Ted Turner said it best. ” Early to bed, early to rise, don’t forget to advertise.” I am sure that he came up with that tag line when he learned his father had left him a small billboard advertising company when he passed away. The rest, thanks to a lot of billboard advertising is history. But, taking Turner as an example of one who explores virgin territory, he opted to get out of billboards and into cable TV where he planted the seeds of his fortune. Back then, in the 70´s, it was merely a notion. While the owners of newspapers, and magazines, and other advertising media where shunning the idea of cable TV., Turner jumped in, head first, and changed the way we see the world.
Part of Turner’s thinking can be extracted and used on the small restaurant owner’s level. The broadcast baron simply diversified and made his advertising packages more attractive to advertisers than one of his roadside billboards on the way to Atlanta, were.
Today, there are hundreds of advertising opportunities making it possible for a restaurant owner to waste more advertising dollars than ever before. For years, owners have attempted to gauge the response and traffic an advertising campaign generates. The coupon, the two-fer,the complimentary appetizer when you mention ” This ad” are all gimmicks that have come to become a part of daily restaurant life. If every ad salesperson ate while attempting to sell an ad to a restaurant owner, owner’s wouldn’t need customers.
And that was the problem with advertising. The normal restaurant owner didn´t have the time, the knowledge, or the data to make a wise advertising decision. Therefore, owner´s either claim "ads don´t work" and stop advertising completely, or spend an outrageous amounts of money in every form of media that was ever developed in hopes of attracting customers. Both avenues lead to financial disaster. Especially if the non advertiser is down the block from the "advertise everywhere guy". The big spender usually takes Mr. Close – minded with him when he closes.
However, that is now changing. Once, print and direct mail advertising were the kings and queens of media for restaurateurs who couldn’t afford TV. blasts and Super Bowl commercials. Every ad salesperson was peddling a "Special Section" for Easter, Valentine´s Day, Memorial Day, and let´s not forget Christmas, home coming, graduation, and the beginning of Wednesday, next week. Seldom could anyone ever give the response- real numbers of people- who actually read those sections and your ad. Those days are over.
With the technology of the Internet, restaurant owners who advertise on-line can actually see how many people click on their ad. And, for the first time, response levels are now available without guessing or fabricating numbers.
But aside from fancy advertising campaigns, and web sites that charge a per click rate, restaurant owners can easily develop their own advertising programs through email and newsletters periodically sent to customers.
If you are not developing a method for capturing your customers email addresses, you are missing one of the largest opportunities in the advertising world. Think of a program today. IT could be something as simple as a survey on your restaurant that the customer fills out and gives his email address. A book in the bar for an email sign up sheet. Give a complimentary cake on a birthday, anything, just get the email addresses. Of course we are flooded with emails. But, we do enjoy getting the ones we want. And, if your customers enjoy your restaurant, they too will read your emails.
The campaign doesn’t have to be fancy- an email program costs as little as ten dollars per month for unlimited mailing and offers a variety of newsletter templates- but it should be consistent. Don’t begin an advertising campaign until you know you can complete it as scheduled.
Oh, you’re not an Internet savvy restaurant owner? Nobody was a decade ago. But, I am sure that one of your staff members has an hour or two a week to handle the project and would probably accomplish the goal for a gift certificate to a nice dinner.
By beginning your advertising this spring with the help of the Internet and some creative email campaigns- to customers you know- you will be able to judge the response you get. Something as simple as inviting them to join you for a drink on a Thursday night Happy Hour, where the Martinis are half price is a great way to begin. Or, email your specials out for the following weekend, and let your customers know they can make a reservation by responding to the email. You will be able to see if advertising pays.
And, that is one key to the advertising game. Do you get what you pay for? Now, with the help of the Internet, somebody can finally answer that question.