Thomas Watson Sr. had it right, nothing happens until a sale is made! How do you make a sale happen and then continue to happen? These are essential questions most newbie entrepreneurs avoid at the start of their business. They find them unattractive. Both questions, nonetheless, are crucial to business success. The latter is perhaps more important for a restaurant business. Why? Your business needs repeat business from loyal customers to thrive; just not one-time sales.
It’s impracticable to expect to continue to see your business grow without putting excellent marketing strategies in place. If you’ve been a restaurant owner a few months or years, you almost certainly know this; a conspicuous display of your brand’s neon sign is no guarantee that you will have a booming business. A lengthy listing of appealing delicacies on your restaurant menu won’t be enough either. In other to convert potential customers into paying clients, you need to understand the basics of marketing. And even more, work with a systematically crafted marketing plan.
One’s business would profit greatly when they employ the services of a restaurant marketing firm. Nonetheless, it increases your resourcefulness as a business leader to understand the nitty-gritty of marketing.
What Marketing Is?
Here’s a trick question. Is marketing, advertisement? Is marketing and advertisement the same? At the mention of the word marketing, what comes to the heart of the vast majority of entrepreneurs is an advertisement. That couldn’t be more inaccurate. Without question, advertisement is an essential part of marketing, but it’s not all there is to marketing.
Marketing involves identifying, anticipating, and satisfying the customer’s needs profitably. Advertisement, therefore, is a subset of marketing. Vital marketing questions include, what are the customer’s needs? How can we meet customer’s needs profitably? This sparks the statement that marketing begins as business planning begins.
Let’s take a look at ten marketing strategies that help explode your sales. The first 3 points focus on essential, but often ignored aspects of marketing and the last seven aspects focus on advertisement.
1. Be clear on Your Value Proposition. What makes your restaurant so different from the one in the next block? Why should anyone choose your restaurant over your competitors? The answers to the above questions are contained in a clearly defined value proposition. Every business must know what its Unique Selling Points (USP) are. It’s clarity on your USP that gives you the edge that you need to compete in an over-saturated market.
Without an understanding of your USP, you would try to be everything to everyone. And that is a recipe for business failure. Everything gets easier once you are clear on your USP. Defining your USP would help you qualify who your ideal customer is. Once you focus on the demographics, and the wants of your clients, you can then focus on thoroughly satisfying them.
2. Focus on Creating an Unforgettable Experience for your Customers. The idea is to give customers experiences worth talking about long after they have left your place of business. Give them a happy memory! By doing so, you’re giving them a story they would be more than glad to share with friends. This careless whispering of an experience a customer had with you could make news about your business go viral. Now imagine creating several of those! This technique has been termed Growth Hacking.
You may focus on delighting customers with the taste of your meals, promptness of delivery, excellence in customer service, or a combination of these factors. But whatever you do, strive to exceed customer’s expectations.
3. Empower Your Employees. Don’t underestimate the value of empowering your employees. Give them the freedom to make decisions and the wisdom to make the right ones. The payoff of empowering your employees is seen in the excellent customer service that employees invariably deliver.
Here’s the value in that: Reports reveal that excellent customer service has been identified as an underlying factor fostering customer loyalty. Everyone likes being excellently served. As such, if you empower your employees and get them to deliver excellent customer service, you would have customers coming back to you.
4. Word-of-Mouth Marketing. Provided you did the other three things well, by now, you would have an army of happy customers eager to share the word about your business to others. While you can expect this to happen naturally, it doesn’t hurt to tell your customers to refer your company.
For obvious reasons, Word of Mouth Marketing has been lauded as the most effective of all marketing options. A friend’s testimony of a great experience is far more effective at convincing a potential customer than any sales pitch you may make to them. And in all its goodness, this advertisement option costs you nothing extra (in monetary terms at least).
5. Get a Website. Even if you choose to operate as a brick and mortar business, an online storefront is a must-have in the 21st century.
Technology has forever altered the way we do business. Today, customers not only use search engines to find out the best restaurants to visit in their locality; they also expect to have access to their menu, opening hours, address, or phone number. Ensure that your website has this information.
You can also create reservation tools on your website. Once you have a website, you can offer people the opportunity to download free e-books on food recipes, how to save on food, weight loss meal ideas, or whatever purpose comes to mind.
6. Run a Food Blog: Running a blog allows you to create another platform to interact with potential customers and provide them with valuable content. You can improve the visibility of your blog by using relevant keywords while creating content. The technical term for this is search engine optimization.
For example, your blog can include posts on food recipes. This allows your posts to be visible to people searching online for these recipes. They get attracted to your blog, and if they find valuable content, they will keep coming back. You are in so doing, creating awareness about your restaurant.
7. Embrace Digital Marketing– Digital Marketing is an umbrella term that includes making use of online tools and resources to promote your restaurant products and services. These tools could be any of the several social media platforms, email marketing, listing your business with food apps, or advertising with food bloggers in your locale.
The benefits are numerous. At a relatively low cost, you get the opportunity to do geo-targeted ads to your potential clients. You could share menu, exclusive deals, say happy holidays or keep followers engaged with meaningful content related to your business.
When (not if) you choose to do digital marketing, ensure that you have experts handle it. For all the benefits it offers, digital marketing handled by an amateur, could turn out to be money ineffectively spent. There are several restaurant digital marketing agencies you could employ. Just ensure you do your due diligence.
8. Partner with delivery companies.Convenience is and will continue to be a thing of importance. Customers love it when we make life easier for them. So partner with delivery companies and provide customers with the opportunity of having their meals delivered to them anywhere within your locale. It makes it even better if you can perform with speed.
9. Reward customer loyalty:Appreciate customers for doing business with you. Everyone likes applause, and when they deserve it, you should give it to them. Not lip service, please. But unpretentious, genuine appreciation. Ensure loyal customers know that you notice their consistent patronage and reward them for it. Also run promos, contests, and giveaways.
10. Take feedback: How does taking feedback help with marketing? One, positive feedback can be used as content material for marketing. Even negative feedback that has been dealt with can be used to show how quickly your restaurant addresses the complaints of customers! Taking feedback also gives customers the impression that you genuinely care about them. There’s no marketing strategy better than that!
So, place suggestion boxes in your restaurant. Set up online feedback forms. Start paying real close attention to the ways your customers would have you better delight them.
Understand the bulk of your profit is not to be made from one-time sales, but from repeated patronage by customers. If you succeed in rounding up an army of loyal customers, you would have locked them in your business ecosystem and profit over their lifetime of doing business with you.
As a business owner, there’s no substitute for marketing knowledge in moving your business forward. As your business grows, you will have to consult with a skilled restaurant marketing agency for technical advice. Nonetheless, you must understand the basics of marketing and have a few strategies up your sleeve. This knowledge would help you innovate your business in new, exciting ways.