Written by: Dean Hua

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taste-08-11-lgI was at The Taste of Wheaton event this past Sunday. As I walked around sampling the culinary delights, I couldn’t help but put on my marketing cap for these restaurants and see how much more money these restaurants could really make.

Most restaurants that participate in a Taste Of event are well intentioned in that they want to bring in more customers and hope to use this event as a platform for attracting new customers. While giving out samples of their food is a start, I believe is simply old-school marketing. In fact, that’s what everyone else is doing at the event!

If these restaurants were coming to me for marketing consulting, here are some simple and yet powerful tactics that I’d offer them to attract new customers;

  1. Give out coupons with each order that will encourage them to come back to your restaurant at a future time and spend more money.
  2. Give out brochures or business cards with each order as well. Amazingly, most of these stands didn’t have brochures or list their address anywhere on their signage!
  3. Incorporate your online social media presence (assuming you have one) into your print handouts. For example, include Twitter and Facebook profile urls into your brochures. Encourage them to follow or add you by giving away a discount or freebie.
  4. Collect email addresses of the patrons.

I’d also devise a long-term strategy that would incorporate word-of-mouth tactics into the above.

I always tell my website clients to not waste a visitor by simply letting them browse your site and then leaving. I tell them to have a newsletter for them to subscribe to, or to integrate their Twitter, blog, or Facebook accounts into the site so they can connect with customers in other places long after they’ve left.

The strategies and mindset used for website marketing is the same at an offline event like this. Chances are, a one-day Taste Of event will not make or break your business. However, developing strategies and tactics that will encourage customers to ‘connect’ and remember your business long after they have tried your samples is a strategy that will handsomely payoff in the long run. Don’t be myopic and focus on just today. Innovate and be creative.


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