The restaurant biz can be incredibly rewarding - but also incredibly challenging. When Dakotah Steakhouse approached tdg, they brought along some significant advantages: an experienced management team, a sterling reputation, and a beautiful building in an up-and-coming part of town. But the advantages were also the source of some of their challenges.
Dakotah Steakhouse knew the community had a positive perception of the restaurant. In fact, it was so well-regarded that people had the perception that dining at Dakotah Steakhouse was an event reserved for birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day and other special occasions. The owners wanted to get people through the door for no reason other than a desire for an excellent dinner.
tdg knew the key was to hit the right audience with the right message. It’s an age-old marketing problem, but thanks to the right tool, it was almost as easy as saying “medium-rare.” We worked with the Dakotah Steakhouse team to develop a highly-targeted direct mail campaign. Typical direct-response paper postcards were out of the question: we didn’t want to mess with the restaurant’s high-end brand, and our relatively high-income audience wouldn’t respond well to the stigma of a coupon or BOGO offer anyway. Instead, we went with high-quality plastic mailers with punch-out gift cards. The cards, worth $25, came with no strings attached. Just join us for dinner, and we’ll take $25 off your check. We combined the mailers with some limited online, print and out-of-home media to reinforce local awareness.
Our audience ate it up - figuratively, that is. (The literal eating happened after they got to the restaurant.) The 30,000 mailers in the first campaign brought more than 10,000 people through the door, directly generating a quarter million dollars in sales over three months. Using data from this campaign, we created a more focused mailing list and did it again - this time with an even higher return on investment.
First Campaign - 30,000 Mailers (Summer 2013)
- 10,000 people through the door
- $250k in total sales
- 150% ROI
Second Campaign - 14,000 Mailers (Spring 2014)
- 4,600 people through the door
- $140k in total sales
- 170% ROI
The customers we generated from these gift card mailers have been returning regularly, and apparently they’re telling their friends. Dakotah Steakhouse’s overall sales numbers are up substantially since our first campaign. In fact, the summer of 2015 saw the restaurant’s best-ever quarterly sales.