I'm going to break this down into steps really quick...
- Take the top 36 rated (or so) restaurants in your area from Yelp and UrbanSpoon.
- Approach / call restaurants and ask them if you could stop by and talk to them about participating in (your local towns), restaurant customer appreciation week.
- Get the meeting. Display a gorgeous mockup postcard profiling specials for the week. Put the top 12 rated places on there. From my own personal experience, the $10 off any ticket worth $30 or more works best. I know cuz I got my ass kicked by a company here locally. My idea vs. theirs, and they defeated me quite handily.
- Tell them you're putting the cards in 50,000 or 100,000 local mailboxes.
- Tell them, there can only be 12 squares, and you have to identify 12 of the best restaurants to place on each square, + a feature restaurant to co-brand with on the front side. Build the relationship - make them qualify themselves to you. Make them win you over.
- When they've won you over, start talking about the financial arrangement. Push for the co-branding on the front side that you'll sell for .50 per flyer ($25,000 or $50,000 depending on volume). Clearly many will back out of that, so then you down sell to $10,000 per square. Re-establish the value of the opportunity.
- If / when encountering resistance say listen; "for an entire week, 12 restaurants are going to be raking in all the money. Do you want to be the guy sitting on the sidelines not raking it in, while your customers think you don't appreciate them?"
- If money is really an obstacle for a super motivated client - search Google (in advance) for a merchant finance company that charges low (affordable) rates. Restaurant deals are the easiest to get done period. Get them the money (to pay you) and earn a commission on the funding as well.
- Make sure you actually get 24 interested restaurants. But only ship for 12. Regretfully inform the other 12 that they didn't make the cut, but will be considered for the next round.
- Deliver high quality - beautiful giant post cards featuring these $10 off of $30 offers to 50,000 doors. Everyone eats, so clearly there will be some conversions.
- Take photos, and videos. Save them.
The keys to making this work are:
- Actually picking really good restaurants to work with. Don't let scummy joints in on this.
- DESIGN, DESIGN, DESIGN. Make your visuals stunning. Including your presentation visuals. If / when you get restaurants on board, hire independent photographers and designers to help you nail it. Spend the money!
- Targeting high value areas. Don't mail to broke people.
- Keep the offer consistent. The fewer choices people have, the easier it is for them to make a decision. $10 off $30 or more, and $15 off $60 or more should do the trick.
- YOU SHOULD HAVE A GORGEOUS WEB SITE. Google "examples of gorgeous web sites."
- Check out the history of restaurant week and they're business model. They crush it every year. Also, everyone eats, so it's much easier to convert a restaurant patron than it is to convert a dental patient.
I haven't tried this idea - granted. But I've taken the postcard method and thought of a few implementable ideas... More to come!
Edit: I am personally a huge fan of doing "full frontal" attacks on the enemy. Doing this bi-annually at the start of the restaurant season (Spring) and end, right dead smack on top of restaurant week, allows you to further sell the value of exclusivity. "Everyone is doing restaurant week. Only 12 can do customer appreciation week..." etc.