Lad Dilgard is always looking for new ways to promote his company, The Columbus Sandwich Company in Pickerington, Ohio. One of his favorite new tools for building brand awareness, increasing name recognition and bringing in new customers is SevenLunches, a location-based application that shows users lunch specials that are available nearby.
Location-based advertising is still fairly new. How did you get started with it?
There was a guy who did social networking events [in Columbus]. He would go around town and set up tastings at local restaurants and coffee shops and invite 50 people who were well connected on Twitter and Facebook, and then they would tweet about their experiences. I don’t know how he was affiliated with [SevenLunches], but he’s the one that directed me to it.
How has your experience advertising with SevenLunches been so far?
It’s a fantastic tool. We really like it. The good part is that you can load your daily specials up for years in advance. It’s user-friendly, so any employee can write our specials or go in and change them. Half of our staff is skilled in doing that. And it’s free, so it’s a great tool.
Are there any downsides?
The downside is that we don’t know how many people are subscribing to our ZIP Code or to us. A couple of times we purposely have not [posted new] specials just to see if anybody responded. It would be great to know how many people are viewing your specials.
How does location-based marketing compare to something like Groupon or LivingSocial?
We love [daily deals]. Groupon was huge for us. It was a tremendous opportunity. LivingSocial was, too. Then there were several other smaller [deals] that we’ve done here and there. We’re a small company and most of our marketing is word of mouth and just getting a good reputation. We don’t really have money to put ourselves on TV or the radio. So, the free marketing aspect or free advertising aspect of Groupon going to half a million people in Columbus really takes us to a different level in terms of name recognition and brand awareness.
Do different platforms attract different types of customers?
I don’t know the SevenLunches customers well enough. I’d like to. I’d like to know who’s seeing it and coming in for our specials, but I don’t know who they are. Groupon customers are pretty savvy shoppers and a large amount of them are first-time customers. We’re a different kind of place, and there’s really nobody else that’s like us. So the Groupon customers come in and they have to learn what kind of business we are and what we offer. They are a little less experienced, I guess.
A lot of businesses are inundated with calls from the daily deal companies. How do you decide who to work with and what deals to offer?
Honestly, we do them all, just as long as the financial part of the deal is okay. I can’t think of any reason why we shouldn’t do them all. Each [company] has a slightly different, or maybe a substantially different, email list. We’re less than three years old, so it gets our name out there more and more. The more you hear of our brand name, the more you want to find out about it and trust that we’re a valid place to go. We have been inundated, though. We’ve probably done eight different kinds of daily deals, and most of them have been smaller companies.
Has anything stuck out in terms of one company being better than another?
We just did one with Eversave, so that’s fresh in my mind. The quality of their advertisement was really good. It was a good picture and a good write up. Pretty much all of them were well-written, used good graphics, and I was proud of how they represented us. There’s a local company here called Fudha [now called Faveroo]. They are a really small operation and kind of just from the ground up. They did a nice job, as well.
How have the ways you advertise changed since you opened three years ago?
The way we advertise now is we have a big email list and we have a very nice Facebook fan page, so it’s kind of the cheap stuff. A lot of our bread and butter is business-to-business work, such as catering, so we put together targeted menus for companies. It’s really just me, some marketing interns and our store manager going business-to-business and doing the heavy lifting. We don’t do any broadcast advertising. We’ve done some small ones like a Valpak kind of thing that’s local here. We did some radio station runs, but we don’t have the pocketbook to really make those work and drive our business to a different level. So, for right now it’s kind of just on the ground level.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.