When we think of marketing it’s usually commercials, online ads, and email newsletters, but only the industries that thrive off exposure fully utilizes what we consider “marketing”. Local and even bigger conglomerate restaurants rarely use any form of advertising, and some ads can still be found in the yellow pages. Everyone knows that eating is a must, and for restaurants the busiest times are around noon and hours from 5 to midnight, depending on whether it has a bar and how long it stays open. But what about the hours that customers don’t walk through the doors? How can these restaurants make money that rival their competitors during the down time?
Remember those local diners or restaurants that everyone loved? For travelers passing through the town or city, they had no idea what they were missing, or if they walked in, what to expect. Usually these diners would have specials at certain times during the day, or would have an item on the menu during the week or on a particular night that was a must have. These specials, similar to what Golden Corral does, attracts customers because it’s a once a week meal that’s not on the menu any other time during the week.
But in the 21st century and with the internet, those travelers and even residents of that particular town should know the specials and prices the diner or restaurants provides before walking through the door. However, this is still not the case.
Last summer a few friends and I would go to Chili’s. The food was great, but better yet, the movie theater was right across the street, which is why we chose that restaurant. For some of us who had the same dish every time we went, there was no need to read the menu, but for one friend, he always had to try something new. In the few months we went there, the menu would change slightly, with new dishes and offers making choices more difficult. We didn’t check the menu on the website before going because as typical 20 year olds, we didn’t feel the need to research what we were going to have.
This leads to the problem with most restaurants. As customers who went to Chili’s on a weekly basis, we expected the same food every time we went there, only to be surprised when a new dish was featured. Had Chili’s given us cards to fill out asking for our email addresses, they could send us, along with all the other customers they gave the cards to, weekly or monthly email promotional ads featuring their new dishes and entrees. By doing this they would have an email list and another way to market their food. It’s cost efficient and doesn’t require much effort.
For all the small restaurants, an email list is crucial. You don’t have the same marketing and advertising opportunities such as Chili’s, but on a smaller scale you can keep in contact with your customers and inform them on what’s new to the menu.
This, along with a Twitter and Facebook account, would cover all the bases when reaching out to your customers, and even the frequent travelers who pass through your city or town on their way to and from work. Right now, no not many customers, except for the most loyal, will know what is on your menu, or what is being added to it. An email newsletter is a perfect way to get the word out, and the customer’s decision on what entree he or she wants will already be decided before walking through the door.
Restaurants don’t market on a small and simple scale, but you can be one of the few. Give your customer a card to fill out, ask for their email address, and then inform them on what your restaurant is up to, the specials, and the new entrees. You do this, and I guarantee, your profits will likely increase, especially during the off hours in-between lunch and dinner.