Changing Up Your Direct Marketing Menu

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Americans spend 5.7% of their income at restaurants every year.

Creative advertising, direct marketing and customer management can make sure your restaurant is getting its share of the spending and take a bite out of your competition and boost your bottom line.

Do you know your customers?

For restaurants, offering quality food, providing outstanding service and greeting regulars warmly is standard operating procedure. But do you encourage frequent business by compiling customer lists for staying in touch? Satisfied customers are most likely to become your regulars, whether it’s for special occasions or every Tuesday night.
Compiling a list of previous customers is the ideal way to offer specials, announce new dishes, share recipes or invite them to a special wine dinner or other event. Start compiling your customer database by using information from a guest book, reservation lists, drawing sign‐ups or comment cards. These can be physical addresses or email addresses
Once you’ve started, it’s vital to keep it going. Regularly adding names will build your list but keeping addresses current and eliminating duplications is just as important. At least once a year your list should be compared with the National Change of Address (NCOA) records. This process will save an enormous amount of time and money on your promotions while keeping your mailing lists current. Every time you get a new list of emails, make sure whoever handles your email marketing is updating your subscriber list.

Cater to a new crowd

There are several approaches to direct mailing to the households most likely to dine with you. The most affordable is mailing to selected neighborhoods with a Resident list that saturates your area. Once you select the neighborhoods, your mailing list provider should be able to compile a list that’s walk-­sequenced within carrier routes in specified zip codes. This offers the lowest postage rate, however, the piece will be addressed ‘Resident’ rather than including the recipient’s name. If your restaurant caters to specific demographic groups, there is a list that will serve your purposes, whether it’s income­‐based, households with families, etc.
Trying to fill tables at lunch time? Develop multi-­person offers and mail to businesses within a predetermined geographic area like an office park or businesses within a five-mile radius of your location. If your restaurant is equipped to handle a large crowd, business-­to-­business advertising is ideal for promoting catering and/or special event gatherings. Using a mix of direct mail and email will help you put your name at the top of the list at mealtime.


Bill Nichols

June 26, 2014

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