You’ve got three areas of influence you should focus on in local marketing, explained consultant Tom Feltenstein at the 2010 Restaurant Leadership Conference: within your four walls, within four blocks of your restaurant and within four miles. Feltenstein riffed on marketing possibilities. Here are the highlights.
- Everything must be clean and well-kept—including the staff.
- Recruit great people first. Skills can be taught.
- Staff should identify new customers and tell the manager.
- Insist cooks meet-and-greet with guests regularly.
- Empower certain positions with extra pay and distinctive uniforms (i.e. cashiers).
- Let employees surprise customers with instant-win coupons.
- Reward long-term employees on their date-of-hire anniversary.
- On Friday nights have servers wear a $10 bill with a pin that says, “If I’m not smiling, this Hamilton is yours.” If they still have it at the end of the night, they get to keep the $10.
- Create personalized business cards for your employees with titles like “POS Guru” or “Server Extraordinaire.”
- Send out an employee newsletter with birthdays, accomplishments, new hire introductions, new store offerings, etc.
- Use signage at the hostess stand for new menu items.
- Use the inside of the bathroom stall doors to promote in-house events or specials.
- Create a “Worst Seat in the House” and give anybody who sits there 50 percent off their meal.
- Walk outside your doors and personally meet every business manager/owner and resident within 10 minutes of your location.
- Drop by a neighborhood block party with a case of free refreshments.
- Advertise at the nearest bus or train stops and include walking directions to your door.
- Create a fake parking ticket to place on cars outside your restaurant enticing customers into your site.
- Set up a fake picketing line of employees and their friends with signs that say, “I love working here” and “Our food is fantastic!”
- Hire 15 people to take samples door-to-door.
- Buy a new residents list each month, and send them a coupon for a free product or service.
- Welcome new businesses to the neighborhood with coupons for a free coffee or cookie.
- Give your delivery drivers magnetic business cards to hand out to customers with fun titles like, “Road Warrior” and “Have Pizza Will Travel.”
- Announce new menu items via email to all your customers – include a photograph!
- Surprise a doctor’s office with a free lunch and copies of your menu
- Rent a food booth at a local festival.
- Take photos at school sporting events and have a “Find your Face” reward.
- Sponsor a discount day especially for firefighters and police officers in your area.
- Provide special coupons to nearby theatres and require a ticket stub accompanying the coupon when redeemed.