I’ve always had a passion for food, so it’s no surprise I get so much joy out of representing restaurants, not to mention some of the best in New Orleans. So, when asked to write about restaurant marketing ideas, it made me think back on my love for food and where it began.
Growing up, some of the best quality time with my family was spent at the dinner table, enjoying a delicious meal. To this day, the same can be said for time spent with loved ones and friends, except now it involves a nice glass of wine (cheers!).
Taste, like smell, can spark strong emotions in people. Most of the time, it’s fond memories, like tasting a pie that reminds you of grandma or simply having a meal that reminds you of quality time with your family.
Which reminds me of a story. A few years ago, I was traveling home to Houston to spend Thanksgiving with my family. One of my restaurant clients – Arnaud’s – offered to send me home with a pie for me and my family to enjoy, which I kindly accepted (duh!). I kept that beautiful pie, inside an equally beautiful Arnaud’s-branded box, by my side the entire trip, careful not to lose sight of it through the security belt.
Now, I fancy myself a creative marketer, having been in the business for over 10 years. But boy, did I underestimate the power of walking through a busy airport with a pie. Everyone was commenting on the delicious treat. From bystanders joking around about stealing it from me – they’d have to tear it from my cold, dead hands – to airplane passengers offering to give me the “good” seat in place of the pie, it was quite the conversation starter. Of course, I took every opportunity to do my PR thing and plug Arnaud’s, you know, the nearly century-old, Creole dining institute located in the French Quarter (check!).
It made me realize that sometimes, it’s the simplest, most unexpected gesture that can elicit emotion. And food is one of the greatest tools for restaurant marketers to appeal to consumers. It’s about driving that connection between the consumer and why they love a particular restaurant or why they should consider a restaurant to visit.
Arnaud’s is just a restaurant at its most basic level, but it’s the old-time charm of the place, the feeling like you’re stepping back in time, the age and legacy of it, the family owners (that make you feel like family), and the exceptional food, drink and hospitality they have become synonymous for, for which people recognized Arnaud’s box in the airport. For those who may not have known about Arnaud’s, curiosity and imagination were the emotions that drove their interest in the mysterious, yet familiar box.
I would imagine most of the people I encountered in the airport that day have fond memories of enjoying meals with family on Thanksgiving Day, over laughter (and lots of pie!). This year, as I plan for my trip to visit family this Thanksgiving, I’ll have to add mini pies to my list of things to pack, so I can pass them out for all to enjoy…topped with an Arnaud’s sticker, of course!
Do you have a fond food memory? Share your favorite foody moments by tweeting us at @DEVENEYMKTG.