By Wasfi Samaan
I recently got an email from a marketing mentor of mine who was talking about the famous quote, “If you keep doing the same thing, you are going to get the same results.” The interesting thing about this email is that it is about how this is no longer true in today’s economy. What he is trying to say is what worked 6 months ago does not work today. Consumers are making significant changes in their spending habits and are doing so it a very fast pace. We have to work harder to entice that customer, as well as keep them.
After returning home from my vacation, I realized that I was doing the same thing as far as marketing. I was depending on only a few ways to get new customers and keep my customers coming back.
Immediately, I took action by creating a new happy hour. Instead of running ½ price appetizers, I started running all my appetizers at a discount all day but priced at more than half price. After doing this for a couple of months, I realized that I was making more money per appetizer. In addition, anyone who dined in our restaurant was able to enjoy a game of bowling at a 50% discount. This encourages cross promoting between the restaurant and the bowling center.
Next, I created an online back to school coupon that the potential customer would need to input their email address to receive. Not only will this help with knowing how many coupons have been downloaded in order to staff properly, but this will give you permission to email any other offers you have at a later date.
In addition, I posted a 4 question survey to see what customers would like on our menu. If a customer filled the survey then they would get a $5 food coupon. People love free money, especially if all they have to do is tell what they like to eat! Just make sure the survey is short and to the point.
The next promotion we launched is kids eat free every day with an adult meal purchase. Many families are becoming smart shoppers in this economy, and if they can save without bringing in a coupon they will come out. This is a big one! Families are looking for places they can go to save. If they can go and eat what they want and not have to pay for their kids to eat, but still enjoy their company, then they will come.
We also started promoting with all the local hotels. You can either print a discount card they can pass out or advertise in the hotel’s magazine. Make sure in all advertising you place your website address in a visible location on all your marketing pieces.
Lastly, we sent out a mailing to our database in celebration of our 10 year anniversary. Make sure when you are mailing to your customers that you have a reason like a birthday, an anniversary, or a holiday. Always put some kind of offer that will entice them to come to the restaurant.
Another thing you can do to celebrate your anniversary is to not only give them a special offer if they come in on the anniversary, but to give them a sealed envelope with a special discount coupon that they cannot open until they come in a second time. The discounts can be of free menu items, a free meal, a party of 12 to bowl free, etc. Also, consider offering a grand prize. The point of this sealed envelope is to entice people to come back. Be sure to put a deadline on when they must use the sealed envelope.
Something else you can do is to offer “all you can eat menu items with the purchase of a meal.” For example, instead of offering discounts on specific items, try offering all you can eat fries with the purchase of a meal or all you can eat shrimp. Whatever side menu order you are famous for would be the best item.
For those who have bars inside their restaurant, consider marketing to families by offering alcohol as an accessory to the food instead of as the main reason to stop in. Create a place where a person can bring their kids, but the adult can still get a nice alcoholic drink with dinner. This will eliminate the chance that people will not come to your restaurant because you have a bar. Maintain a family atmosphere, so the entire family can come and spend!
Also make sure to not forget social marketing especially the use of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Remember, consumers have less money to spend these days. Even if they still have their jobs and are still making the same amount of money, their perspective has changed because of how society has changed around them and they are taking precautions and saving for “just in case.”
However, while people are being more careful with their money, they are still spending. They are still going out, eating out, and having fun. They are just doing a lot more comparing and seeing where they can get the most for their money.
Think of it this way, it easier to earn $1 ten ways then to earn $10 one way. By this, I mean you must have multiple ways to get more customers. This is true now more than ever!
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