Flavor Flav is hip hop's most legendary hype man, and he shows no sign of complacency in his oldish age. Last Thursday, on a Southwest jaunt from Burbank to Las Vegas, Flav commandeered the airplane's intercom to encourage travellers to dine at Flavor Flav's House of Flavor, his soul food take-out restaurant in Vegas. The stunt got us thinking: While not every restaurateur may be gifted like Flav in the craft of braggadocio and self-promotion, nearly any chef/owner can try his or her hand at a few aggressive promotional techniques. Read on as we've outlined Five Ways to Promote Your Restaurant.
5. Twitter. So dumb, but kind of necessary. Have a new menu item? Post some indecipherable hash-code-laden Internet babble. New hours? Post some indecipherable hash-code-laden Internet babble. New chef? You get the idea. People will retweet your tweet and add more hash-tags. You may even “trend.”
4. Fake Yelp Testimonials. Sometimes you get on Yelp to figure out which kabob place within three miles of the Nuart Theater won't serve you gray lumps on a stick and you read things that make you laugh until your face hurts. Amid classic Yelp nonsense (“Well . . . the falafel was crispy and the salad was fresh and the hot sauce was TOO DIE FOR but . . . the girl at the counter didn't smile . . . Seriously? WTF. One star.”) and a multitude of mediocre reviews, you see an assortment of extremely laudatory, serious, and similarly worded posts claiming that said kabob place is the best eatery on the entire planet:
I have never written a Yelp review until now. I always thought it wasn't for me. All that changed when I took a bite of the chicken shawarma at this charming place on Santa Monica. The portions were huge, the service was exemplary, and I've never had a better dining experience ever. Please come here and support one of the neighborhood's most valued small business institutions.
Reviews like this are written by restaurant owners and their spouses. Write a bunch for your restaurant and the goofballs who rely solely on Yelp to dictate their eating habits will be at the mercy of your iffy kabobs.
3. Samples. People like freebies. You've been there, if only on the other side of the equation. Someone holds a tray of delicious grass-fed beef sliders at an event or something. “For me?” you ask, breathlessly taking one and eating it and reaching for another. “Yes,” the sample dispenser says perkily, “these sliders are on the super-fun bar bites section of the brand-new menu at the brand-new hip sports bar tapas taverna lounge opening on the corner of . . .” And you never hear her finish because you're already staggering away like a jerk, looking for the next sample. You have to talk fast when you're giving out samples.
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2. Standing Outside of Rival Restaurants With a Poster Boasting of Superior Options. This probably doesn't actually happen, but it should. Restaurants, especially high-end ones, should be more competitive. Their owners and chefs have so much at stake. Dreams and money, man. People swing elbows and scream curses in playground games of 3-on-3. The least you could do is get mean when you have your family's livelihood on the line. If there's another restaurant down the street serving runny quail eggs over pickled sunchoke batons with micro-cilantro and duck “chips,” you should get a poster and draw a picture of someone eating that restaurant's quail eggs and vomiting violently. Add plenty of vivid color to the poster, drive to the rival restaurant, park and walk back and forth along the sidewalk waving the poster. Optional: Hand out free samples of your superior quail egg concoction (see #3).
1. Flavor Flav. Yeah, we thought about offering the classic tattoo-a-picture-of-our-signature-dish-on-your-face-and-get-it-free-for-life deal, but nothing beats the kind of splash an airplane loudspeaker can make — especially when people all over the Internet subsequently make a big deal out of it. But we can't all be Flavor Flav. In addition to not possessing his talents and sheer moxie, we don't have his status, his reputation. Of course, he can seize the intercom thing and start yapping about his restaurant. Everyone cheers and chants his name. If we did that, we'd end up getting tackled, hauled off and water-boarded. The solution? Get Flavor Flav. Hire him and send him on flights around the country.
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