7 Lessons from Traditional Marketing for Restaurant Owners to Heed

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The digital world moves fast. Last year it was Facebook, this year it could be something else. As the internet continues to change the way that businesses think about marketing and advertising, and evolves so fast, it can seem like everything you learn is obsolete almost as soon as you learn it. If you are suffering from an overload of information inspired by the quickly changing digital landscape, you aren’t alone. But there is a cure: turn to the successes of the pre-digital age to inspire your best practices.

Why look to the past? In the high-tech economy? What can we really learn from the successes of traditional marketing practices? Read on for our “7 Lessons from Traditional Marketing for Restaurant Owners to Heed,” as well as our explanations for why so many traditional marketing practices still have relevance.

1. Diversify.
If there is one compulsion inspired by the digital age that makes zero sense while looking at the lessons of the past, it’s the insistence by business owners to put all of their advertising eggs into one web packaged basket. If you turn to traditional marketing models of the past, it was once common knowledge that a wide variety of mediums produced better conversion results. And while almost everything does happen on the web these days, there are large segments of the population that aren’t internet users. Diversifying your advertising budget, and spending in mediums like T.V. or newspaper, means you can reach a wider percentage of the population.

2. Know Your Audience
Every truly brilliant ad campaign that came out of the golden era of advertising was based on one thing: a true knowledge of the needs and particularity of a certain segment of the population. And while web advertising is often fashioned as more of a “one size fits all” solution, there is a lot of merit in making more directly applicable advertisements which cater to a smaller segment of the population. To make this work though, you have to know your audience, just like television marketers have always been telling us.

3. Adapt
This is one lesson that could be learned from the failures of past marketing agencies rather than their success. When the market changes quickly, and new mediums become more viable, it’s your responsibility as a business owner to adapt and keep on top of new trends. That means keeping a certain flexibility, but it also means having a bit of courage and sticking your neck out if you think you can get in on new techniques on the ground floor. Adapt to trends, but don’t be afraid to help set them.

4. Don’t Spend on Dead Mediums
Just as it is important to diversify your advertising schemes, that doesn’t mean you should be investing in mediums and strategies that are no longer viable. In order to figure out what works in your area, do some market research and possibly consult with an advertising firm. Just make sure you learn the lesson of traditional advertisers and don’t invest your time and energy in media forms that lack vibrancy. In lots of markets, that means don’t spend on handouts and flyers, and put your old printing costs into something more modern.

5. Be Consistent
Every advertisement you remember from television from your youth became memorable because of one shared factor: consistency. Advocates of traditional advertising practices stress the importance of running ad campaigns for an extended period of time, so that audiences can get familiar with your branding. Even if you change up approaches and mediums, keep some elements of your branding and image alive for consistency’s sake, just like the smartest companies who utilized T.V. to run a very small number of ads a huge number of times.

6. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel Every Outing
Yes, you can and should be creative with your advertising approach. But that doesn’t mean you should re-invent the wheel every chance you get. If you can adopt the practices of another business, or jump on a successful band wagon, do so. Traditional marketing firms were a lot more willing to utilize “old standards” than professionals on every level do today. But by always trying to innovate, business owners today don’t spend as much time and energy on other things as they should.

7. Worry About the Details
Back when fixing your mistakes was harder than opening up photoshop, and advertising material had to be designed perfectly to run in multiple publications for a long period of time, marketers knew that the details and little things matter. Today, the short attention span of audiences has business owners thinking that they can slip up more often with less consequences. But don’t fall into this trap. It might be harder to get everything right the first time, but if old school marketers could, than so can you.

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Rafi Cohen, a graduate of Baruch College & Brooklyn native is the Co-Founder @ Orders2me, an online ordering platform that gives restaurant owners all the features they need to grow their business in the digital age.

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We are on a mission to help local restaurants thrive in the new digital economy. Our blog is designed to give local restaurants best practices from some of the top restaurants in the world today. 


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