Marketing Your Business
without Breaking the Bank
While some restaurants have made a name for themselves by relying solely on word-of-mouth, in today’s competitive world, that’s a risky business proposition. Formulating a well-thought-out marketing plan; defining objectives; and taking advantage of low-hanging fruit will pay bigger dividends in the long term.
As the restaurant industry continues to evolve, lately we’ve been hearing that many operators state that they are returning to basics. While social media has dramatically changed the complexion of marketing, think twice before throwing out the baby with the bathwater. In other words, remember some of the tried-and-true marketing tactics that not only work, but are also easy on the budget.
Old School Advertising
The death of traditional news media turned out to be a greatly exaggerated myth. Even national chains still use these established media outlets to reach local folks.
Many commuters listen to local radio while on the road to and from work. Advertisers have a captive audience during AM and PM drive times. Remind folks that a visit to your eatery will make their day a bit more stress-free – and delicious.
Lots of people tune in to morning TV, especially to watch the weather forecast. Consider an affordable TV buy, with a memorable tagline such as: “This weather report is brought to you by Joe’s Pizza. We deliver in all kinds of weather.” Local shows are searching for interesting guests, and cooking segments are especially welcome. If you or your chef is comfortable with live cooking demonstrations, contact show producers and offer your talent for a weekly segment.
There are many opportunities for operators to get involved in their local communities. Commitment to the community is a bona fide win-win for all. It fosters loyalty among local patrons, establishes an operator as a good corporate citizen and makes the world a brighter, better place.
Supporting local youth programs is a smart way to advertise. Little leagues, soccer teams and other endeavors need financial support. Every kid, parent and spectator will notice the name of your operation emblazoned on uniforms, tee shirts and jerseys. Treat the group to a celebration, and your place will become their place too, well into the future.
More than ever, it is critical to support local charities. Participation in worthwhile causes – Boys and Girls Clubs, Race for the Cure, donations to food banks – will bolster the community and enhance your image.
BRING THE COMMUNITY TO YOUR DOOR
Contact your Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau to enlist their help in promoting your establishment. That’s their job. Contact local organizations such as Jaycees and Rotary, to offer your restaurant for monthly luncheons or dinner banquets. Contact HR departments of large employers to offer menus with discount coupons and to promote your corporate event space.
Make sure that your signage indicates you are ready for prime time. Make an impression with everyone that passes by; thus, do not make the mistake of employing wimpy outdoor messaging.
YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS
Neon signage can be a great way to garner attention. If you can afford it, have your name/logo immortalized in neon. Even if all you can afford is a ready-made neon sign stating “OPEN,” it will grab awareness. An alternative is to hire a professional artist to design a sign for big impact.
DISPLAY YOUR MENU
Mount your menu in a glassed in display case with several color shots of tantalizing menu specialties to tempt hungry passersby.
BLOW YOUR OWN HORN
If you’ve won local “Best of” competitions or other distinctions, be sure to have these presentations framed and mounted in conspicuous places inside to share the good news.