Marketing is one of those things where everyone has an opinion about what you should do to market your business, but they rarely talk about how. The reality for most restaurant operators is that you have a lot to juggle, and not necessarily a large staff or loads of free time. Unfortunately... your big competitors do.
When you think about marketing, you know you should be doing more...but between email, and texting and social media and internet marketing it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The good news is that a few simple and practical strategies can help you achieve your marketing goals.
But what is the goal of marketing? Typically when you're thinking about growing your business, you're thinking about acquiring new customers. While this is a great goal - in reality this is very expensive. To change customer behavior and habits long-term, you have to go beyond just coupons and low prices. To truly make a change in customer habits and gain a customer for life, you’ve got to make an emotional appeal.
To build that emotional connection with the customers, there are three key areas you need to focus on:
- Identify your customers: know who they are and how you can reach them.
- Reward the kind of behavior you want to encourage.
- Communicate your message and build a relationship.
If you're starting from scratch, there are several ways you can grow your customer email contact list, but the best place to start is with your website. Add a form or button that is easy to spot (not at the bottom of the page!) and visually appealing. You can also allow customers to sign up via your social media channels or referrals. Once you're ready to send, keep these things in mind:
Text Message Marketing
Text marketing is an ideal solution since upwards of 90% of text messages received are opened almost immediately. To go this route, invite customers to text a special code to your opt in number. This information should be promoted heavily in all of your signage and print materials - at the point-of-sale, catering brochures, menus, etc. Some important things to remember:
Loyalty programs are really the best way to collect your customer’s information because it motivates your customers to join to get special treatment or special discounts. Be clear about what you offer in your program so that customers understand why they want to join. ProTip: the most effective programs allow you to sign up new members as they order or during the online ordering process.
It’s also critical that you train your staff. They need to understand why you’re collecting information and be able to convince customers to join. Check in on this periodically as it’s easy for them to forget what to say! Be sure to include the information on any collateral that you give the customer...receipts, brochures, or even menus.Planning
We can’t stress enough the importance of planning for marketing efforts. It often takes a lot longer to enter email addresses manually and there’s a high margin of error. Be sure to factor in time for training and sometimes retraining...Test everything and have your team try it out so they understand how it works in case your customers need help. And a big one, is be careful about how you store your data.
There are a lot of ways to reward your customers. You can set up discounts in the POS to automatically apply for certain groups, print coupons on tickets, send out special blasts with rewards, or give them on social media. They’re all great options, but they all take some work. ProTip: Loyalty technology can do ALL of that automatically based on customer behavior.
The type of reward can vary, but you typically want to make customers visit 4-7 times to earn a reward so it’s long enough that you’re bringing them in more often, but short enough that they feel obtainable. On average, you’ll want to be rewarding about 10% in value. You can offer $ Off Coupons, but free item discounts are also a great option. Even if the value is lower, free feels like it’s a better deal.
Whether you're a local mom and pop shop or operating a pizzeria with multiple locations, these simple tactics can take your customer base and turn them into a revenue engine as you develop a loyal following. You can start with just one, or dive in with email, text, and loyalty marketing - but do whatever strategy works best for your business.