How a Strong Marketing Campaign Can Create a Buzz and Boost Your Business
Burger Challenge 2015
Did you know that August is known for being the slowest month in the restaurant industry? While most restaurants simply accept the summer slump as the norm, the McGuire Moorman Hospitality group choose not to wait for business to come to them but to take matters into their own hands. Last month, they organized and executed an incredible marketing challenge that knocked it out of the park in every way imaginable.
*McGuire Moorman Hospitality (MMH), owner of six premiere restaurants in Austin, challenged the community to:
- Eat 6 burgers at six of their restaurants within the month of August and receive a $50 gift card
- Eat 6 burgers at of their six restaurants within one week and receive a $250.00 gift card
Since we eat out often anyway, my friend and I decided to participate in the challenge, figuring it would compel us to try places we haven’t been before. The prize of a $250 gift certificate for completing the challenge within seven days certainly sweetened the pot.
Day 1: Elizabeth Street Cafe
The first day of the challenge began like any other day. I joined my friend Kelly for lunch at Elizabeth Street Cafe, one of my favorite local restaurants which I blogged about in a previous post. It was difficult for me not to order for my typical lunch – the spring rolls and Bahn Mi. (I am such a creature of habit!) But I quickly reminded myself that I was committed to this challenge and would do whatever it took to see it through to the bitter end.
Immediately upon arrival, I noticed an abundance of ambitious guests dining there. The presentation of the burger was on point. Instead of your usual cheese slice on top of the burger, there was a slice of ham, which made for an interesting twist on this traditional American staple. For presentation purposes, the burger was topped with a fancy shrimp chip. All in all, the burger was pretty good, but the patty was a little small (and slightly overcooked) for my liking. Despite the fact that all of my friends ranked this burger highly, it ultimately ended up being my least favorite burger of the challenge.
Day 2: Clark’s Oyster Bar
The original plan for day two was to try the burger at Josephine House. However, when we arrived, the restaurant was already jam-packed with a huge swarm of determined burger challenge participants. It was so busy that Kelly and I were actually turned away, which was even more incredible given that August is traditionally the slowest month for dining. The burger challenge was clearly a brilliant marketing strategy that was working. It was recommended that we make reservations for the rest of our challenge days to avoid being turned away again. With that, we hopped in the car and headed to the next stop on our list, Clark’s.
This was my first time eating at Clark’s and they definitely did not disappoint. The burger was fantastic-an all beef patty, cooked to perfection, and topped with just the right amount of melted cheese. (I am slightly mortified to admit this, but I even opted to add bacon and a side of fries to my meal.) It was a great Saturday afternoon of alfresco dining complete with burgers and cocktails. We had a chance to chat with one of the servers about how popular this challenge had become, and he reported that they had already given away $100,000 in gift certificates. We also struck up conversation with a nice family sitting next to us and basically sold them on the burger challenge too.
Day 3: Lamberts Downtown Barbecue
By the halfway point of the week, this burger contest had really started to take a toll on my digestive system. Multiple times, I thought to myself that I would be too full (and bloated) to continue, but I stayed the course and remained committed. Next stop, Lamberts. By the time we sat down for lunch and my burger arrived, I had fully recovered and was eager to judge the next burger. This one was perfectly cooked and topped with delicious melted cheese and BBQ sauce as an added (and regionally appropriate) bonus. The side of fries and a fresh pickle spear rounded out an already fantastic meal.
Day 4: Jeffrey’s
Ah, Jeffrey’s. This one really puts the gourmet in the term ‘gourmet burgers.’ Jeffrey’s is among the ranks of top restaurants in the country, and their burger was no exception. As expected, it did not come cheap. When I walked into this restaurant, I couldn’t help but to notice the burger challenge scene. The crowd consisted primarily of young ambitious professionals, putting the same amount of effort and enthusiasm into this competition as they do into everything else in life. The competition was a great way to connect people in the community and also made for easy conversation and a natural ice breaker as we waited to be seated. All around the room people were mingling and bonding over the challenge experience. (I had multiple conversations based upon the question of “How many burgers have you tried so far?”)
Day 5: Perla’s
On day five of the burger challenge, I purposely waited until the end of the day so that I actually had an appetite. By 8:00 pm, I was getting pretty hungry and finally ready for my next burger. My friend and her husband joined me (and my pup Cody) for the next round in the burger challenge.
I have been to Perla’s for brunch, but never for dinner and I absolutely love this spot. String lights and cool music add ambiance to this restaurant, which is also located on my favorite street in Austin (Congress Avenue.) I ordered burger #5 with my fave side: Brussels sprouts. When it arrived, I was shocked to see that the burger was a double stacked.
“What!?” I thought. I sipped my wine and split my burger right down the middle. Without any hesitation, I finished one half and called it a day. (Thankfully, the challenge did not require you to finish the entire burger-Thank God!) This was the first time since beginning the challenge that I didn’t finish my entire meal, but since it was was double stacked, I say it counts as a full burger. Cody even had a taste, and he approved as well! Perlas is definitely a spot I plan on visiting frequently in the future. Way to go McGuire Moorman Hospitality!
Day 6: Josephine House (The Final Burger)
The Josephine House (where the final day of the challenge took place) ended up being one of the most challenging places to get a table. I met my friend Kelly and her parents, and we set out to eat our final burger and finish the challenge.
The burger was amazing and felt I so proud of finally accomplishing what I set out to achieve! (My parents should be so proud.)
What I learned through this creative challenge:
- Business will not come to you; you must actively seek it.
- There is nothing more valuable than a strong marketing campaign to get people excited about your product or your service.
- Activities such as this can really strengthen a community. I found several new friendships with fellow challenge participants while dining at each location.
Within the first two weeks of the challenge, it was said that MMH gave out over $100,000 dollars worth of gift certificates to their restaurants. While I’m not sure what the total Return On Investment ended up being for this particular campaign, I imagine that it was pretty significant. I think that the concept behind this challenge was an amazing marketing technique and something that people in various industries can learn a thing or two from.
Oh and they were all so delicious but in my opinion Jeffreys had the best burger!