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What happens when you forget the gooey?

“What happened?” “I was there last week.” “I loved the food.” These are a few of the reactions that surfaced on social media after a local restaurant closed.

When this happens, I can’t help but wonder where things went wrong. News reports suggest the restaurant couldn’t get enough business in the off season. And, business on Sunday – Thursday struggled as well.

Based on the news reports, let’s assume the biggest problem Willie Ty’s faced was traffic. And, with more traffic the restaurant would still be delighting customers today. Most of the time, traffic is a marketing issue. So, what went wrong? Let’s take a closer look.

Your message gets lost in the crowded marketplace

The best restaurants stand for something. It might be the crazy decorations, a signature dish, bad service on purpose, or a unique style. For Willie Ty’s, it was their stuffed burgers. Cheese stuffed into the middle of the burger so it oozed delight with every bite.

Sure, plenty of other bar and grills serve burgers. There’s no shortage of places to get a burger in our city. But, very few offer a line of stuffed burgers. And, it’s what drew my family to give the restaurant a try when it first opened.

The @GooeyLouey handle is further proof this burger was the restaurant’s signature item. But, when you look at the restaurant’s Facebook page, the burger isn’t front and center. There wasn’t an image of a stuffed burger in sight. And, making things worse, images of any menu items are scarce.

Without the reminder of the stuffed burger, the restaurant becomes one of many places to get pub grub. And, there’s no visual reminder why I want to go out of my way to get my comfort food here. Traffic plateaus or declines. The restaurant struggles, suffers, and ends up closing its doors.

The restaurant's social media
The key visuals you see when visiting the Facebook page. People process images 40 - 60 times faster than text. Uploading images of text fail to tell a story, showcase what you sell (in this case the pub grub), or engage an audience.

3 simple changes to keep the gooey oozing

Improving the effectiveness of the restaurant’s marketing wouldn’t have been hard. With a little effort, better marketing might have made all the difference.

Embrace your “Gooey Louie”
Remember, you’ll almost always tire of a signature product before your customer. Keep anchoring marketing efforts with the products that drive orders and sales. Change the restaurant’s Facebook banner to show one or more stuffed burgers with oozing cheese. Even consider a tagline like “home of the Gooey Louey and 13 other cheese-stuffed burgers.”

Build a gooey factor into everything you do
There’s nothing wrong with an expanded menu. Not everyone in a party wants a stuffed burger. But, the restaurant missed the opportunity to extend their gooeyness to other categories. Instead of Griddles, could they become Gooey Griddles? What kind of gooey dessert could anchor the dessert offerings — perhaps a s’mores-inspired dish? Not every dish needs to be gooey. But, dishes for each category might cement the restaurant as the gooey goodness place.

Tantalize the taste buds
Show me! Take pictures of the dishes. Not only does a picture make more mouths water than text, a picture posts perform better on Facebook. And, if showing extended product offers, use the text to remind me of the gooey. Say you want to show a salad. Write copy to read “Not in the mood for a burger oozing with cheesy delight? No problem. Tickle your taste buds with our Busted BLT salad.”

Did Willie Ty’s need to do more than these three things to survive? It’s likely. Themed nights might have helped. A strategic alliance with a brewery might have drawn another crowd. Or, creating specials offered only on days when traffic was light. 

But without the gooey factor, those attempts might have got lost in the noise. The gooey is the foundation for the restaurant’s brand. The events or specials nudge people to take action. Take a look at your marketing. And, ask yourself, have you lost your gooey?

Need an unbiased viewpoint on whether your marketing needs a tune up? A marketing audit helps you discover small tweaks you can make to tell a better story, get more customers and increase sales.

What happens when you forget the gooey? 1
Compare the top Facebook banner (the original) to a quick mock-up showing pictures of the burgers served. Which one immediately tells a story?
What happens when you forget the gooey? 2
Use data. Scroll far enough. You can find posts showcasing visuals. Almost all had more reactions than the visuals of the menu specials. This tells a better story.

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