Good coaches are too smart to make promises they can’t keep, so they usually refuse to make predictions about upcoming games. “It’s a long season,” they’ll say. “We’re just focused on winning one game at a time.” This is an appropriate mind-set in restaurant marketing, too. It’s better to execute and analyze one marketing strategy at a time rather than take a shotgun approach to see what works and what doesn’t. Follow these tips to be successful in the long run:
- Don’t be content with quick fixes alone. If they don’t contribute to long-term restaurant guest loyalty, they’re probably not worth the trouble and expense. While planning a restaurant marketing strategy, incorporate short-term and long-term elements.
- Develop a promotional mix. Your well-known happy hour might attract after-work business, but a weekend craft-beer tasting, advertised during the happy hour, could encourage guests to make a return visit — and perhaps stay for dinner and enjoy a leg or two of the beer they sampled. You don’t have to strive to get more happy hour guests. Instead, try to get more of those guests to stick around after the happy hour is over.
- Listen to guests. Service is your invisible product. An astute server, overhearing guests discussing an upcoming birthday, could invite them to spend the special occasion at your restaurant. Take advantage of all your opportunities to turn short-term restaurant marketing efforts into long-term results.
- Try not to become overly preoccupied with marketing to new customers. It’s far more cost effective to maximize the service, sales and profit potential with the customers you already have. They’re familiar with your products and services, unlike strangers who have to be persuaded to give your business a try.
- Sell what you have. Look for ways inside your store to sell not only your products, but also yourself and your business. Point-of-sale materials can drive purchases, but it usually requires a commitment to personal marketing and customer service to achieve lasting success and generate those all-important referrals, which build business without costing you a cent.
- Don’t underestimate the power of personal marketing — whether it’s on the phone, face to face or in writing. It’s the No. 1 tool you have to create slam dunks. The personal touch can make all the difference, but only if you exercise it yourself and teach it to your managers and staff.