Friday, November 3, 2017

Brainstorming Marketing and Customer Retention Strategies for Restaurants

This whitepaper was submitted by Don Hubble, Blowing Rock Chamber of  Commerce ExOfficio Board Member and Friend of the Community.

Here are some questions to brainstorm that aim at knowing your customers and honing in on your marketing strategies.

1. What are your demographic and psychographic target market groups?

(Psychographic refers to the personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyle attributes of consumers.)
    a. Do these vary by season? If so, do your marketing efforts reflect that?
    b. Where are the voids in the offerings by your (prime) competitors? How can you capitalize on those?
    c. Is the combination of your target market groups large enough to generate sufficient revenue to be successful? If not how do your overcome that?
    d. Are your target market groups in conflict with one another? If so what should you do about this?

2. How do you differentiate yourself from your (prime) competitors? By ambience? By price point? By quality of food? By quality of service? By marketing efforts? (To be successful, differentiation is highly desirable.)

3. For which (specific) menu item do you want to be known? What specific type of cuisine are you going to offer? (This may seem basic but it is not!)

4. Loyalty programs, while difficult to implement and administrate, have proven to be most successful.
 a. Customers earn points for frequent dining. For example, “Punched” cards which are credited for each visit.
 b. Offer free entree (with one additional entree) for birthdays and anniversaries. (Perhaps these should only be redeemable in the “off-season.”)
 c. Offer Chamber of Commerce member-to-member discounts. Members eat at our restaurants year-round and can be a great source of steady business.

4. Routinely contact your clientele - use email blasts to advertise specials with pictures that show off your best. Leverage social media! Work diligently to have a library of email addresses which are used routinely. (This can be accomplished a number of ways; loyalty programs being a primary one.)

5. Partner with local hoteliers - have printed information available on-site at local hotels.

6. Assess whether electronic media (Facebook ads, Blowing Rock News, High Country Press, and The Blowing Rocket online ads) could be a cost effective advertising alternative. Do the same for all of the printed media options. Using multiple sources of advertising is a proven recipe for success. Try to create ads in such a way that you can track their success. Much of marketing is trial and error, but the data will eventually show you what works for you.

7. Having friendly, knowledgeable and well-groomed service help is incredibly important. The owners/operators must be friendly and involved with the community as well; the latter being most important in a small-town environment.

8. Determine how you are going to leverage your specific offerings, e.g.,bar, tap room, bottle shop, eating area, social area, patio, et al. Your individual marketing efforts will differ based on demographic and psychographic target groups.

9. Embrace “Big Data” - capture “everything” and analyze “the hell out of it.” (This is a lot more important than most people realize.) Don’t overlook anything to drive future revenue and profit.

10. Recognize that there are, essentially four (4) seasons in Blowing Rock, Summer season (about 4 months), shoulder season in the Spring, shoulder season in the Fall and Winter season. The demographic and psychographic make up of dining customers differs considerably in these season. Determine how best to attract the different customer groups during different seasons.

11. Establish strategic and tactical plans to compete against your primary competitors. How are you going to differentiate yourself in the competitive space which you are targeting?

12. Probably the most important factor is your“value proposition.” Are your prices competitive for what you are offering? Does the quality and quantity of food justify the price points which you offer?

13. Finally, all businesses are dynamic, perhaps none more so than the restaurant business - especially those who are primarily dependent upon the tourist trade.

14. Be knowledgable about the profitability of each major area of operation. What is the return on investment (ROI) for each area of your business? The (estimated) operating profit for major menu item should be routinely analyzed. (This should be done in critical detail!)

We hope these questions will provide great brainstorming and conversational material within your teams!

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