Small restaurants turn to e-mail to promote Valentine's Day specials

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Clients of MustHaveMenus, an online marketing service for small restaurants, are using e-mail through this month and February to promote specials and dinners for Valentine's Day to local customers.

MustHaveMenus partnered with e-mail marketing firm Constant Contact last December and integrated its e-mail platform at the beginning of this month. Since then, 33 of its clients have added the platform for e-mail distribution. MustHaveMenus has tailored special e-mail assets, such as background art and borders, for companies in the food service industry.

“It is harder for smaller restaurants in the bad economy,” said Erin Martin, online editor and site manager of MustHaveMenus.com. “After surveying our clients, we found that many were still spending money on phone book and newspaper ads, which are very expensive. We are giving our clients another tool to help get the word out that is more cost effective.”

Martin added that MustHaveMenus clients are using e-mail for both customer retention and acquisition.

“They are using it right off the bat to appeal to their most loyal customers to tell them about new menus and remind them to visit again,” added Martin.

To build their lists, the restaurants are capturing e-mail addresses on their Web sites as well as asking customers for them on suggestion cards.

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