I just read a blog post by Aaron Schoenberger over at The BrainchildGroup about the increased use of Social Networking by restaurantstrying to attract more guests through the doors in 2010. Many restaurant brands have successfully fostered a more personal relationship with their customer base by interacting with them through different Social Media mediums. Beyond restaurant email marketing, blogs, Twitter, and YouTube all have enabled restaurant concepts in all segments, from QSR to family casual to fine dining, to engage and entice their following in a way that could not be achieved otherwise.
Some brands have even gone so far as to forgo some of the more traditional methods of advertising their restaurant concept in order to focus their marketing budget in this arena. Naked Pizza, for example, advertises their Twitter handle on their outside signage in lieu of their phone number.
The “old ways” of marketing are still alive and well though. Growing up as a kid, we took our vacations cross-country in the South by car. I remember reading every Stuckey’s billboard, mile after mile, promising me a pair of Native American made leather mocassins or a huge bag of broken cookies if I would “Exit in 52 miles”. Every sign counted down the miles to the next location, creating an ever-increasing need in me for whatever a pecan log roll was!
Today, the family and I were enticed the old-fashioned way. A billboard on the side of the highway. As we took a family drive, we saw a sign along I-40 letting us know the Cherokee Trading Post was up ahead, and they offered Buffalo Burgers on the menu! The old memories, along with lunchtime hunger, drew me irresistibly to the Rest Stop/Gift Shop/Native American Art Gallery/Restaurant. Only my oldest son and I tried the Buffalo Burger, which is okay, but we all enjoyed a time we would not have otherwise without that billboard.
So as restaurants move forward with the new marketing models and start to travel the information superhighway, they ought not neglect the old standby “asphalt highway” methods while they’re at it.