Getting Back to Marketing Basics
Social media clearly provides a great way to get the word out for many restaurants. But social media isn’t a “marketing strategy. Social media is a conduit or tool. It’s a way to disseminate information that supports your marketing strategy. That doesn’t mean that social media isn’t important, but you’ve got to think beyond it, or it’s not going to move the needle.
Whether you’re using tweets or in-store signage to get your messages across, here are some basic marketing principles. This advice comes from an educational session presented by the National Restaurant Association Marketing Executives Group at NRA Show 2014.
1. Begin with the end in mind. Clearly identify your goals, so you can build a roadmap to get there. If you don’t have a goal, you have no way of knowing whether you failed or succeeded. Be willing to follow paths you happen upon if they’ll likely get you to your goal. However, you also need to have the flexibility to take advantage of opportunities at the last minute and be spontaneous.
2. Focus on the three ways to drive sales. Attract new customers, increase the frequency of customer visits, and get customers to spend more during their visits. Let those tactics guide your marketing plans.
3. Don’t be afraid to fail. You’re going to miss the big ideas if you’re trying to get it right all the time. When you make a strategic mistake, cut it off and move forward and don’t dwell on the failure.
4. Market to your internal team. Don’t forget to sell your plan to your internal customers, your crew. Those are the folks who are going to have to implement the programs that you’re rolling out. You have to have their buy-in.
5. Make your content count. Effective marketing goes beyond tweeting a message or posting a Facebook status. The specific content helps establish your brand, the collection of perceptions about your restaurant in the consumer’s mind.
Look for content that will resonate with the public. For example, after a snowstorm crippled Atlanta last winter, a restaurant posted a Facebook update about a team member who monitored the treacherous journey home of her co-workers, finding someone to aid those stranded. The post got the most public engagement of all the restaurant’s updates.
To help craft your content, check out your online reviews. You might be surprised to find out what customers like about your restaurant. Once you’ve identified some trends, use your marketing content to further spread the word.
6. Don’t market into weak operations. This can be a costly mistake. You are spending money to drive people into restaurants where they’ll have experiences that won’t bring them back.
Take advantage of readily available information, including customer comments and metrics from online review sites. Then use that information to improve operations. The best form of marketing is strong operations.