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The Barn Bowl & Bistro Uses Text Messages for Real-Time Marketing

The Barn Bowl & Bistro Uses Text Messages for Real-Time Marketing

Learn how one restaurant uses text marketing to respond to downtimes and bring in customers immediately.


The Barn Bowl & Bistro has quickly become a mainstay in Martha’s Vineyard, for both local bowlers and celebrities like Bill Murray and the Obamas. Opened in May of 2015, the business was driven by two objectives. First, Mike Sawyer and his partners wanted to bring bowling back to the island. Second, they made a conscious effort to prioritize and target year-round “Vineyarders” by offering good quality food at an affordable price.

With between 50 to 150 games played on their lanes each day, they’ve well-and-truly achieved their first aim. On the second goal, Managing Partner, Mike adds that it’s been great to see the venue, “evolve into a gathering place for Islanders outside of just the summer months.”

Seeking Out a Text Marketing Platform

After the grand opening, Mike needed a way to speak to the local community. Print ads in newspapers and seasonal magazines did not cut it.

“In my opinion, print advertising is just not very effective anymore compared to so many measurable digital alternatives. And I know from receiving promotional text messages myself as a consumer, that texts are a supremely powerful marketing tool. If you can get your marketing message directly in front of people’s eyeballs on their mobile device as a text alert, it’s a no-brainer.”

Three years ago, after multiple platform trials, he found SimpleTexting and hasn’t looked back. “The ease-of-use, the cleanliness of the product, the general interface. It’s just very well-designed.”

Mike powers his SMS marketing with a simple, memorable keyword, “thebarnmv.” When customers text this keyword to 555888, they instantly subscribe to future messages. To promote the keyword, he uses SimpleTexting’s sign-up form on his website. He also advertises the text message program on the premises and even calls it out in his email footer.

Without a massive budget, he’s shown that a little creativity is all it takes to grow your subscriber list.

The Power of Real-Time Marketing

To help the venue fill chairs, Mike and his team built a local fanbase on the back of a strong food and entertainment offering. He then introduced SMS as a way to reach this audience instantly with promotions, weekly specialists, and other time-sensitive offers. Text messages also enable The Barn to respond to downtimes and bring in customers immediately.

“It’s a wonderful tool for getting the message out there when we know we are going to need something. For example, if we’ve had a slow lunch service, and sales are low, then we know we need to get busy for dinner. I can send out a really compelling promotion at 4 pm and know we are going to get people through the door that night.”

Today 10:25 AM
Prime Rib Night @THEBARN! $16.99 w/ text, [email protected] Limited quantity. ALSO, groups of 4 or more bowl 100% FREE tonite after dining in bistro
Reply stop to stop

He adds, “We’ve had so much success with SimpleTexting that we’ve pretty much reduced ad spend across all other marketing channels. We did so because the ability to reach people through text is so powerful.”

We asked Mike if he sees an increase in sales when text promotions go out. “Text marketing 100% impacts our bottom-line,” he tells us.

SimpleTexting’s Short Code and Mobile App

Apart from the easy-to-use interface, Mike notes the SimpleTexting short code and phone app as two other reasons he’s such a big fan.

Mike explains, “The short code was a big factor in my decision to go with SimpleTexting. The 555888 short code is really nice and clean. It has a ring to it because it’s simple and also easy-to-remember.”

Being able to use the SimpleTexting app from his phone is another big plus, “As I run a restaurant, I am constantly on-the-go. Being able to create and send campaigns from an app is huge for me.”

A Martha Vineyard’s Institution

By focusing on an under-served segment of the market, year-round residents, The Barn has quickly become a local institution. From their excellent reviews on Facebook and Google, it’s clear that they have the right formula.


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