Market the Restaurant From the Inside, Out.
The most cost-effective marketing
dollar is spent on your current guest. Create 'Raving Fans'. When
you nurture that relationship to produce evangelists who tout you,
you have struck proverbial gold.
Advertising research concludes that word-of mouth is the most
effective advertising, because it is the most believable.
It is 5
times cheaper to retain a current customer than to find a new
15% of the guests you serve are first time users of that
marketing statistics form the basis of a primary tenet of Method
Marketing. Focus on your current guest. I know smart restaurateurs
who believe the above with their head, but cannot accept it with
their heart. They seek the ephemeral 'guest/customer/market
segment' they do not currently attract, as if their business were
set in quick sand and their guests were slowly being drained away
by forces outside of their control. "What about the customer we
don't have?" they cry, "What can we do to get them?"
current guest a 'raving fan'. Develop a real relationship with
each guest. Nurture it. Follow up on it. If you lavish the right
kind of attention on the guest, both when they are in your
restaurant and when they are away, you create evangelists who sell
your story for you.
What is the 'right kind of attention'? If you have employed the
Golden Rules of Method Marketing then you understand the guests
likes and dislikes and what they expect when they come to you. You
know to whom you are compared. You have heightened your menu,
décor, service style and created experience details to deliver on
your promise. You have eliminated the elements of you operation
and concept that detract. You have hired the right actors to
perform your story and rewarded them immediately for 'doing things
right'. What else can you do inside?
first timers and cater to them. Over one in ten of your guests
today will be coming to you for the first time. Welcome them.
Introduce them to the key elements of your concept. Guaranteed,
many of these guests are intimidated when they first arrive. You
know your concept. They do not.
the names of every guest who walks in your restaurant. Look to
remember them. This should be seen as a process over time to
develop a relationship and not a means to 'become best friends
tonight'. A guest knows the difference between phony friendship
and a sincere interest to find out about them. Approach it as a
long-term commitment and reward your actors for doing it. It
will become second nature and natural. It will amaze your
current guests to be part of an e-mail-based group of VIPs. Use
the permission they give you by signing up to reach out to them
on a regular basis. Think beyond frequency programs that depend
on discounts to produce action. Think about building
relationships. Acknowledge their patronage, give them sneak
previews of new items, invite them to 'secret shop' and
otherwise engage in ongoing 'conversations' that build trust.
The guest will soon be astounded, as they realize this is not
another impersonal 'e-mail-Spam-promo' deal.
newsletter or other printed piece you can use for promotional
purposes and to further your story. Change it frequently.
Let it be another way you stay in touch.
your credit card companies to reach out to guests who have used
you, but may not be part of the club yet. Thank them for their
patronage. Invite them to join.
The key to all of this is a commitment to developing an ongoing
conversation with your guest that develops, over time, into an
intense relationship. Everyone loves to be loved. Understand it.
Embrace it. Think of it as if you were cultivating farmland. It
takes longer to harvest than to hunt, but oh brother, what a
Use your funds to
target the guests identified by your research. The best
advertising is that which reinforces the feelings your guests have
already expressed about your concept.
sound as if Method Marketing looks down on advertising. On the
contrary, Method Marketing embraces advertising. It just hates
inefficiency. Outside of the restaurant experience itself, there
is no more powerful way to communicate the essential experience
details of your concept than through electronic media. The very
same details, I might point out, that you and your guest forged
together through Method Marketing.
There are precious few companies out there who have unlimited
advertising funds with which to play. I suspect that if I
mentioned names, they too would insist that they do not spend what
they should. So, a given in our business is that: "You'll never
have enough dollars, hours or people with which to do all you
want." Turn that lament into a virtue.
"inside-out" approach, you spend marketing resources on a series
of ever widening programmatic circles. Do not spend on media until
you have exhausted the marketing possibilities within your
three-mile trading area and the zip codes from where the majority
of your guests come.
Focus your marketing communications efforts. Answer these
questions first, before you spend a dime:
done the research to determine who your guests are? When they
use you? What they feel about you? How they describe your
concept and to whom they compare you?
determined from where (zip codes) your guests have come, when
they patronize your restaurant?
have a plan for your upcoming year? Have you prepared a graph of
weekly sales broken out by your day-parts so that you can
compare current performance with the past year? Does your plan
evaluate the success or failure of past programs? Did sales and
guest counts go up? Did you retain those increases after the
program was over? Did your profits rise with your sales?
With Advertising, ask yourself:
'ad/promotion/vehicle/whatever' reach my target market? How many
other people will it reach that are not my target?" You do not
need a sledgehammer to smack a fly.
will it reach my target?" We live in a culture where, we are
assaulted by 10-15,000 advertising messages a day.
advertiser shown me how their 'ad/promotion/vehicle/whatever'
reaches my target? If not, why?" Advertisers understand
targeting, but they do not want you to do it. It costs them too
much money. Make them.
'ad/promotion/vehicle/whatever' support my story?"
charity, worthy though it may be, enhance my story?" Fighting
cancer is an important goal, but it does not enhance most eating
expenditure 'goes back to the community', what return do I get?"
It sounds cold hearted, but that softball team had better be
eating and spending at you establishment. Otherwise, do not do
The best advertising is that which reinforces the feelings your
guests have already expressed about your concept. Reassure them
that, indeed, "This is why I chose Rick's Place. I just love
their..." This is a powerful truth. Remember it.