It’s tough to pull off a promotion with a limited budget and tight resources, but with the right approach, you could achieve huge success with sales growth and an increase in traffic. Big teams and big budgets aren’t necessary if you consider implementing tactics that can result in a huge bang for your buck.
The Melting Pot Restaurants recently ran a promotion that generated 25,000 new members for the Club Fondue e-mail marketing program in 13 hours. The Melting Pot accomplished this on a limited budget by capitalizing on a nationally recognized food holiday, National Cheese Fondue Day on April 11, with budget-savvy tactics — including public relations and social media — executed by a three-person communications team.
Consider these five tips when executing your next promotion:
Take risks. Don’t be afraid to attempt something your restaurant has never tried before — you may be surprised at what you can achieve! A promotion like this was never done before at The Melting Pot, so the marketing team didn’t know if the goal of driving 25,000 new Club Fondue members within a 24-hour period was even achievable. By believing in the program and the tactical execution, The Melting Pot surpassed this goal within 13 hours, about half the expected timeframe.
Test, test and then test again. Perform extensive tests on all digital outlets before launch. And when you think everything is working fine, test it again! Ensure websites can handle huge traffic without slowing or crashing. Check volume capabilities on e-mail systems to make sure the tool is sustainable during the promotional period. The Melting Pot started testing all websites and the e-mail program’s database two weeks before the campaign’s launch to ensure everything was working properly and all submissions could be accommodated without any disruption to the user’s experience.
Give to receive. It doesn’t have to be anything major. Just be open to giving something away for the chance that customers could purchase more than what was stipulated in the offer. The Melting Pot gave away 25,000 free cheese fondue vouchers (valued at $16 per small cheese fondue) to people who signed up for Club Fondue during a 24-hour new member drive while supplies lasted to incite trial and ultimately drive sales into the restaurants. For the 2012 program, guests have two months to redeem the vouchers. In 2011, 77% of guests who dined at The Melting Pot during the National Cheese Fondue Day promotional period purchased additional menu items beyond the complimentary cheese fondue.
Spread the word. Use public relations and social media with little to no advance notice. You don’t have to have a lofty advertising or marketing budget to gain media and public attention — just a few people who can dedicate the time to executing this the right way. The Melting Pot promoted National Cheese Fondue Day on the day of the event with a press release at 5 a.m. EDT, national pitches to bloggers, reporters and assignment managers at 6 a.m., a small Facebook advertising campaign (less than $2,000) also at 6 a.m. and social media messaging at 7 a.m. with a total promotional cost around $5,000.
Monitor, respond and report. This is the most important part of the promotion as you may need to make tweaks, answer customer questions and recover guests, so it is imperative to stay on top of the volume, respond to each comment and question, and report results. The Melting Pot’s communications team had one person overseeing the entire promotion with all vendors and outlets, one person overseeing all media coverage, pitches and Facebook activity, and one person managing all activity on Twitter. The Melting Pot’s 2012 campaign results included 25,000 new Club Fondue members, more than 630 total news clips, a one-day record of more than 1,100 TMP Facebook “likes” and more than 500 tweets. Last year’s National Cheese Fondue Day campaign resulted in a 14.4% increase in sales year over year and a 37.65% increase in guest counts.
By tackling these five tips, limited budgets and resources will not stand in the way of promotional success as you strive to innovate, take risks and reap the rewards with true traffic-driving and sales-generating methods.
Sandy D’Elosua directs public relations and social media programs for The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc., Burger 21 and GrillSmith as national director of communications for restaurant management company Front Burner Brands.