Unless you’re a fine dining restaurant, chances are that there’s a significant factor driving customers to eat with you, beyond your food.
As you’ve heard time and again, it all comes down to location, location, location.
What this means is that the people who chose to dine with you, tend to be local. Greg Brown, director of marketing at Melissa Data, a mailing and address provider in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, recently talked to Restaurant Management about how restaurants can increase their business by thinking locally.
The top marketing opportunity that most restaurants are missing out on, says Brown, is direct mailing.
Most consumers have probably seen the amount of mail they receive decline in recent years as more companies move to email marketing campaigns. This can play in your favor, Brown explains.
“This is a great time, when mail is down, to do a direct mailing, because you have less competition in the mail box. There’s a tangible factor to direct mail that you don’t get with email—it’s easy to delete an email in your inbox.”
Many restaurateurs likely think it’s too difficult and too expensive to do a traditional direct mail campaign but neither of these is true, Brown points out.
Melissa Data’s website offers a free tool to allow users to look up all the addresses in a specific ZIP code, so they can do a saturation mailing (one in which the mailers are sent to Current Resident rather than a specific person.
Local restaurant operators can look at a ZIP code, look at the parameters around their business—where they would like to grow foot traffic—then find the carrier routes/postal routes that feed into that ZIP code.
“When you know that kind of information, it’s easy to do a saturation mailing—you target a neighborhood or a group of neighborhoods—you mail to every house in that area,” Brown explains.
As for the cost, he points out that the saturation mailings are easy for the Post Office to do, “and they give incredible postage discounts with them.”
The other benefit of a saturation mailing is the number of households you can hit. You can mail to 10,000 addresses in a saturation mailing for the same cost that it would cost to send regular mail to 1,000 consumers, Brown says. And of course, with Current Resident on the address, you know your mail will be delivered.
As with most marketing campaigns, the immediate response rate isn’t great—typically between one and two percent, says Brown.
“But you’re using these for branding. You’re raising awareness [of your restaurant]. One of the things about a saturation mailing is about getting your name out there and building awareness, so consumers think of your restaurant when they’re hungry.”
Direct mailings should be sent out monthly, Brown advises. They should periodically include a call to action such as “offer ends on Monday 30th,” to create a sense of urgency and keep you top of mind with the customer. Or they should include an offer, such as 50% off appetizers, to both draw in new customers and draw back old ones.
Finally, Brown suggests having a presence on Google Places. As a local restaurant you can go in and claim your listing—for free. That means you can verify your address, phone number and business name.
Be sure, says Brown, to promote coupons in your Google Places dashboard. These can help you track the results of your campaign, and equally important, Google’s algorithm supposedly gives your listing a boost if you have coupons.
“Every business should be doing this,” Brown says. “You need to create a Google account and away you go.”
By Amanda Baltazar