A plethora of marketing options are available to restaurants but the problem with most of them is that they’re expensive.
But there is a marketing vehicle that some restaurants don’t consider, which can be a very effective channel of marketing: mommy bloggers.
Once dismissed as young women with a child on their lap and spit-up down their blouse, these women often command a large following, and the makeup of that following is mostly women.
And we all know who drives the decisions about where to shop and eat in most households, don’t we?
A session at yesterday’s national Restaurant Association Show talked to two restaurant chains and one mommy blogger about how they work together. Today we look at the benefits to the chains; next week we’ll give some practical advice from the session about how to work with these entrepreneurial writers.
Two restaurant chains that have had great success working with mommy bloggers are Moe’s Southwest Grill and McDonald’s, both of whom shared their wisdom yesterday.
Moe’s first worked with mommy bloggers on a giveaway, sending gift cards to readers.
“We got around five million impressions and we realized this is something that can make a huge impact for us,” said spokeswoman Lauren Barash.
Blogging fits in the company’s overall marketing strategy she added.
“Bloggers are not your entire strategy but it helps support everything you’re doing.”
Why do mommy bloggers have so much success resonating with restaurants’ target audiences?
It comes down to trust. Moe’s at one point ran a banner ad promotion for a free kids’ meal, but found no one clicked on it.
They sent it to bloggers and then saw 20,000 coupons get into customers’ hands in just five days.
“What we learned from that experience is the trust that our customers have of these bloggers,” Barash said. “If they see a banner ad they see it as spam and are not going to click on it, but when they follow a blog every day, they trust it.”
McDonald’s has had success spreading good feeling about its brand through mommy bloggers.
A member of the company’s Twitter team one day read a comment from a mommy blogger. She was unhappy because her son had received a free toy for a girl instead of a boy, so McDonald’s sent her a free boy’s toy.
The mommy blogger then wrote a blog about it that went viral. She’s since become a huge advocate for McDonald’s.
“We haven’t paid her a dime,” says Rick Wion, the company’s social media director at the NRA show. “That blog post has been seen by 100,000 readers in the year or so since she launched it.”
Mommy bloggers not only provide the opportunity for a restaurant to reach thousands of people (their many followers may then Tweet or blog information reaching more and more people as they do so), but they get the word out quickly.
Moe’s last week ran its annual Cinco de Mayo event. “A blogger wrote about it and once people read it, they were reposting it. We had over 100,000 impressions from just one person. It’s amazing how fast it works,” Barash pointed out.
An important thing to remember is that not all mommy bloggers are going to love your brand, but how should you best deal with any negative comments?
“We have very specific ways that we look at posts,” said Wion.
“One thing that we know is that certain people will hate McDonald’s no matter what we do. We ask what is the motivation behind a post? Did they have a bad experience in a restaurant and can we fix that? Or is it someone who just doesn’t like us at all? So I’m going to look for the opportunities where I can fix it.”
An example he pointed to is a blogger posting an unpleasant picture she says is McDonald’s. Simply pointing out the error can help correct this problem, he said.
“There’s a hesitancy of working with bloggers in case they say something bad about us,” he continued. “But you can’t let that hold you back. Bloggers are going to talk about your brand no matter what you do. But it’s better to have that relationship. If they say something bad, you can reach out and say something and try to fix that.”
Moe’s took it a step further. When the chain found a blogger criticizing the quality of its ingredients, Barash sent out correct information and arranged a phone call for the blogger with the company’s executive chef.
“[The blogger] went back and wrote a glowing post about us,” Barash said. “Not only did he not know this information about Moe’s but his readers didn’t either, and they trust him.”
It might be easy, effective and fast to work with mommy bloggers but what you’re probably still left wanting to know is how are they paid?
Some cost very little, seeking maybe gift cards to use at the restaurants they work for. Others look for payment, or work under contract—usually with the bigger restaurant brands—and receive more substantial remuneration.
You’re missing the boat if you don’t start working with mommy bloggers, whether you’re a national multi-unit chain or a small mom and pop independent restaurant.
And you’d better start working with them soon, or you’ll miss the next boat that’s coming sailing in: daddy bloggers.
By Amanda Baltazar