Are restaurants still using direct mail?
With the widespread use of social media and digital marketing for restaurants, you might wonder if restaurants are still using direct mail to get the word out about their businesses. Well, they are! More than half of consumers report that direct mail influences their decision to go to a restaurant or order takeout — but today’s restaurant direct mail campaigns may look a little different than just sending out a takeout menu.
Direct mail is a great way to do hyper-local marketing — and ultimately, restaurants benefit the most from getting their business in front of the potential customers who live close enough to visit (or order) often.
Social media marketing is an amazing way to spread the word about your business all throughout your city, and encourage people to make their way to visit you. But direct mail is a great addition to your restaurant marketing plan, as it helps you truly connect with your closest neighbors.
How to make direct mail worth it for restaurants
Direct mail sometimes takes a little more time and financial investment to do well, especially when compared to social media marketing to using your delivery platform to advertise your business. But if you create unbeatable promotions, stay focused on your hyper-local area, and have all your online systems ready to meet the demand of your direct mail campaigns, it’s an extremely effective restaurant marketing strategy.
Whether you decide to mail out your promotions or start small and pay an employee to deliver them by hand, here are a few important direct mail tips to keep in mind.
Design restaurant flyers with promotional offers that recipients can’t refuse
It’s true that many people see flyers in their mailbox and immediately throw them away. That’s why it’s important to design your restaurant flyer to be extremely eye-catching (and on brand) and to boldly highlight an offer so compelling it makes them look twice — and then start craving your food.
Stay local and tell your story
Trying out direct mail marketing is a great opportunity to tell your neighbors who you are — and remind them that you’re nearby! Don’t cast too wide a net, because that’s really what social media’s for. Direct mail can connect restaurants to their neighbors: the ones who are most likely to come back time and time again out of love for your business and out of convenience and ease.
Build a direct mail landing page on your website and consider QR codes
Whether you’re inviting guests to book a reservation, make an online order, attend an event, or take advantage of a promotion, make sure you’re providing a space for them to learn more or take action. Create a page on your website that you can send direct mail customers to: you can update it based on whatever direct mail campaign you currently have running. And to make it even easier for your customers to navigate to your site, add a QR code to your direct mail flyer.
Use your best photos
Especially since the advent of social media, customers like to see what your food looks like before they order. In your flyers, include your best food and restaurant photos — taken in natural light, with your prettiest presentation.
Choose one trackable call to action per mailer
A rule of thumb in all kinds of marketing is to determine exactly the outcome you want from each campaign — and only ask consumers to take one action. If you send out a flyer that tells people about an event, invites them to follow your social media, make a reservation, and place an online order, you’re likely to get mixed (and weak) results. Pick one call to action for each flyer to focus on.
Incorporate your restaurant’s branding
Branding is important because it helps consumers remember and recognize your restaurant, so your restaurant flyers should match the font, colors, and tone of your social media, your website, and your restaurant’s decor.
Learn more about developing a restaurant brand.
Use professional designs or premade direct mail templates
In order to create compelling, beautiful, and effective flyers, you can either hire a freelance designer with experience with restaurant marketing, or do it yourself with a restaurant flyer template on Canva (more on that below).
10 direct mail campaign ideas for restaurants
1. Send out your menu
It’s classic for a reason! Sending out a trifold pamphlet version of your menu can help remind your neighbors of all your best dishes. Be sure to design the menu flyer in a way that takes menu engineering into account, highlighting your most profitable and popular items.
2. Highlight limited-time promotions
Let your nearby would-be customers know about a new roster of weekly specials that won’t be around forever, or spotlight a very short-term back-to-school promotion of a free drink with every lunch purchase for the first week of September.
3. Send out loyalty cards or links to your loyalty program
If you use a punch-card loyalty system, mailing out loyalty cards (maybe even with one or two spots punched out as a bonus) is a great way to encourage your neighbors to come check out your business — and keep them coming back. If you’ve taken your loyalty program digital, you can send out a card with a QR code that encourages them to sign up.
4. Send a thank you for a past order + a discount code for a future order
As a way to get past customers to order again, send out thank you cards that reference a customer’s previous order, and throw in a little coupon for 10% off, or a free item, or free delivery that they can use on their next order.
5. Promote events at your restaurants with a calendar
If your business hosts a range of live performers and musicians, pop-ups with rotating local chefs, trivia on Tuesdays, or a stay-at-home special for New Years Day, let your community know by sending out a calendar of upcoming events.
6. Create a mail-only discount
Because you’re only sending out your flyers to nearby locations, you can entice that relatively small pool with a steeper discount than you’d usually offer online. For example, you can send out a coupon for 15% off the bill for your grand opening, or announce an extremely limited-time offer of 30% off for one specific week celebrating your neighborhood.
7. Showcase your delivery and pickup options
Let your neighbors know all the ways they can order from you! Send out a card with links to all your online ordering platforms, and include some photos of your best-travelling items. You could even add a QR code linking to your ordering platform of choice.
8. Remind your neighborhood of your restaurant’s hours and location
The Instagram post below, printed out on light cardstock, would make an excellent local restaurant flyer for Banh Mi Zon — it announces the business’s opening in their new neighborhood, and includes their address and a delicious-looking photo of their food. This is particularly helpful for seasonal restaurants to drum up business right when you open for the year.
9. Send out a map of your restaurant’s neighborhood
Create a map of your restaurant’s neighborhood highlighting your restaurant, plus other businesses, attractions, and things to do for new residents or visitors to hang on the fridge. It’s an extremely useful type of promotional mail, because you’ll help your neighbors explore their own communities and provide great food advice to any visitors or newcomers. Canva can help with the design of the map, or reach out to a local illustrator.
10. Partner with another local business to drive growth in your area
Set up a collaboration with another restaurant or business in your neighborhood and use a collaborative flyer to get the word out about both your businesses. For example, check out this Instagram post from Mei Lai Wah, a Cantonese bakery in NYC that partnered with a nearby Bubble Tea shop called Chun Yang Tea. It’s an amazing way to take advantage of one another’s customer bases, and you could send out promos for this collaboration by mail.
Tools to help restaurants create effective flyers for direct mail
Canva is the best free design platform available online. It’s easy and quick to learn, and you can create on-brand restaurant flyers in minutes. Check out their library of restaurant flyer templates and restaurant direct mail examples.
If you don’t have a marketer on staff, it can be time-consuming to figure out the logistics of discounts and promotions that really work. With DoorDash, you can quickly and easily create takeout and delivery promotions right in the platform, and promote them in your restaurant flyers.
Meet your neighbors with restaurant direct mail marketing
Direct mailing is a helpful way for restaurants to connect with their local community. To learn more about restaurant marketing, check out the Restaurant Holiday Marketing Calendar & Toolkit.