There are some industries where direct mail marketing seems to fit like a glove and generate consistently good responses. That certainly seems to be the case with the restaurant industry.
What is it about direct mail and restaurants that make them a marketing marriage made in heaven? Part of the answer probably lies in the fact that there are so many different ways to use direct mail—depending on the kind of outreach you want to do. Here are just a few examples.
- Geographic Specific Mailings: If you own the kind of restaurant that wants to appeal to people in a specific geographic area, direct mail lets you do that. You can target specific ZIP codes surrounding your eatery. You could build your messaging around convenience or creating community. You can even do a “saturation” mailing in which you hit every single address within certain sections of a ZIP code. These lists are relatively inexpensive (they’re address only—no names) and you can touch everyone. One idea would be to do some kind of a “First-Timer’s Special” to introduce your restaurant.Your offer is important. You want something that will truly motivate prospects, so think carefully about what you want to offer that could generate a long-term customer.
- Business-Specific Mailings: If you want to win the patronage of the people who work at businesses in your area you can mail to business addresses. That can be a little tricky because you’re mailing to a business rather than an individual. One way to reach multiple people within a business might be to offer a free meal to the person who posts the card on the company bulletin board. They’d have to respond by email or going on line to redeem their free meal (one per company).
- Co-operative Mailings: Maybe you have a restaurant where you want to focus on food and drink, but there’s a cool place to get desserts down the street. You could work together to split the cost of the mailing and urge people to come in to your place for dinner and then take a pleasant stroll down the street for dessert.
- Special Interest Mailings: Maybe your restaurant specializes in pairing fine wines with great meals. You may be able to rent a list of fine-wine lovers and entice them to try some of their favorite wines (or new ones) with meals that are designed to go with those wines.
- Social Media-Integrated Mailings: Integrating your marketing efforts can multiply their impact.You could do a mailing that has a link to your Facebook or Twitter page. Those pages could then highlight specials, or focus on special menu items. You could even use those pages to alert people to regular specials. Maybe you’d do a ““Wednesday is Chef’s Choice” and encourage visitors to watch Twitter or Facebook to see what the Chef cooks up this week. You can announce the special on Tuesday afternoon and offer $2 off to the first 50 people who respond. You might even be able to create a sub-culture of people who always come to your place on Wednesday just to see what’s going to be served.
Another advantage to mailing for restaurants—especially if you’re using postcards and geographic lists—is that they are reasonably priced and fast to produce. It’s no wonder that “mailing for meals” has worked so successfully for so many restaurant owners!