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National Restaurant Association - NRA marketing conference focuses on growing restaurants’ customer bases

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NRA marketing conference focuses on growing restaurants’ customer bases

Demanding consumers seeking more choices and better quality items while spending and dining out less are big challenges, restaurateurs said during the National Restaurant Association's Marketing Executives Group fall conference in New Orleans.

The MEG conference, held Oct. 17-19, focused on the definition of value and the approaches marketers can take and implement in this challenging economy.

"Competition is overwhelming these days," said Bill Ruby, vice president of field marketing for the Spartanburg, S.C.-based Denny's family-dining chain. "Guests demand more value and are not willing to settle for anything less. But how do we define value?" he asked. "Is it product/menu value engineering, discounting, delivering spectacular service, creating loyalty programs that offer rewards, or all of the above?"

In a presentation on the importance of multicultural marketing, speaker Ola Mobolade, managing director of Firefly Milward and co-author of the book "Marketing to the New Majority", explained to attendees that different cultures share many of the same values and recognizing this can be significant when restaurateurs develop their marketing strategies.

Additionally, Brian Wheelis, head of Restaurant Solutions for Facebook, addressed the business challenges restaurants face every day, explaining how operators can organically grow their social media programs and, as a result, their fan bases. Along with Wheelis' presentation, a panel discussion on the power of daily deal sites and how to discern which programs are beneficial also was held.

The Marketing Executives Group meets twice a year. The next meeting will be held in May in Chicago, before the start of the 2013 NRA show.

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