There are two types of customers – those who have been to your restaurant and those who haven’t yet. Generally, it is a lot easier to market to an existing customer and get them to return than it is to attract a new customer, but most restaurants don’t market to this very important part of their target market. Here are 7 great ideas to help you.
- Build a database of customers. One of the best ways to increase the value of your business is to build a database of customers, because it places you in a much better position when you want to increase customer numbers.
- Market to that database – whether it is by SMS or email, the database is nearly worthless if you don’t actually market to it. Email marketing is, of course, at a much lower cost, but the open rate of SMS marketing is definitely a lot higher. Remember, the effectiveness comes down to the attractiveness of the offer and with email marketing, it is all in the subject line. If the subject line is no good, the email won’t get opened.
- Social Media Marketing – Facebook and Twitter work best with people who are already your customers. They feel like they have some sort of engagement and are more likely to be interested in what you are doing. Taking photos of guests, if appropriate for your restaurant, and placing them on Facebook is great, because the photos get tagged and their friends will see that they have been there. For your existing customers, it can be another way of reminding them to come back.
- Offer cards – Why not give your customers an offer to come back? It can be part of the customer satisfaction surveys or as simple as an offer on the business card – you can even offer them a few in case they want to refer your restaurant to their friends. If the experience has been great, the offer doesn’t need to be big, and can be targeted at the hard to market times, like early in the week, helping to drive up utilisation on those hard to fill times.
- Birthday campaigns. Everyone likes a gift for their birthdays and an offer for the lucky birthday boy or girl is a great way to get customers to come back at least once a year to your restaurant. Birthday campaigns are very easy in principle, gather a database of birthdays and send out an offer, but they are rarely executed well because of the time consuming nature of running the campaign. Someone has to sort through all of the members, collect new members details, send the offer out. In a busy restaurant, who has time for that? The good news is that these programs can be automatic. The customer fills their details in on the website and the offer is automatically sent out to them. To increase the number of birthdays to market to, gather the information on customer satisfaction cards and get wait staff to prompt for the information. The campaign just runs automatically. The great thing about Birthday’s is that people rarely celebrate by themselves, so they will bring a group of friends in, giving you more people you can gather birthday details from.
- As you build up multiple channels to communicate with customers, you will increase the traction of your in restaurant marketing initiatives. Changes in the menu, mid-week offers, theme nights, special one-time only menus and event nights often fail to work because simply not enough people know about them. If you run a special degustation menu as a one-time only special, and have 5,000 email addresses to send them to, you stand a much better chance of getting traction than just trying to market in the local paper and to customers in the month prior. Imagine the interest you will get for the second one if the first one was sold out!
- Remember the 3Gs of a successful restaurant repeat business marketing – Great food, great price and great experience. Ideally you will provide all 3 in some respect. Many businesses concentrate on 2, but the more you can do in each area, the more likely customers will want to come back. Your marketing should be aimed at reminding them that they had a great time last time and should come in again, not offering discounts to try and entice them in. Provide the 3Gs and it will be a gentle reminder which is all that is required to get customers back, Skimp on the 3Gs and you will be working hard with discounts and incentives.
So there are 7 things that you can start doing today to help you get more of your first time customers turning into repeat customers. Marketing4Restaurants has built a whole range of features into our product to help you increase customers by marketing quickly and easily. If you need more information, please contact us.