Marketing Your Restaurant in the Yellow Pages

Marketing your restaurant in the Yellow Pages

Many restaurant owners spend an incredible amount of money advertising their restaurant in the Yellow Pages.

It always amazes when I see full pages advertising a restaurant in the Yellow book. Let’s face, do you know anybody who decides to go to a restaurant by looking at the ads of the Yellow pages? I surely don’t.

In these days of ubiquitous internet access, people go online checking for restaurants and they trust more the reviews of other people than whatever marketing materials restaurant owners can put out there.

Personally, I think that the mission of the Yellow Pages is for somebody to find the place’s phone number to call and make a reservation. Yellow Pages are great to find a plumber or a service that you really need, but are really bad to look for a place to eat.

Eating in a restaurant is an emotional experience. You go there with expectations of having a great time, of sharing a meal with your family or friends and it’s not a place that people pick because it has a great name or a good ad (or at least they shouldn’t).

But let’s do a quick math to prove my point. Let’s assume that you spend $3,000 a year in Yellow page ads, and that your average ticket per client is $30. Now, from these $30, you get 50% profit. This means that for each client, you spend $15 in cost and get $15 in profit.

So doing easy math: $3,000 spent / $30 per customer = 100 customers, but since you make 50% profit, you need to bring 50 customers just to break even. (You can do this same exercise using your own numbers).

Do you really think that you are bringing 50 customers because of the Yellow Pages ads?

I sincerely doubt it; but there is a simple way to prove it.

Create a special coupon that people can bring when they come to your place and put it in your Yellow Pages ad. Offer a free dessert or some kind of discount. In this way, you can measure the effectivity of the ad.

If you see that you get more than 50 people coming in with the coupon, great; this means that your ad works and you can feel good about spending the money. If not, well… you know what to do.

However, there is another way, a much more efficient way for you to spend these $3,000 and have guaranteed results. Create a special “Great Clients” coupons with a discount, and offer them to your best clients. You could discount 20% of their next meal, for example. This means that your profit per client with these coupons will still be 30% instead of the usual 50% (50% profit – 20% discount =30% profit).

In this way, not only you increase the odds that these great clients come back to your place, but you don’t waste any money.

If they come back, great, you still make a profit and they will probably bring quality people (like themselves) with them. If they don’t come back, you don’t spend any money. This is a win/win situation for you.

Do you see where I am going?

The best way to market and promote your restaurant is always by spending the money in promoting repeated visits from your existing clients, instead of trying to capture new customers all the time.

Not only you will maximize your investment, but every penny that you spend will be measurable and will contribute to the satisfaction of your existing clients.

In my Restaurant Marketing Strategies Seminar, I dedicate a whole module to the important mission of increasing the frequency of visits from your existing clients.

This is one of the three only ways to increase your business, and perhaps the most important of the three (the other two being: increase the number of new clients and increase the purchase amount per client).

As always, don’t forget to check my web site: Restaurant Marketing Strategies, read the blogs and participate in the forums.

Happy Sailing,
Jose L Riesco
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2 thoughts on “Marketing Your Restaurant in the Yellow Pages

  1. Anonymous

    And yet restaurants have been the most referred to category in yellow pages directories year after year. Doesn’t jibe with your assumptions, for which you provide no facts.

    As to your $30 example, your math omitts that not too many parties are just one person.

    As to your comparison to plumbers, people dine out a heck of a lot more often than they have plumbing problems.

  2. Jose L Riesco

    I don’t care how much restaurants are referred in the Yellow Pages. Unfortunately restaurateurs are not the best marketing people around.

    Just because they do it, it doesn’t make it right. Yellow pages sales people are very persistent.

    If you read my post again, I suggest for you to test it.

    It is very simple: Create a coupon, post it in the Yellow pages and ask people to rip it off or make a copy and bring it to your place. In this way, you can exactly see how many people does it attract.

    If if works for you, great, keep on doing it. I just recommend to do marketing that you can measure.

    And by the way, I talk based on my own experience. I spent lots of money in the Yellow Pages (yes, I also believed the hype) before testing it.

    When I finally posted a discount coupon, I realized that nobody or perhaps at the most one or two customers a month were coming with the coupon.

    This proved me that it doesn’t work. If it works for you, great, but I guarantee you that it doesn’t work for most of the restaurants that advertise.

    There are many other ways to spend your money with far better results for your investment.

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