With the constant uprising of new competition, restaurant owners need to make sure they are doing the right things when it comes to marketing their brand. We have looked into some of the top marketing mistakes that you could be making and how you can fix them.
Mistake #1 – Not focusing enough on your brand
After a long and tiring day of running your restaurant, there is one thing that will always remain – your brand. Your brand is what your customers see, what brings you business, and what separates you from your competitors. Your brand serves as a promise to your customers. Many restaurant owners make the mistake of participating in early branding then settling the somewhat built-up brand on the backburner. One of the biggest problems is your restaurant losing its identity. Consumers like to feel a part of something and a brand serves as a community to do that. There was a survey done in 2010 by Empathica Inc., a leading provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions, that showed restaurant brand loyalty remained high despite the economy. The survey reported less visits but that 68% of the consumers remained just as loyal to the restaurants they favored.
Looking for ways to strengthen you restaurant brand? Here are some tips:
Be consistent with it. Whether it is your print materials, your logo, or your mission statement – you must send the same message through all channels when it comes to your brand.
Let your customers know what you are about. Are you family-owned? Do you make your own bread? Let them know why you are different than the next guy. Use your brand where you can.
Use your brand as a path. Remember why you decided to open your restaurant and your unique qualities, then run with it. Use your first initial passion for opening your restaurant as a guide in everything you do.
Mistake #2 – Avoiding social media
Social media is an effective (and fun) way to be with your customers at all times. Many restaurant owners find it too time consuming and do not think it produces results in terms of profitability. The benefits of using social media as a tool for restaurants are often overlooked. Social media allows you to engage with your customers at all times. This lets customers know that you are there for them and that they are a part of your business. If they have a suggestion or concern, they have a way to interact with you outside of the restaurant. It is less work for both parties. Social media also gives you the opportunity to advertise your brand, events, and menu information in creative ways. According to a 2011 National Restaurant Association study, consumers that use social media are likely to dine out more and are more likely to be returning customers.
Want to know how to better use your social media pages?
Plan ahead. Post on Facebook between 1pm and 4pm and on Twitter between 1pm and 3pm. Traffic to these sites are highest during these times.
Be visual. Post photos whenever you can with exciting captions.
Pay attention to what your customers are saying on these networks. Answer questions and respond to comments as quickly as you can.
Mistake #3 – Opting out of a loyalty program for customers
Having something to track customer demographics and purchasing behaviors is like gold for a restaurant owner. Loyalty programs are a great way to track both while showing appreciation to loyal customers. Gathering names and basic demographics help you figure out your target market while birthdays and anniversaries are a great opportunity to make your customers feel special. The best and easiest way to gather information about your customers and create a loyalty program is to have everything in one place.
Mistake #4 – Replacing the website with social media
Websites are still holding a strong presence even with review sites and social networks in full swing. Angelsmith conducted a survey of more than 500 restaurant fans that found word-of-mouth being the number one motivation for a visit to a new restaurant. However, the survey found that at least eight out of ten of the individuals do additional research – review websites and restaurant websites were nearly tied. Restaurant goers like to look up menus, prices, and like to get a feel of what the restaurant is like before going. Keeping your website up-to-date and looking fresh is still of primary importance.
Looking to spice up your website? Here’s a few ideas:
Add your Facebook and Twitter badges
Post your weekly specials
Give customers a way to sign up for a customer loyalty program on your site
Mistake #5 – Discounting too much or too little
Discounting is a great way to increase short-term sales and attract new customers. According to a study by Empathica Inc., coupons were the driving force for customers to try a new restaurant. They generally bring great results but can hurt a restaurant if done improperly. Frequently run discounts can oftentimes attract new customers but turn the old ones away. They can also devalue the restaurant by giving customers an idea that the restaurant may be in trouble or just desperate for more customers. A coupon should serve as a reward to customers for visiting and should be a special treat. Unfortunately, when discounts are used too often or improperly, it can appear that much differently.
Here are some quick tips for discounting:
Send coupons out during slow weeks
Use a loyalty rewards program
Use a punch card
Do coupons offering free appetizers, drinks, or desserts with the purchase of a meal rather than free meals
Marketing your brand correctly is important for continuing your success. By using the right tools and methods, you bring attention to your restaurant and differentiate yourself from the competition surrounding you.
Ola Ayeni, Founder and Chief Idea Officer of Dining Dialog, Inc and Eateria, a loyalty email marketing tool that empowers restaurants and food service businesses to help them build their customer base by generating repeat business and attracting new business.