Giving them something to talk about

Giving them something to talk about

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Is your restaurant suffering from late-winter doldrums and in need of a wakeup? If so, then take a cue from Bull City Burger & Brewery in Durham, NC. Here’s a place that knows how to throw promotions that get customers excited and through the door.

How about a treasure hunt? Bull City recently completed its Golden Bull Treasure Hunt, where five winners were awarded a free burger, fries and a drink once a week for a year. Here’s how the contest worked: Five small golden bull charms were hidden around the city and contestants had to go to the restaurant’s website each day for clues. Those who found a bull won the prize. Rules for the treasure hunt were fully explained in fine print on Bull City’s website.

For its most fanatical customers, Bull City has issued what it calls “The Tattoo Promise.” This ongoing promotion involves a collaboration with Dogstar Tattoo Company. Anyone who gets one of three Bull City logo tattoos on their body receives 26 percent off on all future bills for life. That’s what you call customer loyalty.

Bull City’s most recent promotion is seeking 30 participants who must keep one hand on Major, a massive bronze bull sculpture on a plaza in downtown Durham. The last one to have their hand on the bull also wins a free burger, fries and drink every week for a year. Contestants are encouraged to dress as outlandishly (yet tastefully) as they can. The crowd watching the contestants will be asked to vote on the best outfit and the winner will get one extra “potty break” beyond the two allowed. If you pee in your pants, say the rules, you’re out.

Bull City owner Seth Gross says he’s behind most of the restaurant’s promotions because he loves being creative and even a bit wacky. “Not every promotion works,” he explains, “but you’ve got to be like Babe Ruth and keep swinging until you hit a home run.”

These latest promotions have surely been home runs for the brand, says Gross. “You’ve got to give people something to talk about other than the food and drink you serve. And you want people talking about your brand outside your walls.”

He says traffic to Bull City’s website goes through the roof during promotions. “I’m humbled by the response we get,” he says. “We have people from Japan, England, Denmark and all over the world checking out our website. I’d be happy with just a response from the folks in the Raleigh-Durham area.”

Another promotion that scored big was Exotic Meat Month, says Gross. During the month of March, the restaurant has featured burgers made from exotic meats, including buffalo, moose, snake and alligator.

“The burger that attracted the most attention online (13,000 views) was our Bug Burger, which featured all sorts of bugs, including scorpions,” he says. “We got a lot of positive and negative response about that burger, and that’s okay, because people were talking about it.”

Isn’t that what promotions are all about? Getting people to talk about your brand and walk through the door. Bull City does it as well as anyone.