Forget About It: Restaurant Marketing Techniques that are Totally Obsolete

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For a long time, marketing was dominated by a short list of ironclad fundamentals.  Marketing Strategy 101 textbooks didn’t look that different in 1980 from how they looked in 1950, and consulting professionals were likely to recommend a healthy mix of print, television, direct mail, and telephone marketing for decades.  But as the internet gets more and more accessible as a feasible marketing technique for restaurant owners and other small business entrepreneurs, the rules of marketing are being continually re-written.  Even some of the most tried, true, and trusted marketing techniques from the past are now passe as far as restaurant owners are concerned.  Here’s our list of restaurant marketing techniques that are totally obsolete.

1. Sending Untargeted Emails

A long time ago, in a marketing universe far far away, email newsletters were all the rage.  And if you do them right, newsletters are still an extremely powerful and flexible marketing tool.  But doing them right requires a bit of work.  You have to think about segmenting your emailing lists, and writing multiple newsletters to deliver to multiple groups of your customers.  If your restaurant has been building emailing lists for a while, you could segment your lists based on how long fans have been following you, and take a more casual and personal tone with some of your long time fans.  However you decide to target your mailings, doing newsletters right means dividing up your lists these days.

However, lots of restaurant owners don’t do email marketing the right way, and subscribe to obsolete marketing techniques where newsletters are concerned.  The old way of thinking about newsletters was that a digest style update could target all of your fans adequately.  Marketers used to treat email newsletters like older print mailer updates, and keep information broad.  But writing emails like that, in an untargeted manner, won’t get you far today.  You’ll see lots of people unsubscribe from your lists if you still use this obsolete technique to market your restaurant.

2. Paid Testimonials

If you’ve ever watched late late late night T.V., you know how important paid testimonials used to be to the marketing industry.  Once upon a time, every medium from T.V. to news papers played fast and loose with paid reviews, and it was an expected marketing technique to compensate “regular” people to endorse a product.  But these days, that kind of thinking is incredibly dangerous, and can backfire if employed to market your restaurant.  In the new digital era, paid testimonials are straight up obsolete for several unavoidable reasons.

First, the most important review platforms in the digital era are all crowd-sourced, and these kinds of platforms are almost impossible to trick with paid testimonials.  Major online review conglomerates are so easy to access, that the truth will come out, above and beyond anything a paid reviewer could contribute.  Unless you have the budget to hire hundreds of individuals to write reviews, popular opinion will take over, and your paid testimonials will get drowned out by authentic customer opinions.  Plus, consumers in the digital age are great at spotting scams and tricks, and your paid testimonials would probably go noticed if you tried to use them.  So skip the paid reviews, unless you don’t care about your restaurant’s reputation and have a lot of money to waste on obsolete marketing strategies.

3. Doing Everything In House

While it’s almost unimaginable these days, big firms and businesses once managed all of their advertising with in house teams.  Business school graduates cooked up advertising schemes for proprietary products, and everything got done under one roof.  And smart restaurant owners would adopt these techniques, handing all of their marketing efforts themselves or hiring one consultant to take care of all of the advertising  needs for their business.  But if you are a restaurant owner still thinking like this, you are working off of some very obsolete marketing logic.

In the digital age, it’s easier than ever to outsource some of the more specialized marketing needs of your restaurant to any number of small and medium sized firms.  You don’t have to be an expert in email marketing to send great emails to your lists: just hire someone talented and cheap to write your email newsletters for you.  Even if you can’t afford to outsource anything, there are lots of free website plug-ins and online applications that make some of the hard parts of marketing like SEO and social media a whole lot easier.  Trying to conquer everything by yourself, without relying on the help of outsiders and getting resourceful with where you look for answers, is one of the most obsolete marketing techniques that you can employ as a restaurant owner.  Ditch this kind of thinking, and the other obsolete marketing techniques above, and your restaurant will find new success.

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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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