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How the food industry (bars, restaurants, coffee shops etc) can leverage the power of SMS marketing/alerts

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As I was walking in the streets of New York City for the last couple of days, and looking for restaurants that use mobile marketing as a strategy to attract people, I was also thinking of how mobile marketing would be even more useful for those restaurants.

First, here is how mobile marketing for restaurants works in a nutshell:

1. Restaurant promotes a keyword “Text MENU to 63566” for VIP special deals and save 10% from today’s bill”

2. People text and show the text to the waiter or the bartender. At the same time they are now part of the mobile promotions list.

3. When the restaurant is slow or wants to promote a new menu item or event they text the people on the list and increase traffic and sales that way, when people come in.

Here are some specific examples of how mobile marketing can be used in the restaurant and bar business:

  1. Coupons on customers’ phones: print coupons are not very useful nowadays, because you are most likely to forget them at home. Having a coupon on your phone will make it more accessible and, hence, more likely to be used by the customer. This will create more business for the restaurant, especially on slow days. Coupons could be buy one, get one free, get a $10 off for every $50 spent, get percentage off the entire price, etc. Especially helpful would be if coupons are sent at strategic hours of the day, say lunch time, or dinner time. Also, a good strategy would be for the restaurant to send the coupon to a specific group. For example, with the GPS location of every person on the list, the restaurant can send coupons to people who are in 10 mile radius of the restaurant at 11am or 12pm. Then send the same coupon for dinner, say around 5pm or 6pm, depending on which area the restaurant is located.
  2. Repeat customer loyalty program: Many people tend to return to a restaurant where they had a good experience. So you can have a QR scan code, which is a little bit like a UPC on merchandise. With this QR scan code, the restaurant can track how many times somebody has visited and, for example, after their 10th visit in a month, they get an entrée free.
  3. Connecting with your current and potential customers after closing: Restaurants can be present and connecting with current and potential customers even after hours by posting the QR scan code or the short code on their window, or some kind of exterior display. For example, a display could say “Scan this QR code or text MENU to 63566 to get special coupons and promotions.”
  4. Surveying people to make them feel heard: After people sign up for the restaurant’s mobile list, the restaurant may decide to send out a short survey to let them know which kind of coupon was of best use to them, and what kind of deals they would like to see in the future. Also, the survey could be sent out after the customer leaves the restaurant, to let the owners know how pleased they were with the service. This extra touch will make the customers feel important and will probably lead them into coming back to this restaurant.
  5. Text-to-Win (or Mobile Sweepstakes): This is also a great way to engage your existing customers and win new ones. Text-To-Win has become a common practice for the food industry. And who doesn’t love winning and receiving gifts! I found an example where Coors Light was running a Text-To-Win sweepstakes for the NY Giants. The sweepstakes campaign is printed on a coaster and distributed to different bars and restaurants. This is a good way to incentivize customers and gain their loyalty. Also, this is a good way to gather information regarding the clientele – such as age, location, taste etc. – so restaurants can tailor their offering and service based on client feedback.

Mobile marketing is not only a very effective way to promote business in slow times and in general, but also it saves a lot of money on traditional paper and TV/Radio advertisement.

Also, mobile marketing may give the idea to potential customers that this particular restaurant or bar is hip and with the times!

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Kalin Kassabov

Kalin Kassabov

Kalin Kassabov is the ProTexting co-Founder and CEO. Kalin shares insights, tips, and case studies to help businesses and marketers effectively leverage SMS and MMS to reach and engage their target audience and drive results. ProTexting offers professional SMS and MMS Marketing Services for over 16 years.