Leverage newsletters to build your business

With everyone getting back to school and buckling back down to work after the long lazy days of summer you may see a slump in your business. But that doesn’t mean you have to just sit back and wait until customers remember you. Use this opportunity to put in place a regular newsletter campaign to get back on your customers’ radar and fill down times.

Newsletters are an effective way to get information about your restaurant into the hands of your customers, as well as keeping you top of mind. Think of all the potential revenue from customers who have forgotten about your great restaurant, can’t remember where you are or have gotten in the habit of going to your competition.

A newsletter differentiates you from your competition, creates a personality for you and your restaurant and a builds a relationship with your customers.

Don’t let the job of writing the newsletter keep you from using this effective marketing tool.  Decide on a few pieces of regular information that you will include, and don’t worry about how long the newsletter is. Just be sure that the information is interesting and compelling for your audience.

Here are some pointers for making your newsletters as effective as possible:
 
• As with all marketing initiatives, make sure to have a call to action in the newsletter as well as measurable objectives, testing and a way to measure your results.

• Include news about your staff, details on the renovation of your restaurant or a new menu. Use pertinent news and show that your restaurant is a top destination, or that you are investing in your business for the comfort of your customers.

• Include photos of any contributors or to accompany stories about people to bring the newsletter to life.

• Design an offer to encourage people to visit, and make sure that customers must bring in a coupon or the newsletter itself to redeem the offer so that you can track results. We suggest a value add (a free cocktail, etc) rather than discounting.

• Create a “teaser” paragraph and then point to your website for any content that will benefit your customers but is too lengthy to include.

• Highlight a customer who has done something outstanding for the community. Include a special feature on one of your customers or partners. Use customer names, stories and anecdotes.

• Be creative and think about what kind of information you would value.

• A picture is worth a thousand words. Use images to bring interest to your content and encourage customers to read your newsletter. Photos can include new dishes to whet the appetite, the kitchen at work, the newest staff additions and, of course, you.

• Include the menu to encourage people to come to the restaurant.

• Make the newsletter personal. Include your own signature and a picture of yourself or the manager. Customers like to know they are doing business with a real person.

• Include snippets from testimonials, great reviews, press articles, endorsements, etc.

• Send a copy of your newsletters to partners, suppliers, VIPs, journalists, etc.

• Partner with a neighboring business to create great content, an offer and an experience. Perhaps a florist or cinema.

• To reduce your own input time, have your staff participate in creating the content (the chef creates recipes, etc).  All staff must be aware of the newsletters, understand how they work and why you are doing them. They should receive copies and be required to read them. Try to get them involved in the content. This is a perfect place to spotlight employee-of-the-month programs, for instance.

• If you are sending your newsletter digitally, don’t use words like “Free” in the subject line as these type of words alert spam filters and your emails may never be delivered.

Email newsletters are the most practical and cost efficient type, but you can also experiment with a printed newsletter to see which is the most effective. You can use these tests and metrics to determine how many pages of content to produce, if the newsletter needs to be in color or not, etc. Or you may decide that a mix of both works best: hard copies for “offer” versions and digital copies for more “informative” versions.

The ideal frequency is monthly, although if this is not feasible you can combine a seasonal newsletter with other one-shot monthly offers. Give the campaign at least four deliveries before judging the results.

You can also access newsletter templates that are ready to go in my Win Win Restaurant Marketing Kit at www.winwinrestaurantmarketing.com.

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Amy Foxwell

Amy Foxwell is a restaurant owner and an expert in small business and restaurant marketing. She the author of the Win Win Marketing series, including the well-known Win Win Restaurant Marketing...
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