Monday, March 30, 2009

Getting the word out

Once upon a time, all you had to do to succeed in the restaurant business was to promise good food, open the door, and get out of the way. But, in a town like Denver, with thousands of restaurants, it's easy to simply go unnoticed. If you're one of the handful of big-name restaurateurs in town, your opening will probably be picked up by the media. The rest of you, sooner or later, will have to consider marketing and advertising to get the word out. And, if you're like most new marketers, you're likely to get a rude lesson in just how much money you can burn through in the process. There are newspapers, magazines, billboards, phone books, radio, TV, internet, direct mail, and probably a few new ones that were just created in the short time since I started writing this blog.

We'll talk about this more in the future but, for now, the important thing to understand is what advertising IS. The answer is deceptively simple--advertising is a message you put before your potential customers that is going to convince them to come to your restaurant. In the short term that can be a coupon or a gimmick that lures them in with the expectation of getting something for nothing. Keep in mind, though, that customers who will come to you because you're offering a special deal, will leave you as quickly when your competitor offers their special deal. You may fool yourself into thinking that these people will fall so in love with your food that they'll become regulars but, unless you're serving something that can't be found somewhere else, I suggest that dealing with coupon nomads is not going to produce good long term results.

Winning in the long run has to do with consistently telling your prospective customers, in a convincing way, that you're the person they should be dealing with. There's a reason why Denverites know who their "friend" is in the diamond business. And there's a reason for the success of a certain furniture "warehouse." If the identity of these two advertisers immediately popped into your head, then you already understand the value of long-term, consistent advertising.

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