5 Ways to Effectively Market Restaurant Coupons
1) Coordinate your coupon program with your restaurant’s image.
Fast food establishments and quick serve restaurants are ideal candidates for coupons as their service is geared toward low cost foods. Formal restaurants may take a public relations hit from offering coupons as they can diminish a high-end restaurant's brand image.
While casual restaurants blend in with the image of offering a lower price point, high-end restaurants may want to consider trading the coupon marketing technique for a limited time promotion, such as “Celebrate our 10-year anniversary with us by enjoying a complimentary dessert with your entree” or channeling a Groupon $20 for $30 offer. You can also forgo the word coupon by promoting your happy hour as a means of offering a deal. While these approaches may be similar in nature, distancing your formal establishment from the word “coupon” will help preserve your restaurant’s image.
2) Offer your promotional offer 3-4 times to see results.
As advised by restaurant consultants at Advance Restaurant Finance, it’s wise to run a coupon or promotion cycle approximately three to four times before ruling it as a bad or good marketing technique for your restaurant [Source]. Often restaurant operators will only send one load of coupons to potential customers and then give up on the marketing tactic as a whole. By repeating your efforts, you will be able to make a more accurate decision on this approach.
3) Make a reasonable offer.
While restaurant consultants at Advance Restaurant Finance recommend your coupon be worth the price of an entrée on the menu, it’s important to not over extend yourself as your you begin your coupon program. Because you will need to run it repeatedly before evaluating results, make sure to offer a reasonable deal that you can afford to offer. Start with a small yet significant deal, such as free appetizer or drinks with the purchase of a main course. This approach prevents your bottom line from taking a damaging hit and will thus allow you to run the coupon program repeatedly for an adequate review of its success.
4) Select a means of online distribution.
The advantage of using the internet to distribute coupons is that it is typically free and highly accessible to potential customers. The internet offers a variety of means to distribute your coupon, including:
• Post a printable coupon on your website.
• Hire Groupon, Living Social or other online deal sites to distribute your coupon.
• Email your coupon to your restaurant's email marketing list.
It is important to note that there is a risk of abusing the system. Customers could counterfeit your coupon or, in some cases, have multiple email accounts that allow several opportunities to re-print the coupon for repeated use of your promotion. If this risk is alarming to you, it may be most beneficial to use an online deal site such as the ones listed above as they can heavily regulate the redemption of your coupon offer.
5) Track your success.
It is vital to evaluate the success of the promotion once it is over. This will help to determine whether it should be repeated again in the future. The key is to set up a method for tracking your restaurant's marketing results before running the program. This can be monitored by attentive servers and notes within the register as well as hiring out to an online company, such as Prager Microsystems, Inc.
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