Haddonfield Restaurant Week illustrates a key small business marketing tool

Mar 3, 2020

Today is the first day of the first Restaurant Week here in our hometown of Haddonfield. The concept of these types of events is simple – have multiple businesses work together to attract more customers to their area using special menus and events.

In Haddonfield, about two dozen restaurants are participating, which in and of itself serves to highlight all the various food establishments the relatively small borough has to offer. And that’s exactly the goal of promotions like restaurant week, which can be a signature tactic for small businesses to market themselves.

The concept of holding a weeklong, cross-promtional event like this is thought to have been started decades ago in New York City, although the effect was unintended.

“The original four-day event was created as a goodwill gesture to the 15,000 reporters coming to cover that year’s Democratic National Convention,” Tim Zagat, who co-developed the concept, later wrote in The Atlantic magazine. “Frankly, we thought it would be a short-term money loser but have long-term PR benefit for New York and the restaurant industry.”

However, the event actually boosted business. It enticed more visitors to come out, and the fixed prices – a staple of these events – also encouraged locals to try places they normally wouldn’t.

Word of the initial success has now spread throughout the country. Philadelphia started its restaurant week in 2003, and now communities throughout South Jersey have their own, from Collingswood to Atlantic City. 

The takeaway for other small business is simple – working with your perceived competitors can be beneficial to everyone if you’re working to promote the entire category of what you have to offer.

For restaurant week, it’s promoting the category of going out to eat in a certain area. There are many other examples of similar events, like Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday. The general principle is, if you feel like the pie you’re competing for with similar companies simply isn’t big enough, work together to grow the pie.

It’s proven successful for many small businesses, and it should always be a potential solution for growing companies that find themselves in a similar situation.

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