Promotion During & Post Covid 19

There is no “New Normal” yet,  everything is still in flux and will be for the remainder of the year at a minimum.  As we begin to move into opening phases in most states, albeit we are also seeing some contractions in states that are seeing a resurgence, everything is still up in the air, so put the mask back on and just realize what you do today may or may not be the right plan for tomorrow, but you have to keep trying.

The question keeps coming up about how to move forward and make contact with customers and businesses to try and initiate catering.  Let’s start with my previously stated assumptions, which are being borne out by how we are seeing customers use restaurants for group meals. 

The blending of catering vs. take-out and delivery is real, the differentiation has shrunk, so its important to realize that you are promoting off-premise options not just catering.  The role of a catering sales manager needs to take on a broader description, off-premise sales manager is a better way to describe how you and they need to view their role. 

 Regardless of whether you have dedicated sales people or not, I wanted to provide a quick list of options that you can start with that regardless of how things progress, they will help you get back on your feet and at the very least build the foundation for further outreach.

There are two things you just need to do well, especially for your existing and past customers.

Increase Your Online Presence

  • On your restaurant’s website, make it easy for customers to know how to order.  Make the Order Online and Order Catering buttons front and center, on your main page.

  • On social media pages and posts, share your menu, link to your ordering directly instead of website, highlight top-selling items, and include hashtags like #TacoTuesday.

  • Everywhere customer are going to find you (your website, Google business profile, Yelp, etc.), make sure to keep menus, hours, phone number, and delivery options up-to-date.  Make sure you have added current pics of what you and your team are doing.

Stay In Touch

  • For your regulars, call, text or email, to tell them you’re still open for takeout, delivery and catering.

  • For your best customers, send a handwritten note thanking them for their business or make a personal call.

  • Send emails regularly, keep everyone informed about what is happening with your business.  Make an effort to create new items, new reasons to engage.

  • Community organizations are opening up right now, like local youth, sports, or church groups, public spaces, start these relationships so you’re top of mind when they’re able to order again.

If you have the resources, then here is how to use their time.

Get Outside Your Four Walls

  • Around your building, place signage (lawn signs, A-frames, window posters) so customers know you’re still open for business.

  • At local residences, leave menus or coupons on porches or tucked into doors.

  • At businesses where people still work on-site (check local guidelines), leave menus, coupons, and even samples.

  • To your delivery area, send affordable, targeted direct mail with USPS.

  • Partner with complementary businesses on cross-promotion. Everyone’s in this together.

  • Get out to essential businesses and talk to them about ordering food for employees.

B2B in Your Trade Zones

  • Offices are still fairly empty in comparison but people are going in and working at their office but you need to find them. 

  • Canvass your trade zone on foot, car, etc. 

  • Take notes of the businesses that look like they have people attending, cars in lots, or traffic coming and going in the lobby entrance.

  • Make the calls into the offices that you noted and find out how you can provide food.

  • Focus on individual meals.

Bounce Back Offers

  • Third Party Orders.  You just paid up to 30% for this transaction and your goal should be to convert them to order directly through your own proprietary channels. Make your offer is strong, offer a unique menu item. 

  • Proprietary Channels.  This is the time to best maximize your existing fans, keep them loyal and give them reasons to come back.

Good luck, there is no secret formula, you just have to focus on getting in front of people.  In that way nothing has really changed.