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Through The Line Advertising - Restaurant Industry

Posted by ncouvaras on 1250 Points
Hi There

I''ve recently been promoted to Head up the marketing department for a global restaurant company. Our brands consistent of casual/family brand to a high end steakhouse operating in the middle east, UK and south africa.

As I''ve said I have recently been promoted coming from a marketing background before in the Mobile phone industry and have found that this type of marketing is a lot more difficult as its a more personally focused towards each customer.

My question is: What is your advise on what promotion would you recommend to drive sales and footfall in the high end steakhouse without degrading or cheeping the brand in any sense.

I recently launched an ''all you can eat rib promo'' which some critics viewed as cheapening the brand which obviously my focus was brand awareness and driving sales.

Please help

  • Posted by Moriarty on Member
    My first question is what do most of your customers like - apart from cheapness that is. In other words, what do they buy most of? There will be something - rib-eye steak, ribs or mexican chilli wraps or sumfink that you sell of more than any other.

    This is important.

    This is what your customer likes about your store the best. Find out who they are and target them, and them alone. In targeting them you won't be missing the others, because they won't worry about what your best clients like. The ordinary customers would come whatever. Focusing on your best clients also brings more of the ones best suited to what you serve.

    The other thing is not to advertise what you do or what you sell. After all, why would someone choose an "all you can eat"? Probably because they were hungry. Why choose steak? Why not a Chinese that can offer all you can eat, or Indian or ... anything. No: there are reasons to choose a steakhouse over the rest and there are very good reasons for doing so - not one of which involves quantity or price ... or even for that matter much in the way of branding ... save for your very best clients. For the rest, Aberdeen is as good as well ... whatever else is on the market - now bear with me because the last steakhouse I was in was in Hong Kong a year ago*.

    This is where you need your thinking/imagining cap on. Why do customers choose to eat steak - and why do customers choose yours above all the rest. As I say, the reasons will not include price or quantity. Sure the occasional discount never comes amiss, and you can do such things to your very best customers through your newsletter/email list which you can segment to their advantage. And yours. What is most important is to get those best clients in, and get more of them.

    So: What do they like - about your steak, the location, service and atmosphere?
    What else do they like? There will be something that they like that goes along with eating at steakhouses.
    What do they NOT like? - or even hate???

    Your tasks: find out who your best clients are. Then find out what they like - then find out why they come to your steakhouse in the first place. It won't always be because they are hungry or want to eat a tummyful, they want an experience. That is memorable after all.

    Hope this helps, Moriarty



    *I am not your perfect client!!! ;-) ;-) ;-)
  • Posted by CarolBlaha on Member
    an "all you can eat promo" is cheapening the brand. They are right.

    Today, bundling is a good tactic for restaurants. We eat out several times a week and we go to places where they might bundle two entrees, one app, and one desert for a set price.

    We look for happy hour specials.

    Right now gift cards are on a lot of people's mind-- we went for the one that with a purchase from me, we got one for us.

    Holiday menus-- We are empty nesters, we went out Thanksgiving. Only one restaurant in town was open during the day. One, in eve. We went out twice that day.

    Another popular tactic is to build a client focus group, via surveys and networking. I am on one for a steakhouse and they send me menu ideas, with names they are considering and I vote what I like and don't like and why. For this, I am in weekly drawings, some just flat coupons, they keep me coming back in the house.

    I love FB specials. And those sent to my smart phone. No printing required and I always have my phone with me.

    When I owned my restaurant I brought in the local schools choir to sing Christmas Carols. The place was packed.

    I hosted exhibits with local artists once a week. It was very newsworthy and always covered.

    The beauty of restaurants is there is always a reason to celebrate!

    Sell Well and Prosper tm
  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Accepted
    Instead of charging less, add more value for the dining experience. Live music evenings. Special chef table experiences. Detailed wine sommelier tastings. Locally-sourced special meals. Couture clothing shows. Jewelry trunk shows. Even butchering classes - if the audience is right. It's all a matter of giving people not just a place to eat, but something memorable, unusual, and fun.
  • Posted by Gary Bloomer on Accepted
    Want to kill a premium steakhouse? Offer an "all you can eat prime rib" promotion.

    When eating in a place like this the LAST thing I want to see is people elbow deep in half-chewed ribs, half empty soda cups, and screwed up paper napkins. I want to hear the gentle tinkling of a live pianist NOT the rustle of cheap doggie bags and five year olds engaged in a family farting and belching contest. If that sounds elitist it's because it IS elitist. A decent steak dinner in a premium steak house for two people, including side dishes, a glass of wine each, and dessert ought to leave a hole in the diner's pocket of AT LEAST $200.

    Forget "flight to cheap" promotions: they smack of bland, vanilla eateries in or near shopping malls. There is nothing WRONG with these kinds of places (I'm a regular customer at my local Applebee's), it's just that high end needs to FEEL and BE high end, not a run-of-the-mill, one size fits all, 2 for $20 kind of eatery.

    You need to position this eatery as the finest in town AND you need to be ballsy enough to say so and to shout it loudly and proudly. You then need to then make DAMN sure that it IS the best. Focus on being SEEN as a premium service in which you treat diners as if they were royalty and THAT'S how you'll BE seen.

    This means linen tablecloths and napkins, it means silver service trained wait staff who ALL know what they're doing and all of whom do it not well but WAY better than any other steakhouse in town. Table service needs to be prompt, swift, and helpful. It also need to be INSTANTLY available when it's needed and UTTERLY INVISIBLE when it's not.

    It means sourcing and properly cooking the BEST cuts of beef; it means offering GREAT side dishes that melt in guests' mouths, and it means premium wines at premium prices. Every facet of the place needs to exude elite exclusivity, quality, value, and on making diners feel great.

    Experience is EVERYTHING. Focus on getting great reviews from real people, and from real publications and ratings places. There's a hole in the wall diner not far from where I live. From the outside looks like a cow shed with a parking lot. It sits on a major traffic light yet if your didn't know it, you'd whoosh right past it (and many do) to the nearest MacDonald's But that would be a mistake.

    The place only seats 60 people (practically cheek by jowl) and yet ... it ALWAYS has a line out the door. Always. Rain or shine. Want to eat breakfast there on a Sunday? Get there early and be prepared to give your name and wait in line.

    Why? It's just a diner, right? Wrong.

    Its menu is awesome. At its counter you're likely to see a celebrity or two, and it has a cherished Zagat listing and because it has stellar reviews from the Philadelphia Enquirer and from the New York Times. Diners drive 100+ mile round trips to eat breakfast there on a Sunday morning.
    Yes, it's that good. If a diner that looks like a cow shed can do this SO CAN YOU.
  • Posted by SteveTheMarketer on Accepted
    You have received some excellent advice from my colleagues.

    Two thoughts:

    1) Create some form of loyalty program - free bottle of wine or a desert sampler after xx number of meals, select seating reservations for regular customers etc.

    2) Expanding on Jay's suggestion, have a Tuesday night (or other night) THEME wine tasting featuring and naming 3-4 wines from a region of France, California, or by varietal wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir.

    In other words, go upscale on your upscale position.
  • Posted by CarolBlaha on Member
    For wine maker dinners, tap your liquor reps. First they have deep pockets to bring a celebrity to your venue and they will provide wine for this event at little or no cost for you. But as a warning they are getting overdone and trite.
  • Posted by mgoodman on Moderator
    Whenever you plan promotions or other creative activity for a brand (like your high-end steakhouse) you will do yourself a real favor if you first write a Creative Brief that can serve as the spec sheet for the creative project. It will force you to set clear communication objectives and articulate the Positioning, competitive environment, etc. It will also serve as a great -- and objective -- standard against which to evaluate the project deliverable.

    If you don't already have a clear Positioning Statement for each of your brands, that should be a high-priority first step. And if the Positioning process isn't something you've done before, you need to get an experienced professional involved.
  • Posted by ncouvaras on Author
    Thanks for your comments guys, always appreciated !!!

    My first step will be to do the branding and positioning project. Can you believe a company of this size and being 10 yrs old has never done this exercise in the past???

    Thanks again all of you for your valuable feedback!
  • Posted by geoff.napier on Accepted
    I went to this small cafe/ restaurant in a one-horse town around 12 months ago while driving through, all we had was a simple take-away meal (wedges and sour cream) but the food was SENSATIONAL - just cooked spot on, really enjoyable. Now this cafe has a fairly run-down appearance, it's in a town of 4200 people. Anyway I was going to pass that way again on Tuesday this week, I was coming from a spot 2hrs away and on a 5hr journey so there was really no reason to stop there, especially as it would have made lunch at about 2pm and we were already hungry. But I said the food was great last time so we decided to go there again...... the food was even marginally better this time and the cafe was FULL, even at 2pm on a Tuesday (not a holiday!)

    What I am saying is food is critical, mess it up once and those people wont come back, what's more they will tell everyone they just got ripped off today and mention your name. Have average food and you will get average customers who will forget you as soon as they leave, have exceptional food with great service and an unforgettable experience and it'll be just that; unforgettable. People will refer your brand to others and will keep coming back. Keep it consistent too otherwise they'll (we'll) go away as fast as we can....

    Some excellent resources I have seen:
    - "Pickles" video - Bob Farrell has done an excellent job of giving that customer that little bit extra and keeping them coming back
    - "Raving Fans" and "Customer Mania!" books by Ken Blanchard, I think the latter is the background of Yum! brands (KFC, Long John Silvers etc) which is really interesting, really good read

  • Posted by darcy.moen on Accepted
    Two words: think premium.

    Taking ten percent off is a discount. All you can eat for one flat price, is a discount. But, a complementary dessert is a premium. You charged full value for the meal, getting your full price, but the slice of pie that you gave away is rarely perceived as a discount. Its 'something extra'.

    In Louisiana, 'something extra' is known as a 'Langyap'. The 13th donut or bun is known as 'the baker's dozen'. None of these are known as a discount now are they?

    Whenever presented with the choice of giving a discount, or giving something extra, always go for giving away the something extra because doing so does not cheapen your price, discount your brand, it preserves your customer's perception of 'value'.

    Same with a loyalty program. Putting a loyalty program in place where you can charge full price for ten meals, and give the 11th away for free. Loyalty programs are great because quitting you or shopping other restaurants is, pardon the pun, pointless. Those dollars and meals purchased elsewhere do not count towards the 'free' meal at your establishment. This causes real perceived pain in the mind of your customers, those purchases are 'wasted' because they could have counted towards something extra at your business. This is great because it cheapens your competitors brands and re-enforces the value in yours.

    Also, loyalty programs usually empower you to be able to collect customer contact information such as name, address, phone number, email address, cell phone number, which can be used to text message market, email market, and send post cards. You can collect anniversary dates, birthdays, and more important dates, and fill your restaurant with extra sittings, or bring in more business on 'off peak' nights with Birthday specials, anniversary dinners, etc. If you haven't used Anniversaries and Birthdays as an excuse to invite customers in, there is a whole bunch of extra plates you can serve.

    Never under estimate the power of a solid customer relationship management program, combined with your regular marketing program and your loyalty program.

    I hope this helps you.

    Darcy Moen
    Customer Loyalty Network

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