Archive for January, 2012

How to Use Text Marketing for Restaurants

January 30, 2012

Mobile marketing is one of many marketing channels available to the savvy restaurateur or business owner today. And while it rarely reaches a market segment as large as radio, television, and print, it is growing in a big way.


But where do you start with mobile marketing? There are so many ways. I recommend you start with text message marketing, also known as SMS marketing.


SMS Mobile Marketing for Restaurants


Text marketing is the place to start when it comes to mobile. It is the most instant form of direct response advertising. In fact you could say that it is on-demand advertising – and it’s your demand!


You can use text message marketing to promote special events and weekends, etc. You can also use it to turn disasters and slow times into something special.


If you’ve got a food special that you didn’t sell as much of as you had planned, you can send an SMS to your mobile list.


If you’re having an unexpectedly slow afternoon (or weekend), you can also come up with an instant special – how about free appetizers? – to get guests walking through your doors and sitting in your seats.


Other Promotional Restaurant Text Message Marketing Options


Of course the meat and drink of your mobile marketing will be things like coupons (limit their time if you want to increase response), frequent special offers and discounts, and loyalty club interactions.


You’ll want to test different offers to see which generate the most response. It’s very possible that “two-for-one” will beat “50% off” every time – even though it is the same basic deal.


How can you tell which offer is best? The simple answer is that you’ll have to try each of them out. But this doesn’t mean you should try different offers on alternating Fridays (for example).


The most effective type of testing for your different offers can only happen when you run them at the same time. To do this, all you need to do is make sure your mobile marketing provider can run a simple “split test” with your offers.


If your provider doesn’t offer this functionality, or if he or she doesn’t know what you’re talking about, get a new mobile marketing provider.

How Franchisers can Cash in on the Benefits of Being Local

January 27, 2012

More and more people these days are making a conscious effort to patronize local mom-and-pop establishments. And while that’s great for local economies, the down side is that many franchise operators are starting to see less-than-positive effects on their own operations. But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Yes, there are some patrons on the extreme end who will avoid nationwide chains just because they are nationwide chains. But the majority of guests who have chosen to patronize local establishments more often are doing so to get more practical needs met. Local franchisers can court local business by paying attention to needs like trust, local community, and relationships.  Building Trust with Your Local Clientele  Patrons often trust local establishments more because of how well those establishments handle problems. If you want to develop this same kind of trust, make sure you handle any complaints as quickly as possible and with maximum attention paid to your customer.  It doesn’t matter whether you live in an urban, suburban, or rural area: friendly, personalized attention when a problem arises is something that guests associate with “down home” mom & pop service. And it is this kind of attentiveness will help you create the same level of trust with your patrons.  Sponsor Local Events Whenever Possible and Practical   Be a (visible) part of your community – just like (other) local establishments. This is important in small areas where the local mom-and-pop competition can be fierce. It’s equally important in larger markets, where all competition is fierce!  Finally, it’s also important in tourist areas. Locals who remember your community participation will recommend you to visitors. Combined with name brand recognition, this can be the “tipping point” that sends more out-of-towners through your door.  Encourage Relationships  Want to be seen as a local part of every patron’s life? Encourage your guests to create moments with family and friends – over and over and over again!  One of the best ways to do this is to offer two-for-one and similar specials. Two-for-one drinks are good with the right crowd, as are “half-price-when-you-bring-a-friend”.   In a more food-minded approach, you can offer specials on appetizers or even entrees to patrons who bring a friend during designated times of day.

How Will Google Wallet Affect the Restaurant Industry?

January 12, 2012

Google launched the first version of Google Wallet at a press conference on May 26, 2011. Then the mobile app made its debut on September 19, 2011. A limited amount of restaurateurs are trying out this new system of payment with Google Wallet.

Jamba and Jack in the Box have reported that they anticipate traffic to their stores to increase as tap and go payments become a part of consumers’ everyday routines. For many places, contactless payment may require an upgrade in their current hardware and POS software. But Jamba feels that the change will be worth it in the long run.

Here’s How Google Wallet Works

Currently, you must have a Sprint Nexus S 4G and use Citi Mastercard to apply this technology, but by the beginning of next year that is expected to change. Android already has plans to incorporate Google Wallet as well as just about every other mobile phone company. Since Google is a trusted name, the app is expected to take off.

The system allows for easy swipe with the phone in brick and mortar locations. The app also automatically applies any Google Offers and participating loyalty and gift card locations. Now you can truly go paperless with your coupons!

Soon Google Wallet is expected to add a sticker that you can scan right on the smart phone, enabling the customer to ditch their credit cards and carry everything on their smartphones

Google Wallet Provides Increased Security

Not only will Google Wallet bring an added convenience to eating out, but it is more secure. With any other type of debit card or credit card, it can easily be stolen and used. Google Wallet requires a PIN to access any of its features on your phone. Plus, you can always lock your phone, too.

Currently, Google does not store transaction details, but they are expected to do so. Needless to say, our purchasing demographics will probably be researched and explored for purposes of advertising.


Are Online Restaurant Reviews Helping or Hurting?

January 10, 2012

Experts are saying that online restaurant reviews have taken the bite out of Zagat in less than six short years. Remember the days when a Zagat review was a vital part of the gourmands’ decisions in eating out? In the ‘80s and ‘90s, it was like the bible of gourmands and foodies. This has changed – not to mention that their choice to hide their ratings and reviews behind a paid subscription hurt its popularity since anyone can find restaurant reviews free of charge on the Web.

Mobile Apps and Online Restaurant Reviews

While Zagat’s subscriptions have plummeted, they are desperately trying to increase their profit by improving their importance to the foodie on the go. For just $9.99 a year, you can put the Zagat app on your phone and be on your way.

But why would consumers do this when the Yelp app is free?  With or without the review, it still proves useful with pertinent contact information and an easily accessible map of restaurant locations.

The Power of Yelp

Yelp has collected over 20 million reviews from amateur reviewers in less than 20 years. Can these amateur reviews really take the place of professional food critics? HBS professor Michael Luca says yes. After combining revenue data and Yelp stars, statistics show that going up one star in ratings can affect a restaurant’s profits by five to nine percent.

Restaurant Reputation Management

Needless to say, restaurant managers and owners aren’t quite as excited about the massive amounts of online restaurant reviews from Yelp. But there is a silver lining to this dilemma. Many restaurants are foregoing their traditional advertising methods for reputation maintenance.

What does reputation management involve? Mostly it involves an adherence to high standards and quality in food. This is a win-win situation. Of course, some may try to game the system with phony reviews and false rankings, but Yelp’s algorithm is designed to detect these phony online restaurant reviews.



Bourbon Cocktails Make a Comeback – But With a Twist

January 5, 2012

Is it any wonder that bourbon cocktails have made a comeback? The hipster mixologists are always looking for a twist on a classic cocktail. The popularity of the hit AMC show Mad Men hasn’t hurt the sales for bourbon either. So come with us as we put the martini back up on the shelf and get down and dirty with some Kentucky distilleries.

Whiskey Sales at an All-Time High

According to the President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, Eric Gregory, distillers in Kentucky are having a hard time keeping up with the production of whiskey. In fact, whiskey distilleries in the South have spent well over $150 million to in an effort to expand the Bourbon industry.

What was once considered an inferior version of Scotch is now gaining respect and reverence with a new generation of drinkers.  Bourbon is now a first-class choice in cocktails because of its broad range of flavors and ability to mix well in cocktails.

Whiskey Cocktails Make the Specialty Cocktail List

The new generation of Millennials is returning to the classic days of Old Fashioneds and Manhattans, but with a modern twist. So what does a twist on these classics entail?

Let’s take the classic Manhattan on the rocks. Instead of the well whiskey and maraschino cherry juice with a dash of sweet vermouth, go grab a bottle of Maker’s Mark. Now mix it with Luxardo maraschino liqueur and mix it with a dash of orange bitters and serve it in a martini glass.

If a Manhattan doesn’t float your boat, let’s do down south and tinker with the Kentucky Derby classic, The Mint Julep. This is typically made with Wild Turkey and there’s nothing wrong with that! Go ahead and muddle the mint, but instead of the classic simple syrup, why not spruce it up with vanilla bean syrup and make it a specialty drink? Now serve it in a nice frosty Tom Collins glass. Perfection!

10 Up-and-Coming Restaurant Trends in 2012

January 3, 2012

With 2012 coming right around the corner, let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the possible restaurant trends in 2012. Whether you are a small food cart or a large chain restaurant, keeping up with restaurant trends is a sensible business strategy. Here are 10 of the food trends that RMG considers avant-garde and economical.

  1. 1.      Menu-labeling laws

Expect all current administration for food labeling and food safety to go into full effect. By 2012, all chain restaurants with over 20 locations will be required to provide nutritional information on their menu.

  1. 2.      Anything artisan

Expect to see this word everywhere in 2012. As chain restaurants start to feature artisan foods, expect to see the term used and abused.

  1. 3.      Authentic foods hit mainstream bill of fare

More Asian and Indian foods will be featured on fast casual menus. Fusion foods will become commonplace. Korean and Peruvian foods will receive widespread attention as more restaurants pop up in major metropolitan areas.

  1. 4.      Specialty alcohol drinks

Even with alcohol sales going down, expect specialty cocktails to be highlighted more.

  1. 5.      Gradual and slight increases in menu prices on a regular basis

The price of commodities will increase. Food suppliers will continue to increase their prices as gas prices rise. Prices will get passed on to the end consumer in a gradual uprise.

  1. 6.      A decline in comfort food popularity

In 2007, the economic recession prompted massive popularity in comfort foods. Expect to see the demand for a new twist on these old favorites.

  1. 7.      More beer gardens

Many restaurants will start to use their backyard space and offer more low-cost specialty beers and microbrews.

  1. 8.      Vertical plates go horizontal again

The tower of stacked food that has been popular since the early ‘90s will go horizontal. Instead of layers of food overlapping each other, expect to see long caterpillars of foods that preserve the distinct flavor of every element on your plate.

  1. 9.      Sustainable foods gain traction, but may lose some credibility

Sustainable foods are starting to become a deciding factor for many consumers, but through various marketing trends terms like “sustainable”, “organic”, and “green” will become a little fuzzy.

  1. 10.   Social networking becomes a necessity

This is the new form of word of mouth. It’s not so much an option as a necessity at this point.