Restaurant marketing with low tech is very effective. With tools as simple as "a card, a pen and a friend", you can have a very high rate of return.
The downside for personalized marketing is that it takes time.
Compare two marketing options:
- 20,000 fliers distributed with a 1% redemption = 200 responses.
- 2,000 personalized cards with a 15% redemption =300 responses.
How this will pay off in sales dollars will depend on the average transaction amount and if there are discounts included.
A small restaurant business without buying power can distribute 20,000 fliers for a cost of as much as $3000 while the big chains are able to do this type of marketing at less than half that amount.
With a rule of thumb of at least $5 in sales for every $1 invested, the sales target as a result of a restaurant marketing campaign is close to $15000 for a small business.
Little vs Large
There will be restaurant owners who attempt to copy the big companies even though they are small and without buying power. As they "copy" the big company's offers and distribution methods. Sales may improve but profits remain low due to buying power. This leads to an unrealistic conclusion that "restaurant marketing doesn't work".
The lesson learned is: "Don't compare restaurant marketing campaigns of a large chain vs. a smaller restaurant business". It is apples and oranges.
Instead of competing head to head, think of how to do surgical strikes with marketing campaigns which have a specific target and purpose.
Over and over, every day and every week.
An advantage of a restaurant is "the team". In other words, there are not simply "staff" or "workers" but in reality a marketing team who can come together and execute guerrilla marketing to out-maneuver the big companies again and again.
If you do not understand or believe this concept of "team marketing", I would challenge you to think again about your leadership style, your team selection, your training and your real objective.
The restaurant owner or restaurant manager who is a great leader, selects the right people to build a cooperative, energetic team. The low tech option becomes easy, simple and fun.
"Friend of" is an old concept. Facebook did not invent it and becoming friends is more than just a click.
Business cards are powerful if used correctly. The reason business cards are quickly tossed is because there is no apparent value to keeping them.
The pen... remains a tool to communicate personally.
"Friend of "____" written on the back of a business card along with a personal invitation has a potential guest accepting an invitation vs. responding to marketing. If the date and signature are added, it appears to be a bit more "official".
Here is what goes along with the card: "I would like to invite you to lunch and ask for me. If I am not at the restaurant when you visit, be sure to show them this card to let them know you are my friend so they can take care of you special."
The invitation is key to the interaction.
If the goal is to improve sales by 5,000 each month. If the average transaction is $25, then about 200 more transactions will get it done. If the team is experienced, enthusiastic, and love their restaurant; then a 10% response rate can be expected.
Empowering the team by having more reasons to visit will increase the response. Birthdays, wedding rehearsals, anniversaries, team celebrations, meetings, etc. are reasons to vist a restaurant.
Tracking the "friends" who visit and the name of the staff person who made the invite (possibly offering a reward) is a must since all marketing is measured.
This is a tried and true tactic but requires commitment and consistency. To fully understand the barriers, have a great process, and communication structure; the program needs to be initiated by the owner or manager and then shared.
If the restaurant is one barely surviving, the employees are simply collecting a paycheck, and there is more embarrassment than pride, there are other issues to consider.
Large restaurant chains rely heavily on buying power and ordering volume advertising at a discount. But local restaurants can become a part of the "inner circle" with invitations, community support and "special treatment for friends".
If a restaurant team can execute at this basic level, the new software and social media tools can expand the opportunity to make invitations.
How does a restaurant double sales? In 10% increments.
Doubling sales in a restaurant is not dependent on any one tactic but consider:
10 invitations by 20 staff members each day is 6,000 invitations a month. How many will respond? There are celebrations and events happening each month.
To execute is work. It takes planning, communication, training and a culture which daily asks: "How can we invite, serve and engage?" Otherwise, a restaurant and team is just another place with function food.