It’s Local Restaurant Week here in Buffalo NY! Since 2009, twice a year Buffalo and Western New York turn to their devices to find the most appealing and delicious deals at local restaurants. With special dining features and “deals” starting at $20.19 a meal, it’s a huge opportunity for diners and restaurant owners to mingle and get to know each other a bit better. Corporate chains dominate sales year round at a national level, but towns like Buffalo tend to turn to a more local flare often, especially during these bi-annual city-wide events.
Beyond booming sales, corporate restaurants have the luxury of utilizing TV and print advertising dollars to attract customers to visit one of thousands of franchise or corporate locations. Promotions can be as simple as a free dessert on one’s birthday, or as unforgettable as the annual Olive Garden ‘Never Ending Pasta Bowl’. Either way, corporate restaurants know the return on ad spend is working.
Despite the chagrin of the snobbiest of eaters, Olive Garden has been successfully pulling in new diners since before the writer of this blog was even born, as seen in this (somehow timeless) TV commercial from 1988.
So how do local, privately owned restaurants compete? Well one way is through things like Local Restaurant Week. It’s an outstanding opportunity to attract new business through promotion, but it isn’t free. The registration fee to be up on the website and receive promotion through that LRW website for fall 2019 was $225.00.
So why do so many small restaurants fear advertising? Anyone can see how a nominal fee can bring in new business through Local Restaurant Week, so why not digital ads? Here are a few things local restaurants in WNY can do affordably to bring a few new heads in the door.
Micro Campaigns with Precise Targeting
Do you have a new menu for fall? Do you have specials running this weekend? How do you get the word out? Social media can be a huge organic (free of cost) or human (real) content machine, but how do you know you’re reaching the people who don’t already know how great your food is? Simple affordable solutions are available to target fans of your competition digitally, while they are least expecting it. Get your brand and product in front of those who may not look for you, and you may get a few new customers!
Example- Perhaps target ONLY fans of your competition’s page (wink wink)
Cross-Promotion with Local Flare
Restaurant Week is one way to get in touch with other means of promotion. There are other things you could do as well! Many places have teamed up with corporate event planners like Network After Work, an organization that provides services to hold cocktail hours that could bring in 50-100 people to your establishment. There are an assortment of local artists, musicians and self made fashionistas in Buffalo! Holding a “pop-up” style event on a weekday could bring in a bunch of people who may not have stopped in for dinner otherwise.
When In Doubt, Hand it Out
Who doesn’t love a free cocktail? Who doesn’t love a free dessert? Corporate establishment may have more rope when it comes to handing out free stuff, but if you have full confidence in your chef and barkeep, why not give something away? The drinks flow here in WNY, and if you offer say a half off app and cocktail menu from 5-7 on TWT, you may find a new flux of people who aren’t going to “just have one.” When you utilize affordable solutions that can automate your marketing, providing a coupon to a huge list of emails in the area is a lot easier than you may think..
As you can see, there are a plethora of options when you start getting a little creative. It can be extremely intimidating to work with a digital marketing agency for a restaurant or bar owner. Almost every dollar spent is tight, and no one wants to waste money on something that isn’t going to work.
Here at Bean Media, we’ve all spent some time in the service industry, both corporate and private. As a locally owned, grassroots company, we can understand the ongoing challenge of staying afloat as an entrepreneur, and would be more than willing to chat about some creative things you can to do put your Buffalo restaurant on the map!