Cutting the budget? Start in advertising!

Food & Business Tips


What?!?! Cut the advertising budget!?!?! I know-every person that has gone through marketing 101 knows that if you cut your advertising budget because of money concerns, you are only going to be in a worse position. If you aren’t making sales, then how can you expect more money by not advertising?

First, don’t confuse advertising with marketing. We have talked before about using smart marketing; using Twitter to alert current customers about nightly features or emailing people who signed up for the service a few coupons. Think of advertising as vinegar and marketing as honey—well, which one attracts? We live in an age where people can say anything and post it for everyone to see. Because of this, people have become very wary of claims made by even the most respected of businesses. Every commercial has paragraphs of disclaimers on the bottom, so you automatically think they aren’t telling the truth. No, my friends, placing a big ad in a magazine or newspaper just isn’t worth the money. So how do you let people know about you? The answer: public relations and marketing.

Does your restaurant have a unique story? Do any of your employees have a special story? Have any of your chefs earned a new certification? Get the information out there by dropping notes of special interest to the life style writers in the newspaper, write to the food critics, find special interest writers for not just the mainstream newspapers, but also the smaller (usually younger crowd) papers. Let them write the advertisement for you in the form of an article. Not only is it free, but it everything you claim is now taken as true—a reporter wrote it, so it must be true. Plus, these reporters are easy to find, their e-mail address is at the end of every column they write! Put your guests to work by giving them a stack of coupons redeemable for maybe a free appetizer, and tell them they get a free dinner when you get back five coupons with their name on it. Anything that leaves your restaurant should have your name on it for others to see. Make what used to be a throwaway item a keeper: sports schedules or calendar of events at your place can be placed on to go menus, give your employees free travel mugs with your logo; the more they travel, the more your name is shown. Uniform tops have your logo already? Sell them to customers, you make a profit and they become walking sandwich boards. In any of these cases, you are not spending anything extra on advertising, you are just making better use of your current products.

Traditional advertising is irrelevant in today’s marketplace. Full page newspaper ads, billboards, mass communication, are just not interactive enough to capture a new customer; you need a combination of advertising, personal connection, and verifiable claims. Remember-other people will market you, just give them a reason and the tools.

Chef William Knapp; CEC,

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