Small Business Promotions | The Mystery Giveaway Strategy

Mystery Gift giveaway promotion post imageToday, let’s talk about another idea from our growing catalog of small business promotions.  The “Mystery Giveaway”!

A mystery giveaway promotion is an easy promotion for your small business and provides an element of fun!

As the name implies, the item you’re offering is a complete mystery to the customer.  When the offer is a known item as an incentive, it gives customers the opportunity to decide if they want the free item and is it worth whatever is required of them to get it.  However, when the item is a mystery, you can build up the excitement without the customer passing judgment as to their desire to have said item.  They already want it simply because it’s free!  That makes this technique extremely powerful for any business.

What Kind of Mystery Item Should You Give Away?

There are a few different approaches you can take.  First, you can just give away something small and mildly useful. It should make your customer smile, but be fairly inexpensive.  For example, an odd electronic gadget, or a small book of quotes related to your industry.  If you’re a restaurant owner, free meals for a month or longer (one per week), is often a successful giveaway promotion for a restaurant. Or, on a grander scale, you could give away something that’s extremely useful, slightly more expensive and very impressive. The idea is to exceed the customers’ expectations. This generates a lot of goodwill and gets people talking about your business.

Mystery giveaway items can often come from stock piles of merchandise or leftover discontinued items.   This is a great way to make space for new products. It may be a good idea, before sending your old merchandise out as freebies, to make sure that the customer hasn’t actually purchased that item in the past.

Free Giveaways versus Purchase Bonus

You can use your giveaway in many ways. Generally speaking, you don’t want to just offer a mystery giveaway item to just everyone. You could limit your contest to regular customers, or to a specific group of people depending on the specific promotion. This kind of giveaways usually cost money to create.  So, you will want to be a little selective.  You can use it as a feeder for a sweepstakes, a contest, or even as a way to grow your list. For example, everyone who gets 50 likes on their contest page gets the mystery bonus.

You can also use a giveaway promotion as a purchase bonus. Whenever someone buys your product, they get the mystery item as well. Perhaps, you can even have a random rotation of mystery items.  This is a teaser because people never quite know what they’re getting.

Multiple Mystery Items: The Grab Baggrab bag image
Finally, you can give away multiple mystery items, grab bag style, by giving away a bunch of small things instead of one big thing.

The mystery item can add a great deal of style to your free giveaways. It can be used to build up excitement about a product or a launch or simply to clear your space of older merchandise. There’s a lot of room for creativity when you’re using this technique.

More Small Business Promotional Ideas:

If you are looking for more ideas on promoting your small business, be sure to download our free ebook: How to Increase your Local Businesses Sales.  You can find it by clicking here or completing the form on the left side of the top of this page.

Happy Marketing!


Local Restaurants Gift Card Strategy

local restaurant gift card marketing strategyThe largest gift-giving season is quickly approaching and local restaurants need a gift card marketing strategy now more than ever. Here’s why…

In a 2015 study, Toast, a renowned restaurant management technology firm, did a study that analyzed the gift card purchasing and redemption habits of more than 500 operations. Both digital and printed types of gift cards were included in the study.

After they analyzed the information, they segmented the data by restaurant type.  Each segment included at least 15 restaurants.

Here’s what they found:

  • In full service restaurants, customers with gift cards spent 72% more than customers without them.
  • Gift cards are a good strategy for holidays but overall, do well all year long.
  • Wednesday is the best day to sell gift cards.
  • Almost a third of restaurant gift cards are never fully redeemed.
  • Almost half of gift card users spent more than the value of their gift card.

Fishbowl, a software and services company for restaurants, provides a case study done in 2014, with a steakhouse client.  They reported that a gift card promotion driven by social media and email marketing campaigns increased their clients gift cards sales by 150% over the previous year’s sales. Even more impressive is that it was done in one day!

The clients sold their $100.00 gift cards for just $50.00 for just one day by aggressively marketing them online.

Here’s how they did it:

  • They sent a series of email messages to the members of the restaurants loyalty clubs.
  • They posted the offer to both their Facebook page and Twitter page.
  • They ran two paid Facebook ads that targeted new prospects in their local zip code area.

This resulted in thousands of gift card sales and hundreds of thousands in sales at a cost of about $0.70 per purchase.

Of course not every restaurant has all the pieces already in place to pull off such a campaign however, now is the time to get started putting things in place for this holiday season.

Gift card strategy checklist:

  • Decide on the tool. There are a number of different tools and options when it comes to a gift card program. Restaurants that integrate digital cards via their POS system have the added benefit of tracking their sales and seeing what’s working for them and how the cards are being used.
  • Link your cards to a loyalty program such as a birthday club or a craft beer membership. This will help sell more gift cards because they’re personalized to an interest group. It will also help you retain the user after the gift card is redeemed by having the ability to market future offers and specials to the customer.
  • Be active on your social media platforms so customers think of you on gift giving occasions.
  • If you aren’t already list building, get started now!

A gift card promotion can drive sales for you this year but more importantly, provide you with long term customer loyalty if it is done with a strategy planned with foresight.

If you need help getting started with a gift card promotion or getting your customer loyalty programs set up, call us for a free consultation.



Marketing for Locally Owned Restaurants

Most of the local restaurant owners I talk to tell me that they need some inspiration when it comes to marketing their restaurant.  They are doing the same things they’ve always done and not getting the results they need to be profitable, compete with the other establishments in their local market, gain new customers, and keep their customers coming back.

Today, I’m going to share with you some of the marketing methods we use in helping to change that for the restaurant owners that we work with.

Take a look at the image below.

This is an example of an actual monthly marketing planning calendar that a local restaurant owner could create.


This type of promotion works very well in the restaurant business and I’m sure that you have seen large restaurant chains use some of these kinds of strategies.

Let’s take a closer look. (not too closely please. Yes, I do know that the word “sandwich” does not have an “e” on the end. 🙂

Key Events

Research key events that are happening both locally and nationally and think about how they apply to your business and what kind of promotional ideas might work well for your specific restaurant.  Be sure to include ideas that will help you with slow days and times.

Monthly Events

Many months will also have monthly event themes that will work well with your promotional calendar.  When creating a monthly marketing plan for a client, we start with monthly events, then fill in with weekly, and daily events.

In this example however, we didn’t find a monthly theme for August that we thought would compliment our restaurant’s promotional calendar. So, the key events are just weekly and daily events during this month.

Weekly Events

Our key event for this first week of August is “Simplify Your Life Week” and for that, we have decided to promote some take-out specials but you could do the same promotion for dining in.

Here’s the logic:

  • The number of women who work outside the home is consistently increasing.
  • It is still the women who do most of the cooking and they are tired after working a full day.
  • There is more disposable income for things like restaurant food in families where the woman works outside of the home.
  • Women make most of the food choices for the family.
  • Did you ever know a women who didn’t love a deal!

Did you know that at 5:00 pm when many women are getting off of work, they don’t have a clue as to what they are going to make for dinner?

Consider how a woman might respond to a text message sent to her at 5:05 pm while she is getting into her car to head home.  She sees that a restaurant she likes is promoting a take-out special, kids eat free, or free desert promotion, etc. What do you think happens?

Here are the specifics…

Somewhere between 4% and 14% of people will respond to a promotion like this by taking you up on your offer.  Let’s be conservative and say that only 4% respond.  If you had sent that message out to 1000 customers, you would have 40 customers ordering your take-out special and perhaps some regular menu items as well.

Now, the next part depends on your specific restaurant. But, for this example, let’s say that the average ticket of an order for a family of  4 is $40.00.  If my math is correct, our example promotion will bring your restaurant a return of $1600.00, minus the cost of the text messages, which should run about $80.00. That is a pretty good return on your investment. That’s especially true on a slow night! What would this mean to your business?

Now let’s take a look at daily events.

These kinds of events allow you to run promotions that bring in specific kinds of costumers.  In this example, we are targeting girlfriends, sisters, members of the Coast Guard, and people who like watermelon, chocolate chips, beer, mustard, and root beer floats.  The logic is this:

  • It’s always a great idea to recognize those who serve our community.  They will remember that you did that.  As Maya Angelou said, people will forget what you said, and they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” This is a basic marketing truth and it’s also just a nice way to do business.
  • Most everyone enjoys a reason to celebrate and get together.
  • August is in the heat of the summer and these foods are natural choices for summer eating.

Promoting these kinds of events should be done on your website, blog, and social media pages and using great images is key.  Daily events can be used to actually bring in customers, or create a list of people who want to receive information, tips, your chef’s recipes, and offers from you.  Creating a list of people who either already do or, may in the future do business with you, is a smart idea.  This group of people wants to know what you’re up to and often share your posts with others who may not even know about you.

Good use of images is a vital part of getting people to share your promotions. Posts with images get shared 75% more often that posts without them.

sweet and spicy watermelon graphic

We hope this gives you some ideas of what’s possible in promoting your local restaurant.  That being said, we know that as a restaurant owner you already have to wear many different hats and that you just don’t have time to wear the marketing hat too.  We understand how busy being a restaurant owner can be and even if you already understand that marketing is a top priority, you don’t have the time to become proficient in the necessary skills yourself or the budget to pay someone in-house to learn it and and do it for you. That’s where we can really help you.

More Ideas

Be sure to grab a copy of our free eBook “Increase Your Business’ Sales. 73 Ways to Market Your Business in Just 15 Minutes a Day”. You can request that for free in the left column of this page.

If you need help

Whether you just need us to create a monthly marketing plan for you and you will take it from there, or you need us to create and execute your marketing plan we are there for you.

We would love to hear from you and we welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss your restaurant’s marketing strategy.

Call us today at 843-647-0489 to arrange a free consultation.

Happy Marketing!



Calculating Average Lifetime Value of A Customer

calculating lifetime value of a customerWhat is a customer worth to your business?  Knowing what a customer is actually worth to you helps you determine what cost you might expect to pay in getting one and keeping them. If you don’t know the average lifetime value of a client, here is the simplest way to estimate it.  To get the most precise number, you also have to consider the cost of getting a new client and a few other factors but for our purposes today, this calculator will work just fine. If you need to know how to get the actual number see this article from Entrepreneur.

Here’s all you need to do for now.  Follow these easy steps to find out what just one new client is worth to your business.  Use this simple formula for right now, this will tell us what we need to know for now.

  1. First, come up with a dollar amount, your best guesstimate, of what an average customer or client spends per visit.
  2. Now, estimate an average of how many times you see that client per year.
  3. Lastly, on average, about how many years do you expect a client to stay with you?
Now we just do a little multiplication.

For our example,  Let’s say you said an average client spends $100.00 per visit and you see them 3 times a year.  Let’s say you take pretty good care of your customers and your business does a good job of retaining clients.  A conservative estimate might be  an average of 5 years.

$100.00 x 3 visits per year = $300.00

$300.00 x 5 years = $1500.00

So for purposes of this example, $1500.00 is the average lifetime value of your client.  That is what each of your customers are worth to your business and gives you an idea of what you might budget for obtaining new customers.

I’m sure your numbers will be different than those above but without a calculator, I like easy math.  You’ve got the idea I’m sure.  The important thing is for you to know what a value a new client brings so that you can figure out the ROI (return on investment) so you know where to spend the biggest chunk of your marketing dollars.

Happy Marketing,














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