From meager beginnings as a newspaper and minor network seen in a handful of American markets in 1993 to a global presence that encompasses subsidiary networks in Canada, the UK and Asia, the Food Network has played a major role in triggering the Foodie Revolution. Their shrewd marketing prowess is legend, and some of their techniques can be successfully applied to your restaurant’s email marketing.
Solicit Recipes to Choose Your Own Dining Star
The Next Food Network Star competition has produced such luminary superstar chefs as Guy Fieri, the spiky-haired juggernaut that has joined the ranks of top Food Network stars such as Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay and Mario Batali in making the jump to national broadcast networks. Unfortunately, Next Food Network Star castoffs such as Adam Gertler proved they can’t cook, so they’re given a show where they just wander around and talk about food. It can be argued that Tom Pizzica can’t cook or even talk about food, so why he has a show at all remains a question mark.
Any way you slice it, foodies love to immerse themselves in the food scene, so why not invite your email newsletter subscribers to participate in your own version of Next Food Network Star by contributing recipes, with the winner getting a free dinner for four when their recipe is featured as next week’s special? Engaging your patrons via active participation will help your customers build a connection with your venue and accept dining there as a desirable habit.
Bring in a Temp Star Chef
Many faithful viewers of Iron Chef America were shocked when they tuned into an episode where Alton Brown took over The Chairman’s tasks since Mark Dacascos was busy high stepping the night away on Dancing with the Stars. Your star head chef may have to be AWOL on some occasions, so instead of temporarily promoting a sous chef and hoping none of your diners notice, why not invite a well-known local chef to pinch hit? Your diners may be thrilled to read in your email newsletter that they can experience a different star chef’s take on your fabulous recipes!
Try a Little Good Eats Science
Alton Brown of course is justly famous for his Good Eats series where he takes light hearted forays into the chemical constitution of a roux or analyzes the precise technique required to keep calamari from turning into rubber bands. Your diners may appreciate a little science with their email newsletters, perhaps focusing on your chef’s applications of molecular gastronomy or explaining why some garlic containing recipes change color to blue or pink due to the release of an enzyme that forms the colored pigments.
Counter Bad Publicity with Apology & Evidence
Surviving bad publicity can be the most challenging obstacle any restaurant can overcome. When Ina Garten informed a sick child from the Make A Wish Foundation she didn’t have the time to cook with him and was roundly slammed by critics, she quickly changed her mind and extended the offer. Similarly, when Marc Forgione was called out by a food critic for loudly humiliating his kitchen staff in the middle of service right after becoming the newest Iron Chef, a little contrition went a long way. If your restaurant has gotten slammed due to customer service, food quality or cleanliness issues, the best process is to immediately make clear and well publicized changes promoted in your email newsletters.
Sometimes the bad publicity can be nothing more than a rumor, such as the recent fake story doing the rounds that Paula Deen had committed suicide. If your restaurant is falsely accused of serving long-dead lobsters or having rat droppings in corners, the best thing you can do is to include photos of your thriving and active crustaceans waltzing around your tank and close up images of your impeccably clean kitchen areas in your email newsletters.
Special event programs on the Food Network can outdraw the major broadcast networks in the ratings game. Any marketing method that achieves that sort of success is certainly worth emulating in your restaurant’s email campaigns!