If You Could Only Use One Promotional Tool...

…what would it be?

Our little store has grown tremendously since I first stumbled onto TT a few months ago. To the point that I can not only pay my bills, but gasp am now able to start putting some money to work on some marketing projects. I’ve looked at a lot of different ideas that cover traditional advertising and newer concepts.

I have great customer retention, an excellent product and good word of mouth. What I would like to work on is reaching new customers and getting them to give us a try so I can get them hooked. I would also hope to reach a lot of old customers who were once very loyal but left when the store went downhill for about a year before we bought it and haven’t come back yet.

What would you all say has been your single most effective tool for reaching these potential customers?

Marketing is always a delicate balance of many different things…And the mix must be changed based on your own testing and determination of what works best…So in my mind there is no real answer to your question…

Now if the question was “Where should you invest most of your marketing budget” I would say “direct marketing”…And in the broadest way possible…Put your menus (and magnets, memo boards, promotional products) in the hands of potential and previous clients…This can be done by mail, door hanging, newspaper inserts, etc…But however you do it, do it as targeted as possible…

I would generally avoid print media, radio and television unless their circulation is pretty close to your target market…There is no point advertising in any media that only reaches a portion of your target market…Unless of course they want to give you a rate that reflects your portion of the market…

Years back we bought ads on a radio station that beamed in to a large city near by…We bought our time at 10% of the city rate so it was very worthwhile…So there may be some exceptions to my comment above…

And marketing should never be static…It needs to be dynamic and ever changing to reflect changes in the demographics of your market and customers and the testing you have done…And marketing must always be done…The temptation is to slow things down when business is slow and money is tight…But you need to keep working at…The same also applies when business is strong…Marketing when business is strong will smooth out the valleys when things slow down…

I have been looking into local billboards. They seem to be high visibility and I can use to target my direct market. anyone use them before.

Rewards cards seem to be my best promotional tool. The nice thing is that their quite inexpensive too. Coupons don’t do much for me but everyone seems to carry around our rewards card. We do a great lunch business (personal pizzas) so that has something to do with it.

I wouldn’t say this is my most effective tool, but for your case I would say door hang. You can get some 2 color doorhangers great quality form century around 250 bucks. Blast a few neighborhoods each day between 2 and 4. Send out a couple of staff everyday.

Make sure to box top every single order with either good quality menu, magnet or coupon.

Start collecting addresses for a database. Then for another 200 bucks you can order postcards from Taradel (very nice quality) and direct mail to your current customers. You can print your own labels and stamp em for cheap. We have our employees do this during slow times. We usually send them out every 2 weeks. First set hit mail boxes around the 1-3 that is when most people get paid, gov. checks go out etc. Then again on the 15th. (We do different post cards each round) the point being you need to get your name in their faces.

If you have not already splurge for some magnets to hand out.

The above items give you more bang for your buck…in my opinion.

Do you have dine in? Do you deliver?

Glad to hear you are making some money…sure feels good huh! Keep the ball rolling.


I was thinking of a Rewards Card as well… how do you have yours setup? Just a punch style card, and if so, how do you keep track of it so they either A. can’t punch it themselves at home to get free stuff, and B. stop the employees from punching their friends card over and over again?

I just want to throw this out there…it is my personal opinion.

I am 38 years old. My husband is 43. Many years ago when I had a child I was a stay at home mom…AKA coupon queen. I was one of those ladies who would go to the store load up 100 bucks in groceries and leave paying 30 bucks. Even today I am a bargain hunter. But…

Never and I mean NEVER EVER have I EVER used a “reward” card. Sure you go somewhere they punch the cards they land in the wallet and only to be seen again after cleaning out the wallet. I know my husband would never pull out a rewards card.

We both would use a lunch winner card…or something like that but never a rewards card.

Any time rewards cards are mentioned the questions usually follow are: How do you go about doing them…well it seems to me if the MAJORITY of our customer base (which includes us) were using them we would know the answers to these questions because we use them so much. We all know how to use a door hanger, magnet, menu, coupon.

So ask yourself…in the last year how many reward cards have you or your spouse used and redeemed…enough to make you a more FREQUENT customer. We aren’t talking credit cards we are talking about a specific card to a specific place.

The majority of my customers are between 20-60 and I would venture to say less than 20% have used them. On the other hand I would say 80% of those people have read, redeemed door hangers, magnets, coupons or looked at a restaurant menu. Seems like if we were going to invest in getting something in our customers hands it should be something they (we) would use.

Again just my two cents.


Kris I want to make a comment about the “Reward Card”…While it is not a “no-brainer” it has a very low cost to implement…So even if it is not very well received it is still okay to do…I think our pal Nick got his done for 40.00 or 50.00 the 1st time…And I hate the fact I can not find the thread he discussed these in…And marketing should always be a multi faceted approach…

And there are other spins on this…We have seen discussions on “poker chips” and I have a few clients that hand out magnets…And if you get so many, you get a free pizza…And if you have a POS tracking is nearly automatic…although I do not rent DVD very often, I recall that on each slip I get, there is a note about X many more rentals and I get a pop and popcorn free…I am a great believer on not giving away something you can sell anyway…Give away a tee or travel mug and it will get you more mileage…

Direct mail has worked the best for me. We have been around for a long time now and have tried a few things but the only thing that holds a candle to direct mail is fundraisers (if done right). Last year I did a fundraiser that raised over $10,000 for two local organizations. This resulted in close to $100,000 in new business for my two companies. I own a car wash and pizza shop. 60% of the new business went to the pizza shop.

I do not think a “rewards card” has to be limited to a punch card. You could log into your computer by a phone number or something. I thought about a “club” where maybe they get a free salad with each large pizza or something for being a member. Just something that kept them coming back.

What are you thoughts about the billboard for a new start up…I am looking at a local that is just about 1/2 a mile down from where I had wanted to go but it is for a 1/4 of the rent for the same sq ft. I thought the billboards would give me some high visibility for the dollars spent.

I called on a billboard that rotates panels with three businesses on it and was at first quoted $2200 per month with a 6 month minimum contract plus the production costs of the vinyl. When I told the sales rep this was out of my price range she offered it to me for $1000 per month plus the production cost, no contract. Still high, but I’m considering it. My point is don’t choose a location counting on billboards to build awareness without first knowing what the billboards will cost you.

All the billboards here are getting changed over to digital screens it seems. Not sure on the cost, might be cheaper since they can run more ads and they can change them remotely. But for all I know it might be more expensive because it is brighter.

I am not choosing the location based on billboards…I just thought since they are avialable they might work well…I heard numbers somewhat like yours, one quote and a No Thank you from me and than a big price drop that made it make some sense.

I agree with royster. Don’t even think that way.

We started a new direct mail campaign a few years ago. The response was phenominal. so much so that in subsequent months we had to divide our service area up in the mailings so we were not overwelmed to the point of giving bad service. Every month we changed up the graphics and offers. It was expensive but worked great. We significantly cut back on other advertising. Gradually the impact of this marketing became less noticeable until about six months ago I realized that you could barely notice when an ad went out.
I purchased a full page in monthly coupon book (Mint Magazine) and even though it was less visible than my direct mail piece sales spiked up, that was because it was different so it was noticed. So I dropped the direct mail for a couple of months. I just restarted the direct mail in a limited fashion this week, they went out Wednesday, we had the best Thursday it a year and decent Friday.

Moral of the story, no matter how good the vehicle is, customers get used to it, then don’t notice it.

Here is link to loyalty card thread I bookmarked it 'cause it is on my list of things I wish I had time to do. :slight_smile:



We have a punch card set up. The punch we use is custom made so it cannot easily be replicated. I work pretty much open to close (we’ve only been open a little over a year) and I have an outstanding group of kids. So far this has not been an issue.

While this works in the short term I would like to get a magnetic stripe type card sometime and change it so after they’ve purchased so many $$ we could give them a free pie. That would be a better way to do it long term.

I don’t use them either, except for the places I go to frequently. I think that’s the key. Also we ask every customer if they have a rewards card after paying. That makes the biggest difference. People love to be reminded.

I don’t use them either, except for the places I go to frequently. I think that’s the key. Also we ask every customer if they have a rewards card after paying. That makes the biggest difference. People love to be reminded.

The original post was If you could only use one promotional tool… that is where the confusion is…if you had to put all the eggs in one basket…it would be a rewards card?

It would seem foolish. If I could use one promotional tool for this one effort, it would be a direct mail offer to the customers in my database. They are already existing customers who buy my product, and are the proverbial “low hanging fruit” to drive more sales. Goals would be twofold: 1) encourage one extra visit to my shop per month; 2) increase their ticket average by $5 apiece (or some percentage). this means an add-on offer or bundled deal.

If we are talking one tool used over and over, this one could still be useful, but would wear out in effectiveness as all single advertising tools will do without a supporting overall marketing plan and effort.

Good point Kris. I feel like that has been the most cost effective marketing tactic. If I could only do one thing it would be to print up the nicest looking take out menu I could afford. Direct mail or door hangers if I could afford it.

I already have a “reward card” system with a custom punch. It does fine, but isn’t a major contributor. I already am moving on having nice, full color menus printed to replace our old B/W ones. I was already leaning heavily towards doing a direct mail campaign. Most likely getting a bulk mail permit and doing it myself at first, then having someone else do it to a more targeted demo.

Thanks for the input everyone.