The power of context

30Jun08

Most restaurants don’t put much thought into how the check is presented. Sometimes they’ll include a survey or a coupon for a future visit, but just as frequently, this opportunity to convey valuable messages is squandered. So, I was pretty surprised to see a very clever ad included along with my check at a local restaurant.

The ad was designed to promote loft apartments in the area, but with a few twists. First, the copy addressed the reader by talking about the meal they just enjoyed at the restaurant, clearly showing it wasn’t a generic, one-size-fits-all insert. Second, it emphasized that the lofts were located really close to the restaurant, and offered a $20 gift certificate for stopping by that day. Together, these elements took the seemingly unrelated events of dining at a restaurant and shopping for a new home, and brought them together by using the restaurant’s location as the shared context.

There’s probably no reason to believe that people who dine at this restaurant are qualified to afford a home at the advertised development. However, there’s a pretty good chance that some of them know about the surrounding area, and some subset of those people would like to live there. By making it clear that the lofts are close to the restaurant and providing an incentive to visit the sales office, the advertiser has given prospects a clear way to indicate their interest. In the process, they avoid blasting their message across a wider and less-targeted area, reducing customer acquisition costs as well.



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