New dining customers are delivered in a host of ways in our digital age, but despite all the noise about foodie websites and mobile apps, traditional direct marketing still delivers a great result for restaurants. Before consumers decide where to dine next weekend, which of the following do you suppose they are most likely to do? Will they scan restaurant websites for menus or rifle through local papers and magazines for reviews or listings? Will they call places they’re considering for information about the cuisine? Or will they just head out and hope that they like the food and that the prices are reasonable?
All of those options seem like a lot of effort just to find a place to eat. But what if consumers were provided with details about a handful of conveniently located dining spots—including brief descriptions of their menu features, hours of operation and whether or not they accept credit cards? Would a discount or special deal influence their decision? What if all of those things were delivered directly to them—with no booting up of a computer, burrowing through old newspapers or being stuck on hold while waiting for someone to answer their questions?
Think an establishment that makes it that easy might have the competitive edge to entice customers to dine there?
Presenting and positioning a restaurant at the precise moment the buying decision is made is what direct marketing does best. Customers delivered through promoting compelling offers distributed via direct mail have proven effective.
Research conducted by Valpak, one of the largest direct mailers in the country, shows that restaurant offers, from formal dining to fast food, are one of the top categories requested by consumers. Special dining offers or incentives can be tiebreakers when consumers are trying to decide among several restaurants, according to research firms Claritas Inc. and Scarborough Research.
The larger direct-marketing companies distribute to nearly between 30 – 75 million households in the United States each month, but most restaurants don’t need nearly that broad of a reach. Direct mail allows businesses to refine distribution down to desirable segments of a single ZIP code as needed. Distribution for a given restaurant can be finely targeted or broadly based, and the message can feature highly effective money-saving offers.
The results can be highly trackable—a restaurateur will know what successfully pulled people in to dine, how quickly consumers responded and exactly how much business was directly generated by the number of coupons redeemed.
Direct mail lets restaurateurs target a desired demographic so their advertising budget is not wasted on people who are not likely to dine at their establishments. It allows them to contact dining candidates who are well-educated, apt to open and examine the contents of direct mail envelopes, and who generate incomes that allow for discretionary spending.
For example, consider the following Valpak customer profile: The majority of each household’s adults are college graduates; nearly nine out of 10 recipients review all of their offers; and the average annual income of each household is $83,000—well above the national average of $65,000. And Valpak isn’t the only option in town. Companies like Money Mailer, Valassis, mSpark and many more offer highly affordable co-operative direct mail programs delivering your offers to households for as little cost as 1-2-cents a home.
Because mailings like these contain offers from a variety of businesses, the printing and postage costs are shared cooperatively across many advertisers, making this method significantly more affordable than a solo direct-mail campaign. Savvy direct marketers add value for clients by designing the ads for the client and scientifically testing its products to evaluate everything from the number of ads included in each mailing to the categories represented. There may be more than one restaurant, but the types of dining experiences will vary.
People respond to invitations, and a consistent, on-going direct-mail program is one way to build a steady base of business year-round.
So who’s getting your dinner invitations?