Restaurant Marketing: One Powerful Marketing Lesson You Need To Know

No, it’s not Facebook; no it’s not direct mail or frequency programs. It’s “memories.” We’re all in the memory business – making sure your customers have a great memorable experience in your restaurant.

Why is this so critical to your future success? Simply your customers, like yourself, are on “information overload.”

Over the past fifteen years, the amount of information we get is overwhelming. There’s only so much room in our memory banks.

Ask any customer to name the last five restaurants he/she’s been to in the last month and they’ll only be able to answer three to four at best. It’s a struggle to answer five.

What does that mean? If your restaurant is not in your customer’s memory bank, you’re off their radar. You’ve been replaced! Your restaurant will not be remembered.

So it’s critical to understand that you’re in the memory-making business. And if you’re not making memories – I’m not talking about the birthdays, anniversaries etc – I’m talking about the small things that matter – then you’re not going to be remembered. You NEED to get your customers to remember you.

When 80% of buying experiences are based on emotional intangibles – the level of how  your customers FEEL they are being treated, making memories as a strategy just can’t be ignored.

The late great poet, Angelou Mayo said it best, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did – but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Next Steps #1: Making memories is your exclusive secret weapon to success. Put your focus into making one-on-one memories now, so your customers will always remember you and you’re implanted in their memory banks, ensuring repeat visits.

Next Steps #2: Give every single person in your company a copy of this issue to read, from the top down, from the back of the house to the front. Have it translated from English to your language of choosing. Have it enlarged and posted. Have your team report back how they made a memory. In this complex marketing and digital environment – this is all you need to know.


Great Marketing Lessons From Santa Inc.

A few years ago, Sean D’Souza, one of my favorite marketers, wrote “Why Santa’s Marketing May Work Better Than Yours.” I’ve condensed and updated it; hope you enjoy.

1. Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle All the Way

If you go to the heart of Santa’s marketing, the one word you come away with is ‘consistency’. Generation after generations have been exposed to one brand, one message, and the same powerful imagery.

Tip: Santa stands for something. What does your restaurant stand for? What’s your vision? What’s your mission?

2. Santa Consistently Occupies One Niche, Then Builds On It

Santa doesn’t change his mind. His customers are kids and he knows it. Like several marketers, he might have been greedily tempted to enter a different niche. With bad advice, he would have tried to get to teenagers, adults and everyone. He realizes that even the tiniest of niches is huge … and niches have a way of expanding by themselves.

At the end of the day, it’s the consistency that takes the jingle all the way to the bank. Too many restaurants lose focus and give you multiple reasons why you should buy from them. Santa sticks to one.

Tip: Find your position and be the best at it and famous for it.

3. You Can Spot Him in the Middle of a Crowded Sky

Do you know anyone else who comes to visit on a sleigh in the middle of the night? And, with reindeer and gifts? The reason Santa stands out so vividly in our memories is because he’s different!

Tip: It’s all about the Wow. If it doesn’t Wow, it’s boring.

4. Give and You Shall Receive

Take a look at Santa’s style. He’s into giving first.

Tip: Make a memorable impact with your customers and in your community.

5. He Knows if You’ve Been Bad or Good

Santa knows his customers. He even knows when they’re sleeping!

What about you? Look at your best customers. What are their names? Their birthdays? Their likes and their hobbies?

The reason Santa’s marketing works is because he knows your individual needs. If you want a Star Wars toy, you get one. If you want a Fitbit or new headphones, you get that too, and you’re not disappointed. Santa knows because he’s interested in giving.

To give, you have to know what the receiver wants or your gift isn’t worth the packaging it’s wrapped in.

Tip: Connect with your best customers; get to know everything about them, even if you have to use Google or LinkedIn to get the information.

6. Hire The Best Reindeer

The Christmas Eve journey is tough and long, which is why Santa hires only the best to haul his sleigh. One weak reindeer slows the journey down as he spans the globe. While Santa’s hiring techniques are tough and stringent, his retention of his reindeer and elves is eternal.

They are loyal to him, and Santa is loyal to them. The culture in the workshop along with incentives, makes Santa Inc. ‘thee’ place where people want to work.

Tip: Is your restaurant a place where people would enjoy working at? Do people come to you for employment or do you have to go out and hunt for them?

7. Have A Plan; Make A List & Check It Twice

With all that Santa has to do, each year he’s got to have a plan and it all starts fresh on January 1st.

He immediately starts planning for the year ahead; making lists on the next best toys, who gets what and where they live.

As gigantic as his task is, and even though it’s just once a year, Santa plans it out with perfection and checks it twice.

Tip: Without a plan, there’s no direction. What do you want and by when? How are you going to get it and who will be responsible for getting it done?

8. Santa Let’s You Know What He’s Up To

Santa uploads videos onto his website so people can watch him. He’s also got photos of his Christmas Eve journey posted on Instagram. And, he broadcasts parts of his journey on Facebook Live.

Santa understands the importance of memories – they keep people together and smiling. He keeps those memories alive using social media.

Tip: Are you using social media enough so people can see you online – who you are, what you do. Are you encouraging your customers to post their memories on social media?

9. Holiday Conclusion

Santa’s marketing is simple and it’s withstood generational changes and advances in technology.

It’s the perfect template that every restaurant can use.



How To Watch With Envy Your Competitors Becoming Famous This Holiday Season

With the holiday season less than a month away, as you know, there’s a huge media focus on festive cooking.

Your local media is planning ahead for “cooking features” to write about in their newspapers and feature in their locally-produced morning TV programs and news segments.

They’re always looking for new talent … preferring not to use the same face as in previous years. So, if you’ve got a great story to tell, your chances are good that you’ll be heard.

But before you say, “Who cares about pizza or sandwiches for the holidays” – well you’re wrong. What about pizza/sandwiches/salads for New Year’s … the day that features millions sitting at home watching the Bowl Games or the NHL’s Outdoor Classic?

You’re road to being featured in a newspaper story or a TV cooking segment depends on your story. For example:

    •  How to cook holiday turkeys or hams with a local/regional style
    •  Special holiday dinners
    •  Tips for catering holiday dinners
    •  Holiday drinks
    •  Nutrition topics
    •  Easy recipes
    •  10-Minute recipes
    •  Holiday recipes and party planning ideas
    •  Ethnic recipes
    •  Holiday pizza platters
    •  Holiday desserts
    •  Holiday appetizers
    •  New Year’s Day college football recipes

Every restaurant has a story; every product has a story. TV producers are looking for new, bright talent to talk about food and cooking … and that’s you.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Create your story; the more unique the better. What do you have that’s interesting?
  2. Run through a local TV guide and get the names of the locally produced shows.
  3. Call the TV station and get the name of the features editor and/or producer of a specific show. For your newspaper, ask for the features editor.
  4. Prepare what you’re going to say.
  5. Make a phone call and say something like, “Good morning, I’m the owner of Ruby’s Steakhouse, my name is Ruby Ruben. I want to let you know that as the holiday season is just around the corner and if you’re preparing segments on holiday foods and cooking ideas, I’ve got some unique ideas that would be interesting to your viewers.”

Want to become famous? Now’s the best time to do it – when media is most receptive.

But here’s the number one reason why you should do this now:
If you don’t do it, someone else will … and there’s a good chance that someone else will be one of your competitors.


Chili’s Reminds Us: It’s Time To Examine Your Restaurant Menu

The big news this week was Chili’s announcing they were reducing their menu by 40%.

As a loyal Chili’s customer (love the burgers & ribs), I’ll say it’s about time. Dining there is an exercise in decision-making and in shuffling the 5 or so different menus just to make for some decent table room.

What Chili’s is now planning to do is something that I – along with Bill Marvin, The Restaurant Doctor, have been preaching about for the past 3 years in our workshops.

Chili’s has just come along and given, what we’ve been recommending, some credibility and confirmation that we’ve been right all along and if you followed our advice, you’re now getting the benefits of stronger profits.

Besides enhancing the customer experience, whittling down your menu decreases labor costs, food costs, inventory, errors, wastage and confusion. It also decreases that time the server hovers over the customers while they go through your “War & Peace” menu, trying to determine what to order.

If you haven’t taken our advice yet, then take the message that Chili’s is sending out, even if your menu is three to four pages. I guarantee you there are products on your menu right now that aren’t worth having, and they’re taking up valuable menu real estate. Note: Houston’s restaurants built their success on a one pager. It can be done.

Next Steps: When was the last time you seriously examined your menu for maximum sales and profitability? How much of your menu – which is your prime sales tool – is devoted to the dogs – items that are low sales/low profits. Cut them loose.

You need to analyze your menu four times a year because people eat differently in each season.

And of course maybe the best reason of all to analyze your menu is the profits you’re ‘giving away.’

And how do I know? I reduced a restaurant chain’s menu and engineered it to increase their profitability by 18%. I’d say, that’s not too shabby … but now it’s your turn.


The Children Of Your Restaurant Employees

This could be the most important issue I’ve ever written because it relates to the health of those in your restaurant family – your employees. ScreenHunter_1

Here’s the scenario:

  • A sudden, life-altering circumstance hits one of your employees – like a medical diagnosis, a car accident or a house fire.
  • That employee is looking at unmanageable financial and emotional difficulties … especially when that employee has children to care for … and his/her job is the bread and butter of the household.
  • Without an income coming in, how will household bills get paid? How will the children be supported and taken care of?
  • What would you do if this happened to one of your kitchen staff, someone in your restaurant family? How would you help this family member?
  • Fortunately, there’s a program for the restaurant industry that can help you help the family of your employee during this difficult situation. The program is CORE – Children of Restaurant Employees.
  • For those employees who are caring for children, CORE can provide support.
  • CORE is a national 501(c)(3) organization that supports children of restaurant employees navigating life-altering circumstances.
  • Since 2004, CORE has provided support to almost 200 families across the country and the industry and raised over $2.1 million.
  • When a restaurant employee’s family struggles to stay afloat during a medical diagnosis or family death, accident, or loss of home from fire or natural disaster, CORE helps them stay on top of house payments, bills and medical or equipment costs.
  • CORE can also purchase clothing and toys, or send food and other necessities. When a parent or child passes away, CORE can pay for a funeral or a memorial, or help plan a family retreat to re-center and grieve.
  • CORE knows that the core of the restaurant service industry is your employees … and the families they work to support … and the core of the families is the children.
  • CORE is an invaluable resource during an unexpected medical crisis to one of your employees.
  •  Is there an employee on your team that needs help? Then here’s what you do right now: Refer that employee for support at
  • If everyone’s healthy, then become a COREporate Member or Ambassador … or host your own promotion or event to benefit CORE.
  • CORE allows you to give back to your employees. Just jump on board and do this! Let’s take care of your restaurant family. They’re all you’ve got.
  • For more information, visit or call 404-655- 4690.



Creating Restaurant Marketing Ambassadors

Marketing Restaurants: Just Give Them Something To Talk About

Word of mouth just doesn’t happen. It’s planned so you’re always creating restaurant marketing ambassadors. Marketing restaurants by word of mouth happens to be the easiest and best way to increase your profits and increase guest loyalty – yet it’s the least understood in the marketing process.

While there’s a false belief that discounting and gimmicky programs are going to increase long-term profits, it’s more important to understand that the real success of the restaurant business isn’t getting a guest to buy from you … it’s getting them to talk about you and to visit you again and again!

And they’ll visit you only if there’s something remark-able about you. That’s why you need to think of word of mouth as an integral part of your sales-building marketing program.

There’s a feeling that word of mouth is automatic and inherent within the restaurant. But, it’s not. Creating word of mouth takes an effort by making sure that every guest touch-point in your restaurant is remark-able.

Word of mouth is not a quick fix buzz event like the Super Bowl ads. Bet you can only remember 2 of the ads! Word of mouth is long term; it’s what you create in your restaurant every day that catches your guests’ attention and gives them something to chat about.

But it’s not just one thing. It’s many different things to many different people. Some people will remark about your parking lot, your landscaping, your exterior, your décor, your greeting, your plate presentation, your washrooms, and your attentive server who describes how your entrée was made. Some will even remark that they met you – because every guest wants to know the owner of the restaurant.

But your guests will only talk about it if it’s remark-able and brought to their attention through sights, sounds and even smells. And once they’re talking about you … they’re doing your marketing for you.

The best way to initiate word of mouth is simply to “Over-Deliver.”

Where to start? Take a tour of your restaurant from the outside in. Look at every guest touch-point and ask, “Is it interesting enough? Can I over-deliver? How do I take it up a notch? Is this remark-able?”

Only then will your guests have something to remark about and will become your most reliable, trusted and effective marketing ambassadors. If not, your restaurant becomes just a faded memory.


Restaurant Newsletter: Top Restaurant Marketing Newsletter

Restaurant Newsletter: Here are the top Wow Street Marketing Report issues you may have missed over the past two months:

The Wow Street Restaurant Marketing Report is “intelligent restaurant marketing for intelligent restaurant owners and executives.”

Subscription information is at:

  • Why Every Restaurant Needs a Wow-Day
  • How To Get Relevant Information From Your Customers
  • The Best Holiday Promotion Ever
  • Five Unsexy Things To Do & Still Thrill Your Customers
  • How A Story & Food Presentation Can Increase Sales
  • What Were They Thinking? Panera’s Customer Bungles
  • The Easiest Formula For Instant Profitability
  • The Difference Between Service & Experience
  • Where Does The Customer Experience Start?
  • What Makes Your Restaurant Truly Special & Memorable?
  • Email Marketing Myths & How They Can Hurt You
  • A Restaurant Guide To Facebook Live



Restaurant Marketing: The 2-Minute Drill & Preventing Final Wait Anxiety

A Lesson in Restaurant Marketing & Customer Experience: When customers are ready to leave and request the final check – that means they want to leave.

We’ve all experienced this ourselves – waiting and waiting for the final bill to be processed. And as each minute passes, it seems like five.

Suddenly, “wait anxiety” starts to set in, diminishing the overall dining experience.

The Two Minute Drill prevents that final “wait anxiety” and ensures a complete and perfect dining experience. The last impression does count!

The drill involves recognizing the customer’s signal and desire to leave and then having the right people in place whereby the processing of the credit card can be expedited.

Picking up the credit card, processing it and returning it to the table should take no longer than two to three minutes.

Customers will actually appreciate your quick response, putting them in a better mood to increase the gratuity. In other words, faster processing can mean a greater tip.

The Two Minute Drill takes on an even bigger importance when you’re serving a family that includes an infant or a child.

First, it’s important to recognize the overall scenario – a family getting out to eat could be a big break for them.

How will you keep it as stress-free as possible? Apply your kids-friendly treatment yet also recognize that kids will get moody and impatient after 30-40 minutes of dining.

When this happens, the family will want to leave faster than lightning.

At this point, your Two Minute Drill is crucial – and can determine whether that family returns to your restaurant or not. The longer kids get restless and cranky, the more the parents perceive that as a bad experience at your restaurant – and more so if the check processing is delayed.

The parents are trying to leave quickly, so you’ve got to help them out by having that bill ready immediately.

Trust me, I’ve been there and I’m sure you have also. The Two Minute Drill can be a life-saver for not only your customers but for your restaurant.

Next Steps: Determine how long normal bill processing takes, even during your rush hours. What do you have to do to be sure you can have the check settled within two to three minutes? Make an effort to recognize that customers with kids need prompt service – and will want to leave quickly. Be ready for that.


Restaurant Marketing Report: What You Missed

Restaurant Marketing Report: Here are the top Wow Street Marketing Report issues you may have missed over the past six months

The Wow Street Restaurant Marketing Report is “intelligent restaurant marketing for intelligent restaurant owners and executives.”

Subscription information is at:

  • Ignoring Your Web Site? 24 Top Design Tips No One Tells You About
  • A Restaurant Guide To Using Facebook Live
  • Gourmet Wings: Winging It To More Profits
  • Watermelon Profits: Creativity In Food=More Profits & More Stories
  • The Craziest Summer Promotion Ever That Will Increase Sales
  • Imported From Passion: A Tribute To Independent Restaurants
  • Re-Thinking Your Loyalty Program: Going Beyond The Points
  • Marketing Without A Budget: Here’s Your Restaurant Care Package
  • Your Facebook Cover Image: Critical Real Estate
  • Tapping Into Your Employees’ Creativity
  • The Best Sign Ever & Every Restaurant Should Do This
  • Make Something Big Out of Something Small: The World’s Smallest Brownie
  • Employees First or Customers First?
  • What If You Ran Your Restaurant The Disney Way?
  • Why Are Restaurants Infatuated With “Averages?”
  • The Cost Of Behaving Badly
  • Generation Z, The Next Big Marketing Challenge
  • You May Not Be Able To Out-Spend Them … But You Certainly Can Out-Smart Them



Restaurant Crisis Management

Restaurant Crisis Management:
Which of the following emergencies are you prepared to handle in your restaurant?

  • Hurricane/Tornado/Flooding/Snowstorm (weather-related causing business disruption)
  • Food poisoning
  • Choking
  • Customer or employee heart attack on premises
  • Death of owner/partner
  • Death of employee
  • Shooting
  • Burglary
  • Explosion
  • Fire
  • Temporary closure of your restaurant due to investigation of crisis

Some things you need to address and explore further:

  • Do you have a succession plan?
  • Who is trained in CPR and first aid?
  • Who is trained to aid a choking victim? (Heimlich maneuver)
  • Do you have a defibrillator on premises?
  • Do you have an executive/employee contact list?
  • Is there an employee phone-in number for emergencies?
  • Is your computer data backed-up daily on a Cloud server?
  • Do you know where the nearest hospital is located?
  • Is there a primary meeting place designated in case of evacuation?
  • Who, in your absence, is empowered to make decisions during a crisis?
  • Are your insurance plans up to date to take care of every crisis?
  • Who is designated to talk to the press and communicate via social media platforms?

Million Dollar Question:

What would you do if – during a crowded dinner hour – a (fill in the incident) occurred? Who would take charge? Who would you contact? Would customers have to be ushered out through the main door or fire exits? Who is available to render first aid?

Next Steps:

Tough stuff to deal with; the best you can do is be as prepared as possible. Don’t know what to do next? Maybe the easiest step is to invite the chief of your local fire station to meet with you at your restaurant for a frank discussion on the “what ifs.”