One of my favourite restaurants in the world is the restaurant that I bartended at for the better part of 7 years.
It’s called Little Jumbo.
And during the pandemic, it needed a bit of a boost.
(Like so many other restaurants)
So I got together with the owner, and in 2 weeks we were able to generate 391 restaurant leads and $1,327 in tracked sales from 35 brand new customers.
(An 8x return on dollars invested)
How did we do it?
We asked ourselves, “How can we multiply an advertising investment in the short term AND long term?”
And if you’re a restaurant owner, you know that the restaurant business is different.
It’s not built off one time sales. It’s built off repeat guests.
We need to build relationships. We also need to nurture relationships.
So I asked some of the best restaurant marketers in the world what they’d do, and finally came up with The Guest Magnet Method that we used to get the 35 new guests above.
But first, let me explain how most restaurant owners are burning their advertising dollars.
Most people think advertising is linear:
Put money in — Get money out.
And I assure you, those people are burning money.
(Or at least, they’re not getting nearly the return they could be.)
Trust me, I’ve been there.
If you get only one thing out of this case study, it should be this:
When you invest in advertising, you’re investing to turn up the dial on ALL of these parts:
- Attention & Awareness → People have to know you exist to do business with you. When restaurants rely solely on word of mouth and organic social media, they leave this to chance.
- Your Guest ‘Rolodex’ → Remember old-school sales people and their rolodex? This is where all the opportunity is. When you advertise, you should build your rolodex so that you improve your ability to impact your own sales (without relying on ‘ad spend’ and ‘algorithms’). This is how you build your own media company.
- Customers & Sales → We aim to make sales from ads, but what’s more important is acquiring the customer. Ever heard of the saying that it’s easier to sell to someone you’ve already sold to than it is to get a new customer? Advertising is about getting NEW customers. Then we can use back-end messaging to get them to come back again and again.
- Guest Data → When we use online advertising platforms, part of what you’re paying for is data about your customers. Where they live, their location, marital status, age, etc — all can be used to improve your messaging and draw in more guests.
(Not just sales!)
And when you put them together in a cohesive system, you get what Jim Collins calls a ‘Flywheel.’
In this case, we not only multiplied the investment more than 8x in the short-term — we also built a system that will get compounding results in the long-term.
|Caveat: The real power is in the long-term. |
In the short term, you should aim to liquidate your ad spend with front-end sales. While we often turn a profit on front-end sales — that’s not the point.
The point is to build a ‘Rolodex’ so that we improve our ability to impact our own sales (instead of relying on ‘ad spend’ and ‘algorithms’).
As Jay Abraham says, “Break even today. Break the bank tomorrow.”
Here’s exactly how we did it:
The Guest Magnet Method Overview
- Step 1: Create a magnetic offer
- Step 2: Use existing content to create ads on Facebook
- Step 3: Collect email, SMS, birthday, and their favourite brand using a tool like ManyChat
- Step 4: Ensure we can collect check totals at the point of sale
- Step 5: Centralize data in a dashboard for reporting
Below is a breakdown of how each step works, but first let me tell you why actively getting guests is so important for restaurants.
In an industry that’s practically defined by low margins, doesn’t it make sense to turn ‘guest getting’ into an exact science so that you can pack your establishment to the gills?
As the competition in your market becomes more fierce with new bars and restaurants all the time—and this will happen rapidly in the coming years—restaurants who harness technology will become ‘apex predators’ in their market.
That might sound backward in the ‘hospitality’ industry, but ultimately we’re in business to generate substantial profit. While passion is enough to get a restaurant started, profit is what will continue feeding that passion, and your community, sustainably.
(Not the other way around)
If you aren’t actively marketing your business, 70-80% of your market might not even know you exist.
Let this guide be your first step to powerfully harnessing the internet (or any medium for that matter) to sustainably get guests (and more profit).
Afterall, you’ve built something great. It’s time to really let the people know.
Step 1: Put Out Offers to Your Local Market that are Magnetic 🧲
First things first: we need an offer so compelling that it’s magnetic.
This is the first step yet it’s usually the one people mess up.
Because most people try SO HARD to turn a profit on their front-end offer that they end up making a totally shitty offer.
For example, let’s take a Buy One Get One Burger offer (typically a very strong offer):
They rack their brain…
- Okay, my food cost for 1 burger is $5…
- 2 burgers costs me $10…
- It costs me $5 to get a customer to redeem the Buy One Get One Offer…
- Now I’ve spent $15 on this…
- My burger is priced at $16…
- So all I’ve made is $1…?
Looking at advertising this way is why most people just don’t do it. It never makes sense.
Here’s a more sustainable and real way to look at it:
You just made a $1 dollar profit, AND you got the following…
- Way more attention and awareness
- A customer that you wouldn’t have had otherwise
- A new fan who will become a repeat visitor and evangelist (assuming a great product)
- New ways to reach this person for free in the future (via email and SMS)
- Guest data so that you can stop ‘guessing’ what works
- A growing ‘rolodex’ of guests that you can nurture over the long-term to get more of them coming back again and again
- A new positive review
In other words, you got paid $1 to advertise.
So instead of it being ‘expensive’ and ‘not profitable’ — it’s a no-brainer long-term investment.
Having said all that, the offer we went with for Little Jumbo was a Buy One Get One Burger offer.
Always remember this saying from Jay Abraham: “Break even today. Break the bank tomorrow.”
|Bonus: I put together a Guest Magnet Method Swipe File so you can copy and paste a similar campaign for your restaurant 👉 Download the Guest Magnet Method Swipe File for free here.|
Step 2: Use existing content to create Facebook Ads
To be totally honest, half the battle is simply putting out an offer that people are excited to take action on.
Now that we have that taken care of, let’s make an ad!
Little Jumbo had plenty of great photo content to work with:
So we made two different ad creatives:
|Version 1||Version 2|
We ran with 2 animated versions of the ad and one of just the photo.
After about 5 days of running the ad at $10.00 per day, we looked at the data to see if there was a clear winner.
The objective with Facebook ads is to ‘stop the scroll.’
And usually a great photo is the key to doing that. Animation helps, too.
One of the great things about advertising food is that it’s simple — it really just needs to look mouth-watering.
Unlike other industries, you don’t need fancy hooks, elaborate stories, multiple touch points, or lots of education.
(Save that gold for your organic content 😉)
|Magic Restaurant Advertising Formula|
|Mouth-Watering Ad + Magnetic Offer = People Will Buy|
Step 3: Collect email, SMS, birthday, and their favourite brand using ManyChat
This is the antidote to burning your advertising dollars.
As my mentor Matt Plapp says, we spend on advertising to BUILD. Not to SELL.
While your competitors are bending over to organic social media ‘algorithms’ and throwing ads in print magazines that say, “We exist!” you’ll be building your guest ‘Rolodex.’
(+ the ability to turn the contacts in that Rolodex into relationships / guests!)
Craft your Welcome Message Flow in Google Docs
If you go straight to building your conversation flow in ManyChat, it’s easy to get paralyzed by all the bells and whistles.
So I recommend writing it out in Google Docs, first.
You will want to build two separate flows:
- Opt-In Message Flow
- Magnetic Offer Flow
Your Opt-In Flow: Collect Email, SMS, and Birthday
Goal: To have them fully opt-in to your restaurant’s marketing.
The opt-in flow is what you will drive every prospecting / top of funnel ad to.
- Message 1: Welcome Message
- Message 2: Thank you + outline WHY you need more information (Facebook’s terms + you want to remind them of future offers)
- Message 3: Birthday request
- Message 4: Email request
- Message 5: Phone number request
- Message 6: Thank you
Here’s what it looks like from your future guest’s perspective:
|Bonus: Crafting messages can be boring but SUPER important. Want our complete message template, along with tags to ensure everything is nice and tidy? Click here to get the Guest Magnet Method Swipe File.|
Then move them to The Magnetic Offer Flow:
Your Magnetic Offer Message Flow
Goal: Offer redemption
You’ll want this flow to be separate from your Opt-In Flow in case you want to change the offer at some point in the future.
This is where you send the offer, terms, and how your guest can redeem the offer.
- Message 1: Here’s your offer!
- Message 2: These are the terms of your offer (expiration date, time parameters, etc)
- Message 3: How to redeem the offer: “Bring your device at the point of sale and show this offer to your server”
It’s important to make sure your team knows how to redeem the offer and let the guest know what their check total.
Here’s what it looks like from your guest’s perspective:
🚨 Very Important: Collect check totals at the point of sale + aggregate data in Google Sheets
As you can see in the screen recording above, we collect the guest’s check total.
This helps solve one of the biggest challenges restaurant owners and operators face: they don’t know whether or not their marketing is working.
Having a system to collect check totals is one of the most important steps for ensuring your campaigns are ‘defensible.’
Meaning you can show key stakeholders your dashboard and there’s no question whether it’s working or not — you can see how much was spent, and how much revenue was generated.
At the end of both your Opt-In Message Flow and Magnetic Offer Flow, you’ll want to send your guest data to a Google Sheet.
(You can either do this using Zapier, or ManyChat’s built-in Google Sheet Integration feature.)
Once all the data is collected in Google Sheets, you can display it in a dashboard.
The data you can access by advertising online gives you a huge competitive advantage.
Here are key metrics stakeholders will want to see so they understand if their marketing is working:
Brass Tacks Metrics (Sales Performance)
Here are a few of the key metrics from this case study as they appear in the dashboard:
- Total Cost / Ad Spend 👉 This should include ad spend and any fees paid to vendors.
- Total Front-End Sales 👉 These are the sales that come from offer redeems
- Acquisition Cost (Total redemptions ÷ Total Cost) 👉 How much it costs to acquire a customer — very important in determining your break-even point.
- Average Check 👉 Add all check totals together and then divide them by total redemptions.
(Indoor dining was suspended during this offer. Average check values went from $81.20 to $39.29)
- Annual Impact 👉 Assuming you have a great product / guest experience, guests who come in once will come in repeatedly. In this case, we made a very conservative estimate of 3 annual visits. Total redemptions x average check x annual frequency = annual impact.
- Return On Investment (ROI) 👉 Percentage increase from total cost to annual impact.
Here are other parts of the dashboard that help tell the rest of the story:
Guest Rolodex Growth
Every month, you want this to keep going up.
Remember: As your Guest Rolodex grows, you’re improving your ability to impact your own sales on your terms (not the terms of an algorithm or advertising platform).
How much attention are you getting from your ad spend? How does it compare to your organic reach?
- Reach 👉 The number of individuals who your content has reached
- Impressions 👉 The number of ‘sets of eyeballs’ that your content has been put in front of.
- Click through rate (CTR) 👉 The percentage of people who see your ad and then click through to learn more. This metric gives you an idea of how interesting your offer is to your audience.
Engagement + Resonance
There are three key metrics to content that is engaging and resonates with your audience. I look at them like a balancing act: when one goes down, it gives you an idea of where to focus next.
They’re all self-explanatory, but here’s the underlying story of these metrics:
- Comments 👉 When someone comments, they either resonate with your content or, in the case of trolls, they’re repelled by it (which is a good thing). If comments are low, you can create content that’s ‘trending.’ Go to Google Trends and create content around whatever is trending.
- Shares 👉 Probably the most valuable engagement metric because it takes a lot for someone to put themselves out there and share something (ESPECIALLY an ad). It says that your brand is remarkable and worth sharing.
- Saves 👉 Saves show that you’re producing content that’s USEFUL. Creating useful content is an effective way to get your audience to fall in love with you — Most brands don’t create useful content. If saves are low, put your content through this filter: can this content be used as a tool or reference for my audience?
Now You Try It
Every scalable restaurant business is built on consistent high-quality systems like this one.
But putting out one ad, then hoping and praying for sales isn’t a scalable strategy.
Sure it can work. But we found a more SCALABLE solution: The Guest Magnet Method.
It’s helped Little Jumbo get an 800% return on its advertising investment in just a couple short weeks (and can continue to get compounding returns).
With this strategy you can dominate in your local market (without ‘bending over’ to inconsistent social media algorithms.)
To get started, get the Guest Magnet Method Swipe File we used to do it:
Then model what we did to build out your own Guest Magnet Method!
Want Our Help To Implement The Guest Magnet Method In Your Restaurant Business?
If you don’t have the time, expertise or desire to do all of the above by yourself, we can become your “Part Time Marketing Manager.”
Using the Guest Magnet Method, we can help you grow your restaurant.
What you need to be successful:
- Willing to spend money on ads to get customers. You need to be willing to spend at least $500/month on ads.
- A long term mindset. You need to be willing to have the patience to follow our long term strategy, knowing the Guest Magnet Method will help you build a Guest Rolodex that will not only turn into new guests, but more importantly REPEAT guests.
If you meet the above criteria and are serious about becoming a dominant force online in your market, book a Zoom call below with me or my team, where we’ll discuss your magnetic offer, ad budget, and how we’ll build your Guest Rolodex.
If none of the times work, please contact me on kyle[at]guestgetter.co with two times that work for you, and we’ll find a time.