There are basically four different types of Marketing/Promotions: Four/Inside Walls As the name says the marketing and promotions take place inside the business walls.  There is normally no direct expenditure for the Inside the Walls program.  The cost is incurred only when this program is successful. The customer response and satisfaction is the greatest with this marketing tool.  By selling the current customer you have eliminated 90% of the reason they do not visit your operation.

  • They know where you are located
  • They know your dress style
  • They know your menu
  • They know your pricing
  • They understand the ins and outs of the business, children friendly, alcohol is served or not etc.
  • They know your hours of operation
  • They know the food quality
  • They know the portion sizes
  • They know if they are receiving a value
  • They understand your wine list (or lack of)
  • They know your service level
  • Basically they know your complete business

So all of the obstacles are eliminated and now you can afford to give them something unique that non customers could not enjoy.  Using this method of promotions your advertising cost per customer will be 100% effective.

This type of marketing is meant to build Frequency of current customers. Definition: Frequency- the number of times in a given period of time that a customer visits your establishment.  

Outside the Walls This type of Marketing is similar to the Inside Walls but it happens outside the building or on the lot line. You can use your outside of the building to market and promote the events that are or will take place. One of the key focuses to Outside the Walls is to make sure your exterior sets the perfect first impression. It is very hard to build business in a restaurant that says they want to build business and profits but they do not pull the weeds in parking lot. The following is a list of minor items that can have a negative first impression if not attended to on a daily basis.

  • Make sure the building siding is in perfect repair, paint, graffiti, etc
  • Make sure the parking lot is sealed, lined and has proper stoppers
  • Make sure all light bulbs are working
  • There should be no weeds in the parking lot or landscaping
  • All garbage should be behind a fenced in wall
  • The parking lot should be free from all oil and debris
  • Does your reader board say something different daily
  • Is the glass cleaned
  • Is your grease barrel exposed
  • Does the garbage area smell
  • Make sure you have adequate lighting in the parking lot

All of the Outside the Walls advertising should use color to draw attention to the signage.  And the Message should be short and concise.  Give the details inside; remember they will only be able to read one sentence at the most while driving by so make it short.  Say only the key words needed to convey the message.  Remember that Outside the Walls is supposed to be only an Attention Graber. Here is a list of a few ideas that you can use to   assist with the promotions:

  • Change your reader board daily
  • Put out small signs along the lot line to capture customers attention
  • Use whenever possible Quality banners on the building
  • Large nighttime flood lights to draw attention
  • Rent inflatable items to make a huge impact

The major difference of Inside and Outside the Walls is that Outside the Walls will build New Customers by grabbing their attention, as well as sell the Current Customer. The Big Block (BB)

The Big Block Marketing happens within about a mile of the business.  Typically this concept is Billboard, Banners or signs of some kind.  But there is another method that is working very very well for one of my customers.  What she did using The Big Block concept is have her car Wrapped with the Logo, Name Address Phone Number.  And then she also used the Wrap to tell when the new restaurant was opening.  She created a moving billboard that took the message to the customer.

This type of marketing is meant to Sell New Customers and it is a Reminder to the Current Customer base. Mass Market (MM)This marketing concept is one you will not see me say a lot about.  The reason I spend very little time with this style of marketing is:

  • Very high per customer cost
  • Expensive productions cost
  • Wide market not focused marketing
  • In the high tech world traditional Mass Market is losing appeal
  • Time consuming to initiate
  • Hard to measure results

I tend to focus on 1, 2 and 3 for the lower cost and immediate return.  Mass market takes some time due to the production lag time and must be planned well in advance.  Mass market is defiantly not a plan that works for unorganized people.  To be most affective you will need to shoot several commercials at the same time so you can lower your overall productions costs.

The tighter the script the lower your overall production cost.  There are many programs that are out in the market place when it comes to mass media.  Make sure when looking to see if the station has the proper demographics, what is the arbitrage rating and what is the cost per minute or for thirty seconds.  Note that many times the thirty and sixty are almost the same in cost.  Make sure to shoot the commercial so it can be cut to thirty if it is more affordable.

Mass Market is intended to help Create New Customer and Build Current Customer Frequency.

How to Implement Your Program One of the hardest things to control when creating a marketing and promotional program is making sure you allow enough time for it to be effective.   Many times after a day or week I find customers that move on to something else and say “well that idea sucked”.  You must be in it for the long haul.  Yes, I wish I could say for certain that every promo we do will be 100% effective but there is no way that I can assure anyone of that.  But I will guarantee if you do not try you will not succeed.  Now let’s look at the best way to implement your Marketing and Promotions program. 1)    Get your staff involved

  1. There is not a promotion in the world that will be totally effective without the support of the staff.
  2. During your monthly meetings give them in detail what is happening and how it will be implemented.
  3. Ask for their input how can we improve the promotion
  4. Use the advice of your employees they are the ones that truly know what the guests are saying

2)    Get your customers involved

  1. I feel that having a Customer Advisory Board is a great concept you can have monthly meetings with a solid agenda.  For serving on the committee they need to be aware that their input is greatly needed and appreciated.  You will need their assistance with

i.      How is the service?

ii.      Can we make improvements?

iii.      Test new food items before going on menu.

iv.      Promotion ideas

v.      Ask to see if they like the new marketing campaign.

vi.      Make sure you feed them and give them gift certificates for their help.

 3)    Take polls

  1.  You need to us polling information as a science, not just hit or miss.
  2. When you create a polling survey do not stack the deck to get the answer you want.
  3. Make sure you ask (but may not get) name, phone number, address to expand your customer information data base.

4)    Use Comment Cards

  1.  Always mention how do they like the current marketing campaign?  You will find out if they even know about it.
  2. This will be your number one way to create a data base.
  3. Not to mention you just may find out useful information on how to improve your overall service levels. And how you can change your business to increase your overall profit levels.

5)    Find out Information

  1. We need to train the employees to ask a lot of questions and document the answers.
  2. I would create a series of leading questions that the servers and bartenders are trained to ask.
  3. These questions will defiantly help with your next promotion.

6)    Don’t Be Afraid To Ask

  1. Not asking is always much worse than not knowing.  Many people say well I don’t want to deal with problems so we do not ask.  This type of don’t ask attitude will only assist in derailing great promotions.

7)    Make if Meaningful

  1. Don’t offer a promotion for 10% off dinner, no one cares
  2. Remember these words “Promotion are for people not for profits”
  3. The customer has to see the value in the promotion

8)    Make it Measurable

  1. You must be able to measure the results of each and every promotion, so find a way to keep track and use it.

Make it Memorable

  1. Your number one goal is to increase your customer count and give them the experience where they want to come back again and again
  2. You will know the promotion was Memorable when you hear people talk about it the next day, next week, next month and years later.  That will be the sign you are doing it right.

Now that we are looking at the implementation of the marketing program the theme is INFORMATION.  The more you have the better your marketing and promotions will be for all your customers.  Putting together a complete program will take dozens of thoughtful hours.  When done correctly you can put together a year long series of promotions that works so well your bottom line has doubled.   You can have a time line when all things need to be done and when each stage of the process needs to be started.  Remember this is an undertaking that will have results and vastly improve the bottom line. The ideas will have something for everyone.  Marketing and Promotional ideas are laser beams they have a target.  Take the following ideas and make them your own.

Word of Mouth

Perhaps there is no greater form of advertising than Word of Mouth.  And undoubtedly there is no greater negative than Word of Mouth.  One bad customer review will easily cost you thousands of dollars over the length of your business.  So I put it first, it is my number one way to advertise and it cost you nothing except Doing It Right The First Time.  The concept of Zero mistakes goes back to after WWII when the USA sent Edward Deming to Japan to help rebuild the economy.  Now I will never say you or your staff will not make a mistake but it is vital that it is fixed properly.  We should never knowingly allow a customer to leave unhappy.

Observations and Events

Check out the list of monthly, weekly and daily observation we’ve gathered here.  If we’ve missed something, please let us know so we can add them it to the list however, you will find we’d gathered a really large portion of them. The events list is take from lists of events primarily in Arizona however, we are also adding food service industry conferences and events as well.

Other Business Owners/Associations

Use the contacts that you have already established.  Many times we have hundreds of local everyday potential customers and gatekeepers this is not the time to reinvent the wheel.  You have the contacts now all we have to do is figure out how to let them work for us.  Get active in local clubs, offer free room rental to non-profit organizations.  Never ask for something without giving something back, this is very important when dealing with business owners in your area.  Then they do not feel used.  Make a list of local businesses and what they can do for you and what you can do for them.  Once you have established your potential idea then start to pitch it to everyone on the list.  For each business it will be different and the more you do it the more potential you will see.

Monthly Newsletters

Emailing newsletters to customers is extremely effective.  It’s a direct communication with your customer which very few communication tools compare.  With analytic’s, you can measure how effective campaigns are, what customer are clicking on.  You measure the effectiveness with the redeption on the coupon or increase in traffic.  Keep in mind, ink is expensive so if you asking a customer to print a coupon, keep the graphics to a minimum. Learn about A B Testing to really measure results.

  • Make sure you have permission from the customer, company etc to sent
  • Create a standardize design and layout
  • Create headings with a purpose
  • Tell a story
  • Always be selling
  • Make sure you feature a promotion in every newsletter
  • Do not email junk
  • Get your email list from your customers through comment cards
  • Make sure you are consistent and do not miss a month
  • Use color to grab the customers attention


I am not sure if the menu is your number one way to merchandise your business but for argument sake let’s say, YES it is.  You will never have a single medium that can affect your bottom line as powerful as your menu.  As a matter of fact I have written a 30 page booklet just on menu design.  So instead of going into detail here just remember the Menu is your single biggest profit maker your number one marketing tool!!!!!!! 


In the world of the computer this just maybe your best form of advertising and it is almost free. If you do not currently have a website or if yours needs more attention now is the time to make the change there are many people that can design your site but the most important is to find someone that has your profits in mind as they design it and will take the time needed to give you a great selling tool.  Your site will make all the difference in your bottom line profits.  It must include your menu, a few recipe tips, location, pictures etc.

Direct Mail

This can still be an effective communication tool however, on the bottom of the list for many.  I still receive Valpak and I do open them when I receive them.  In fact, I have one right in front of me as I write this.

Out of 50 coupons, there were two restaurant coupons; one of a local pizza place and one for Rudy Tuesday’s. What I would recommend to do with these coupons is to make contact with advertisers near your restaurant for cross promotions.  Talk with the window repair shop or dentist running a promotion together or think of ways you can both work tether to support each others business. From a Valupak coupon within the packet they are offering a New Client Special. 30,000 homes for only $765.00.  The online equivalent of Valpak would be Groupon.