Marketing Strategy for Dante’s as seen on The Profit

Mike Paine
by Mike Paine
November 5, 2019

If you were able to catch the season opener of The Profit on November 5th, you saw how Marcus Lemonis worked with Dante’s Italian Cuisine in New Jersey. It was such a heartwarming story about how Marcus chose to help them get their business rolling without investing but instead giving. Not only did he provide them with a financial boost, but he also gave them priceless advice on how to improve their product, the processes, and most importantly mend their broken relationship since their mother passed in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Marcus called us before the show aired because he wanted to improve the process even further. He saw the restaurant needed to invest in a smart marketing program in order to grow the business. As we approach almost every business, we first had to identify the problem and goals of the restaurant before we could come up with the right solution.

Let’s start with the Problem

Dante’s Italian Cuisine is located in Rockaway, New Jersey in a fairly isolated area. Lunch is very slow because the location isn’t close to other businesses. While the current customer base is very loyal, they tend to be fading away as they get older. They need to figure out how to drive new customers in, and a way to increase revenue during lunchtime. Finally, because they are still trying to bounce back with the grand re-opening, they don’t have a ton of marketing dollars to spend, so every penny must be spent wisely.

Dante's Italian Cuisine in Rockaway, NJ As seen on The Profit

The Initial Meeting

Because the show wanted the first meeting to be authentic,  the first time we spoke with Dante and Denise was recorded on air.  The initial marketing strategy was put together with no insight from the customer, which as you can imagine, is very challenging. The good thing is that this wasn’t our first rodeo, so we employed our alignment principles, which become the foundational focus of every good marketing campaign.
As you can see, our strategy revolves around the customer, Dante’s. The basic premise of this principle is to target the right audience with the right message, using the right marketing channels to create engagement. It’s pretty basic but often overlooked.

The Audience

We broke down the audience into three different groups…


  1. People Eating At Competitors – This is a new technology that we’ve integrated into our platform that targets customers based on their location sharing on their mobile phones. With our Location IQ technology, we can pinpoint exactly who enters a specific restaurant and return address information back into our platform.
  2. Locals – Dante’s customer database and the core surrounding area. Generally, the people that live the closest to the restaurant are going to frequent it the most.
  3. Businesses – Based on our knowledge of restaurants, we know catering is a huge way to easily increase revenue without too much effort.


The Message

Because every audience is different, the message needs to be different. It’s important not to get lazy and to think “benefit” when creating your marketing message. I always try to put myself in the shoes of that audience, and ask, “How does this message benefit me?” It’s the difference in saying “several pasta dishes to chose from” to “we have your favorite Italian dish.” Here are the rough concepts we created for the three different audiences.


Now that we have a plan on what we want to say, we need to make sure we have the right channels in place that align with both the audience and the budget.

The Media


One of the great things about using the platform is that it is all-encompassing. For this campaign, we’re using direct mail, Facebook, Instagram, and Email. However, if you’re using the platform, there are several other options as well. Every lead funnels into a landing page to generate leads so Dante can start building a marketing customer database. Every lead is captured on the back end in’s CRM tool. Here are some of the examples of the direct mail they presented on the show.

Dante's Direct Mail concepts from The Profit

During the meeting, both Dante and Denise were very receptive to the different strategies.


Post Meeting Market Research

Since we were in the area, Shawn and I thought it would be a good idea to do some “market research.” So we went to Dante’s that night and ordered the fresh pasta and oven-baked pizza, both considered to be specialties in the restaurant. I can honestly say it was some of the best food I’ve eaten, so if you’re in New Jersey, look them up. You’ll thank me later. After leaving New Jersey, it was time to get to work.

Shawn and Mike eating at Dantes

The Actual Marketing Execution

Once we had a budget, we decided to work with Dante’s on two tiers to try to alleviate one problem at a time, while allowing him to extend his budget over a 2 month period. The first strategy was to grow his current customer base. We used direct mail, email, Facebook, and Instagram to target a 5-mile radius around his restaurant.  We would offer Free Garlic Knots with the purchase of an entrée in return for some information from customers. marketing strategy for Dante's | Postcard for first month strategy

Free promotions generally cost extra money because you’re spending the money to promote, then you’re losing money on the offer, so it’s important that you do it with the intent on growing a customer base. Using’s platform, Dante’s would only validate the offer if the customer went online to print out their personal coupons. In the process, Dante’s learned valuable information about the profile of the customer, as well as being given permission to send them additional offers via email and SMS. This will allow Dante’s to market to its new customers at a much lower cost.

Some other marketing concepts that we deployed for them were very “grassroots” based that cost very little and can make a big impact. We designed some table toppers to drive traffic to redeem the offers. This works great as a tool to gather information from in-store customers, but Dante’s took it a step further. They met with local businesses and asked if they wouldn’t mind displaying the promotion for them, allowing their reach and exposure to increase significantly. Another strategy we deployed was a team-building competition. Every staff member was given an “influencer link” that was specific to them. They would take their link and post it on their social media sites and text or email it to friends directly. The dashboard allows them to see who is generating the most leads, as well as offer redemptions. This creates a fun environment inside the restaurant but also lets the staff feel like they are a part of the promotion’s success.


Stay tuned as we update the success of month one and present the second marketing strategy we created that is sure to generate 200% or more new revenue into Dante’s restaurant during lunch. And if you’re interested in learning how our platform can help grow your business, you can get started here.

Mike Paine
by Mike Paine
November 5, 2019

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