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Community Based Restaurant Marketing: Get Some Real Bang For Your Buck

restaurant weekFine dining restaurants in Denver, CO are pooling their resources this weekend to kick off Denver Restaurant Week, an annual event that allows diners to sample the city’s fine cuisine over the course of a week for an incredible price: $52.80 for two.  Tons of restaurants are participating in the promotion in an effort to draw new customers.

This year’s restaurant week has been extended to two weeks, and the Denver Conventions & Visitors Bureau has also worked with city hotels, museums, and theaters to provide weekend getaway packages for really good deals.

As many of you know, The Back Burner is based in Boulder, CO, which is just outside Denver, and we’ve been hearing about this year’s Restaurant Week for a couple months now, and it got me thinking.  Any town, city, or burg could really benefit from holding an event like Restaurant Week, and more importantly, any restaurant that can get a restaurant week going would stand to benefit.

Feeling skeptical?  I understand. Who wants to offer a cut rate to diners, much less the same cut rate your competition is offering at the same time?

Well, consider some of the benefits of pooling your marketing resources:

Get diners to try something new. Every restaurant worth its salt has a loyal cadre of customers.  The problem is, most diners, especially when they are going out for a nice meal and expect to spend some cash, tend to stick to what they know.  That makes it hard for you to attract new customers.  Restaurant Week is the perfect incentive to get new people in your seats to try out your cuisine.  The prix fixe arrangement means they don’t have to worry about being disappointed, and you’ll have a chance to impress.

Get the community involved. When you’re trying to advertise by yourself you’re on your own.  Organizing a community-wide event like a restaurant week means you can get help in your marketing efforts from all kinds of places.  Denver’s restaurant week set up a dedicated website, Twitter account, and Facebook page for this year’s event.  They also advertised in local media and got the word out on the internet via press releases.

All of that might sound expensive, but it’s really not, and even the smallest community should be able to put together a similar program.  The only difference is scale.  Additionally, smart local governance should be willing to provide incentives or marketing dollars to help attract customers to the area.  After all, a boost in sales taxes helps them out as well.

You should also consider coordinating community events with your restaurant week that will encourage people to show up downtown and dine out.  The prospect of boosting local business should be enough to get any mayor energized and working to organize.

Brand appreciation. Finally, the positive reinforcement your restaurant’s brand will get out of being associated with a community wide event is incalculable.  Weaving your restaurant into the community fabric doesn’t have to be a shameless marketing ploy.  For many restaurateurs, it helps define who they are and brings great satisfaction to both their business and personal lives.

Marketing your restaurant doesn’t always have to be about competition.  A community-wide approach that benefits everyone can help you stretch your marketing budget and really get some bang for your buck.

About Greg McGuire

Greg has blogged about the food service industry for years and has been published in industry magazines, like Independent Restaurateur and industry blogs like Restaurant SmartBrief. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two sons and enjoys reading, live music, and the great outdoors.

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  1. I love Restaurant Week! We make it a point to go every year and try a new place! There are some other cities with their own version of restaurant week. The “cute” thing about Denver is that the $52.80 was created because of the altitude! 🙂 Give it a try!

  2. I totally agree with you. It is even more important in this economic climate to attempt things like this. Working together on something like this mitigates the cost and most city governments will get behind it because it brings people together.

    I think we will find such events grow over the coming years as cities become more focused on local business because they will realize that if they are going to exist they must come together and support those who have a serious stake in the area.

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