Gramma D's is an Italian American Restaurant and Pizzeria in Walton New York, a Village of about 3100 people in the Town of Walton, about 5600.
It's a cash only kind of place with about 40 seats and a three and a half stars on three Yelp reviews. It sits across the street from a McDonalds on the half a mile of Delaware Street where New York Routes 10 and 206 overlap.
I travelled past it on my way to Ithaca with my parents. They opted for McDonalds. It's a known quantity and that's a little more important to them than trying a new place.
I walked around the town while they did McDonalds, and as we were passing back through town again on our way home, and had someone to meet, I suggested we have a little adventure and visit Gramma D's.
While the fare was as expected, what caught my eye was the place mats, looking something like this.
I asked. They have no e-mail marketing campaign. Now it's possible Gramma D's is packed to capacity the rest of the year. But it wasn't that Sunday afternoon. And it seemed to me that it could use its place mats to bring in a few more customers.
Two methods come immediately to mind. One, carve out a space on that place mat for people to give a quick restaurant review, and more importantly, ask them for their e-mail and important dates. Two, point them to a form, and have them give that information by smart phone. Maybe offer a bribe, like a free soda with their next slice, or free toppings on their next visit just for signing up. And you don't need a website for this. There are free survey and form tools that could work just fine.
And then, don't forget them, or rather don't let them forget Gramma D's. Send them an e-mail at least once a month. And for their Birthday, Anniversary, Graduation, Easter, Christmas, Equinox, Solstice, County Fair, it doesn't matter, offer them something. And if you've got a good list, and you have clusters of people with certain likes or characteristics, you can easily reach out to them, and even create events for them, things like comedy or date nights, groups like cub scout dads or hunting widows also come to mind.
You could even just offer the place mat. Right now, it's a very static piece of advertising. I'd guess a place like Gramma D's gets a box of a few thousand from the printer who gives them for free, or maybe shares with them a few bucks to put it on their table. With a bit more effort, one could really bring a place mat to life. One could feature local art or events (for a fee or not), if there is a local author, maybe he'd like to start a serial story (the place mats change up once a month with the next chapter, and e-mail of course). Maybe a small piece of history (maybe sponsored by an antique shop).
But now I've gone a bit wide again. The point is there are easy devices to capture the e-mail, and then no end of directions it can go from there. And if you'd like some help putting your plan in place, schedule with me here: