You may be thinking the little guy can’t make any real money in the restaurant business these days, but the world is full of multi-millionaire restaurant owners. And the really successful ones are spending very little on advertising. Copy their techniques and watch your restaurant turn around overnight. Here’s how.

There are two problems with most conventional advertising

#1. Most advertising programs are very expensive for the little guy.

#2. Worse than that, they don’t work.

Conventional advertising consist of radio, TV, newspaper and other print ads.

Most restaurant owners don’t know that their ads are not working. And if they ever track an ad and find out that it’s not working, the ad sales person will tell them that they need to run the ad more to make it work.

Conventional, “image advertising” may work for the large chains, but in most cases it is a total waste for independent restaurants.

(There are a few situations where print ads are profitable, i.e. resort areas, etc. This will be discussed in a future article, but if your restaurant is losing money, other measures should be done first as described below.)

If any ad rep tells you how great their ad will work for you, offer to pay them based on a percentage of the new business the ad brings in. I’ve never found an ad salesperson yet who would sell an ad with the price based on results.

If your restaurant is not making money, consider immediately stopping ALL image ads

This act alone will save you a lot of money and you may not see a noticeable decline in business if you did no advertising. Of course, you have to do some type of marketing because you are constantly losing customers. You have to have new customers to stay in business and grow.

The most cost effective way to get new customers is to do direct marketing. Start with what I call the three “M” type marketing. The three “M” words are. . .

Message, Market and Media

Your Message: “What would you say to someone to get them to come to your restaurant?”

Your Market: “Who would you tell this message to?” “Who is your potential customers?” A hint, they are probably like your existing customers. Find out where they live, what they do for a living and for fun. Find out as much as you can about your existing customers to find out who your most likely new customers will be.

Your Media: What media should you use to reach these new customers? I would suggest you try a direct mail campaign to your target market. Obviously conventional ads are not working, so you need to do something different. Here’s one last thing for you to consider:

Track it or trash it

Apply this one concept to ALL of your advertising expenses and your restaurant WILL be profitable.

This is the biggest secret of successful restaurant owners.

This simple process will quickly show you which advertising programs to drop. Eliminate the advertising money that is being wasted on ineffective advertising programs and the money will go straight to the bottom line.

Even more important, by eliminating the wasted advertising money, you will free up money for truly effective advertising.

Baseball managers and baseball fans are the only people who track statistics more than restaurant owners. Restaurant owners track everything . . . EXCEPT advertising campaign results.

Track ad results for only ONE day and you will know more about what’s working and what’s not working than 90% of your competitors.

Nothing you could do today could pay bigger dividends than personally asking every customer who comes in what convinced them to come to your restaurant today.

This is the first step to turning your restaurant around.

Jerry Minchey is an engineer, author, researcher and restaurant marketing consultant. He cuts through the hype and gets down to the bare facts to reveal secrets that are easy to understand using non-technical terms. He has written several books and produced DVDs as a results of his research. He is also the editor of the popular site,