Merchant: ScrubOaks Restaurant
Market: Fayetteville, North Carolina
Initial Ad Budget: $15,000
Platforms: MustHaveMenus, Facebook
Bottom Line: Restaurants should add new content to their social media pages on a daily basis to generate “likes” and follows.
When ScrubOaks Restaurant opened its doors nearly four years ago, owners Tim and Gwen Holtsclaw made a calculated decision to take things slowly. “Based on our research, June and July are traditionally the worst months,” said Gwen. “I [wanted] to open at the worst time of the year — 1.) so that if we were doing something wrong [we] would have time to fix it, and 2.) so that we didn’t skew ourselves from an expectations standpoint.”
Spreading the word
Although ScrubOaks Restaurant managed to cultivate a loyal following of young professionals based solely on word-of-mouth advertising, Holtsclaw ultimately decided to step it up a notch in an effort to attract a more diverse clientele. “We did a four-month advertising blitz, if you will. We took about $15,000 and meted it out. We did the upscale magazine in the area, local magazines, and that kind of stuff,” said Holtsclaw. “The plan was, we’d do that in August, September, October, and November, and that’s it.”
After the initial advertising blitz was through, Holtsclaw felt it was time to start looking at lower cost marketing opportunities. She created a Facebook page and Twitter feed for ScrubOaks Restaurant, and grew her followers by posting consistently on both social networking platforms. “We post every day, sometimes several times a day depending on what we’re promoting … our Facebook automatically posts to Twitter, just like everybody else’s I’m sure.”
In addition to posting on social networking platforms, Holtsclaw also sends out a weekly email newsletter to the 1,500 ScrubOaks Restaurant customers who’ve signed up to join the company’s eCrowd database. “People can come into the restaurant and the servers will encourage them to sign up for eCrowd so they can get the weekly update.” Holtsclaw sends her updates each Friday, featuring information about events at her restaurant, as well as special menu items.
Generating repeat business
While e-newsletters have been a useful tool for promoting loyalty among current customers, Holtsclaw says Facebook has been far more useful for generating attention in her local area. Even the ScrubOaks Restaurant website has become a “secondary resource” for customer acquisition. “[Customers] hear about us or they see a Facebook post, and if they’re curious they’ll go to the website to see what the full menu is.”
To create the menus that customers find once they arrive at her website, Holtsclaw uses MustHaveMenus, a platform that restaurants can use to design and publish their menus both online and offline.
For a flat fee of $15 per month, Holtsclaw can design an unlimited number of menus and flyers. She then posts these menus on her company’s website, as well as its Facebook page. “I know how to do [publishing and marketing], but I can’t do the design. So for me, it has been an enormous blessing … If I were to pay a graphic artist to come up with those designs, I would be spending significantly more.”
Consistency is key when it comes to building a fan base online. Holtsclaw has been able to organically generate more than 1,900 “likes” on Facebook and add more than 1,500 customers to her email database by marketing her business on a regular basis and making sure to update her social media pages with daily specials, behind-the-scenes photos, and upcoming event information.
Holtsclaw has also made sure to integrate the platforms she uses as much as possible. By adding an online menu to her Facebook page (as well her website), and automatically posting all Facebook updates to her restaurant’s Twitter account, Holtsclaw is taking full advantage of social media and ensuring that she reaches potential customers on as many platforms as possible.
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.