How Viral Marketing Can Work For Your Restaurant

Whenever we decide to run an e-mail marketing campaign, we tend to agonize over the content and how to maximize our results. The first objective should always be, what are the results I’m trying to achieve with the campaign? Who am I targeting? These are critical questions that must be answered before you can ever hope to have a successful e-mail marketing campaign.

My wife and I own a Prime Steak House and due to the economic times have had to reposition our dinner menu, we now offer an eight item menu of dinners priced twenty-one to twenty-eight dollars and each entree includes two sides. This is a major shift from our initial a la carte menu we offered when we first opened. The word on the street is that we are a pricey restaurant and to avoid unless you bring your checkbook, or are celebrating a special occasion. Our goal is to re-educate our customers through our new menu and multiple advertising campaigns. We recently ran a campaign where we sent an offer to our top two thousand rewards customers, the offer was a buy one, get one free. The offer was for our new menu items only. The results were fantastic and I honestly feel we are on the right track towards re-educating our clientele. Direct marketing through the mail is a great way to get your message out; it brings in the best results, although the price can be prohibitive.

We are now assembling an e-mail campaign to try and expedite the process and start a viral marketing campaign. The results we are trying to achieve are to bring in all the rewards customers we have that have never visited our Steak House. We own two other restaurants that are casual and upscale casual, in total our three restaurants have over twenty three thousand rewards customers. Our goal is to tap into this massive database and make it work for us, driving in as much new business and first timers as possible, including friends and family of our rewards members.

In the past, this type of campaign would have been too costly to direct advertise to our entire database. The key is to make sure when you capture your customer’s information; you get their e-mail address. We have over ten thousand current e-mail addresses. Our objective is to take these ten thousand plus addresses and leverage them. We are going to send out an offer to our rewards customers, thanking them for their patronage during this awful summer weather we’re having and let them know the weather might keep away the tourists; but thankfully our faithful members never let us down. It is for this reason we will give every member an offer to come in and dine with us and receive the second entrĂ©e half off. We will then give our members the ability to forward this e-mail to their friends and family. If every one forwarded this e-mail to two to four friends, the results would be staggering. I’ve never launched a campaign of this magnitude; I think the potential results could push our summer business over last years. In this economy, if you can grow your business, you’re in the minority. Our goal is to maintain our relationship with our customers and create a win/win situation where everyone benefits.

Communication is the key to marketing, leveraging your database in a viral marketing campaign can unlock the results you’ve only dreamed of. What are you waiting for, put your database to work for you today. One last thing, if you unleash this potential onslaught, you’d better be staffed and be ready to handle the business. The last thing you want to do is have the results turn into a negative.

Richard Varano
Restaurant Masterminds