Unless you have a chef as famous as Gordon Ramsey or Mario Batali, you need to constantly produce innovative ideas to bring new customer to your restaurant. Advertising alone does not help much cause there are millions of restaurants popping up. Being in the Food and Beverage industry all my working life, I am always searching for new ways of promoting my product and services. Some might not be possible to your restaurant or business. But some have worked for me.

Can we take just a moment to talk about this term “Mystic Marketing”?

Based on some definitions, “Mystic” can seem to be something that mystifies, confounds, and defies explanation.

In many cases, marketing campaigns which have an amazing impact relate to ordinary things. After all food service is a simple necessity each of us takes part in several times a day. People eat to sustain their lives. Customers choose where to eat because of what they believe.

What do customers believe about your restaurant? Poor reputation and poor customer feelings need more than “marketing.”

If you are in the restaurant business, there is more than just a product to sell. Smiles, comfort, and quality of life are also a part of what you give. Supplying an experience to remember (or forget?) is what will separate your restaurant from hundreds of other choices.

To this end, we will review some Marketing Tips for Restaurants that defies the classic trends. None of which are “traditional” since I know you are interested in something new. Hopefully, you will have the same success that will seem “mystical” as others have.

Bounce back Gift

This is an excellent idea when you have a slow month after a busy month.

Prepare small envelopes that has a 10% or 20% discount on meal, a free dessert or main course or even a BHD10 gift certificate. You can put in a lucky draw bowl and let the guest (who dines a certain amount) pick one. The vouchers are valid for the next month (the slow month). If you are running a Chinese restaurant, you can put the vouchers in angpow (red packets) envelope and distribute them during the Chinese New Year period. The guest can claim their prize next month. This will then increase your clientele on a slow month.

Employee Marketing Challenge

Create vouchers and pass to your staff. Have them sign on the back of the vouchers. Let them distribute the vouchers to any one they want. The vouchers can be discount for purchase for a meal. Give a prize to the staff that has the most vouchers coming back to the restaurant. This makes the staff feel important and if he/ she wants to win a prize he needs to give to people that he/she knows will come and dine.

Always have some method of capturing email addresses

  1. Have a monthly give away of something fun / popular such as an iPhone.
  2. Have the staff talk it up and get email addresses so the customers can be notified if they win
  3. Be sure to have opt-in entry forms available and getting signatures is even better
  4. Check to be sure customers have signed, giving permission to contact them by email
  5. Team up with one or more other businesses to offer a bigger prize to share costs and email addresses on the entries.
  6. A common trend is to offer a free product item for email address.
  7. Fish bowls are traditional, but they work. (have a daily drawing for a smaller prize)
  8. Use any of the other tips to focus on gathering email addresses.
  9. Coloring contests, writing contests, any kind of drawing attracts attention.

Communicate with your customers

Regularly communicate with your customers. It can be either via a newsletter, a letter written to them personally or paying them a visit. This is the reason you see famous brands like Coca Cola, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Colgate spending millions of dollars for advertising even though most people know these brands. Even a kid knows who Colonel Sanders is. By regularly staying connected, your customers will feel like they are an important part of your establishment and this will encourage them to return far more often. There are a few key things to remember when creating a newsletter. Firstly, you will have to do it on a regularly basis but do not do it every two weeks then this will be a junk mail. A monthly newsletter is more than enough. Keep your content interesting and add in exclusive offers here and there. As for me apart from printing flyers and putting on cars and in mailboxes, I sent personally signed letters highlighting our specials to our regulars. This is what I have learnt recently from a marketing article which says to take care of the 20 percent that give us 80 percent of your business. The 80/20 rule. But you must remember to continuously add more names to your list. Reason being people might shift or get transferred out. So, you will constantly have a new list. Each letter is signed by name of the regular instead of Dear Sir. So, they will feel that I am writing to them personally. As my list is getting bigger, I will be buying a stamp with my signature on it so as I can sign more letters. Bahrain is known for its diversity and multicultural community, you will find a variety of festivals here. I visit our regulars bringing some festive goodies to say hi and thank them for their business. When I visit the westerner’s regulars during the festive season, I bring stolen bread or chocolate. For the Muslim regulars, I visit them during the Eid al Fitr bringing halwa and the Indian regulars bringing Indian sweets. This makes our regulars feel important and we are their first choice when they need a place to dine. You do not have to go on the day of the festival, I do it about a week before the holidays.

That’s all for today, give a try to the tips above or start some of the action and let me know how you customer reacted, share your thought. To the next article.