Wednesday, July 1, 2009

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Social-media and other online marketing may be all the rage for restaurant chains right now. But when Red Robin wanted to generate some buzz for a limited-time promotional product, it decided the Old Media approach of a coupon drop would work just fine. And it bet right.

Coupons were sent to 5,000 households within a three-mile radius of participating company-run restaurants, chief marketing officer Susan Lintonsmith explained to financial analysts during a call. The call was held in late May, but a transcript wasn’t released by the financial site until this morning.

The coupons entitled the recipient to a $3 discount on Red Robins’ Burning Love Burger, a spiced-up sandwich served with Jalapeno Coins, a side made from the spicy peppers. The item was touted as a limited-time item. Translation: Get it while you can.

About 8% of the recipients used the coupon, “Which is significantly higher than what is typical for these type of mailings,” Lintonsmith said. She noted that the targeted mailing was complemented with online advertising, including banner ads and videos.

The acceptance prompted Red Robin to add the Burning Love as a permanent offering last month.

The mall-based chain switched its promotional focus to sliders last month. The key marketing components were 15-second cable spots—and another coupon drop.

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