Print, Text and Email Create a Recipe for Marketing Success

Print, text, and email are a delicious mix in this restaurant marketing campaign.

To gain new customers (and keep them coming back), ask for permission to interact in all the places where they spend time — and then reward them lavishly.

I’d like to share an example of a restaurant that successfully led the way with print and used creative rewards to gain mobile and email access.

Full disclosure: I’m of the age where print and mail have an impact. Yes, I check my mailbox every day, and I love seeing things addressed to me that are interesting and colorful.

I also like supporting local businesses … and I like a good deal.

To start this story, I somehow landed on the mailing list for a nearby restaurant that I have always wanted to try.

Coincidence? Luck? Zip code saturation? Marketing demographic?

Whatever it was, I was receptive.

A colorful, oversized postcard showed an outdoor patio, colorful (fresh-looking) food, and a too-good-to-pass-up offer — BOGO (buy one, get a meal free).

There was an honest-to-goodness coupon — with dotted lines and a barcode.

Bring in the postcard, they explained, or (for convenience) take a photo of the barcode and bring your phone!

Bring your phone. Remember that part, kids.

I knew, upon redemption, the restaurant was going to know my street address for future offers, and they were going to get valuable data about when and how I opted into their direct mail offer.

I decided to play the game to get that extra meal for free — essentially a 50-percent-off deal.

So I grabbed a friend, and off we went.

When it was time to place our orders, the waitperson said:

“If you text us at this number, you’ll get loyalty points applied to this meal, AND you’ll get 20 percent off your meal.”

But wait! I didn’t even know yet if I WAS going to be loyal.

In a nice way, she made it clear that if I didn’t give our number before ordering, I would miss the opportunity to get today’s points and the discount.

It was a light arm twisting with a smile.

I won’t do much for a 10 percent discount or even 15. However, even if I never returned to the restaurant, a 20 percent discount was a motivator.

Then she advised my friend to give her text number NEXT time so SHE could get the discount. Next time! How presumptuous. And yet…  

Done. Text sent.


I immediately got the reply text with the code, which the waitperson entered into her iPad. Now they had my mobile number. Because — remember the foreshadowing? — I had brought my phone that had the photo of the coupon.

Now you may say, “Oh, everybody brings their phones everywhere.” But to be sure, they spelled it out on the postcard as more “convenient” than carrying the actual coupon. And it was!

So they had my physical address, and they got my permission to text me using SMS all before I’d even gotten my food.

Wait, it gets better.

The food was excellent. The service was excellent. The bill was tabulated correctly, and the barcoded coupon was applied correctly.

I added a giant tip (I’ve worked in food service — always tip on the amount before the discounts are applied). I was a happy camper!

The waitperson brought my receipt and a feedback form.

Feedback form!

It was a card, printed on nice stock, not something run out of the cash register. She handed me a colorful branded pen, to keep.

I love pens. If you are going to ask me for a favor, give me a cool pen first.

On the bottom of the form … did you guess? … was another offer with a photo of a mouth-watering summer dessert and specialty coffee. (Did I mention it was summer? That will become relevant later in the story.)

“Let us know how we did! Give us your email address and come back for a treat — on us! Good for a free dessert or custom coffee drink ($7 value).”

Ahhhhh. Okay. They were testing me, testing me.

I liked the food. I knew I would probably return. I like deals. I like coffee and dessert. I love pens.

I gave them the key to the kingdom of my daily existence… my email address.

The next day I received a thank you email (using our wait person’s name and the restaurant name in the “from” line) with the precious dessert-or-coffee coupon. (By the way, restaurants make lots of money on coffee drinks — so this was a strategic  way to get me hooked!)

Every week thereafter, I was texted a brief offer and code. Very low key, not obnoxious. 

And each month, I received an email with the photos from the new seasonal menu along with encouragement to log in and see how many points I had accrued (“you are sooo close — a free meal awaits!”).

With every action I took at their behest, I became tied more closely to them.

And then, I received another postcard.

Not a saturation card like the first one I had received, but a perfectly-timed pitch to proactively address “objections.”

You see, this restaurant has mostly outdoor seating and would be considered a summer hangout in my mind. Although they had been texting me through the late fall, I did not intend to go there in cold weather. So it had been a few months since I redeemed or earned points (data that would show them my activity).

On this postcard, the images highlighted their winter menu — colorful roasted root vegetables, yum! — and hot toddies crafted from locally-produced spirits.

It showed cozy patio seating with those big outdoor heaters. Diners were not bundled up in winter coats and scarves — oh no! — but were wearing sweaters and sweatshirts. Objection addressed! Now I had a new mental picture of comfortable winter dining.

When I redeemed the postcard coupon, they knew their seasonal photo campaign had worked!  

Meanwhile, they were assembling their own picture of ME through basic marketing automation and data collection — and they knew what would get me in the door.

“In the door” is the important part.

You see, restaurants need returning customers. Food doesn’t keep forever, especially in a small restaurant that focuses on fresh ingredients. New customers are expensive to attract. Returning customers, even when they eat at a discount, are gold.

“Predictable Means Profitable” and it’s key to surviving in the food service biz.  

Marketing fuels data. Data fuels traffic. Traffic fuels predictability. Predictability fuels profit.

This restaurant had created a powerful combination.


P.S. Lest you think this is a mega-chain with an unlimited budget, it’s not. It’s a little local restaurant that probably seats 50 people indoors and outside. A smart printer could explain an integrated rewards program like this one to any restaurant owner … and sell it purely on customer analytics. Attract, reward, remind, return. That’s why marketing works!

Read more from Sandy here. 

For her entire deadline-driven professional career, Sandy Hubbard has produced and published a wide variety of business magazines, B2B newsletters, video programs, and email marketing campaigns. She considers the entire printing world part of her proud print-loving family.

These days she helps printing companies with marketing strategy that leads to business growth. Connect with Sandy on LinkedIn. 



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