How can your business attract more "virgins"?

Most consumers are resistant to change. They find a product, a restaurant, or a vendor that they like and then stand by them, shunning the new guy on the block. But, would people be willing to give the newbie a try if they could do it for free? That's what Southern California restaurant chain The Veggie Grill is hoping.

This week, The Veggie Grill sponsored a "Virgin Night". Anyone who's been to the restaurant before was invited to bring someone to the diner for dinner who hasn't eaten there before. The veteran pays for his/her meal and the "virgin" gets any entree they want for free! No strings attached.

The Veggie Grill has an amazing assortment of vegetarian and vegan fare. Veggie steak strip sandwiches and veggie crispy chicken, salads, wraps, and more. The food is delicious, but many folks are hesitant to try fake meat. Hence, the "virgin" promotion. (Interesting fact: According to VG's Twitter feed, about 90% of its customers are meat eaters!)

I'm a huge fan of The Veggie Grill, so I brought a friend in for Virgin Night. She was curious about the place, but would have never gone on her own. Well, after she indulged in the Santa Fe Crispy Chicken Sandwich she was hooked! All it took was the incentive to try the food for free and now she's excited about going back on her own to try the other burgers on the menu. Sure, The Veggie Grill took a loss on the meal, but its gained an excited new customer.

As you look at your business, is there something you can do to expose more people to your product or service? Are there potential customers out there who just need to see, touch, or taste what you have to offer to convince them how great you are? Think about it. Sometimes, you just need to put it all out there and take away any objections a potential customer could have.

Undoubtedly, The Veggie Grill acquired some new fans with its Virgin Night promotion. People who just needed to taste the food to believe the hype. Can you reach out to people in a similar way?

37 comments:

  1. Okay...the first thing I have to say is ...mmmmm mmmmMMMM MMMMMM

    This post really made my mouth water (although I KNOW that was not exactly the point).

    Now to the point...this is a really GREAT idea...I would totally have no problem trying a new place out especially if it's free. It must work...just ask Costco that gives out free food all day during the week.

    The one thing I was curious about though was how do they know the "Virgin" from a Non? Was there a special coupon or something? Or did they just rely on your word? or Words....done WRITE of course .

    I would imagine that they probably know you very well...but what if you were someone who is not as regular...they might also be able to get in on the deal as virgins no? Just wondering.

    I would think this would be a wonderful ongoing program they could do where they offer a special coupon, with the same deal, to certain recognizable customers. THEN you could give it to your friend to use at any time...including going out to dinner with you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Rachel! Oh, your mouth should water. The food is incredible. Sure to satisfy any meat eater.

    As for knowing the veteran and identifying people as virgins, The Veggie Grill takes people at their word. The company is very engaged on Facebook and Twitter and understands the power of the public.

    If you ever come to California, let me know and I'll take you there. I promise you shant be disappointed.

    As for Costco and its samples, well, I can't tell you how many things I've bought because I got to try them first. Tasting is believing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ok, there were so many directions I could have gone off on with this but you are probably wanting something at least semi-serious for once so I will try very hard to stay on topic and not be such a goof ball.

    I think it was a great promotional idea. I too get locked in the 2-3 regular establishments and sometimes don't give the 'new' guys even a try. However, I'm thinking it's going to take more than one night to drive enough traffic to make a difference. That's just my opinion and not based on anything else.

    I also think the restaurant business is tough enough so will their narrow focus allow for enough sustainable traffic to make it? Of course that is the magic question for them all.

    In any field that has a lot of options how do you cut through the clutter to get people out of their routine? And when you do, is your offering something that will WOW them and make them come back for more?

    Finally, how can you do this w/out being gimmicky, or is gimmicky ok as long as you can create an initial diversion in the stream going away from you, your business, or your product?

    How's that, not too bad I don't think? BTW if you have ever read the book 'Eat for Your Body Type' I am O+ and true to form. My wife would love Veggie Grill and because I do love to eat, I'm sure I would find something to satisfy my insatiable appetite.

    Thanks for sharing today and I hope you have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I learned a long time ago to offer a "bozo" which is something "any bozo can sell" to break the ice with a new customer. It can be a product or service priced below your other offerings that they're more willing to try!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bozo, eh? I'm a big fan of the BOGO (buy one get one), but can't say I've ever heard of a bozo. As long as the seller is the bozo and not the consumer, I suppose that's alright ;-)

    But, yes, I agree with you! A free or discounted incentive is always a good motivator. It's a wise investment and can expose you to a whole crop of new customers. Indeedy!

    Thanks for sharing your personal insight on the subject, Mike!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Bill, I believe they've offered the Virgin Night promotion a few times. As for things being gimmicky, I personally have no aversion to that as long as it's offering me something worthwhile. And being able to introduce someone to one of my favorite places for free is definitely a big deal to me.

    No, I haven't read that book. I'm a vegetarian, so I'm sure whatever they say is not likely to match my personal choices. But, if you're an O+ in the book, I can't help but to wonder if that's your blood type, too. Wouldn't that be handy???? ;-)

    Ship your wife off to me next time there's a Virgin Night promotion. I'll bring her along as my plus-one!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Snoring Dog StudioApril 23, 2011 at 7:09 AM

    Excellent post. I need a bit of a kick to do what you recommend - I've got to find better, more innovative ways to let people know about my art. I think I've relied too much on my blog and my Twitter feed. Thank you for this food for thought!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I don't know how long it typically takes you to paint a picture, but what about charity events where you paint on-site and let them auction the painting. The charity makes money and you gain exposure......just a thought.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Food" for thought? Is that a pun on my Veggie Grill example? ;-)

    Social media is a great way to supplement marketing efforts, but art is something unique and magical that sometimes loses its luster when it's on a computer screen.

    I think Bill's example below is interesting. Is there a way you can involve people in your process? If not in person, maybe via video you post online (so it's not static)? Your watercolors are really beautiful and I'm sure I'm even seeing half the detail of them.

    Get that thinking cap on, Jean! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Snoring Dog StudioApril 23, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    I've thought of doing a simple demo but I'm not sure how to make it interesting enough. I need a shtick like Julia Child - perhaps I could imitate her voice? I've also thought about a give away idea. Still mulling it over - your words about involving people in the process are intriguing. Thank you as always, Amber!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Snoring Dog StudioApril 23, 2011 at 7:27 PM

    I've done the auction thing, yes - and it was successful. I do think I need to get my work in front of the public though - online just isn't enought. Thank you, Bill!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hey Rachel! Oh, your mouth should water. The food is incredible. Sure to satisfy any meat eater.

    As for knowing the veteran and identifying people as virgins, The Veggie Grill takes people at their word. The company is very engaged on Facebook and Twitter and understands the power of the public.

    If you ever come to California, let me know and I'll take you there. I promise you shant be disappointed.

    As for Costco and its samples, well, I can't tell you how many things I've bought because I got to try them first. Tasting is believing!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Okay...the first thing I have to say is ...mmmmm mmmmMMMM MMMMMM

    This post really made my mouth water (although I KNOW that was not exactly the point).

    Now to the point...this is a really GREAT idea...I would totally have no problem trying a new place out especially if it's free. It must work...just ask Costco that gives out free food all day during the week.

    The one thing I was curious about though was how do they know the "Virgin" from a Non? Was there a special coupon or something? Or did they just rely on your word? or Words....done WRITE of course .

    I would imagine that they probably know you very well...but what if you were someone who is not as regular...they might also be able to get in on the deal as virgins no? Just wondering.

    I would think this would be a wonderful ongoing program they could do where they offer a special coupon, with the same deal, to certain recognizable customers. THEN you could give it to your friend to use at any time...including going out to dinner with you.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Ok, there were so many directions I could have gone off on with this but you are probably wanting something at least semi-serious for once so I will try very hard to stay on topic and not be such a goof ball.

    I think it was a great promotional idea. I too get locked in the 2-3 regular establishments and sometimes don't give the 'new' guys even a try. However, I'm thinking it's going to take more than one night to drive enough traffic to make a difference. That's just my opinion and not based on anything else.

    I also think the restaurant business is tough enough so will their narrow focus allow for enough sustainable traffic to make it? Of course that is the magic question for them all.

    In any field that has a lot of options how do you cut through the clutter to get people out of their routine? And when you do, is your offering something that will WOW them and make them come back for more?

    Finally, how can you do this w/out being gimmicky, or is gimmicky ok as long as you can create an initial diversion in the stream going away from you, your business, or your product?

    How's that, not too bad I don't think? BTW if you have ever read the book 'Eat for Your Body Type' I am O+ and true to form. My wife would love Veggie Grill and because I do love to eat, I'm sure I would find something to satisfy my insatiable appetite.

    Thanks for sharing today and I hope you have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I learned a long time ago to offer a "bozo" which is something "any bozo can sell" to break the ice with a new customer. It can be a product or service priced below your other offerings that they're more willing to try!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Bozo, eh? I'm a big fan of the BOGO (buy one get one), but can't say I've ever heard of a bozo. As long as the seller is the bozo and not the consumer, I suppose that's alright ;-)

    But, yes, I agree with you! A free or discounted incentive is always a good motivator. It's a wise investment and can expose you to a whole crop of new customers. Indeedy!

    Thanks for sharing your personal insight on the subject, Mike!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Bill, I believe they've offered the Virgin Night promotion a few times. As for things being gimmicky, I personally have no aversion to that as long as it's offering me something worthwhile. And being able to introduce someone to one of my favorite places for free is definitely a big deal to me.

    No, I haven't read that book. I'm a vegetarian, so I'm sure whatever they say is not likely to match my personal choices. But, if you're an O+ in the book, I can't help but to wonder if that's your blood type, too. Wouldn't that be handy???? ;-)

    Ship your wife off to me next time there's a Virgin Night promotion. I'll bring her along as my plus-one!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Snoring Dog StudioApril 25, 2011 at 11:55 PM

    Excellent post. I need a bit of a kick to do what you recommend - I've got to find better, more innovative ways to let people know about my art. I think I've relied too much on my blog and my Twitter feed. Thank you for this food for thought!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I don't know how long it typically takes you to paint a picture, but what about charity events where you paint on-site and let them auction the painting. The charity makes money and you gain exposure......just a thought.

    ReplyDelete
  20. "Food" for thought? Is that a pun on my Veggie Grill example? ;-)

    Social media is a great way to supplement marketing efforts, but art is something unique and magical that sometimes loses its luster when it's on a computer screen.

    I think Bill's example below is interesting. Is there a way you can involve people in your process? If not in person, maybe via video you post online (so it's not static)? Your watercolors are really beautiful and I'm sure I'm only seeing half the detail of them (I especially love "Pigs Will Fly and So Will I".

    Get that thinking cap on, Jean! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Snoring Dog StudioApril 25, 2011 at 11:55 PM

    I've thought of doing a simple demo but I'm not sure how to make it interesting enough. I need a shtick like Julia Child - perhaps I could imitate her voice? I've also thought about a give away idea. Still mulling it over - your words about involving people in the process are intriguing. Thank you as always, Amber!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Snoring Dog StudioApril 25, 2011 at 11:55 PM

    I've done the auction thing, yes - and it was successful. I do think I need to get my work in front of the public though - online just isn't enought. Thank you, Bill!

    ReplyDelete
  23. YUM! Veggie Grill sounds amazing...and their marketing approach wasn't all bad either. I work with a restaurant and the owner's 'incentive' is a $2 special most days of the week. And they're not tiny specials, they're yummy and filling, but they keep the customers coming back each week. It's awesome. She gives things away when she sees a long-term benefit, but always with a careful eye towards cost-benefit and how much the restaurant has to pay up front to get the new clients. The goal is of course to convert those folks into long term aficionados. Let's hope Veggie Grill has some long-term converts!

    So, how do I apply that? Good question, Amber! I always give a little bit 'up front' in the get to know you meetings, just so the potential client has some idea of what they're getting and my abilities. I also direct them to my blog, client examples of work, and then take them out to eat a veggie burger. : )

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think restaurants are in a unique position. It's so competitive that I think it's foolish not to experiment with promotions and special offers. As for long term converts, I don't have the stats but I know my virgin is going back for sure.

    As for your potential clients, they'd be lucky to get you! Veggie burger or not. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  25. Snoring Dog StudioApril 27, 2011 at 11:32 PM

    I've done the auction thing, yes - and it was successful. I do think I need to get my work in front of the public though - online just isn't enought. Thank you, Bill!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Snoring Dog StudioApril 27, 2011 at 11:32 PM

    I've thought of doing a simple demo but I'm not sure how to make it interesting enough. I need a shtick like Julia Child - perhaps I could imitate her voice? I've also thought about a give away idea. Still mulling it over - your words about involving people in the process are intriguing. Thank you as always, Amber!

    ReplyDelete
  27. "Food" for thought? Is that a pun on my Veggie Grill example? ;-)

    Social media is a great way to supplement marketing efforts, but art is something unique and magical that sometimes loses its luster when it's on a computer screen.

    I think Bill's example below is interesting. Is there a way you can involve people in your process? If not in person, maybe via video you post online (so it's not static)? Your watercolors are really beautiful and I'm sure I'm only seeing half the detail of them (I especially love "Pigs Will Fly and So Will I".

    Get that thinking cap on, Jean! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  28. I don't know how long it typically takes you to paint a picture, but what about charity events where you paint on-site and let them auction the painting. The charity makes money and you gain exposure......just a thought.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Snoring Dog StudioApril 27, 2011 at 11:32 PM

    Excellent post. I need a bit of a kick to do what you recommend - I've got to find better, more innovative ways to let people know about my art. I think I've relied too much on my blog and my Twitter feed. Thank you for this food for thought!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Bill, I believe they've offered the Virgin Night promotion a few times. As for things being gimmicky, I personally have no aversion to that as long as it's offering me something worthwhile. And being able to introduce someone to one of my favorite places for free is definitely a big deal to me.

    No, I haven't read that book. I'm a vegetarian, so I'm sure whatever they say is not likely to match my personal choices. But, if you're an O+ in the book, I can't help but to wonder if that's your blood type, too. Wouldn't that be handy???? ;-)

    Ship your wife off to me next time there's a Virgin Night promotion. I'll bring her along as my plus-one!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Bozo, eh? I'm a big fan of the BOGO (buy one get one), but can't say I've ever heard of a bozo. As long as the seller is the bozo and not the consumer, I suppose that's alright ;-)

    But, yes, I agree with you! A free or discounted incentive is always a good motivator. It's a wise investment and can expose you to a whole crop of new customers. Indeedy!

    Thanks for sharing your personal insight on the subject, Mike!

    ReplyDelete
  32. I learned a long time ago to offer a "bozo" which is something "any bozo can sell" to break the ice with a new customer. It can be a product or service priced below your other offerings that they're more willing to try!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Ok, there were so many directions I could have gone off on with this but you are probably wanting something at least semi-serious for once so I will try very hard to stay on topic and not be such a goof ball.

    I think it was a great promotional idea. I too get locked in the 2-3 regular establishments and sometimes don't give the 'new' guys even a try. However, I'm thinking it's going to take more than one night to drive enough traffic to make a difference. That's just my opinion and not based on anything else.

    I also think the restaurant business is tough enough so will their narrow focus allow for enough sustainable traffic to make it? Of course that is the magic question for them all.

    In any field that has a lot of options how do you cut through the clutter to get people out of their routine? And when you do, is your offering something that will WOW them and make them come back for more?

    Finally, how can you do this w/out being gimmicky, or is gimmicky ok as long as you can create an initial diversion in the stream going away from you, your business, or your product?

    How's that, not too bad I don't think? BTW if you have ever read the book 'Eat for Your Body Type' I am O+ and true to form. My wife would love Veggie Grill and because I do love to eat, I'm sure I would find something to satisfy my insatiable appetite.

    Thanks for sharing today and I hope you have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Okay...the first thing I have to say is ...mmmmm mmmmMMMM MMMMMM

    This post really made my mouth water (although I KNOW that was not exactly the point).

    Now to the point...this is a really GREAT idea...I would totally have no problem trying a new place out especially if it's free. It must work...just ask Costco that gives out free food all day during the week.

    The one thing I was curious about though was how do they know the "Virgin" from a Non? Was there a special coupon or something? Or did they just rely on your word? or Words....done WRITE of course .

    I would imagine that they probably know you very well...but what if you were someone who is not as regular...they might also be able to get in on the deal as virgins no? Just wondering.

    I would think this would be a wonderful ongoing program they could do where they offer a special coupon, with the same deal, to certain recognizable customers. THEN you could give it to your friend to use at any time...including going out to dinner with you.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hey Rachel! Oh, your mouth should water. The food is incredible. Sure to satisfy any meat eater.

    As for knowing the veteran and identifying people as virgins, The Veggie Grill takes people at their word. The company is very engaged on Facebook and Twitter and understands the power of the public.

    If you ever come to California, let me know and I'll take you there. I promise you shant be disappointed.

    As for Costco and its samples, well, I can't tell you how many things I've bought because I got to try them first. Tasting is believing!

    ReplyDelete
  36. YUM! Veggie Grill sounds amazing...and their marketing approach wasn't all bad either. I work with a restaurant and the owner's 'incentive' is a $2 special most days of the week. And they're not tiny specials, they're yummy and filling, but they keep the customers coming back each week. It's awesome. She gives things away when she sees a long-term benefit, but always with a careful eye towards cost-benefit and how much the restaurant has to pay up front to get the new clients. The goal is of course to convert those folks into long term aficionados. Let's hope Veggie Grill has some long-term converts!

    So, how do I apply that? Good question, Amber! I always give a little bit 'up front' in the get to know you meetings, just so the potential client has some idea of what they're getting and my abilities. I also direct them to my blog, client examples of work, and then take them out to eat a veggie burger. : )

    ReplyDelete
  37. I think restaurants are in a unique position. It's so competitive that I think it's foolish not to experiment with promotions and special offers. As for long term converts, I don't have the stats but I know my virgin is going back for sure.

    As for your potential clients, they'd be lucky to get you! Veggie burger or not. ;-)

    ReplyDelete

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