Coasters Worth Much More Than The Cost

Coasters Worth Much More Than The Cost

Even as digital menu boards outshine paper menus and smoking bans snuff out requests for matchbooks, restaurateurs are finding that the need for printed materials never fully goes away. On the contrary, operators are putting dollars toward making sure business cards, coasters, stickers and other printed materials work harder to speak for the brand once they go out the door—and to get guests to return.

Coasters are the new matchbooks. Bon Appetit named branded coasters among its top 25 restaurant trends of 2014. More than just slapping on a logo, some operators are building full marketing programs around their coasters. At Leawood, Kan.-based Houlihan’s, for instance, coasters display clever, even edgy sayings (“Check out the glass on that coaster!”) that guests are sharing via social media.

The in-house creative team comes up with and releases new designs every few months. “We want [a mix of] different messages at the table,” says Jen Gulvik, SVP of marketing and creative director at the 77-unit chain. “That’s what creates conversation.”

To fuel the buzz, Houlihan’s occasionally posts coaster contests on its social media pages. A post this past Halloween that asked followers to help “dress up” its coaster with costume suggestions garnered more than 16,500 impressions on Twitter.

Printing only in black and white saves costs, Gulvik says, and Houlihan’s franchisees (60 percent of the system) see the value. “We’re building the marketing into the product,” Gulvik says. “The point is having messaging that entertains the guest while they’re with us. The ideal is that they like them enough to take pictures and share them.”

Written by Kelly Killian for Restaurant Business Online. Read the full article here.

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