It’s been 5 years now since my favorite Chinese restaurant closed its doors. I can still taste the pork fried rice made “Julie hot” from what used to be Mandarin Village in Skokie, IL (a near Chicago suburb). The food was outstanding, the service was top notch, the restaurant was clean and the owner/manager was personable and welcoming. But now it’s gone. It just went dark one day and never opened its doors again. No “we’re moving” signs. No notice of any kind.
I started thinking about that lack of notice – how it suddenly went out of business and I realized something: They had no way to notify their customers even if they wanted to do so.
In all the years I went to this restaurant…
- I never received an email offering a coupon or letting me know of a special
- I was never asked for my email address
- They didn’t have a blog or active website
- No Internet marketing
- No direct mail ads ever came to my house
- The never asked for any personal information
- I never received so much as even a rumor about their business
I have been wondering if they would have done even some basic marketing – would my favorite restaurant still be in business? Had they simply never heard of direct response marketing or email campaigns? Both of those marketing techniques can drive a lot of traffic in a short amount of time.
What should they have done? Well, I would have started with gathering emails. Have a large sign-up at the front desk and offer to email a significant coupon to a customer a few day before their birthday. When they fill out the form I would mention how we value their privacy and let them know that we would also be sending them coupons once a month – No more.
In the simple monthly email I would have made a quick promotion of the new company website where there are other specials available – only to our preferred customers. I would also have gotten as many home addresses of my customers as possible and sent a direct response piece to them with yet another special offer – only available through the direct response. At the same time I mailed my customers I would have blanketed the areas around each customer with the same offer. At this point I would have started building the online marketing campaigns out more. Making sure that my site was ranking well for any searches relating to Chinese food. This could be done with both SEO and a small monthly PPC campaign.
My entire plan would have been about getting my current customers to eat at my restaurant more often with timely reminders and small coupons while expanding my reach into people who were looking for Chinese food, but had never heard of my place. Oh well, they didn’t ask me for help and I didn’t offer. Had they ever asked for my email address they may have noticed I specialized in marketing for Chicago companies and we may have started a conversation that would have brought them more business.
Too bad… I really miss Julie’s pork fried rice.