From the April 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

Q: How do I get concierges to recommend my restaurant to tourists?

A: It's essential to market your business to influential referral sources. Barry Potekin, who owns Gold Coast Dogs in Chicago-and who is featured in the book I wrote with Debbi J. Karpowicz, Off the Wall Marketing Ideas (Adams Media)-marketed to cabbies when money was tight. He'd take a cab around the corner and talk the driver's ear off about his restaurant. Potekin would tip the driver $5 and say, "The next time you're in [my part of] town, come in and have a hot dog on me." What a great way to spread the word about your eating establishment, considering how many cabbies picking up passengers from the airport are asked where to eat.

The lesson here is to cater to influential people-in your case, concierges. Bring them a desktop lunch, compliments of your restaurant. Host an after-hours event, and invite each concierge to bring a guest. People do business with people they know and trust. Create relationships with concierges by visiting them at their workplaces, inviting them to your "private" events, and continuing the conversation with correspondence (via thank-you notes, newsletters, postcards and so on). Find a way to track the number of responses or referrals so you can identify who sends you the most customers, and pay closer attention to those sources.


Nancy Michaels is president of ImpressionImpact.com, a marketing consulting company. Reach her at nmichaels@impressionimpact.com.