Be a champion in your community!

             There used to be a business axiom that you should spend between 5 and 10 percent of your yearly sales total on advertising and marketing. Now, whether that was created by Park Avenue is ripe for discussion, but businesses worked somewhere around those numbers. Back in the day of print media, restaurants advertised in the Newspaper, Magazines and other publications. The pitch was always that 52,000 subscribers will see your ad. Some high end publications would pitch us with ¼ page ads at a price of $3,500. Why, because all of these people were going to see my ad. Of course, these people were from all over the market, many 50 miles from my location. Many of the people who purchased or subscribed to the publication were only interested in a particular story. There were so many ads that it was difficult to find one, even if you knew where it was. There was no targeting to an individual. You paid a lot of money, put as much info in the ad as you could, and hoped.

             But we decided to take a different approach. In our community, where 90% of our customers come from, we have become champions for Community, Social and Non-Profit organizations.  The majority of our marketing comes from being supportive of those organizations and helping them in their fund raising efforts. We target our donations. Dining Certificates, Gift packages, food donations at events. We give away food at gala’s and make sure that everyone who attends (typically, guests with some measure of disposable income) know that we are there and helping with a cause that meant something to them as well. We would have signage announcing our presence, handouts that we customized inviting attendees to come and see us. We had brochures and other marketing items. Additionally, we let the organization know that we were happy to support them out we wanted them to send an email to their membership acknowledging that we had been a huge supporter of the Group. That when someone asked them for a recommendation for a great restaurant to visit, to mention us. Finally, we requested that the next time they were having a Board lunch or dinner, to use our facilities.

             Because we focused on the organization that was close to home, we had a much better control on how to manage the message. Every year, we help Hospice in Our area when they do a “Taste” of all of the restaurants as a fund raiser. Free food for 350 guests. That may seem like a lot. But we would do our World famous Venison Chili (It was a Fall Event). We had banners, our logo was everywhere. We had our own logo’s napkins. And the cost to us for 5 gallons of Chili was not much more than $125. Everyone at the event knew that we were being supportive and we gave out customize coupons for them to bring back to the restaurant to redeem. And of course when they did, we knew where they were from and how our marketing effort worked. As time went on, we added additional prizes and donations to our participation making us even more visible to the 350 attendees.

             So, which approach seems to provide a better return? $3,5000 for an ad that gets lost in a sea of print, or focusing on a group of people in your community who consider you their hero?

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