Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work?

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RilesEats
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2011/03/11 15:20:57 (permalink)

Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work?

I am so glad I found this forum! I joined to ask your advice on this topic. I own a small restaurant with a local diner "feel" to it. We hav the regulars that come in but I am looking for a way to attract new customers. I have been approached with ideas but they eat away (excuse the pun) at my profits. I was told by an Internt friend of mine to use MailChimp to start email marketing but I don't know how to get a list of new people. Any ideas? I don't have a huge buget and local print ads don't give me the reach or response I need. Has anyone heard about restaurant giveaways? they are at and offered me the chance to list a giveaway for free. They have people that will enter and they said I can use it to build a relationship with these people. It sounds good but I want to know if anyone used them. They said they have a free option but before I waste any time, I would like to know for sure. Thoughts? Please? Anyone? any other ideas would be helpful as well.
post edited by RilesEats - 2011/03/11 15:21:59
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    stubby77
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/11 15:36:00 (permalink)
    I just signed up with txt180.com to do text message marketing. I know it won't drive any new customers my way, but if I can use it to increase my existing customers frequency of visits, that will help the bottom line. I'm going to do weekly text coupons, occasional specials, and also use it as an alert system to tell subscribing regulars if I will be closed on a certain day. I figure the more they hear from me, the more I stay on their mind.
    #2
    Schmelly
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/11 19:47:38 (permalink)
    How about putting a high visibilty sign out front, and run a crazy special for a week or so....I bet it would get a lot of people in the door....
     
    For instance, when I open my concession trailer I am going to run a grand opening special....I'm going to put a big sign out front with balloons...
     
    My special to get people "in the door" will be 2 dogs any style, fries, and a drink for 3 bucks
    #3
    Foodbme
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/11 20:15:32 (permalink)
    The NRA, National Restaurant Association has all kinds of Marketing Help. May be worth joining.
    http://www.restaurant.org/search_results.cfm?q=Marketing&cx=003254966726427069826%3A94pole1pdsu&cof=FORID%3A10&ie=UTF-8&x=9&y=15#1013
    #4
    localnet
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/12 12:17:05 (permalink)
    One of the best things I did to increase business was to spend a few days with a handful of menus and hit every business within a 3 mile area. I dressed up, fresh haircut, washed the truck and hit around 200 businesses. It worked, and really did increase my customer base. I printed my own menus, so no real cost there plus my time and gas.
     
    If cash is tight, that is what I would do, and trust me, it works.
     
     
    #5
    ann peeples
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/12 13:05:52 (permalink)
    Personally, I cant stand text messaging notifications-and ignore them completely. I like localnet's idea. It sure personalizes your business.
    #6
    Schmelly
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/12 15:39:24 (permalink)
    Agree, text messages are very annoying....if anything they piss me off, and then i don't want to do business with who ever sent it
    #7
    stubby77
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/12 19:17:02 (permalink)
    With the text message thing , you actually have to subscribe to receive them. If you subscribe to a list and then refuse to do business with the company, that's pretty silly - just don't subscribe in the first place!
    #8
    ann peeples
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/12 19:33:38 (permalink)
    Regardless of the P's and Q's of text messaging-I do not think it is the smartest way to go.
    #9
    bartl
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/13 00:46:03 (permalink)
    Here's a trick I've read about to get customers in on weeknights. Without advance announcement or advertising, once a week or two, walk onto the floor and say, "Everybody's who has already ordered: your meal is on the house!" Figure if 5% of your dinners are being served at the time, it's like giving a 5% discount; you can set your price point accordingly. Since you make no promise that you ever will do that again, it's not legally considered to be gambling. But the word of mouth will be VERY strong and people will be coming in on weeknights with the hope of getting a free meal.
     
    Bart
    #10
    PointGeorge
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/13 11:08:16 (permalink)
    Loyalty marketing, buy 10 get one free cards can work well. Most folks rarely hold on the cards long enough to collect but if the do God bless em, they are regular motivated customers.
     
    Using a free give awas service like groupon or the like is a horrible move.  You only attract penny pinchers that will only purchase when the can get something that will cost you money and don't come back for full price.  The only one making money on thost things are the folks that sell the promotion.
     
    localnet if on the money with getting you menu to all local businesses, schools etc.
     
    Schools and local civic groups are also a way to get the word out. Contributing  Cupons for free combos when they have fund raiser or events will get the word out that you are a part of the community and bring in new local customers.
     
    Never buy an e-mail list and send to it, that's spam and its only popular fried in Hawaii.
     
    Set up a Facebook page and have folks friend you on it.  You can then contact folks with specials through it and they can send those special to friends. Those specials should still give you a profit however.
     
    G
    #11
    localnet
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/13 15:54:33 (permalink)
    I try not to give away anything, no combos etc. If you want it you need to fork over the cash. I would love to walk into a Dodge dealer and be able to buy a truck and get my pick off the used car lot for free. Ain't going to happen.
     
    Seriously, get out there and promote your business, print menus and fliers and hit the street! Do the buy ten free cards, they work and I will do those, but don't just give away food to increase business. Loyal customers are one thing, but giving away food to attempt to increase business is just foolish in my book.
     
    Try to create one awesome food item that you can put out quickly and that is unique. I have two items, MY BIGGEST SELLERS and the two HIGHEST priced items on my menu that I specialize in. One is a Chicago Dog @ $3.50 ea and the other is a 9" Philly Cheese Steak @ $7.75 ea. I use all Vienna Beef product for the Chicago Dogs, and source all of my Cheese Steak ingredients direct from Philly, including the Amoroso rolls and real Cheez Whiz. My food costs are right around 27-28% on these two items, which again are my best sellers, do the math.
     
    My secret, I used to live in Chicago and Philly, I know what the customer wants and I know what I like. I continually point out that I lived in both towns, poo poo Pat's and Geno's (YUCK), pump Vienna and put out the product that I found the best in both cities. I just wish I could get some 18" Amoroso rolls to make a true masterpiece, I could pump these out at around $14 a pop all day long.
     
    Where exactly are you in Toledo? I'm just up the road from you not far from Ann Arbor. Depending on your actual location you may be sitting on a gold mine if you do it right. Do you have a beer license?
    #12
    bartl
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/13 21:03:38 (permalink)
    One other idea (again not original). I have to assume that you have the usual high-markup additions to you menu. When local groups hit you up for prizes for whatever contests they are having, offer coupons for one or more of these items. It increases your reputation, lets people know about you, and, frankly, how many people are going to go into your restaurant alone, take their free soda or fries, eat them, and walk out?
     
    DItto about Groupon; I recently read an article (did someone here post it?) about how waitstaff have discovered that Groupon customers tend to tip based on what they pay, not the original price of the food. The result is complaints on both sides, where the service staff complain about the customers, and the customers complain about the lousy service they receive.
     
    Bart
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    localnet
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/14 07:23:41 (permalink)
    I read some pretty nasty stuff regarding those Groupons. I don't know how true what I read was, something about groupon being heavy in charges to the restaurant which costs more than the food being sold. I read somewhere a few months ago about a cheese steak shop being run out of business by this bunch. Like I said, just a rumor, but I would do my due diligence before hooking up with this, or any group. Just saying.
    #14
    FanPage_Biz
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/14 11:46:48 (permalink)
    Check in to Facebook Fan Page for your restaurant. 
    1.  Try and setup a Fan Page.
    2.  Create a nice image for your fan page.
    3. Market your fan page in your restaurant.  Maybe at the front desk can say join us at facebook ************
    4. Create coupons on your fan page to keep people going back to it.
    5. Use Facebook adwords to market to people in your town.  Number 5 is very powerful if don right.
    6.  Create a feed back page on you Fan Page
    7.  Last update it every day with soup of the day happy hour and events that are going on. 
    When facebook users start using your Fan Page it will share it with their friends.  Soon you will get more likes on your fan page and then they will start showing up at your restaurant.
    Have fun with it...
    If you need help or want more info contact me at fanpagebiz@gmail.com 
    #15
    BackAlleyBurger
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/15 03:27:17 (permalink)
    i plan on doing the "10 card" also, everyone i speak to says it works great, keeps loyal customers happy with the occasional freebie, and helps new customers decide where to go back to.....
     
    i had an idea about a "master card" play on the 10 card..... whenever a customer cashes in a 10card  offer them a "master card" and punch it every time a 10card is redeemed.... when the master card is punched 10 times, give them 2 hours catering at a kids b-day party or something (simple hot dogs/hamburgers kind of thing) with limits of course......because now, you have just opened yourself a new door with all the neighborhood moms
    #16
    BackAlleyBurger
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/15 03:33:48 (permalink)
    another idea im trying to get hooked up with is a couple of local radio stations are doing there own respective versions of a "feed me friday" promo you get tons of free local radio hype for the promotion, callers try to be #9 during the week, and then fridays they pick a name from the #9 callers to get a free lunch for up to 15 people wherever the winner works(workforce lunch patrol) the following monday..... and all weekend long they are promoting the winners getting ready for monday, and you get 7 days a week, probably 6-8 spots a day free advertising
    #17
    bartl
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/16 20:12:52 (permalink)
    I just re-read the article on Groupon, and did some of my own research. Here's the thing: you cannot think of it as any other thing than an advertising plan that you pay for in your costs, as opposed to cash. If your delta cost is low, then you can get some really nice advertising cheap.
     
    The ads only stay up for a relatively short period of time; their audience is people who are constantly texting and going on social network sites like Facebook and Twitter. My guess is that these are mostly younger people who give low tips out of ignorance more than cheapness. So another key is to remember that it is you, as the owner, who are paying for this, and you need to ensure that your staff doesn't end up footing part of the bill for you. In other words, except for perhaps getting paid today for coupons that may not be redeemed for a year, or, at all, you are probably going to lose money on the actual coupons; the profit, theoretically, is in attracting new customers, notably among those who just see your ad (Groupon uses professional copywriters who use a "house style" designed to promote the business, not the discount).
    The trick is to figure out a discount that will be attractive, won't cost you too much, and avoid a deal that will attract too many people who would not otherwise use your business. Also, you have to decide whether the continuous texting crowd is who you feel will make good customers. For a diner-like ambiance, probably not.
    This all came about because, by strange coincidence, a (non restaurant) client was considering looking into Groupon and asked me to do the research. In my particular case, it's a difficult fit, because while the grouponers are an attractive market, their ability to give an attractive while not too expensive discount is very limited.
     
    Bart
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    Doctor Profit
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/19 18:57:13 (permalink)
    Contrary to what most people will tell you is the money is in working with your existing customers and using them to bring in new customers through referral strategies and rewards based loyalty programs.
     
    First I would focus on building your list - name, email, cell phone no, birthday would be a good start. Then start email or texting these customers with offers to return.
     
    This is extremely cheap marketing & you will boost your profitability by about 70% by simply increasing the frequency of a customer dining with you.
     
    You could also use bounce back certificates with an offer for anyone returning within say 72 hours.
     
    You can attract new customers by working with local schools, charities, sports teams & help them with their fund raising - key though is to get diners info as already mentioned so you can market to them. There is heaps you can do here.
     
    Don't waste money on group coupon deals like Groupon - you will be working for nothing and the Rice University study shows repeat customers are as low as 13%. These group coupon deals are popular with consumers but latest figures from Merchant Circle shows that 55% of businesses who use them will never use them again because they attract the wrong type of customer (those out of your geographic area and coupon addicts) and profit impacts.
     
    Marketing automation is the key to all this. If you want more info I can send you a link - sorry can't put my hand on it at the moment.
     
     
     
    #19
    Snsmythe
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/21 15:03:22 (permalink)
    Deal sites can help your restaurant attract new customers but you have to chose the right one for you. My Cafe is in San Jose, CA so I went with a local deal site called Speedeals, they also do business in Salt Lake City, Utah and Washington, DC. Through them I was able to attract a reasonable number of new customers and their commission was much lower than their competitors, at just 20% of my deal price. I've found that going with small companies that are interested in helping local businesses is a much better alternative to the big name brands.
    #20
    BackAlleyBurger
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/03/21 17:05:56 (permalink)
    when i was in biz before this (a small communications company) i tried everything, including the yellow pages(waste of money) and the best thing i did for getting my name out there was pens and magnets....
    look at it like this, business cards usually end up on the floor of their truck, or at best, used to write down a phone number and then buried in the wallet or glovebox....just to be tossed a week or so later when they clean out said areas
     
    with pens, people hold on to those, they need them, they have to write things down, and people like cool, good writing pens...... they are usually always at arms length, and new pens always get read by the people who borrow/steal them, lol
     
    refrigerator magnets placed at eye level on the break room fridge, brightly colored, maybe with a calender on it, and a quick rundown of what you do/offer will keep you fresh in the minds of countless office drons and managers.... i would emphasize corporate catering if you go that way, in the least, office catering for employee appreciation or something to that effect....
    also squeeze in birthday events, etc....etc.... so the poor over worked parent can make easy plans for juniors party....supply balloons and streamers, maybe music, and some cheap easy party games for the kids etc..... 
     
    with cards, at the very least they need to have a special offer on them IMO to even be worth the trouble of getting them..... 10 cards are a minimum if you ask me....
     
    outside of that, maybe some t-shirts, bite the bullet and give away the first 100 or so.....maybe print a coupon on them, only valid if wearing shirt sort of thing...
    if your in a college town maybe a "free foot long on first date" shirt for the guys, and a "best buns in town" for the girls......you know, something tastefully trashy (works best in summer months).........
    if your doing a family event, offer the kids one free can soda per hour to wear your shirts(family friendly shirts) and talk about your good food.....
     
    i wouldnt curse myself with groupon or the such, word of mouth and in your face local man on the street advertising is the way to go 
     
     
    post edited by BackAlleyBurger - 2011/03/21 17:07:56
    #21
    BackAlleyBurger
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/04/25 03:30:02 (permalink)
    charlesCONway.....
    this is post number 5...every single one has been flagged as spam... how about you go away now
    #22
    zoltron
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/09/19 20:48:16 (permalink)
    Marketing is an area that I struggled with when I launched my first business.  I found that radio advertising had one of the worst ROI for me.  Instead, marketing directly to local businesses and volunteer fire departments gave me the best ROI.  I would give them a menu and provide them with some free food samples.  Most would return the favor and give me business..then it is up to me to retain their business.  There is a new concept coming out that a friend of mine beta tested with amazing results..It basically allows restaurants the ability to handout a branded "coupon" with a unique code on it.  Customers would login to the homepage, type in their number / email address and they would go to a branded page with prize squares.  My friend put %off amounts, buy 1 entree get free appetizers, and even gave away mp3 players and a cruise.  Most were just discounts to drive more business in, but the bigger prizes forced people to see what they won since they knew there was a chance to win something big.  In the end, they clicked a button and a prize was chosen by the website and an email was sent to the winner.  In that email, he posted additional marketing including giving them the chance to like them on facebook, join mailing list, etc.. I am signing up when this goes live later this year (their site says fall of 2011).  I won't post the URL, but its called Cinco Squared.
     
    Also, I have heard great things about Mail Chimp...the problem is getting email addresses...that is where collecting them via campaign as I outlined above or by performing a google search for "Contact email" and searching for .xls files...Or you will have to open your wallet and buy database with email addressess...Getting past their spam filter or drawing interest is not easy though. The key is to have the ability to quantify your marketing success so you know if it is worth it.
     
    I always though pizza and a movie might be a cool idea...DVD rentals are dying, but a nearby rental place might partner with you.  It would be convenient to have pizza and a dvd delivered and then picked up on your next delivery...just thinking out-loud.
     
     
     
    #23
    Dr of BBQ
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/09/20 08:11:37 (permalink)
    I'm not a fan of discounts in any way shape or form with one exception, and that is volume. If the volume is really big then I'll discount the price. But that said I offer this study:
     
    Study: Deal sites help restaurants draw new customers September 19, 2011 | By Alan J. Liddle A study of restaurant consumers who use group or daily-deal websites, released last week by Rice University and Cornell University researchers, indicates that while deep discount offers may cause sales cannibalization, they also bring in new guests with positive attributes.

    Read more: http://nrn.com/article/study-deal-sites-help-restaurants-draw-new-customers?ad=consumer-trends&utm_source=MagnetMail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Jack@DrofBBQ.com&utm_content=NRN-News-NRNam-09-20-11&utm_campaign=Meet%20Wendy%27s%20new%20burgers#ixzz1YUedBS38


    #24
    Chicnscoop
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/09/20 10:16:28 (permalink)
    A local place near me used to do an early bird dinner special. The portion may have been slightly smaller but it brought a very loyal customer base of older people in. They eventually got so busy that they no longer do the special but the same customer base is still there regularly. It is worth giving a try if you are a sit-down type of place.
    #25
    Parrot Cage
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/09/20 15:41:58 (permalink)
    I am considering using a promotion I saw back in the early 90s. You purchased an 8-ounce coffee mug from a big 24-hour burger chain in Texas (Whataburger) that also sold breakfast and whenever you brought it back you could fill it for a nickle. I am considering a 14-16 ounce travel mug for a quarter. Of course, the idea is that if they come back to fill the mug they will (usually) figure "I got my coffee cheap, I guess I could spend $1.50 on a sausage biscuit or $2.50 on a breakfast burrito".
    #26
    FriedTater
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/09/20 17:56:59 (permalink)
    Parrot, there are several vendors I know that do the so-called "home-made root beer" thing. Although all of them are indepent of each other, I assume they have an agreement with each other to thier promotion. They each sell a 32 oz. tin cup with your choice of flavors, root beer, orange creams, lemon-lime, etc. for 6 bucks. Return to the vendor and get a re-fill for $3.00. Save the tin cup, and next time you see any one of these vendors, you can get a re-fill for $3.00. The cups alone one vendor tol me cost him around $2.00 each. According to him, his profit is in the re-fills. Of course, being as tight as I am, I have yet to acquire one of these tin cups to haul around. 6 bucks for about 18 oz. of soda is pretty dang high to me, BUT OH they do taste so go.
    #27
    Foodbme
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/09/20 18:10:17 (permalink)
    Chains spend a lot of time and money researching this topic so why not ride on their coattails. For example, Jack in the Box started a "Jacks Club". You get a Plastic Membership Card that they swipe when you make a purchase. You have to regiister your membership so they have your email for further promotions. When you've spent $50 bucks you get a free meal. It's a point for every buck you spend. They round it DOWN so you actually spend more than $50 bucks to get a free meal.
    Now, I realize you don't have the computer system to support this but a manual punch card works just the same.
    Waffle House has a "Regulars Club" Sign up and get Email coupons (Designed to have you buy something along with free food) I've gotten 3 coupons so far and haven't used them but they created top of mind awareness with the email. I've eaten thgere shortly after getting coupons and forgot to take them. Same with my Jacks Card. I get there, order, then discover I forgot my card. 
      BTW, Jack in the Box is now operating "Munchie Mobile" FOOD TRUCKS!!!!! VERY Interesting! http://www.jackinthebox.com/
    post edited by Foodbme - 2011/09/20 18:14:09
    #28
    archon
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    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/11/16 19:41:38 (permalink)
    I say from my own personal experience that the strategy that offers the biggest return for the money invested is email marketing.
    It is really easy to set up. All you need is a good email template, a way to get you new potential customers intrigued about your food specialties and a good email list. 
    For the latter you'll have to find a good email list provider, and there are lots of them on the Web some better some worse.
    I, for my email marketing campaigns used email list form EmailListUS.com but you'll have to find the on that best suits your needs.
    #29
    siurui
    Junior Burger
    • Total Posts : 4
    • Joined: 2011/11/17 03:32:00
    • Location: Mountain View, CA
    • Status: offline
    Re:Any Good marketing Ideas For Small Restaurant? Do Giveaways Work? 2011/11/17 04:14:45 (permalink)
    hey RilesEats
    why don't you try leaving a bowl at the counter and asking your customers to drop a namecard and do a raffle every month? you can then collect their emails/phone numbers and send them offers to keep them coming back. maybe also give them some incentive to 'like' your facebook page or recommend your business to their facebook friends?
     
     
    #30
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