Feb 19, 2007

How Alasoop Uses MailChimp to Help Local Restaurants

AlasoopOne of our customers (in Paris!) just sent us a note about how they use MailChimp.

I love this story. What’s interesting about it to me (besides the whole "MailChimp" tie-in) is that it’s a simple, down-to-earth, anybody-can-do-this case study about a small company helping local restaurants with email marketing. Not only that, but they’re helping people avoid fast food by providing healthier, tastier options around town.

Here’s the case study from our friend FJ:

Webstellung is a small but thriving and successful communication studio that I founded and am currently heading. We specialize in networked communication and bridging online and offline branding. We have worked with the likes of Apple, Peter Mayer, Opsound.org, Palais de Tokyo as well as many theaters and theater companies here in Paris.

As you may already know, Paris is one of the culinary capitals of the world, which means a great many companies within the city do not provide lunch to their employees and, instead, opt to give them food coupons that they can use at nearby, low-quality, high-fat, high-turnover restaurants. The end result is that most employees are left eating a re-heated sandwich in a gloomy company kitchen for lunch.

This sorry state of affair prompted us to team with great "business" restaurants offering good meals at a price affordable by most staffers and help them distribute their menus right into the employees’ mailboxes. We branded this service "Alasoop", a tongue-in- cheek phonetic rendition of French for "Dinner’s on the table". We place special pads in partnering restaurants on which people can sign up to receive menus. Twice or so a week a member of our team collects these pads as well as menus from the restaurateurs themselves. We then rely on Mailchimp or other email providers (though we are now aiming to fold all our lists back on Mailchimp) to send the menus to the audience of each restaurant on a daily basis. Keep in mind restaurateurs here are typically not computer users so they never need to touch a keyboard. Users, by getting their menus every day in their inboxes, are more likely to go out and purchase from their favorite outlets.

The service is entirely free to users. So far, our pilot restaurants have noticed a strong increase in to-go sales, better turnover and an increase in repeat frequentation. The lists are remarkably stable and we are considering declaring the pilot program over and spreading the word across the city. All coupons are processed, stamped and returned to the restaurants for safe keeping and archiving.

As you can see, not a revolutionary idea but one that requires precise logistics and reliable software to work. Thanks to Mailchimp, we can write letters quickly (keeping costs down), send them reliably (reaching out to users) as well as schedule sending (making the entire menu sending program possible). I thought your readers may like to know how we use your email infrastructure for what is a high- frequency, cannot-fail project that is helping local businesses in a simple, but very effective fashion – keep in mind none of these restaurants has an actual advertising budget.

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We’ve seen lots of restaurants using MailChimp to send menus and ‘recipes from the chef’ but so far haven’t seen any agencies taking such an active part in sending emails on behalf of restaurants. It’s a great idea to provide the signup pads and visit the restaurant every week to get new signups.

Thanks for the story, FJ!