A little backstory on ‘Eats & Drinks’

Eats-DrinksThe new Summer 2013 Eats & Drinks Pocket Guide is out and in distribution around town. This is a product we developed about six years ago in response to a need by both visitors to town looking for good places to eat, and the restaurants who want to connect to those hungry folks.

It’s our attempt to give restaurants a way to leverage their advertising dollars by providing multi-platform but targeted marketing vehicles. (It doesn’t hurt that we all here enjoy the active and rich culinary scene Sandpoint’s terrific restaurateurs produce for our town.) Interestingly though, the Pocket Guide arose not because restaurants were asking us for it but rather as a direct response to the local hotels where we distribute Sandpoint Magazine, after several told us they liked the magazine’s extensive dining coverage but needed something a hungry guest could stick in their pocket to guide them to restaurants. So we developed the guide with a small area map and large blow-up map of downtown, with restaurant listings keyed to locator numbers on the map – all of which folds down to pocketable size.

The map and listings are pulled straight from Sandpoint Magazine; every advertiser in the magazine is included in the Pocket Guide at no extra cost. Additionally, all the advertisers in Sandpoint Magazine are also included in our online dining directory that is part of SandpointOnline.com. So for restaurant advertising and marketing, just one buy provides restaurants with three different channels to put their business in front of potential customers.

The reality, of course, is that none of these advertising vehicles will work for the restaurants unless we ensure they attract a lot of readers and users. So for each channel we design the information to suit the needs of a specific readership; in the magazine, we have extensive coverage of the local culinary scene with news and stories of interest to both local Sandpoint readers as well as visitors. It’s a sit-down feast, if you will. In the pocket guide, we boil the info down to facts useful to visitors on the go, keyed around the map to get them there. It’s our fast-food version.

Online is different: It’s the smorgasbord. With virtually no limitations on space plus the additional functionality available to us via the Internet, the Sandpoint Online dining directory includes listings for every eating and drinking establishment in town. The information is in a database that allows the user to search by type of cuisine and even amenities such as restaurants with wi-fi or outdoor dining or those that are open for breakfast or late at night. There’s actually no charge for any restaurant to be included; since online doesn’t incur the costs associated with the print media, we can expand our information to meet the needs of the user, and we assume those searching online would want to see every choice available. So the dining directory has all the 80-plus restaurants in the greater Sandpoint area, right down to the fast-food franchises. Advertisers in the magazine (along with the restaurants whose websites we host) get preferred placement above the free listings, additional descriptive text and links to their own websites. It’s how we try to meld our two goals: to attract a lot of readers by meeting their need for a comprehensive directory, while providing benefit back to our advertisers who are, after all, providing the revenue that makes it possible.

We’re always endeavoring to make our media products better and smarter for the reader and, thus, more effective for the advertiser. Right now we’re working on a new, more graphical interface for the dining directory plus some additional functionality. Got some ideas to make our restaurant and dining products better — for either the reader or the advertiser? Let us hear them!

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