Chicago restaurant operator builds marketing list with cross-channel promotions

Liberal use of mobile text messaging with social media tie-ins has helped Lodge Management Group build its customer marketing list dramatically.

Lodge Management Group, which operates 11 restaurants, bars and food establishments in the Chicago area, used to rely on print flyers and word-of-mouth to share information about promotions or incentives. But the social Web, and especially text messaging, have helped it finetune its marketing initiatives over the past five years, said Matt Kubinski, marketing director for the group.

"You have to go where the audience is going," Kubinski said. "Every one of our establishments is a little different, but this has really helped us build personal relationships."

Lodge Management Group is a proponent of a cross-channel marketing platform from Signal, which combines mobile, social media and email marketing into a single dashboard. That allows Lodge Management Group and other small businesses using the platform to run promotions that are disseminated across multiple touch points. So, for example, an incentive coupon designed to get someone to sign up for a Facebook business page could be sent out via text message, via email and over Twitter.

An example of how Lodge Management Group has used these promotions is offered in the images below. The first shows the Facebook promotion, the second shows the text message people receive once they have subscribed to receive updates.

Kubinski said Lodge has seen a serious increase in responses to its mobile messaging over the past two years, when smartphones started becoming more widely used.

Although initially the Lodge Management Group managers focused on establishments where mobility was more likely to be a factor -- starting with the bars -- age is becoming less of a factor, Kubinski said. "More and more they are getting on board. Grandparents have Facebook, so this has shifted quite a bit," he said.

Still, Signal gives Lodge Management Group the flexibility to choose what makes sense; each establishment drives its owns campaigns.

Lodge Management Group still investments in some print-based marketing, but whenever it does, it uses QR codes copiously so that people responding to calls for action are driven back to the company's social media and Web presence. Since starting to use Signal, Lodge Management Group has seen a 30 percent increase in its marketing subscription list. Kubinski said the company's highest response rates are historically tied to its text message campaigns.