I have been asked to provide the marketing strategy for a new local restaurant (non-chain). I would like to think that I have a few good ideas for marketing such a business but the collective power of the entire Warrior Forum is way more knowledge than any one person. So, all your thoughts are welcomed and encouraged. Sorry for the long post in advance, I am going to lay it ALL out!
I am going to break this post down into smaller chunks to make it more organized: restaurant background, pre-launch, 0 - 3 months, 3 - 6 months, 6 months - ongoing. Feel free to comment on any piece or the strategies as a whole.
The restaurant is planning for a grand opening in September/October. An official date is still to be determined.
This restaurant is a brand new with no prior or existing customer base. This new restaurant is located in North Beach, MD just two blocks off the Chesapeake Bay and 2 blocks from the town boardwalk. You can see the water from the front sidewalk and restaurant deck area.
The building itself is an old house that was completely gutted and turned into a restaurant. It seats about 45 people in the main dining area using 10-15 tables. The outside deck area can hold another 10-15 people in its current design.
The restaurant's main offerings will be seafood, burgers, and pastas. I can't give much more detail here as the menu is still being finalized.
I view the pre-launch period as a time to start getting the word out and building the brand. The goal being to generate interest and have people ready to go to the restaurant as soon as it is open.
For this to be successful I would imagine I have to capture contact details of interested prospects or be able to contact customers in some way when the doors are opening. Therefore, the majority of my strategy will focus on getting customers to sign-up for a list of some sort (details below). Your thoughts?
Website - I plan on using the website as the home base for most online marketing efforts. The website will be up to date with all necessary restaurant information. In addition to the usual an opt-in form will be prominently displayed to capture visitors information so they can be contacted later. I plan to entice the customers to join this mailing list with a free special appetizer. This appetizer will only be made for those individuals who join the list and then present the coupon at the restaurant.
Social Media / Twitter - I would like to get Facebook (and maybe twitter) going before open and start to draw people to our page. I have considered giving a similar offering to those who like page as done with the website opt-in above to encourage sign ups. Any other thoughts on how to find and get users to like the page before the restaurant opens?
Mobile Marketing - I want to get customers signed up to a list that I can send text messages to anytime we want. Prior to launch of the restaurant I was thinking of doing a mobile advertising campaign with AdMob or a similar service to get customers to join the list via text message for a free appetizer once the restaurant opens. Can anyone think of any other way or other enticing offers to get customers to join a mobile list?
Groupon - I have also been toying with the idea of suggesting to run a Groupon offer shortly before the restaurant opens. This would certainly drive tons of traffic through the doors. However, Groupon is very expensive for the business as they only get 25% or less of the full value of the offering. If I did this one time and coupled it with my mobile marketing strategy mentioned in the 0 - 3 month section this could provide real lasting value even with the high initial cost!
Local Marketing/ Mobile Marketing (Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Business Portal) - Taking advantage of the local business tools offered by the big three search engines seems like a great way to get some free traffic. It may take some time though to actually show up at or near the top of these results.
Gift Certificate Presale - I came up with the idea of selling gift certificates directly to customers at ½ price right up until opening day (sort of like offering my own Groupon). This could also be a good publicity stunt that a local paper, blog, etc runs with and promotes. Limiting purchases to one per household address, credit card, & email would ensure you don't loose much in the process as well as stating only one can be redeemed per table per visit.
For example, anyone that goes to the restaurant website could order a $20 gift certificate for $10. It could be redeemed anytime within one year. This really seems like a good idea. What do you all think?
Board Walk - During the spring, summer, and fall the board walk only 2 blocks down the street is filled with potential hungry customers. While chefs are making their final preparations and testing food recipes weeks in advance of the opening date the food that is cooked for these tests could then plated for individual bites and handed out free of charge to visitors on the boardwalk. This could help to draw attention and get people talking about your food. In addition, people who like the samples may start to crave some of the unusual concoctions not available elsewhere. Any other interesting ways to exploit this huge pool of potential customers?
ValPack / Great Coupons - These are two coupon services that serve our local area. There is usually 20+ restaurant's coupons in each of these books every month. These books are distributed to 10,000 plus residences in the area each month. I wouldn't want to use these long term but to boost business initially they may be a good idea. To be included in each book is $300-$500 per month. What do you think about these kinds of services?
In summary, I am laying out an offline & online marketing approach to attract customers.
- What techniques do you have experience with that may be beneficial to this situation?
- Any strategy that I may be missing?
- What methods will provide the best return on investment?
0 - 3 Months
The time has come for the doors of the restaurant to open. Now is the time we hope to see a packed restaurant full of customers. The goal now is to get all engaged prospects to visit the restaurant at least once. Here is why...
Mobile Marketing - I plan to use the a text message marketing campaign to get all customers who walk through the door onto our mobile list. I plan to do this using a combination of table tents and business cards/post cards for the carry out orders. Once joined, we will be able to send discounts or specials whenever it is slow.
Website - I will continue to keep the website up to date and get visitors via the opt-in form. The opt-in form method is cheaper to communicate in the long run over text messaging.
Social Media - I plan to continue using social media to engage customers. I would like to think of some creative ways to get customers to take photos or share things about the restaurant to their fan base. Any interesting ideas for getting more fans and keeping fans engaged (contents, drawings, special posting types, etc)? Snap a photo & share to friends to receive a discount, free beer, etc? Ever seen a mention of social media used within a menu?
Four Square - I will implement four square and use check-ins as a way to reward customers who continue to come back. Anything interesting you think I should know about? I have little to no experience with four square.
3 - 6 Months
Now that the restaurant has been open for 3-6 months I don't foresee many changes in the strategy from that of the 0 - 3 months. I still think the social & mobile efforts need to continue.
If traffic starts to drop off a bit we can start to send out discounts & specials via text message marketing & email. These methods can help to overcome the slow or seasonal business times that some restaurants face.
I can foresee hosting local events or thing like that. The area isn't really big enough to house a huge band but the deck could be used for a single or very small one.
Any other ideas or additional things that should be considered here?
6 Months - Ongoing
Once we make it to the 6 month mark going strong I think we are doing well. I see the social & mobile efforts continuing. I don't know what else to expect here.
I think hosting local events will be beneficial though I don't know what kinds of events to host at this time.
Anything else you can think of that I should be doing or maybe missed?
Finally, we have come to the end of the post. If you aren't familiar with all of these strategies I hope I have opened your eyes to something new that you can use. If you have worked with local restaurants/businesses in the past or have ideas that I should consider I would love your input.
Thanks so much in advance,