Holiday Marketing, Marketing Tips, Restaurant Stories, Social Media

Maximizing the Madness: Making Your Business the Go-to Place to Watch the Biggest Tournament of the Year

Each year, people from all over the country tune in to what is arguably among the most prestigious and exciting athletic tournaments in the world. Following Selection Sunday on March 11th, the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament will tip off and millions will be watching along with brackets in hand as the best college basketball teams in the nation vie for a national championship. We’re here to offer solutions and make sure that your business is the place to be for your community to experience March Madness.

This tournament is one of the most unique and dynamic sports and cultural fixtures.  Spanning the entire remaining month of March and featuring near constant sports action and coverage, March Madness engages your basketball die-hards and casual fans alike rooting for hometown schools, the underdog, the integrity of their own bracket, and even those just enjoying the game day atmosphere. As a business, the opportunities to capitalize on this special phenomenon are near limitless.

Organize A Bracket

One of the more straightforward ways to make your establishment a gameday destination is to organize a bracket pool amongst your regulars. It has never been easier for people to organize pools of this kind using online services that track tournament results and participant scoring. Offering local and friendly competition to your regulars is a great way to pique the interest of the passionate and casual fan alike.

Brackets can also be used as a fun way to promote menu items or introduce new specials, while getting your customers involved. For example, have your wings go head-to-head; Buffalo vs. Garlic Parmesan. The winner moves on to verse Honey BBQ, and the loser is eliminated from the bracket. Want to take it a step further? Partner with another local business and compete against one of their specialties! They’re promoting your business, while you’re promoting theirs. It’s a win-win!

Stick With What You Already Do Well

As accessible as the personalized bracket services are, you’re running a business, you’re busy enough. The real secret to success here is capitalizing on what you already do well and making the most of it during this time of year.

Especially at the start of the tournament, these games are all day every day, which means that snack foods are the way to go. Fries, wings, and finger foods will keep people content without over stuffing them. All the more reason for your patrons to stick with you for the long haul.

Get Them Back in the Door

Speaking of the long haul, did we mention that this tournament lasts for weeks? There are going to be a lot of options for people to watch the game, so it’s crucial that you use social media to advertise all of the promotions you plan to run—and well in advance.

Consider signing up patrons for a March Madness club, where customers who sign up are eligible for deals on apps or drinks for the duration of the tournament. Raffles for hometown college gear, or even a credit to your own business towards a future dining experience are great ways to draw people through your door and most importantly, keep them there. The camaraderie of these games is contagious enough as it is, we just want to make sure that your community experiences this magic at your business.

Make it fun!

Keep it exciting by giving your guests ways to interact with these games in real time.

Was there an upset? Your next drink is half off.

Buzzer beater? Try these fries on the house.

You don’t have to take those deals to heart, every business is going to be different, but when your guests drink 3 beers over the course of a game waiting to see if their fourth is going to be discounted courtesy of a Cinderella team upsetting a college powerhouse, these kinds of deals can pay immediate dividends.

Keep in mind that not all your guests will necessarily be paying attention to the game, but they will be paying attention to your menu. Get a theme going with menu items named after teams or March Madness lingo (i.e. First 4, Sweet Sixteen, Elite 8, Final 4), or get creative and make something that visually fits the theme, like orange Jell-O shots with basketball lines piped on.

Every business is unique, but hopefully these ideas help get the ball rolling as you start to think about how you can maximize March Madness for your establishment. If you need an extra “assist” that’s where our marketing experts come in. We’re here to help you get off the bench and into the game and make sure the tournament experience of your business is a slam dunk.

 

Local, Marketing Tips, Restaurant Stories, Social Media

Your Best Marketing Tactic May Be Right Next Door!

As an independent restaurant, business, or small chain, you are faced with a list of new challenges daily; on the top of that list, almost always, is balancing the financials of it all. Maximizing your profits while providing your guests or customers with the best quality product is something you strive for, but when things get tight, you may cut corners in ways that can hurt you more than help.

As a company that works to reassure and aid the independent business owner with marketing solutions for optimal business growth, Ordereze knows that one of the first places business owners look to cut corners is in their marketing. Fortunately, we offer solutions at minimal cost, and are able to shed light on tactics that are easy and inexpensive to execute.

One of the most crucial aspects to marketing your business, is to create a sense of community that surrounds it. Believe it or not, you can do this whether you are located in a remote location, or a bustling city; You just need to use the right tools, and do a little digging to make it work for your particular business.

Here are a few ways to bring that community feel to your business:

Incorporate local ingredients.

Whether you’re in a rural area rich with farms, or you live in a city where you can grow fresh herbs on your rooftop – use this to your advantage. Your guests will LOVE knowing that one of the key ingredients in the new cocktail comes from a nearby herb garden; or that the heirloom tomatoes on their salads are from the farm a mile away. It shows that you care for community growth, support local farmers, and consider where your ingredients come from to be an important aspect of how you design your menu.

Meat, Seafood, Dairy & Veggies.

As mentioned above, linking up with a nearby farm to feature the freshest produce is invaluable, and same goes for dairy, fish and meat dishes as well. Find out who you can form partnerships with to get the best price for the highest quality local meat, fish and dairy. Many times cutting out the middle man can be cost effective if you are legally allowed to deal directly with the farmers themselves.

Create a BUZZ!

Own a coffee shop? Have a cocktail list that you want to get creative with? Why not look for local honey to use or sell? It may be a big undertaking to harvest your own honey, unless you happen to have a bunch of bees on hand, but do a little research to seek out local producers. There is also a lot of research that has been done on the health benefits of incorporating raw/local honey in your diet – which are certainly useful and fun facts to use to your advantage!

Capitalize on Local Beverages.

Whether right in your home town, or local to your state, its a great idea to feature local wine, beer, spirits and even coffee on your list.

Have a beer tap system? Try and rotate a local brew seasonally and match it with your menu items. Inviting a local wine maker to collaborate on a wine dinner or tasting event is also a great way to get people through your door for something different on a slower night. Creating cocktails using local spirits also offers something to talk about to tables and bar patrons.

Artwork

It’s a win win when you are able to provide a beautiful ambiance for your guests while featuring work from local artists on your walls. Not only will you be able to save costs on decor, but you will be promoting your business to an audience (those coming to check out the artwork) who potentially have never visited you before.

Try hosting special events such as art openings if you are able to feature new artists every so often. You can either work with the artist to sell tickets, or bring people in free of charge with a cash bar and small menu for them to order from and sample your food.

Part ways with guests by offering a coupon for a free beverage or dessert, or offer a small discount on their bill when they return on a later date.

Charity organizations

It’s always a wonderful feeling to give back to your community, and what better way to give back, than to partner up with a local organization to bring light to both a worthy cause, and your business. There truly is nothing better than for the community to see local businesses involved in raising money for a good cause; Plus it’s a great way to network with other business owners, as well as a huge marketing opportunity to bring more business your way.

Depending on the direction you would like to go, whether it’s hosting an event or coordinating with others to organize a fundraiser of sorts, consider giveaways and donations if it’s in your budget. Are you able to volunteer yourself or your employees to help at a fundraiser? Can you provide food, drinks, or products to an event? Would contributing money for a sponsorship page in a local publication be worthwhile? All of these are wonderful ways to market your business for all the right reasons.


Let us know how you work with your community on our Facebook or Twitter Page! We love hearing how small businesses out there are making things happen by keeping it local.

For other marketing ideas catered to your business, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter or follow this blog!

Holiday Marketing, Marketing Tips, Restaurant Stories, Social Media

Table For (more than) 2 Please! Why You May Want To Rethink How You Take On Valentine’s Day…

February 14th.

A day some may look forward to each year, and a holiday others would prefer simply didn’t exist.

Whether or not you’re a fan of the many hues of pink, dozens of rose ads, and being surrounded by more heart-shaped chocolate than you can handle – Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and if you’re a restaurant owner, this may be one of the biggest days of the year for you.

Just like any other holiday, this Hallmark-heavy, love-filled 24 hours is one that is synonymous with a romantic meal to cap off the day’s expression of emotion. But what once was a formal occasion to be enjoyed by loving couples only, has taken a sharp turn and morphed into a time to acknowledge friendships, family, an opportunity to dine together as a group, and even a celebration in being single. #GalentinesDay or #SinglesDay anyone?

While we can certainly expect the majority of your tables or take out orders to lean towards 2 people, perhaps rethinking how you market your menu, encourage reservations for groups, and promote Valentine’s Day festivities a bit less traditionally, can be beneficial to the success of your night.

Follow Social Trends and Stick to Holiday Themes.

Simply being conscious of the fact that larger groups may want a nice place to dine out together is just the start. You may offer a price-fixed menu for couples, but perhaps in addition, offering family style portions to parties of 4 or more may be a way to attract larger tables. Offer a discount on a second bottle of wine to a larger table when one may not be enough for the group. Maybe offering ‘Valentine’s Party Packs’ to-go – consisting of combo meals or appetizers and entrees that compliment each other (with clever names) may work, and give the option to select the number of people it will feed.

Some may not want to get fancy, and opt to spend Valentine’s day hanging out at home with friends or a loved one. Personal heart-shaped pizzas to-go would be a great treat for someone dining solo, and of course larger pies to feed multiple people should be featured as well.

Decorating your items with edible flowers (although this can potentially get pricey) is a fun way to add something different to your typical plating techniques.

Think Pink. You can create red and pink cocktails or mocktails with candied rims, or slather sweeter drinks with chocolate for added decadence. Maybe the icing or decor on desserts or even your plate ware can incorporate hearts and themed colors as well.

Giving Something Away Isn’t A Loss…

Leaving a lasting impression on your guests goes a long way. The thoughtful way you say goodbye as they leave and wishing them a Happy Valentine’s Day are hospitality no-brainers… but perhaps offering them a small (inexpensive) festive dessert on the house, or sending them on their way with a few chocolates or a rose for the ladies as they leave, would be that much more effective. Going that extra inch will cause them to remember such a sweet notion the next time they are looking for somewhere to eat, or a place to bring their friends.

How Should I Spread The Word?

Social Media needs to be your first go-to. But what if you lack followers? What if you have no one to manage your social media and can’t stay on top of it?

If you lack followers, staying diligent on providing valuable and shareable content is where you should start, but since we aren’t working with much time before the holiday, let’s explore other options.

Email Marketing is huge. Not only do your messages not get lost in the constant updating of someone’s social feed, but you have more room to work with. You can add more text, multiple images, and make it more personal. If you have collected email addresses, this is the way to go!

Let’s also not forget to spread the word to your guests while they are visiting you. Prep your servers for what’s to come, and have them inform your guests about your plans for Valentine’s Day, reminding them to jump on pre-ordering or firming up reservations before you fill up!

Pay Attention to Menu Items and Staffing

Using seasonally appropriate menu items should make crafting your menu easier, as those ingredients will be fresh, and should be readily available. Make sure however, to select items that are cost effective, as you will be doing larger volumes that evening and you want to be conscious of how costs will add up.

To follow that point, it’s essential that you should make sure to order enough to supply the demand of this holiday. The last thing you want is to run out of something on your limited menu (should you choose to offer only a selection of the full menu or price fixed menu that evening) and leave any of your guests disappointed.

This is why a price fixed menu may be a solution to maximize your revenue and help you plan. Since you will inevitably be catering largely to tables of two, you may want to avoid losing a table to a couple whose entire meal may consist of sharing a $6 appetizer and a $7 glass of wine (and then remain at the table all night staring lovingly into one another’s eyes) and instead lead them towards the experience of a full meal. Make it known at the time the table is reserved however, that there will be a special menu that evening, and share the cost so there are no surprises the night of.

In regards to staffing – take a step back and think about your stronger staff. It’s an important night to provide your best service and impress your guests. You don’t want to try and save money with under-staffing or trying out new positions for your team that night. Stick with what’s been working, and make sure to let your staff know they are on for that night because their skills are valued and you know that they will provide a wonderful experience for the guests that evening.

It also never hurts to offer staff incentives when they are scheduled to work holidays, or on days they normally aren’t scheduled to come in. It doesn’t have to be a large gesture, but perhaps a friendly competition or reaching a set goal, can help motivate and encourage some fun within your staff on an otherwise hectic evening.

Have Fun With It.

Valentine’s Day can be overwhelming as a restaurant owner, but try and have fun with it. Your guests will take notice of the vibe that you and your staff sets for the evening, and it will only enhance their visit. If you have any questions on how you can better market your business for this holiday or another one, email one of our marketing experts at solutions@ordereze.com today!

 

Halloween, Marketing Tips, Restaurant Stories, Social Media

Halloween And Beyond: The Value of Holiday Marketing

October is here, and with it, we’re inching ever closer to everyone’s favorite fright night of the year, Halloween.

It only seems fitting to take this opportunity, and propose some ideas that we’re confident can generate business — and more importantly, REPEAT business at your establishment throughout the Halloween season and beyond.

Halloween itself is great and all, but before we even get to that spook-tacular night, there’s the entire season of Fall to welcome! For those in areas that experience this glorious change of season, you know that it’s more than just a date on the calendar or a change in the weather, but often represents a shift in the tastes of consumers.

In addition to an invasion of all things pumpkin flavored, the Fall season is also a time when some of the following flavors are typically highlighted:

  • Apple & Apple Cider
  • Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato
  • Butterscotch, Caramel & Toffee
  • Cinnamon, Chai & Nutmeg
  • Chestnuts, Pecans & Walnuts
  • Cranberry
  • Ginger & Gingersnap
  • Maple flavors

A chance to slip some of these flavors into your menu over the course of the season may help you stand out against some of your competitors.

For those that serve beer at their establishments, when the seasons change, or holiday’s approach, beer taps typically change with them. Hosting a beer tasting or two while waiting for Halloween to arrive would be a great way to get some people in your door and some eyes on your beer and food selection. Perhaps a beer and cheese pairing night? A paint night with a Fall or Halloween theme while the pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers are pouring?

It seems like every year, Halloween becomes more and more of a commercial and cultural fixture. Halloween has become more than just a day, but an almost literal month-long celebration of all things frighteningly fun. This offers a tremendous opportunity for your business to tap into the “spirit” of the occasion.

Adjusting some of your menu items (even if just by name) can be a playful way to freshen up your menu:

  • “BOO”-shi
  • “Ghoul”ash
  • BONE-appetite Wings
  • Goblin up burgers
  • Monster mashed potatoes
  • Witch’s Cauldron Chili
  • Sand-witches

Not to mention any number of Halloween inspired cocktails that can help customers keep your name in the front of their minds when heading out for a bite or a night of fun during this time of the year.

Outside of wordplay, there are some more concrete events and promotions you can offer to appeal to your community.

During these “31 Days of Halloween” you can offer customers a punch card, or tracking system of some kind to keep them coming in weekly for a special Halloween-themed food or drink that you can switch up as often as you’d like. Customers who return each week within the month, can earn a gift card or credit towards a future bill after the Halloween season is “laid to rest.”

Maybe each visit earns them a raffle ticket for a larger prize like a free meal. Or link up with other local shops to cross promote your businesses, and perhaps they will offer to donate a prize like a spa day, electronics, movie tickets or something of the like. Providing opportunities like these for your customers are a great way to organically grow your email contact list, giving you the chance to keep them informed of any future offers or events at your establishment.

If something long term like that doesn’t really appeal to you, something as simple as a Halloween movie screening on a typically slow night could be a fun way to break up the norm. Costumed karaoke anyone? The possibilities are endless.

We don’t want to alarm you, but October does feature a Friday the 13th. Some fanfare on that date is sure to be a hit for those too old for trick-or-treating looking to start their weekend off with a fun twist.

Encouraging kids and parents to attend your establishment in costume could be a fun way to initiate some playful buzz. Maybe that can be incentivized with a discount of some kind, on an order over a certain amount of money. Certainly, on Halloween itself, encouraging a costumed visit from children as a trick or treat stop will be something they won’t soon forget, and likely nor will their parents.

Halloween is a unique and special time, but being able to recognize the marketing opportunities offered by holidays in general, is key in keeping your establishment fresh in the minds of consumers — and getting new eyes on what you offer and more feet consistently through your door.

Social media and specific promotions will be key to getting the word out, and we’re happy to say we’ve got your back!  Whatever you need to promote these events or specials, or simply providing holiday themed posts on social media, we’re here to help!

 

Marketing Tips

Email Marketing Is Far From Dead — Just Don’t Kill It With These Common Mistakes…

1.) Don’t SPAM your audience.

78% of consumers have unsubscribed from emails because a brand was sending too many emails. (HubSpot, 2016)

How many times do you bypass emails in your inbox because you see the same sender pitching deals and promotions day after day after day? Less is more when it comes to reaching out to your customers. Yes, there are exceptions to this rule, perhaps when you would like to promote daily specials to your followers — but this has still been proven to work best when sent on a weekly basis, and then additionally encouraging your audience to follow you on social media for daily updates and engagement.

2.) Keep it simple.

As the number of images in an email increases, the clickthrough rate of the email tends to decrease. (HubSpot, 2014)

Get to the point. Too many words, a multitude of buttons and a collage of pictures will only lessen the impact and muddle the message you are trying to communicate. Plus, most emails are read on mobile devices, so you want to make sure you provide a visually clear and straightforward message, which will cause your readers to click on and read more!

3.) Make it personal.

Brands that personalize promotional marketing emails experience 27% higher unique click rates and 11% higher open rates than those that do not personalize. (Source: Experian, 2016)

Don’t make your emails seem too ‘spammy’. In other words, relate to your customers. You know what they want, so talk to them as if they were already in your restaurant or business, and add that personal touch to your email campaigns. For example, sending them emails on their birthday to perhaps offer a free dessert or drink, will let them know you value them as a customer — and they deserve to be celebrated!

4.) People are listening!

The number of e-mail users in the US is projected to grow to 244.5 million by the end of 2017. That number is forecast to grow to 254.7 million by 2020. (Source: Statista, 2016)

It’s amazing when you hear from some experts that email marketing is dead. There is no argument that social media is a necessary tool to market your business, and email provides an outlet to not only specifically target your selected audience, but as a tool to track, inform, and educate your customers in a way that puts the information directly at their fingertips — to read when they have time.

5.) Know that it takes work, in order to work.

Constant Contact surveyed small business owners and found that 49% do not use email marketing data to assist with their email marketing campaigns because they do not know where to begin. (Source: Constant Contact, 2016)

As mentioned above, with email marketing, you can track your audience’s behavior. You can see who has opened your emails, who has clicked into them, and what they clicked on. From here you can target advertising to those groups, resulting in a MUCH bigger potential for converting that email subscriber into a customer, or prompting them to revisit you. So take your time, create thoughtful and impactful campaigns which will help build brand awareness and a larger customer base – but know this takes time and effort, and to ask for help when needed. Marketing effectively is crucial to your business!

Marketing Tips

Creating Your Own Voice On Social Media

Developing a unique personality in a huge digital world can come across as a daunting task, we know – but once you create your own voice and decide what message you need to communicate to your followers, the ability to stay on a schedule rich with content tends to get easier the more you practice.

Here are some tips to start developing your distinct (and effective) digital voice:

1. Know the answer to the question: “Who are you?”

That should be simple enough to figure out right? After all, it’s your business — and all you have to do to begin your marketing efforts is let your social media followers know exactly who you are, what your business model is, what you have going on, and how you plan to (ultimately) get them through your door… Sure, piece of cake! (gulp)

OK, maybe it’s a little more complicated than it seems.

First things first – establish a personality for your business, and stay true to yourself. This may be the most important aspect of marketing your business.

Are you an upscale dining establishment that offers fine wine and a pricey cuisine? Then perhaps using a humor tactic may not fit the vibe you’re going for. Instead you may want to focus on sharing beautiful photos of your food accompanied with wine pairing suggestions, or run specials to attract visitors that may not typically gravitate towards a business like yours.

Are you a fast-paced deli or pizzeria catering to those on-the-go with little time to spare? Perhaps scheduling out daily tweets or Facebook posts before the busy rush will provide those ‘time-starved’ patrons a quick glimpse of what to order when they come in.

Start by writing a list containing the main components of your business. What type of food or service do you provide? Who are your customers? When are you the busiest? How do you fall on average compared to your competitors in regards to price point?

For Example:

  • Food/Drink Served: Italian, Wine, Brick Oven Pizza, Espresso drinks
  • Customer demographic: Men & Women ages 30-50
  • Busy Hours: 8am- 9am, 11am-2pm, M-F
  • Price point: Moderate

When you first start thinking about customizing your digital voice, follow this procedure and it will help you identify who you are and who your customer is. From here, you will tailor how you deliver the message and when you need to speak to your online audience.

2. What are your goals?

We all set goals – in all facets of life. But especially when it comes to your business, make them realistic. Start small then get more aggressive from there as to not get overwhelmed as you begin — but know definitively what your goals are, and keep working at them. Your overall long term goals may include a plan for your digital marketing efforts to save you money while bringing new customers in your door, ultimately allowing you to have more free time away from your business.

When it comes to setting goals for marketing your business digitally, one thing to always remember is that results seldom happen overnight, for many reasons, so patience is key. But how can you be patient and still set accurate and aggressive goals for yourself?

Start by creating a timeline. Perhaps in the first 3-6 or even 12 months, you work hard at building your social media audience. Begin defining your audience by finding out who is looking for you, acting as a consumer yourself. Begin following businesses like yours, take notes of what your competitors may be doing, and stay true to your business “motto” and the overall feel of how you want your business portrayed. You will slowly and steadily begin to gain followers to share your message with.

Next, decide how you plan to share information with your audience and begin to delegate that responsibility. Is managing your social media or digital marketing efforts too difficult or time consuming? Decide whether you need the help of someone else to post on social media for you, or to send out email campaigns to keep your followers in the loop and wanting more.

Marketing your business takes time, and you want to make sure to provide an accurate and consistent message, and to not overwhelm them. Which brings us to our third tip.

 3. Consistency is Key!

Above all, you never want to confuse your Social Media followers. Revisit the answer to “Who are you?” every time you post on social media or respond to a review – and continue that theme throughout all of your marketing efforts.

Use repeated and thoughtful hashtags to begin showing up in online searches pertaining to your business category. Make a schedule of when you would like to post on your social media sites, send out email campaigns, and stay on top of reviews left about your business and make sure to respond to each one.

Sporadic activity and engagement will not only cause you to get lost in the shuffle, but lose effectiveness of your content and disengage your followers awaiting to hear from you. Keep in mind however, that there is a such thing as TOO much activity. A little mystery, leaving your followers and customers wanting more, will typically result in more excitement when you share some news, a new promotion, or spread the word about an upcoming event.

It will be a bit of trial and error while analyzing what your audience likes, but that is all part of growing your social media following, reaching your goals, and creating that unique and profitable voice to fit with your business in the digital world we live in.