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Old Yesterday, 12:10 AM
 
56 posts, read 30,946 times
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What do you all think would be the best type(s) of advertising and marketing for a small software business that sets local restaurants and retailers up with an online ordering system so that their customers can order and buy from them online?

It's a good service that caters to local restaurants and businesses and is less expensive than some of the more popular and similar services such as GrubHub, but marketing to restaurant owners can be difficult, so what do you all think would be the best methods to do so?
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Old Yesterday, 01:05 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
5,685 posts, read 2,009,714 times
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Targeted direct mail to all candidates. A nice dazzle piece (brochure), with a personalized letter and an impressive contact card.

With in-person followup to each at a slack time of the day, with the goal being to make an appointment for a later time at their convenience.

(No, there's no effing magic internet marketing scheme that will work for this. Nor is there for about 90% of other endeavors.)
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Old Yesterday, 03:48 PM
 
4,900 posts, read 2,006,082 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
Targeted direct mail to all candidates. A nice dazzle piece (brochure), with a personalized letter and an impressive contact card.

With in-person followup to each at a slack time of the day, with the goal being to make an appointment for a later time at their convenience.

(No, there's no effing magic internet marketing scheme that will work for this. Nor is there for about 90% of other endeavors.)

That's a tactical answer to a strategic question. He needs a plan, not a flurry of direct mail.


Direct mail is hideously expensive, especially for a start-up concern--and particularly when you need multiple impressions to simply get int the door. And to create the kind of high-end piece that will intrigue a VP/OPs, the numbers keep adding up.

There's no effing magic internet marketing scheme, but direct mail is even worse when selling something on a strategic-level B2B level. I mean, you're trying to reach guys who typically have someone else go through their mail for them.

Yeah, it works great for awning guys and car sales selling to everybody who matches up with a Claritas profile in a zip code. But something like this coming from a start up? Direct Mail would border on marketing malpractice, no matter how many cooked up stats one dredges up from a direct mail trade association. You know it's bad when even DM gurus are using tentative language such as "Direct Mail still is a good option..." The operative word in that sentence is still. Twenty years ago, newspaper guys were using precisely the same language.

I mean, just today, I received close to fifty pieces of direct mail, some of them very nice pieces that likely cost $3-$5-$7 bucks per impression once the postage costs are factored in. Aside from the momentary look at the piece with a photo of an attractive girl--complete with a come-hither look about her--on the cover, I never gave them a glance. I literally picked out the bills and client checks, transferring the rest into a recycling bin without delay.

Instead, OP, you need to choose multiple avenues for messaging, not just one, and you don't need to break the bank. Instead, if you are a start-up without scads of capital to work with, you're going to need to think in guerilla terms.

First, you need to formulate a solid brand that makes a strong promise to the ultimate decision maker. There are already companies like yours out there, so make sure you offer something unique. Here's somebody out there doing something similar: https://waitrapp.com/restaurants So you'll need to demonstrate unequivocally how you're both different and better.

Second, you do indeed need a very solid digital presence. And given how you're an online biz, your website and execution better be airtight. I would make a strong foray into social media channels such as LinkedIn, specifically reaching into industry-driven groups that appeal to small restaurateurs. Flog away with your benefit-driven messaging on those channels.

Third, you need some solid PR. As in getting the editors at the trades to say nice things about you. The traditional print trade publication may not be read it used to, but their online versions most definitely are. You need to express the problem and the clear-cut solution that your product provides. Be prepared to place some digital ads as some kind of quid pro quo.

Fourth, you need a list. A real list. Start working it every day. Have something you can send them. Create a system for grading your responses, with a C prospect essentially getting a brochure in the mail and an A prospect necessitating you fly to wherever he is based.

Fifth, you likely need a presence at the restaurant trade shows. Because with the product you sell, there is absolutely no substitute for standing there and pressing the flesh on the show floor. That doesn't mean you have to buy a booth. Far from it. It means you show up with your laptop and a sheaf of business cards and start talking to literally everyone. It means having a demo of your program ready to show--and to work flawlessly.


Finally, have enough capital to work with. Marketing efforts, regardless of what form they might take, require money to work. One of the biggest mistakes start-ups make is figuring out their operating costs down to the last paper clip, but just spitballing the marketing budget, basically keeping it at starvation levels. People like that think that marketing is the thing to think about down the road, rather than the most essential thing next to the product itself. Marketing produces leads which produce sales. It is not the expense to come later.

Last edited by MinivanDriver; Yesterday at 04:07 PM..
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Old Yesterday, 04:20 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
5,685 posts, read 2,009,714 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MinivanDriver View Post
That's a tactical answer to a strategic question. He needs a plan, not a flurry of direct mail.

Direct mail is hideously expensive, especially for a start-up concern--and particularly when you need multiple impressions to simply get int the door.
You've misread my reply. It is the strategy - ass/u/ming he has a valid SaaS to sell, here. I'm not going to get into the value or marketability of the app and system itself.

And I don't mean bombing-run 'direct mail' - I mean directed mail, specifically to individual businesses and the person within them, established through research, who needs to be interested, invested and sold.

(And, just as an aside, direct mail can be very cost effective using business filtering and EDDM delivery. That's better for broad services and pizza, though, not limited-market niche solutions.)

Special-purpose B2B can only be done P2P. Unless he can afford a sales staff to make direct cold calls, making direct contact through mail and then followup (phone if necessary, in person if possible) is the only avenue that's going to make the connection to the person who can say Yes. And at that, the mailing needs exceptional care in preparation to get past the wastebasket, opened or not. ADDENDUM: This can be done for around $2-3 per contact, a small fraction of even commission-heavy personal sales attempts.

If - and only if - there is a strong local business advertising venue, such as a well-read and well-regarded city or local business magazine, it might be worth some display advertising or an attempt at editorial coverage. My experience is that, while once quite cost-effective and useful, local business magazines have gotten insanely expensive and have a fraction of the market reach they used to.

Last edited by Quietude; Yesterday at 04:36 PM..
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Old Today, 07:48 AM
 
3,623 posts, read 2,578,290 times
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I have become a NO girl, like MVD above, I toss 95% of the mail without looking at it. Then I sit at the computer and delete/block/delete/block all the unwanted emails so I can get to the important ones and start the day. Then I say NO most of the day to salespeople, ad guys, people wanting jobs, people wanting sponsors, guy wanting to wash our windows, etc.

OP, how many customers can you handle? Are you looking for one job at a time? Have you already set up a local restaurant or retailer so other owners can see your work? It needs to be great and work flawlessly. You need testimonials from the owner about how it increased sales, how easy the process is, how affordable it is, etc.

Your target market must be very small independent businesses, since most chains already have online ordering, correct? You will waste a lot of money looking for these local customers at trade shows or in magazines. I would pick one sector at a time, say pizza places. Google each one and drill down to see if they already take online orders, then start working that list of ones who don't by stopping by in person or calling when they're not busy. I would leave one marketing piece, very simple, bigger than a business card, something they can tack up to the bulletin board for whenever they're ready.

You're lucky in that you can find out easily who needs your service, you just need to find out who is ready to pull the trigger now.

If you haven't done any jobs yet, can you start with friends who own businesses? Or places you personally buy from frequently? Start with a warm market, give a big discount or do it free.
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Old Today, 11:06 AM
 
4,900 posts, read 2,006,082 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
You've misread my reply. It is the strategy - ass/u/ming he has a valid SaaS to sell, here. I'm not going to get into the value or marketability of the app and system itself.

And I don't mean bombing-run 'direct mail' - I mean directed mail, specifically to individual businesses and the person within them, established through research, who needs to be interested, invested and sold.

(And, just as an aside, direct mail can be very cost effective using business filtering and EDDM delivery. That's better for broad services and pizza, though, not limited-market niche solutions.)

Special-purpose B2B can only be done P2P. Unless he can afford a sales staff to make direct cold calls, making direct contact through mail and then followup (phone if necessary, in person if possible) is the only avenue that's going to make the connection to the person who can say Yes. And at that, the mailing needs exceptional care in preparation to get past the wastebasket, opened or not. ADDENDUM: This can be done for around $2-3 per contact, a small fraction of even commission-heavy personal sales attempts.

If - and only if - there is a strong local business advertising venue, such as a well-read and well-regarded city or local business magazine, it might be worth some display advertising or an attempt at editorial coverage. My experience is that, while once quite cost-effective and useful, local business magazines have gotten insanely expensive and have a fraction of the market reach they used to.

You seem to think I'm not familiar with all that. A strategy consists of the following: A) The product itself and the unique benefit it provides; B) The market segment that will best respond to that product; C) The most effective way to reach that segment with multiple messages through multiple channels.



Just choosing one channel, whether it's DM, cable TV, digital, or whatever else, is a tactic, no matter how many variations on a theme you provide or how narrowly the list gets refined.



And I didn't mention local general business pubs, nor did I mention commission sales. That's kind of a straw man argument on your part. General business pubs are likely to be a waste of money, unless you're working on a national scale and trying to reach committed entrepreneurs. But that is something that needs to happen after one lands a some editorial coverage, not before. And, of course, commission sales might actually be a fantastic idea if he is targeting beyond the mom and pops, moving into franchisees who have multiple-units holdings, etc., depending on what the overall margins are like. Not enough information from the OP to really fill in those blanks.

But just relying on one medium to deliver the message is a terrible idea.
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Old Today, 11:18 AM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
5,685 posts, read 2,009,714 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MinivanDriver View Post
But just relying on one medium to deliver the message is a terrible idea.
Look, what he's asking for is a complete marketing plan for a nebulous, hard-to-sell service. A marketing plan that covered all the bases would be thirty pages long, and asking for it free here is... unkosher.

I read it that the OP is a basement developer like forty jillion others, who has mastered app development but has no real idea how to market something that complex and needing of an entire infrastructure to run. It also has to be successfully sold not only to the merchants, but a large enough user base to make it all worthwhile... against the existing competition of at least a dozen already-established app/systems and god knows how many parallel startups/one-offs.

If the OP had a business model and capital, I'd be available to develop that business plan and marketing model, along with, well, about a jillion other experts, among whom you're including yourself. But as this sounds like a developer with no business experience trying to figure out the next step on a shoestring, that was the answer I gave. There is no magic route; there is next to no "advertising" that will work in this case, not remotely within a small startup/individual budget. Only shoe leather is going to do it, which means either the OP needs to hit the sales trail with some first-rate backup material, or needs to hire someone to do it for him... and despite fantasies, no competent sales person is going to take on the job for points and commission alone.

So: targeted contact, using a carefully crafted mail packet followed by direct contact, to selected businesses in his area is about the only thing within financial and practical grasp. AND that assumes the app is worthwhile, can be easily integrated into merchant operations, doesn't need a ton of support, and the user app is appealing enough to get a nucleus of users going.

Everything else is Step Two. Everything. Not sure why you took away such butthurt because I'm not treating this as some generic Marketing 101 exercise.

(FWIW, I recently had an eight-week go-around with a very similar situation, although it was a long-established company seeking to break through a plateau of a small number of industrial clients. Despite being B2B to the point of being B2Industry, their idiot sales manager was convinced there was some magic "internet marketing" process that would bring them... three or four more industrial-level clients. I found out later that they've gone through a series of consultants, each of which was either grossly incompetent - e.g. had no idea there is anything but "internet marketing" - or was savvy enough to tell them what I told them, that new major clients in a niche can't be found on Twitter, and strong outside sales was the only route. This is 1/100th the scale but much the same situation otherwise. The only place for internet marketing is to the user base, which has to have a merchant base, which is not going to be found on TwitStiGramBook.)
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Old Today, 11:33 AM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
5,685 posts, read 2,009,714 times
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And, of course, the OP has to have a nuclear-level answer for "Yeah, great... but why don't I just sign up with UberEats, GrubHub or one of the six other established services?" - or pretty much all efforts are going to be useless.
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