a much broader scope beyond the digital focus I had at Dell.

As well, as the Dun & Bradstreet CMO, I spend a significant amount of time with my peers driving the broader company strategy beyond the marketing function. However, my modern marketing mindset contributes valuably to the strategy.

I also act in an external capacity, both in the offline and online world. This allows me to remain transparent and accessible to all audiences as the face of the company and its culture.

What are some of the criteria an organization should satisfy to have a CMO level marketing executive, vs. a SVP or VP of Marketing?

The answer depends entirely on the goals of the organization. Does the company merely need a great marketer, or a leader to implement a vision across the entire company with a marketing mindset?

A CMO drives customer experience – the totality of interactions a customer has with the company across all areas.

A CMO drives customer experience – the totality of interactions a customer has with the company across all areas (sales, marketing, service, product, contracting, etc.). Modern CMOs have the skills and authority to integrate all these silos to provide an integrated customer experience while other marketers may not.

While at Dell, you built the digital inbound marketing capability and organization. What advice do you have for other marketing executives challenged now to do the same?

Don’t simply jump into tactics…make sure you have something unique to say.

Don’t simply jump into tactics around analytics, technology, and content operations. Make sure you have something unique to say and that the organization understands what that messaging is. Until you have that, and a culture that supports it, great execution of inbound will not break through the noise.

At Dun & Bradstreet, I focused first on working with the Chief People Officer to drive a clearly defined purpose and values. My team then built a new go to market strategy and associated messaging. Only after this did we start to scale the inbound machine to drive pipeline.

Marketing and communications roles are converging within many organizations as owned, earned, paid and social media intertwine. With PR, AR and Marketing as part of your domain, what does the modern marketing and PR entity look like? Are they converged, independent or something new?

Communications plays a critical role in driving early stage thought leadership for the company as a whole to all the firm’s constituencies. Public relations experts are the storytellers to media, analysts, and influencers, leading to broad marketing and brand awareness, while other disciplines of marketing are concerned mostly with selling to customers.

Both PR and marketing functions leverage the same resources (content, digital, production, creative, etc.) to get things done which ensures integration of efforts and messaging.

According to the annual CMI and MarketingProfs study, fewer marketers are implementing content marketing and yet many organizations are still dealing with content shock (too much content). What role does content play in your demand generation and overall marketing plans?

Content is fundamental. I have a separate organization reporting to me that focuses on content marketing. However, they don’t just create content. They orchestrate the entire content supply chain which consists of coordinating all the people, both internally and externally, who are creating content and ensuring that there is a process from content ideation to creation to promotion.

There may not be a need for more content, but there is a need for higher quality content that delivers new insights.

The study referenced is more reflective of the fact that a handful of marketers are creating too much content that is simply repetitive and uninteresting, repackaging the same messaging in new and faux-clever ways as click bait. There may not be a need for more content, but there is a need for higher quality content that delivers new insights.

How do you balance hiring more marketing staff vs. using outside vendors and agencies? What trends do you see in terms of outsourcing vs. insourcing marketing talent?

External vendors and agencies generally possess a specialized skill or technology that we cannot replicate internally or one that we do not need on a consistent basis. This contrasts from the more general agencies of a long time ago. We evaluate our external provider portfolio constantly and make changes as needed given the rapidity of change.

How important is it for senior marketing executives to pay attention to their own personal brand? Any advice for those ignoring it?

Every marketer must meticulously manage his or her personal brand. I give this advice to undergraduates all the time. If you are not managing your personal brand, especially online, you don’t have a visceral understanding of how marketing works. Also, every hiring manager will look at how you manage your online brand first.

Managing your online profile provides an incredible opportunity to practice everything that makes marketers great.

Managing your online profile provides an incredible opportunity to practice everything that makes marketers great (writing, creative, tech savvy, etc.). In many ways, the CMO represents the company, and must manage his or her profile.

What are some of your top digital marketing priorities for 2016?

We’ll continue to refine our go-to-market messaging and strategy, and part of that work will include an increased and enhanced Web presence.

We will scale marketing more effectively globally, drive pipeline, and build the brand through efficient and effective communications / influencers. We’ve been testing Account Based Marketing successfully and we will look to scale this substantially.

How do you stay current on marketing and technology and what information sources do you find most useful?

I am a voracious consumer of content on the Web and books (mainly psychology and sci- fi). I find blogs and online influencers most useful in learning about the latest thinking in marketing, while books are most useful in understanding dense topics like psychology and the predictions of the future.

Let’s play social media word association. What’s the first word that comes to mind for each of the following social networks or apps?

Facebook – friends

Vine – hard

LinkedIn – B2B content

Twitter – Influencers

Meerkat or Periscope – Wait and see

Google+ – no

Snapchat – youth

YouTube – viral

Instagram – photos

Flickr – photos

Pinterest – beautiful

My Space –consumer

Thanks Rishi!

You can connect with Rishi on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Be sure to watch for the next in our series of digital marketing interviews with senior marketing executives at major B2B and B2C brands.

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. | Digital Marketing Spotlight: Rishi Dave, CMO at Dun & Bradstreet | http://www.toprankblog.com

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7 Steps for Using Periscope to Better Engage Your Target Audience


One of the most important jobs we have as marketers is to find a way to be the best answer for our customers, when and where they are looking. With so many new platforms to test on a consistent basis, it can be hard to move through the clutter and find ways to connect that will better engage your target audience.

Social media platforms provide new opportunities to resonate with your customers. Each time a new social media platform launches, there are the early adopters that explore how the platform works, test to see if it’s stable and then figure out how it can best be leveraged.

One of the biggest platform launches of 2015 was the live video streaming app, Periscope. As of August 2015, Periscope had a total of 10 million users, with over 40 years’ worth of video viewed every day.

A number of people have already jumped on board, using Periscope for trainings and video casts. But how can marketers use apps like Periscope to better communicate with their audience?

Leveraging Periscope for Marketing

Demonstrations: Show how a particular product can be used. Discovery the different uses, options, upgrades and attachments. Engage your audience by allowing them to interact and ask questions so that you can provide value and gather insights that you may not otherwise have access to.

Interviews: Interview current users your products or services. Ask how have they benefited from its use and how it’s changed their life? This could include people from the research and development group, the owners of the company or the team that developed the product or service.

Live events: Promotional events of the product or service. An example might be a trade show where the featured product or service is being displayed. Additionally, you could include challenges that include customers that use the product, and have them develop new ways to use it or how to use it best.

7 Steps for Incorporating Periscope Into Your Marketing

Step 1: Create an image/announcement that talks about your what you will be presenting on, (1 single Periscope video) and then post it on your social channels so that your audience knows that you have a Periscope account, where to find it, and when you’ll be going “live”.

Step 2: Do an off-camera walk-thru of what you hope to accomplish and cover during the scope.

Step 3: Create an outline of what will be covered or said during your video.

Step 4: Use a stand or have someone with a steady hand hold the camera while broadcasting the scope. (Vertical scopes are the standard, but landscape scopes are now an option when broadcasting)

Step 5: When titling the scope, be sure to incorporate Twitter handles and/or hashtags if deemed appropriate.

Step 6: Let the audience know that they’re free to ask questions during the scope or if there will be time made available at the end of the scope for a Q&A session.

Step 7: After the “live” broadcast has been completed, consider saving it to your device and uploading it to YouTube channel or some other video sharing platform for future and repeated use.

Companies Already Utilizing Periscope

Some companies that have already have jumped into the Periscope “stream” and are incorporating it into their digital marketing mix. Below are examples of companies that have created a consistent Periscope presence:

  • Applebee’s
  • Dell
  • Lays
  • Life Time Fitness
  • Macy’s
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Sleep Number
  • Urban Outfitters

Preparation and practice won’t create perfection, but it will create progress. The more scopes that you do, the better that you and your company will be in creating and producing videos via Periscope. Try it, and join the next form of social media, live streaming.

If you’ve already tested Periscope for your company, what did you find to be the benefits and challenges?

Disclaimer: Dell is a TopRank Marketing Client

Image via Shutterstock

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. | 7 Steps for Using Periscope to Better Engage Your Target Audience | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Why It’s Time for More Participation in B2B Content Marketing

participation b2b marketing

B2B brands are answering the call to become publishers with a significant increase in content hubs exemplified by pioneers like American Express OPEN and Adobe’s CMO.com and others including:

  • Intel IQ
  • Think with Google
  • Dell’s Power More
  • GE’s World in Motion
  • SAP’s Digitalist Magazine

Content Hubs

While those are all great examples, there’s an important question: Can your business really afford to hire the kind of editorial team to create this quantity of quality content at the cadence of a business publication?

Many practical marketers will say no.

The trend towards brand publishing in combination with self directed buyers guiding their way through the sales process with content creates an interesting conflict between the need for an up level on quality content production with a corresponding increase in content creation resources.

Even if you do have budget to start your own scrappy brand newsroom, industry studies show you’re probably still going to be challenged to create a variety of engaging content on a consistent basis. On top of that you have to find the talent to build out your content team, which is another challenge cited by the CMI/MarketingProfs B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report.

This challenge created by forces pushing brands to create substantially more content without the funds and a lack of resources to make it happen begs an important question:

How can companies scale content quality & quantity without scaling resources?

I think there are several answers to that depending on your situation, but one avenue worth pursuing is the notion of adding more participation to B2B content marketing.

What is participation marketing?  It’s not just another name for UGC or crowdsourcing, which are similar ideas, but more of a focused and collaborative effort between brands and their communities to create mutually beneficial content.

Participation Marketing is the democratization of content creation and promotion by co-creating content with subject matter experts, influencers and your community.

When I talk to B2B marketers about content marketing programs, I usually focus on a mix of evergreen, curated, co-created and repurposed content. The notion of participation in content marketing emphasizes a mix of these content types, but focuses most on the notion of content co-creation – the most logical way for people to participate in content development.

Content co-creation is a powerful approach to increasing a business marketers’ ability to create a quantity of quality content. With that ability to scale through collaboration, numerous advantages occur:

  • Quality: Taps Expertise
  • Quantity: Create more quality
  • Engagement: Connects w/ SMEs & Influencers
  • Reach: Participation Inspires Action
  • Scale: Distributes Content Creation

To stimulate some ideas on how B2B companies are co-creating content, here are some examples:

Intuit Quickbooks Small Business Big Game

Intuit QuickBooks Small Business, Big Game: For the second year in a row, Intuit is running a program with it’s QuickBooks product called “Small Business, Big Game” where small businesses can create a profile and attract votes in the hopes of winning a Super Bowl commercial.

The co-creation element comes in to play with ongoing tasks for each entrant, many of which result in the creation of useful content for other small businesses. Attracting votes for their content, small businesses gain themselves exposure and Intuit scales relevant, useful content for its target audience.

Content Marketing Wonderland

Event Content Co-Creation with Influencers: Another great example of B2B content co-creation is the influencer content programs TopRank Marketing creates around events.

By inviting speakers at conferences to contribute practical tips as a preview to their presentations, they are helping to co-create a useful, collective resource for the overall marketing industry, exposure for themselves and for the conference. The core contributions are organized by theme and are repurposed in numerous ways from ebooks to blog posts to infographics to social content.

Increasing content marketing performance while lowering costs is pretty compelling and that’s why, at TopRank Marketing, we’ve been developing our own processes around the practice of co-creation of content.

So how do you implement more participation and content co-creation in your content marketing programs?

Outside of understanding the information discovery and consumption preferences and action motivators of your target audience of business buyers, it’s a modular approach to content that can really help co-created content scale.

I’ll be discussing how to use this potent combination of content co-creation and modular content planning in detail at two upcoming events:

Sept 22nd, BMA Minnesota Content Marketing Workshop – Minneapolis

1:00-4:30pm followed by a BMA Mixer social hour 4:30-6:30pm

Along with Andrea Fishman, Partner in Advisory Practice at PwC and Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Officer at Content Marketing Institute I’ll be presenting a B2B view of how to leverage more participation in content marketing.

Here’s the official description:

Participation Marketing: How to Co-Create B2B Content with Influencers

One of the most popular trends in B2B marketing is content marketing. But B2B companies are challenged to create a variety of engaging content on a consistent basis. This presentation will provide a framework for B2B marketers to scale quality content creation by partnering with internal and external influencers.


  1. How to identify, qualify and recruit influencers
  2. A modular approach to co-created content
  3. How to optimize, socialize and repurpose co-created content

If you’re on the East Coast, then I hope you’ll find your way to the MarketingProfs B2B Forum:

Oct 21-23, MarketingProfs B2B Forum – Boston

If You Want B2B Content to be Great, Ask Your Community to Participate

Let’s face it, creating a variety of engaging content on a consistent basis is hard. Brands imitating publishers are frustrated and looking for a new ways to scale quality content that gets results. The good news is that most companies have a tremendously valuable collection of resources right in front of them: customers, employees and community. B2B brands that can connect with these groups on relevant areas of interest can partner to co-create content for mutual benefit. The result? Scalable, quality content with an investment from the very community it’s intended to reach. Everybody wins!

Join TopRank Online Marketing CEO, Lee Odden, on a journey from content mediocrity to content marketing democracy aka “participation marketing”. He’ll share his first-hand experience at developing co-created content programs for B2B companies big and small to attract more relevant audiences, actively engage communities and inspire more prospects to become buyers.

At the end of this session you will be able to:

1. Identify at least 3 co-creation opportunities to start now

2. Learn how to recruit, engage and inspire content co-creators

3. Start leveraging co-created content for SEO and social media marketing

Whether you’re in Minneapolis this week or Boston later in October, I hope to see you at one of these upcoming events.

In the meantime, we’re creating a new guide to Participation Marketing, so post your most pressing questions in the comments and we may answer them (with credit to your question) in the guide.

Top image: Shutterstock

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. | Why It’s Time for More Participation in B2B Content Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing News: Instagram Ads Get Instagranular, Facebook Takes A Fifth, Snapchat Pay-To-Replay

Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing Work Better Together

Why Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing Work Better Together [Infographic] – A recent survey of business leaders showed that email and social media are the two channels most likely to see an increase in investment from business owners in 2015. Many businesses employ either email marketing, social media marketing or a combination of both, however many aren’t fully integrating the two together. Email marketing company Reachmail has put together a useful infographic that covers the benefits of integrating your social and email strategies together. Social Media Today

Instagram to Democratize Ad Products, Integrate Facebook Targeting Capabilities – Industry participants are excited about Instagram’s new ad formats as these capabilities make ads more targetable. It’s predicted that these changes will make the photo-and-social-sharing platform more appealing to advertisers than Twitter and Snapchat. ClickZ

Twitter Is Now Surfacing Analytics In The Notifications Tab – If you rank among the Twitter elite—that is, your profile is branded with a blue checkmark—you may notice some changes to your notifications tab. The social networking platform is toying with flagging analytics details in the notifications tab for verified users. Fast Company

Facebook Estimated to Capture One-Fifth of US Mobile Ad Spending – Facebook will grow to account for 20.3% of all US mobile ad spending in 2017, up slightly from an estimated 19.4% share this year and 18.5% last year, per eMarketer’s latest estimates. (That would be in line with the 19% of mobile internet time spent with Facebook.) While Facebook’s share of mobile ad revenues is expected to grow slightly, the opposite is true for Google, which is projected to see a sizable decrease in revenue share this year (from 36.9% to 32.9%). MarketingCharts

Snapchat Offers Extra Replays at 3 for $1 – Now Snapchatters can replay as many moments as they wish — if they’re willing to pay. The picturing sharing-app announced Tuesday that U.S. users can now purchase extra “Replays” at three for $0.99. CNN Money

Brands Shifting From YouTube To Native Video On Twitter – Top 500 brands posted nearly as many videos natively as from YouTube in July. Engagement remains higher for native video. Marketing Land

Twitter Sued For Scanning Private Messages – A lawsuit filed this week in San Francisco federal court alleges Twitter is “surreptitiously eavesdropping” on people who send private messages on the social media service in violation of federal and state privacy laws. USA Today

Consumers Can’t Tell The Difference Between Sponsored Content And Editorial – In a new study, consumers identified native advertisements as articles a large percentage of the time. Marketing Land

AdWords Changes The Definition Of Conversions For Reporting & Columns – In mid-October, AdWords will be changing the “Conversions” columns & reporting to only include optimized conversion actions. Search Engine Land

Native Videos the Best Option for Both Facebook and Twitter [Report] – Native videos uploaded to Twitter – are they also performing better than posted YouTube links? The answer, according to a new report from social analytics firm Socialbakers, is yes. Socialbakers analyzed the video links posted by the top 500 largest brand profiles on Twitter, from January to July, and found that natively posted Twitter videos are closing in, and set to overtake YouTube links on the network very soon. Social Media Today

New: Facebook Mentions and Live for Verified Profiles – People love reading articles from and connecting with their favorite journalists and public figures on Facebook. Today, we’re making Facebook Mentions and Live available to public figures with verified profiles to help them engage their followers and interact with their peers. Facebook

Report: Google & Twitter Are Working On Accelerated Mobile Pages For Publishers – The companies are developing an open source version of “instant articles” to solve the problem of slow loading mobile sites, Recode reports. Marketing Land

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: Reachmail

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. | Online Marketing News: Instagram Ads Get Instagranular, Facebook Takes A Fifth, Snapchat Pay-To-Replay | http://www.toprankblog.com

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All you can eat Crab Legs Myrtle Beach at Crabby Georges

All-you-can-eat buffet in Myrtle Beach.
Welcome aboard Crabby George’s Seafood Buffet. We’ve searched the 7 seas to provide you only the best Crab Legs, Oysters, Shrimp & other seafood offerings. We also have an excellent bounty of Carved Prime Rib, Porter House & Sirloin Steaks. Southern Fried Chicken, Okra, Shrimp, Scallops & many, many more.
Also our Southern Fixing’s to compliment your meal like Homemade Mashed Potatoes, Mac & Cheese, Cob Corn & all of your favorite side items. Fresh, Crisp Garden Salad Vegetables & Fruit, as well as a treasure trove of Cold Seafood Salads. And of course our Sweet Bakery of Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Banana & Bread Puddings.

You’ll have an adventure as you set sail with our outstanding crew, dedicated to providing you with service & hospitality that you, Our Captain deserve.

You’ll enjoy our Pirate themed atmosphere at incredible prices that won’t make you feel like you’ve “walked the plank”. We look forward to seeing you soon, until then, Argh!!!
Check out our website – http://www.crabbygeorges.com and our YouTube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gB0344mlweo