The Napoleon on Your Staff: Your Miniature Menu
Whether you call it a miniature menu or mini for, er, short, and whether you use it as a carryout or to-go menu, this little dandy can perform an over-sized marketing role for you.
What a miniature menu is
A miniature menu is simply that—a reduced-sized versions of your tabletop menu. It is designed to go with your customers wherever they go. “Small and mighty,” your miniature menu is easily tucked into a customer’s pocket or purse. It can be posted on the refrigerator or at the office for reference when calling in a take-out order or deciding where to eat out tonight. It showcases your menu items and performs many of the functions of your traditional in-house menu, while serving as an easily visible reminder of all you have to offer.
Where miniature menus fit
Your miniature menus support your overall menu marketing strategy, which may include a dinner and lunch menu, breakfast menu, drinks and dessert menu, late-night menu, and/or specialty menus (think gluten-free items, seasonal specialties, featured menu creations, and more). They do not take the place of your website or your online menu presence. Instead they serve alongside all of these, and fill their own marketing niche.
What miniature menus do
You send your “Little General” into the field to represent your restaurant and to inspire sales through both in-store visits and carry-out orders. It acts as a physical presence. It is a printed piece customers and potential guests can hold in their hands, share with friends and family, and keep on file to refer to at a later time.
Add a coupon to extend your reach
One way to encourage return visits and increase your sales volume is to add a promotional coupon to your miniature menu. Take a look at your traffic and sales figures and decide what you’d like to promote. For example, if Tuesdays are an especially slow day for you, include a coupon printed with your miniature menu that is valid for a Tuesdays-only discount. Or include a coupon for a free kid’s meal on any Tuesday with purchase of an adult entrée. Test your offers to see which work better for you—gauge the popularity of a given offer by counting the number of coupons returned to you.
How to use your miniature menus
Look for as many ways as possible to distribute these cost-effective marketing materials to current and potential customers. Start with in-house with displays on open counters, bars and at check-out. When a customer asks for a to-go container, include a miniature menu in the bag. Include one with each take-out order, as well.
Distribute your miniature menus around town: hotel lobbies, transportation centers, tourist attractions, convention centers, the chamber of commerce, the visitor and convention bureau and other high-traffic locations. Visit nearby factories, businesses, colleges and other workplaces and ask about leaving copies of your carryout menus there. Some restaurateurs contract with their local newspaper to insert their miniature menus in the Sunday paper.
Do all you can to get the word out. Think of it as sending your little generals out into the field. Chaaaaaaarge!