How to Use Old School Restaurant Marketing in 2013

Old School Restaurant

Old school restaurant marketing can still work to get new customers through your door.

The past ten years have seen so many new forms of marketing. It’s hard to keep up, and that means we’ve lost sight of a lot of old and golden rules. Let’s look at some of those old school restaurant marketing strategies, and combine them with new tools for a unique marketing advantage…

Print reviews

There’s so much to gain and so little to lose. Print newspapers and magazines are still prioritized over digital media in some niche areas of our cities. On public transit, in coffee shops, on a walk through the city – these are places where picking up a free magazine or browsing the local paper still happens. Not all newspapers have seen such a big decline in home-delivery subscribers either. In fact, the New York Times recently saw an increase in their Sunday subscriptions after introducing a new digital paywall.

When people don’t have time to research a business they rely on reviews and recommendations. Tweet This

Landing a positive review in print gets your name out to people who like to engage with the real world. The types of people who read local print media are more likely to connect with the businesses in their city. They’re more likely to get out and visit new restaurants with positive reviews.

The beauty of print reviews is that they can also be turned into online reviews. Most publications have online versions, but you can also add your own press quotes or images to your website. There’s an enduring respect connected to print reviews that’s complimented by online content.

Start with an internet search of similar restaurants that have been reviewed in your area. Make a list of the authors’ and their contact info, then phone or email them with a personal invite!

Physical mail

Restaurant Mailer

The classic mailer still gets people thinking about visiting your restaurant.

Your potential customers are receiving less mail as most companies switch over to email and social networking. Restaurants can still benefit from direct mail because it’s more visible, leaves more room to innovate, and gives the opportunity to offer special incentives. Especially restaurants with a local presence and ownership can make an impact in neighborhood mailboxes.

Get creative with physical mail. Don’t use the classic flyer format that bombards the reader with info. Use a simple and memorable design that communicates a sophisticated message.

Also remember to incorporate your website or other online tools into physical mail. If your restaurant offers online ordering, you can include a little note in your print materials, “Online Ordering Available!”.

While creating your direct mail campaign, keep in mind that the current market is more socially and environmentally conscious. Using less bulky, recycled materials and hand-delivery to your restaurant’s surrounding residences and businesses will go a long way. Also find out if your community has a newsletter that you can place an advertisement in. People are craving that personal, responsible connection in our digital world.

Community boards and tables

So many times I’ve caught myself staring at my local coffee shop’s corkboard, vacantly waiting for a morning latte. Sometimes I read those community flyers three or four times without even realizing it. The message sticks, though, and so could yours.

For cafe or small-business settings, a simple business card or postcard with a photo and your restaurant name is enough. Some businesses will let you leave a card by the register, or they’ll have a separate table for community business owners to leave their material. Even more valuable is the networking experience of physically visiting the businesses in your community. Make sure you take every chance to interact with fellow business owners and managers. Ask in person if it’s okay to leave a few postcards.

Again, an internet search can be a big help in this strategy. Look up local cafes, community centers, guest houses, clothing stores, and any other small business whose brand image aligns with your restaurant. Spend an afternoon going from place to place and making those invaluable real-life connections.

Directory listings

People might be using their phonebooks as doorstops and kindling, but business directory listings can still be a powerful marketing tool. Visitors who aren’t familiar with your city are particularly likely to rely on printed information as they explore the city. Go to a nearby hotel, pick up the visitors’ guide booklet, and find out what it takes to get your restaurant’s name listed.

Also remember to scope out all online directories related to your restaurant. Start with your local YellowPages category. Pay attention to any lists that focus on your specific city or neighborhood. Google Maps is a form of online directory will create a huge boost to your visibility. If a pin for your restaurant doesn’t show up on a local map search, go fix that now! It only takes a few minutes, and it’s free.

Don’t give up on traditional marketing just yet. While everyone’s putting on their Google Glasses, take your chance to leave an impression the old-fashioned way.

Do you want to take your restaurant to the next level? Tour Restaurant Engine and learn about how you can have your very own restaurant website.

Image Credit: Behance, www.moneymailerraleigh.com

One response to “How to Use Old School Restaurant Marketing in 2013”

  1. Shawn King says:

    Good morning,

    Do you all offer the plastic postcards to your clients? If not we may be able to help. We are a plastic card manufacturer in OKC that produces millions of cards each month. Our plastic post card with the pop out gift card ( coupon usually ) is a huge hit. You may see some in your mail. Restaurants are our number one client groups.

    We run millions of these each month so we know they are working and I am certain they would work for your clients.

    I would love to send samples to show you what we do. Let me know and I will get them sent out.


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