Why Every Restaurant Should Invest in Direct Mail Marketing

Today, we live in a world where everything seems to be moving online – especially when it comes to marketing and advertising. However, despite the prominence of social media, email, and Google ads, the importance, and power of direct mail cannot be overlooked for any industry whether that be transportation, technology, retail, food, etc. 

Think about it. How many ads do you blindlessly scroll past daily on social platforms? How many banner ads never even catch your eye? How many promotional emails, that often get flagged for spam, do you receive on a daily basis? The answer to the question for most people is probably a LOT. 

That’s why postcard marketing plays such an important role in the modern marketing mix. Whether it’s a coupon for a new local restaurant or a special offer from a new mom-and-pop store, physical mail pieces deliver powerful, highly-engaging impressions.

Ignoring the power of direct mail is a missed opportunity for many new and existing businesses, but especially for those in the restaurant industry. The restaurant failure rate is at 60% in the first year and 80% of restaurants don’t survive past five. But don’t let that scare you. Beating these odds is not impossible if you are using effective marketing techniques. If you haven’t been convinced of why your restaurant should add direct mail to your marketing plan, here are 5 further reasons. 

  • Easy and effective inclusion of promotions
    Although direct mail is an impactful marketing strategy for all businesses, it is especially powerful for local restaurants as it is a key driver of new customer acquisition. Receiving a coupon for a free entree at the new Mexican restaurant by your house will probably spike your interest significantly more than other ad formats, as it is local, tangible, and contains an offer aligned with supporting your local community. 

You may have heard of CAVA, a Mediterranean restaurant originally started by 3 friends in Maryland and now the fastest-growing Mediterranean-style restaurant chain. However, if you don’t live near one you may not know that one of their biggest marketing strategies was direct mail. When opening a new location, the company sent out postcards for a free bowl to numerous potential customers in the area. This not only gets people talking about the new restaurant in town but also gets people to go try it with friends, who also received the offer. Now, because of their successful marketing campaigns and delicious product, CAVA is considered “the Chipotle of Mediterranean cuisine” and has no trouble maintaining a line out the door during lunchtime. 

  • Direct mail is more personable and trustworthy
    What feels more personable: seeing a restaurant ad on your Instagram feed or having a physical, tangible postcard hand-delivered to your mailbox from a local restaurant? Most people would say the latter. 

In a world that has become so digitized, tangible direct mail has become more valued and appreciated by customers. The process alone of browsing through daily mail and seeing you have been sent something evokes powerful, positive emotions in potential new customers — making them feel special and important. It is not just the older generations that appreciate mail, this is true even for the younger generations. In fact, 92% of the Y generation reported that they prefer reading print marketing more than digital ads as it is more personal and engaging. It’s more real.

Additionally, many people associate digital advertisements with fraud or scams thus they are less likely to click on these ads to learn more. However, because receiving direct mail feels personalized, people are more likely to develop trust with the brand. This trust formed between customers and businesses, especially if you are not a chain restaurant with an already developed base of reliable customers, is vital to the foundation of brand loyalty and customer retention in the future.

  • Direct mail is highly targeted
    By using direct mail, you are able to directly target your desired audience. When organizing a direct mail campaign, you have the ability to select certain age groups, neighborhoods, income levels, etc that you would like to send your campaign out to. So although direct mail may focus on a smaller target audience, it is more likely to be sent out to prospects who are truly interested in your restaurant.

  • A complement to the digital approach
    Direct mail does not serve as an alternative to digital marketing, but as a compliment. While direct mail can be a successful standalone tool, it is even more effective when working in tandem with your other online platforms. Developing integrated multi-channel marketing campaigns that complement one another increases your brand recognizability and your reach across possible new and returning customers. Overall, having both an offline and online presence gives your brand the best of both worlds and the greatest chance at a successful return on investment.

  • Direct mail faces less competition
    One of the biggest upsides of direct mail is that it faces less competition in its space. The average household receives 157 e-mails per day compared to two pieces of direct mail (USPS Market’s Guide). Additionally, 90% of direct mail gets opened, while only 20-30% of these emails get opened (DNM). So, if you want your restaurant's message to be seen, put it in the mailbox, not the inbox.

So remember, direct mail is not dead and could be your answer to not only surviving but conquering and dominating the restaurant industry.

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