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Creating A Direct-Mail Marketing Plan

Direct mail pieces can be the most efficient way to attract new customers. They entice potential customers by showing them what you've got. Since most consumers today are very visual shoppers, strong photographs and images of your menu items and/or restaurant design are recommended.

It's best to hire a graphic designer or a marketing agency to professionally design your direct-mail campaigns. It's helpful to use clever headlines and a small listing of your menu items and unique dishes.

In addition to a full-blown direct-marketing piece, consider the direct-mail postcard route using bulk mail permits. Your postage will be less expensive than standard mail. Unlike envelopes, they don't have to be opened for the potential customer to immediately see your offer on a colorful postcard. It's best to use a high quality glossy or laminated card stock for your postcards. They are more durable and more appealing to recipients.

For solo direct mail letters, postcards, menus and brochures, you will need to write copy, create artwork, determine your target markets and hire a local direct-mail house to facilitate each mailing.

Consider companies that create and deliver restaurant menus to thousands of targeted local area homes. They can custom-design your menu with direct-mail marketing strategies in mind. For one low cost, they provide the database, address labels, storing and mailing of your menus to homes, apartments and businesses in your area. All you have to do is sit back and watch your customer base grow.

As you investigate the price of many direct-mail options, you will quickly discover the financial and creative benefits of nationally respected direct mail resources like Clipper Magazine, Savvy Shopper and Mint, as well as Val Pak, Money Mailer and others. Professional direct-mail program resources will offer you complimentary marketing consultations, artwork and the use of professional photographs, mailing lists, printing and postage all in one simple package. Plus, their marketing consultants can share the success stories of other restaurants.

Companies such as Clipper Magazine, Savvy Shopper and Mint produce full-color glossy direct-mail magazines. Val Pak, Money Mailer and others group advertisers' promotions together in an envelope format. The cost of both types is usually about four cents per home as opposed to solo direct mail campaigns, which usually cost between fifty cents to one dollar per home. When you add up the costs of artwork, printing, mailing labels and postage, the magazine or envelope mailers are more economical.

To attract first-time customers or convince current customers to try something new, offer discounts. Consider offering a free appetizer or dessert with the purchase of two entrees. Small percentage discounts are usually perceived as weak offers and ignored. Use strong dollars-off discounts or 50% off or higher discounts to get a much stronger reaction.

Also try to avoid excessive disclaimers and rules for what is not included in these varied offers. Try to keep your special offers simple with words like, “No Double Discounts. Expires 00/00/08.” If you use gift certificates or coupons, make them valid for no more than 60 to 90 days to keep your offers timely.

It takes a long-term investment to successfully market your restaurant business. So get going on a direct mail recipe that best fits your restaurant.

Venishka Hurdle is a marketing coordinator at Marketing Solutions, a full-service marketing, advertising and PR agency. Call 703-359-6000, or e-mail [email protected].

TAGS: Marketing