When it comes to marketing, there are a lot of mediums that stress the importance of relevant targeting, but few that actually get it right. One industry in the midst of a complete overhaul is the Restaurant industry. Challenged by the introduction of several new players in an already saturated market, restaurant owners, investors as well as brands looking to connect with restaurant patrons have been left wondering which way to turn.

After activating a hyper-local expansion of the NextME app here in Chicago, we’ve been able to gain key insight into some of the questions that restaurant professionals have and built a product to address them. Here is what we learned.

Restaurants are a viable target for both Brands and Ad Agencies to target. Restaurants can also find great success through internal marketing methodology.

There is often a gap, however, between intention and execution. Although the intention of a scheduled promotion or brand initiative may be sound, focused, and otherwise fool-proof, we found that many promotions underperform based on an overestimation of the “incentive vs. required work”. This means that we’ve observed several campaigns overestimate the value of their offered incentive vs. the work required to receive it. Consumers don’t like to be low-balled, especially when it concerns their food and they don’t want to do tons of work or opt into spam in order to receive it.

There is an important correlation between “Restaurant classification” and viable internal marketing campaigns.

For example, a Fast Casual Restaurant wouldn’t seem like the best surface level target for a luxury watch line, but if we consider factors like the type of food, the price point, and brand focus, we might find enough of a correlation to develop a fruitful strategy. I say all this to explain that there is too often a lack of proper research done on both sides before activating internal marketing and cross-marketing campaigns.

The best time to target Restaurant Patrons is while they are waiting in Line.

Although wait times differ across categories like restaurant size, location, classification and more, at no other time is an individual more concerned with a restaurant, its food offerings and it’s associated partners.

So, in response to these findings, we positioned NextME to solve the wait-list debacle and subsequently re-align internal marketing for our entire restaurant inventory. NextME avoids traditional barriers by requiring no consumer download. When patrons enter a restaurant, a host places them onto the app’s wait-list using their name, phone number and other relevant information.

NextME then uses SMS messaging which allows the app to communicate with patrons cell-phones directly to share a customized link via text to their personal wait-list page that not only contains their wait time but menus, specials, partnered ads and more. We call this page the mobile marketing page and we’re currently getting an average of over 30 minutes of engagement from each patron.

We’ve gone through great lengths to simplify our platform so that restaurants can easily activate internal marketing campaigns and reach their patrons. We’ve also spent considerable time segmenting our existing restaurant inventory in a way that allows brands and agencies to pursue relevant targeting within restaurants themselves.

We are interested in having conversations about advertising within NextME’s restaurant inventory. Feel free to contact us via e-mail at info@nextmeapp.com with any questions, comments, or opportunities that you are interested in discussing. We are also porting the app to new industries. If you have appointments and walk-ins, we have the app to address your need for wait-list management and structured internal marketing. Learn more on our website.