The Marketing Maven Linda Duke
a Restaurant Marketer, Part 2
Attract new customers and build loyalty
with a creative marketing plan.
As PMQ’s resident marketing maven, I have compiled a list of
10 “mavenisms,” or key strategies that can be implemented to
improve your restaurant’s overall marketing plan. I presented the
first five mavenisms in last month’s issue. In this issue, I’d like to
offer five more.
Think of your restaurant as a venue.
Your establishment can serve as a venue for many types of
events that will draw additional business and boost your image
with the general public. Here are some ideas:
• Offer to host a fundraiser for local nonprofit organizations.
Return a portion of your revenue to the organization—they eat
and pay, and you give 20% back to them.
• Invite social groups, such as the Red Hat Society or clubs for
mah-jongg players, bridge players or car enthusiasts, to use
your restaurant for their regular meetings.
• Get feedback from your customers by hosting an in-restaurant
focus group. Select a certain day and time—preferably a
Saturday afternoon—and bring in 10 to 15 customers to be
interviewed about your food, service and atmosphere. Offer an
incentive—such as a free entree card or complimentary menu
item—for their participation. Try to get clear responses on
customers’ preferences and perceptions and solicit their ideas
on what creates an emotional connection to your brand.
Spend your food instead of cash.
Instead of spending money on advertising, use food samples—
such as pizza, an appetizer, chips and salsa or even signature
menu items—to entice new business and drive catering sales.
You can make a big impact just by taking samples to targeted
businesses or groups and getting your food in their mouths! Also
reach out to radio DJs and provide free meal coupons that they
can give away on the air, or offer to cook one of your signature
menu items on a local TV morning show. This strategy—which is
easy to implement but too often overlooked—makes people want
to try your restaurant or reminds them to come back again.
Practice socially responsible marketing.
A vision for your business may be necessary for success, but it is
no longer sufficient—having a “social vision” is also imperative,
and restaurant operators must get with the program. Green
marketing and socially responsible marketing have become
major focuses for businesses and consumers alike. Talk to your
distributor about locally grown or locally manufactured products
as well as other companies that specialize in organic foods and
sustainability practices. Many distributors already have sources
for organic and sustainable lines.
How does this approach benefit you? It’s good public relations.
Use menus, signage, check presenters and word of mouth to
spread information about your socially responsible efforts, and,
in turn, your actions will generate good will, attract more loyal
customers and turn your guests into “ambassadors” who are
willing to share your story with others.
Get on the LSM Diet.
Restaurant operators should focus their marketing efforts
within a radius of three to five miles and create their own niche.
Community involvement is the glue that holds all marketing and
advertising efforts together and makes them effective. It’s also
your best chance to compete against the larger chains that can