Restaurants have some of the highest traffic counts of any businesses.  It should be easy to create engagement of thousands of loyal fans in just a few months and drive repeat business and traffic when you need it.  So why are so many restaurants losing in the marketing game? They aren’t communicating clearly or more often enough to their current guests.  Current guests are worth 10x as much as the guest who has never walked in the door, and yet most restaurants spend 10x their marketing dollars and time trying to reach new guests, wasting an incredible amount of money.    Here are three ways restaurants fail at Marketing to their guests:

  • They put all guests in one bucket when they communicate– Someone who has been to a restaurant once clearly knows a lot less about it than someone who comes every week and is engaged with the brand. You have such a short time to talk with a guest when they come for the first time, a follow up e-mail sequence is a way to let them really get to know and interact with your brand, and invite them back again.  It can be done automatically and only costs pennies plus whatever you gave the guest to capture their e-mail.  Creating guest segments and running drip campaigns should be a backbone of any restaurant marketing program.  E-mail lists can do a new customer campaign at the least.  More robust CRM Platforms can talk to people based on what they ordered, when they visited or thousands of other points of segmentation.

  • They use their website as a marketing flyer instead of a storefront- Your website is the first thing people see when looking for your store. They might be searching “best restaurants near me” or “healthy restaurant food”.  Don’t assume people know a thing about your brand when they go to your website.  Within 5 seconds they should know what type of food you serve, where to find you, and what they can expect when they come.  The photos should be so mouthwatering, they HAVE to give your food a try. Use your website to start the a journey with new customers that makes them want to come in and educates them as if they walked into your store and said “Hi, I’ve never been here before.  Tell me about your restaurant.”

  • They are afraid to send discounts to their top customers- People want to feel appreciated for being loyal. They want to feel special.  Too often, restaurants focus on offers to new or lapsed users, but forget to reward their most loyal followers.  VIP Marketing, particularly as a surprise and delight, pays huge dividends.  Give your highest spenders something extra for themselves, or to give away to others.  Some rewards programs, like Chick-fil-a, get this right by giving bigger spenders more rewards per dollar they spend.   Give them first access to new items, special gifts throughout the year, and even a personal note from the local owner.  They are not only your biggest spenders but they are your biggest marketers as they share the love of your restaurant with others in their circle.

The good news?  Each of these can be fixed with little or no money.  When you create a communication plan that caters to individual segments, you can start to bring people in more often because what you are saying is connecting with them and making them want to visit.

  • Customer sign up journey example:

    • E-Mail one (delivery of offer)–Welcome to Pieology, here’s your 10% off coupon. Here’s how our journey works

    • E-Mail two (problem + solution)—what we offer that they aren’t going to get everywhere else- why we’re different

    • E-Mail Three (overcome objection)- show why there’s a pizza for every need/mood/daypart

    • E-Mail Four- (what people are saying- or creating)- inspire with uniquely created pizzas or testimonials- request feedback from guest

    • E-Mail Five (Compelling offer to buy/buy again)—now that they know you, give them a reason to come again and become a Pie Life Member

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