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Restaurant Marketing: Print & Offline

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Today’s digital age may leave many thinking that forms of print advertising and marketing are a thing of the past. With social media, email marketing, pay-per-click ads, Groupon, and the thousands of listing and review sites, restaurant owners and managers likely have this mind frame too.

While we all understand just how important web presence and online marketing is, it is important to have balance between offline and online marketing efforts. This especially holds true for restaurants. Tech savvy consumers are not the only ones who go out to dinner or decide where to go. Children and adults who pre-date computers still make these decisions. Without offline advertising, restaurant owners and managers may be missing a big piece of the pie.

© FotoliaCoupons – While coupons can be emailed, shared on social media, and on coupon sites such as Groupon, not everyone may have access to them or choice to access them. Some consumers rarely check their emails because of all the spam, some choice to live a social media free life, and some prefer the old fashion ways of getting coupons from the newspaper or in coupon books. Printed coupons are still viable in the restaurant industry. Whether the coupon is part of a Valpak mailer, in the local paper, a coupon book, or given away with the purchase of a meal, it is important to have coupons available offline.
© Ogonkova / Fotolia

Gift Certificates – Unless you own or manage a chain restaurant, it is unlikely that you have actual plastic cards for gift cards. It is also unlikely that you sell any printed paper gift certificates online, like you see large chain restaurants do with the typical plastic cards. For the smaller local restaurants, it is very important to have printed gift certificates. While they may not be a direct form of marketing, they do have some impact.

Since customers cannot typically purchase local gift cards online or in other retail outlets, they must visit the restaurant to purchase them. The customer may be there to buy a gift for someone else, but they had to come through the door and an impression will be left. This may even be their first time stepping foot in your establishment. They may be thinking “Everyone is so friendly and helpful,” or “It smells so good in here,” or “We have to stay for dinner.” Checking out a restaurant online or receiving a coupon through email will not provoke these reactions.

© piai / Fotolia

Banners – Sure your website and social media can advertise your weekly or monthly deals, but I bet it is rare to find yourself thinking “Hmmm, I am going to hop on the internet and visit every restaurant’s site and see what deals they have going on.” You are more likely to drive by restaurants and see a large hanging banner outside that says “All you can eat wings ONLY $10!” That will grab your attention even when you weren't thinking about restaurant deals. And if you didn’t see the banner, your friend did and then told you about it, “Hey, I drove by Frank’s Bar & Grill today and they are offering all you can eat wings for just 10 bucks. We should go!”

Outdoor forms of advertising should be utilized when you have something big to share. Think about things such as grand openings, new menu items, or possibly new owners or management. These are all things to share that may not be found online unless someone is seeking them out. Marketing is about making consumers aware of what you have to offer, so spread the word anyway you can.

Window Clings – Just like banners, window clings are great to notify those passing by of various deals or offers currently taking place, or yet to come. Many times you will see window clings featuring the actual food. Because the customers are not inside the restaurant they cannot smell the food, so you need to appeal to their senses from afar. Visuals of featured or new entrees will draw customers in just as much as a great deal will.

Take-Out or To-Go Menus – Menus are a necessity. Consumers need to know what is available, ingredients, prices, etc. However, offering take-out or to-go menus doubles as a source of information and a form of advertising. Not only is the option for take-out or delivery a great extended service offering, but the shelf life of a to-go menu is just as great. Any marketer realizes the importance of the shelf life on anything they hand-out to customers.

I myself have take-out menus hanging on the side of my fridge, I see them every day. When a menu, or any promotional item, stays in visible sight all the time, that’s a huge plus. Most people do something similar with a menu box or drawer somewhere in their house. When it comes time to get take-out or have food delivered, we search through our menus or look on our fridge to make our decision. Giving customers menus when they order delivery or to-go dinners is a smart way to keep the restaurant accessible and keeps customers coming back.

Promotional Items – Everyone loves getting something for free. Promotional items such as pens, key chains, or magnets, are great give-a-way items. Again we come back to the importance of shelf-life. While banners and window clings are a great form of marketing, you only see them when you pass by or for the duration they are hung-up. Something like a pen or keychain can stay with someone for months or even years.

Typically you will see restaurants give mints or candies with your final check. Giving away something like a keychain with the restaurant name and phone number is an even better idea. The mint will only last five minutes, the keychain could last five months or five years. This is another advantage print, offline marketing has that makes it still very viable in today’s digital world. A Tweet or Facebook post will not be carried with you for months. You will see it once and likely never see it again.

Don’t be misunderstood; digital forms of marketing and advertising are definitely a must. However, printed marketing materials should not be discredited. They still hold more value than you think. If you manage or own a restaurant and need help getting some of these materials printed, just give us a call!

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