Invest in an old-school traffic surge
The jury is in. Direct mail works to jumpstart lagging traffic.
While initially pricier than digital and social media, we have found it performs well to achieve traffic goals when coupled with an attractive offer. Check out some recent returns on investment for this marketing endeavor.
What We Did
In late June, we sent 10,000 postcards to homes around each of four diners -- Tempe, Fullerton, Santa Ana, and Las Vegas - Sahara. The postcards were colorfully printed on flexible plastic with pop-out offer cards. The plastic material helps these stand out from standard paper mail. We also included a 25% off offer.
Before mailing, we determined which zones around the diner we wanted to target. Then, we set income and age limits (excluded under $35k income and over 80 years old) to more closely match our guest demographics.
How it Felt in the Diners
While the traffic is welcome, offers can be worrisome for a number of reasons. For one, there is concern about creating an unnecessary discount environment. For another, FOH teams may worry they won't make as much because of lower check averages.
Rich Bickler, GM Fullerton, understands these concerns but says he really liked the campaign despite them. "We saw an immediate impact and it pushed (our numbers) higher than anticipated," he says. "We had some return guests and some new, but it opened the eyes of our community and they really welcomed the offer." Since the end of the campaign, their sales slowed but have stayed above budget.
"My teams are asking when is the next campaign," he says. Instead of realizing tip losses, his servers found the increased traffic volume kept tables full throughout their shifts which netted increased diner energy and higher overall tips.
They also took the opportunity to practice up-selling desserts. "Guests know they have this extra savings so they feel like they are getting a free pie." Sure enough, average checks for the 25% offer consistently show higher-than-usual check averages.
When to Use Direct Mail
While Black Bear Diner is not an offer-driven brand, we are not opposed to using occasional offers to beef up soft markets. Our strategy is to reach a new set of potential guests, incent them to experience Black Bear Diner, and then wow them with our atmosphere, huge portions of good food, and friendly, efficient service.
Put all of that together and you stand to create a sustainable bump for your business.
How to Implement a Direct Mail Campaign
Determine your desired offer period. Avoid holidays and set offer time periods to four- to six-weeks.
- Contact the Marketing Department. We can put you in touch with our preferred vendors as well as produce approved artwork for your campaign.
- Allow four weeks for planning and mail delivery. Work backward from the date you want the direct mail piece to hit homes. Building the campaign will require a few rounds of mapping and targeting reviews, art production, reviews, and approval, as well as the time needed for printing and delivery.
- Track & measure. Ensure your teams properly redeem the promotion codes through Fishbowl so you can measure your return on investment. If you collect the physical offer cards, some direct mail vendors will provide data insight such as who really redeemed those offers in terms of which mailing zones they came from, their ages and income levels.