Restaurant Marketing: The Power of FREE
The idea of advertizing is to get your potential customers to try your product. Often owners and managers look to discount coupons or print ad because they think it’s less expensive. But if the idea is to get people to TRY your food – what’s the most effective way?
Give it to them. Free.
Instead of focusing on the cost of a give-away – focus on the multiple benefits!
Done right, with proper research of your community, preparation of your staff, and prior marketing and awareness…. Free can be POWERFUL – the initial cost is a fraction of the benefits!
You can still make a huge impact without giving away 80,000 pizzas as thes folks at Pizza Patron’s did…. just do a little planning!
- Plan. Planning is essential to an type of advertising and marketing.
- Know your demographic area and your target customer. Are they families? Businesses? High school or college students? Develop a marketing plan to promote directly to this demographic. If families –Promote for and to anyone under the age of 18. Businesses or local employees – show a business card. How about local hospital / fire or police station – just show your badge. An easy way to piggy-back off of the language idea – If you have Italian food, advertise the specific phrase they’ll need to order those meatballs!
- Strategize. What will you offer? How much/how many? Will it be for a specific amount of time? What will you do if you under estimate the promotion’s response? A single Day? Make sure your restaurant and your staff can handle the extra business!
- Distribute responsibilities. Assign back of house, front of house and marketing promotion managers. Make sure they are involved in the planning and have a checklist of things they’re responsible for.
- Prepare. When the word gets out you’re giving away something FREE. No strings, no obligations – current and potential FUTURE customers will come out of the woodwork. They need to be greeted and treated with the very best that you have. After all, this may be the first time they’ve experience your store!
- Your Restaurant: Clean! Inside and out. Anywhere a customers eyes may see.
- Meet with your staff to cover every aspect of the day, how to handle impatient customers (Hint: with a smile and a bounce back!!!!)
- Bring in additional staff, even volunteers to help with greeting, lines, handing out bounce backs, cleaning throughout the day, etc. Think about having them wear a bright colored branded TShirt so customers recognize them.
- How about branded Tshirts, ‘bounce back’ frisbees with a note written (and signed) right on it – they can play while they wait, or other promotional items to throw into the waiting crowds? This will create excitement and make the waiting time pass faster.
- Put a limit on the offer, then make sure you have enough supplies (plus) to cover your advertised special.
- Preprint branded bounce backs. Hand them to everyone. You want to make sure that guests come back soon for another visit.
- Have a supply of ‘free’ bounce backs for those still in line at the end of the offer or at the end of the supply of food!
- Market! Just as you would market before…. Market AFTER. Be sure to thank your community for their support!
- We love the ‘You won’t beleive what’s coming on August 3rd’ promotion. It build suspense and excitement!
- Use all possible social media applications – they’re free!
- Enlist your staff to submit suggestions on how to get the media involved – without paying for advertising. It could be that you set up a collection site for a local food bank during the week of the event.
- Create a contest with your staff. Give each pre-printed flyers (they can be the size of a business card) with their name on it AND an opt in email address area to collect emails for future specials. Have a collection jar at the register. The employee who brings in the most customers for the day gets something special! It could be as simple as a paid day off.
Our best advise for any marketing promotion is to plan, then have fun. Your customers are going to remember smiling faces!!