Why Long John Silver’s direct mail strategy inspires its customers.




As marketers, we are almost always bombarded with the same questions from our bosses or finance counterparts – are we running too many direct mail coupons, and is frequent discounting hurting our bottom line?

Trends are showing that quick service restaurants (QSR) are bucking that downward revenue trend as well as combating competitive pressures by distributing more, not fewer, discount coupons.

While some would see discount coupons as a hit on profit margins because they usually premise on a fair, if not significant discount, to be compelling, this doesn’t always need to be the case. At Long John Silver’s, other than offering our customers value deals to return more frequently, we use direct mail coupons for many other reasons.

Rather than offering value deals only, we also use direct mail coupons to launch new limited-time-only products, recruit prospective employees, increase our Facebook fan base, and even cross-promote movies. But all that starts by being very disciplined in setting the right performance objectives, and pulling the right levers to get there.

Long John Silver’s does so through a series of direct mail coupon campaigns during the year with different target variables, whether it is revenue growth, market share, economic profit,increased expenditure on customers, or even talent headcount hike.

To achieve any of these target variables requires a combination of promotional tactics and creative thematics within the same direct mail coupons. But whatever the target variables are, the default approach is to watch the top and bottom line closely to justify their rationale.

When direct mail coupons are executed strategically, profit can edge up as was shown in our promotional efforts executed with a sustained direct mail coupon tactic throughout the year. Long John Silver’s same-store sales growth has widened to 32.46% from a year ago.

The idea of tapping into the bargain-hunting mentality will likely result in a spending frenzy which can help consumers (new and current) build up an appetite for our food in the long run.

However, the question facing senior executives is whether such frequent direct mail coupons will drum up enough traffic to make the promotions worthwhile.

Well, it’s a double-edged sword. Given that most QSR brands are challenged with competitive pressures from the top, it is often critical for marketers to stabilise market share first, and deals vis-à-vis direct mail coupons are a quick way to help keep customers from leaving.

So where do we go from here? Don’t be afraid to re-invent yourself, and do it on a regular basis. Constantly give your customers new reasons to visit your restaurant. Do it with food, do it with fun.

And when you do direct mail coupons, look for various ways of offering compelling value. Like any good tool, if you use it everyday and never sharpen it, it tends to get dull.


                                                                                   The Mail


Drive YOY sales revenue, customer transaction and per-person expenditure as well as increase overall brand engagement across the year vis-à-vis sustained direct mail coupons


A series of direct mail coupons supported with various promotional tactics and thematics to reinforce Long John Silver’s positioning as a prominent fast-seafood player.


A 32.46% in sales growth over last year on the same campaign period.






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