Running a restaurant is a tricky business. From mastering your brand to successfully developing an online persona, there are a number of steps that can be taken to help you drive an increase in foodie footfall. With the public being bombarded by logos and restaurant identities, it is more important than ever to ensure that your brand experience stands out from your competition’s.
Understanding Your Brand
There is a simple analogy we can use here: Someone does not buy a drill because they want a drill, but rather they buy a drill because they want a hole in a wall. The same principle works with restaurants – restaurants do not provide a meal because someone wants to eat. They provide a meal because there is a need for an experience.
Understanding the experience your brand and restaurants offer diners is key to your success. Whether they have big tables and menus that cater for large and loud celebrations with friends, or small private rooms perfect for cooing couples, play to the unique experiences that are on offer. Find the audience seeking that experience and market in their direction.
“Look at restaurant branding as a plate of food. If the ingredients are poor quality, unconsidered and slapped together with inconsistency and one aim to just feed a hunger, without a thought for your customer’s unique wants, tastes and needs at heart, you are best serving it straight to the bin. Good branding for your restaurant should make customers feel warm and familiar, but have a unique concept driving a niche following, a purpose for why you wanted to open a restaurant in the first place. Excite their minds with a brand that makes them feel welcome and take them on a journey that excites their tastes from the moment they book to the moment they leave. Be honest, be authentic. Show them who you are, why you do what you do and how you will keep them wanting more. Like a good stock, your brand essence should be the very foundation for every customer moment.” Ben Wood, Executive Creative Director, CAB Studios
The Benefits of Great Customer Relationship Management
Booking fees can be a bane on baking, a pain on preparation, and an agony on avocados. Using third party booking platforms do have their benefits in terms of increasing initial footfall and introducing a varied assortment of clientele to a restaurant, however after the first introduction there is no reason why third parties need to be involved. This is where a great CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system comes into play.
Creating your own opt-in customer database is highly beneficial. Collect as much contact information as you can, along with the all important permission to keep them on a mailing list. Targeting customers directly encourages them to make a second, third and fourth booking, eliminating the need to pay third party commission.
The Importance of Targeted Email Campaigns
Let us ask you a question - what separates a truly great restaurant from a good restaurant? This may seem like an obvious question with a very prominent answer – better food! Yes, that is true, but understanding the preferences and behaviours of your customers will enable you to tailor your menu and promotions to their specific needs. This helps create regular customers out of dubious dabblers who just wanted to dip their toe in the water.
Creating preference and behavioural based email campaigns (from the aforementioned customer data) that cater to the differing needs your customers have, is an effective way to drive repeat custom. By reaching potential diners with relevant tailored email offers at the right time, will increase the likelihood of them booking another experience at your restaurant. This is particularly true if the email drives them directly to a simple and intuitive online booking facility.
"Sending relevant emails to your customers plays a huge part in orchestrating successful marketing campaign. The key to this is to gather as much information about your subscribers as possible in order to keep them up to date with that they want to hear, rather than what you want to tell them. Use the data you have accordingly; birthday emails are a fantastic way to boost return custom and make the subscriber feel special. These are just a few ways to help build a strong relationship between your brand and your customers." Jen Manning, Email Lead, CAB Studios
Ensuring A Great User Experience
In a world where the Internet is an urban god, websites are king. It is because of this that it is important, more so than ever, that your website is responsive, has simple and intuitive navigation, and enables diners to book quickly and securely. Your website needs to clearly deliver what a diner is looking for, within a few clicks, and offer a seamless user experience.
The maths are simple – a good website will decrease bounce rates and increase bookings. It will direct users quickly to the information they want to find and guide them through a simple conversion process. It will also enhance a diner’s overall perception of your brand, increasing the likelihood of turning browsers into bookers.
“Having an easy to navigate website is essential to having a successful online presence, providing a core basis for any Internet marketing recipe. An online booking system could give a restaurant an edge over competition. A great website is like a great appetiser; it’ll make the customer hungry for more.” Tom Hobbs, User Experience Lead, CAB Studios
Implementing Social Media to Boost Footfall
Social Media is one of the easiest and most direct routes to engage with customers and potential foodies. Though essential, being social is more than just Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter ‘follows’. Ensure your brand is active within the channels your customers, their followers, and their influencers can be found.
Social Media is moving quickly towards photo sharing rather than words. This offers your brand a great opportunity to share enticing food imagery with target audiences. If your restaurant clientele consist of older teens and Millennials, consider a presence on Snapchat. Instagram reaches mobile users mainly aged 18-25, 57% of whom share and view photos daily. Pinterest is an image-curating network of 84% females aged 25-34. How do you discover where your customers are? Ask them!
“Use Social Media to stay in touch with your customers. Consider posting images of plated up dishes as well as competitions and social incentives. A socially active restaurant is a winning restaurant” Rosie Spaughton, Social Media Executive, CAB Studios
Following the above guidelines means having an active front to the business deeply set within the digital world. They should help increase foodie footfall dramatically, and having a regime in place, ready to be implemented, allows for you to focus on everything else. For more hints and tips make sure you stay up to speed with CAB Studios, where we drive growth.