How a Distributor Earned Repeat Business in the Bar & Restaurant Vertical
If the way to a heart is through the stomach, Atlanta’s culinary scene has plenty of options that will make the toughest critic fall in love. Just ask Lanelle Henderson, who has been serving up marketing campaigns for members of the local restaurant and bar sector for years. The chief marketing officer of Atlanta-based Oh Nellie Promos is too polite to name a favorite, but a repeat client that manages and operates over 40 restaurant brands in airports across the nation stands out to her.
Before COVID-19 brought sizable outdoor events to a grinding halt, Henderson worked on the Taste of Hartsfield-Jackson, a premier food festival showcasing the diversity of dining options at the world’s busiest airport. The one-day event, typically held in October, features “tastes” from 30-plus eateries, including quick-service restaurants, chef-driven concepts and popular homegrown options, as well as live music. For this event, Henderson provided marketing and branding for LowCountry Restaurants by Chef G. Garvin, an acclaimed chef, cookbook author, James Beard nominee and former host of the long-running cooking show, “Turn Up the Heat with G. Garvin.”
Here, Henderson explains the thought process behind the campaign.
What items were featured in this promotion, and what influenced that decision?
Lanelle Henderson: The featured items were banners, napkins, utensils, bottled water and printed material. This was a fairly brand-new restaurant to the airport on the main concourse, Concourse A. Chef Garvin was a new brand partner for my client. He needed more exposure to his New Southern Cuisine and awareness on the main concourse.
How was this a profitable promotion for your company? For your client?
LH: The event was a success and the client was happy with the items. Great PR exposure developed from the event. The materials we designed opened more opportunities to create ideas for their other restaurant brands in their portfolio. We also received consistent reorders on the promotional materials. The client has continuously been satisfied with our ideas and contacts us for out-of-the-box pieces for all their events, launches, fairs and sponsored programs.
Did you encounter any challenges with this particular promotion? If so, how did you overcome them?
LH: Overall, the project went smoothly except for one challenge—the delivery of the custom water bottles. UPS had them on a truck that would not deliver in time for the event. I had to beg the staff to find the truck and search for the order. The client had an employee go to the distribution center to retrieve the water bottles. It took a lot of negotiating because the distribution location was closed, but thank goodness a manager on duty was willing to work with us to find the shipment and allow the employee to collect the items.
Do you have any advice for your peers attempting a similar promotion in the restaurant and bar market?
LH: I always recommend my clients to order early. Sometimes, they think of promos at the last minute and pay exorbitant fees for rush and delivery charges. We use email marketing campaigns to remind them about upcoming projects and ideas. This has helped tremendously. We like to be included in the planning process, so when they receive a campaign it will usually spark a project they are working on or something coming up soon.
Is there anything you would like to add?
LH: We gained their business by attending a college fair in 2013 and gave out hand sanitizer, lip balms and mints. They have been my best client and loyal, which has kept me quite busy over the years. Since food and beverage play a big part in everything we do, I say, keep them impressed, over deliver and stay creative. It’s a competitive market, and the most unique ideas and best service win!