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Building a Buzz Using Integrated Marketing – Milwaukee’s Newest French Restaurant

One of Milwaukee’s hottest new restaurants, Maison “French for Home,” is a modern French bistro, serving adaptations of classic dishes and authentic French wine. This enticing eatery has its own unique backstory, but it’s also a powerful example of how an effective integrated marketing strategy can quickly and potently build your brand.

The History:

In December 2016, Michael Quinn, Owner and Executive Chef at Maison, reached out to Signalfire to assist him with a range of marketing needs. He was anticipating his new restaurant in Milwaukee to open by the end of February 2017, and time was of the essence.

Quinn already had a logo and branding style created, but was still in desperate need of website design, content planning, social media management, and email marketing services to develop the visual style into a tangible brand.

Brand Challenges at Maison

The Brand Challenges:

After a few diagnostic discussions, the Signalfire team was excited to develop an integrated marketing plan that would create buzz for Maison’s upcoming opening. For this to be accomplished, several factors had to be considered.

First of all, Signalfire was tasked with building the Maison brand within the parameters set by the restaurant’s logo and style guide provided by Quinn. Fleshing out the visual aspects of the materials in-hand became a primary focus of the Signalfire team.

“We wanted to do more than simply place the logo on each of the marketing channels,” Project Manager Bryan Giese said, “Our goal was to create an entire Maison experience.”

Although Quinn had planned on opening in late February, factors out of his control created a delay. Signalfire felt it was important to move forward with a grassroots brand awareness campaign, despite not having a set open date.

Looking to develop an engaged customer base from the ground up, we went to work on a comprehensive solution.

Signalfire’s Integrated Marketing Strategy:

The team at Signalfire first considered Maison’s unique advantages. Mike Quinn chose a classic, Art Deco-style and had an in-house photographer/artist in his Sous Chef, Joey Roethel. This was incredibly valuable in obtaining quality imagery and sharable art.

Maison is also positioned in a great physical location – the Washington Heights neighborhood of Wauwautosa. There is a strong French connection to the Greater Milwaukee community, as well, which provided additional support.

Leading Up to Maison's Grand Opening

Leading Up to Maison’s Grand Opening

With these things in mind, Signalfire was able to develop a semi-custom website, showcasing a visual menu that includes both cost and item descriptions. Our team received high-quality imagery from Maison, while we provided written copy and branding integration throughout.

Developing a content calendar to effectively pace and deliver key marketing messages was the next step. The creative team at Signalfire began teasing out photos of Maison’s remodeling progress on two primary social media channels: Facebook and Instagram.

In conjunction with developing a website and spearheading a social media campaign, we also utilized the popularity of former location restaurant, Meritage, to help build an active email recipient list.

Using this method, we were able to share important blog/news content, grow our social media following, and improve overall traffic/engagement for Maison’s new website.

Once a grand opening date was set, Signalfire utilized in-house graphic designers to create captivating, branded social media graphics. These helped the brand stand out with stopping power among the clutter of social feeds.

Our team also encouraged Maison to conduct a Facebook LIVE event (promoted one-week prior) announcing the date and time they would be opening their doors.

Integrated Marketing Results with Signalfire

The Results:

The Facebook LIVE video received 6.2K views, before opening day – before anyone had even sampled a French dish or sipped an authentically-bottled wine. The other indicators were also impressive.

Maison’s integrated marketing plan, designed and implemented by Signalfire, successfully utilized consistent website traffic, an active social media presence, and substantial email list growth to pack the house on the restaurant’s grand opening night in late May 2017.

Social Media

In approximately five months’ time, Maison’s Facebook page had received just under 1.5K followers, while experiencing active communication with potential customers who anxiously awaited their visit.

The restaurant’s Instagram page also managed a solid 130+ follows on less than 40 posts, and 800+ post engagements. Keeping in mind that these channels were optimized under time and boosting budget constraints, these numbers are notable.

Email Marketing

Exploring opportunities to partner with other businesses, as well creating an easy-sign-up banner for the website, Maison experienced over 1,400 recipients sign up for their email list. What is even more staggering is that 10% of these individuals were brought in organically through the website, which is high production.

Public Honors

Signalfire and Maison, together, were also able to spark interest from local Milwaukee publications and influencers, such as TMJ4, Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin Gazette, OnMilwaukee, and other local community groups.

These organizations wrote promotional news articles and editorial pieces throughout the branding process, which we leveraged to legitimize the rookie restaurant’s brand.

Maison was also recognized by M: Milwaukee’s Lifestyle Magazine as the “Best Ornate Bar” in the greater Milwaukee area. And that was only after being open for a month!

The Ongoing Marketing Partnership:

Signalfire continues to guide Maison’s marketing efforts as ongoing partner. Although the successful buzz building campaign has ended, we continue to brainstorm new, compelling ways to reach potential diners and drinkers.

Through the dedicated use of a marketing content calendar, Signalfire performs monthly updates to Maison’s website, including written blog or news articles that support search performance.

The bistro’s branding is also displayed within graphic elements, designed by Signalfire, to continue promoting new themes on social media. These rotating themes help audience members recognize Maison’s unique style and share in their brand experience.

Becoming a Signalfire Partner:

Signalfire can be your marketing guide & outfitter. We have the big ideas to creatively advance your business in the right direction and the know-how to successfully implement a plan to hit your goals.

We’re an award-winning, full-service advertising agency with a team of professionals that are committed to growing and enhancing our clients’ brands.

If your business, destination, or non-profit is in need of creative marketing guidance, contact Signalfire today or call 262-725-4500 to speak with a member of our team.