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This is Part 2 in a series.  We will look at the traditional sales cycle as it relates to restaurant marketing and examine a full-scale plan to fill all the points on the cycle.  In this part we talk more
about Establishing Relationships - creating awareness of your business
and starting a new customer's cycle.

In we talked about examining your current and desired customer base.  As I said, this is key to determining how you need to move forward - not
just who you get now, but who do you WANT to get?  In that post I said:

Many believe that restaurants don't follow the traditional sales cycle, and the same rules don't apply in food service; I disagree.

What we need to do is tailor the traditional terms to the food service industry.  Customers buy for their own individual reasons, but in general restaurant customers follow the same path as customers of any
other business.  So how do we use that cycle?  Well, let's see!

Establishing Relationships

How do customers discover a new restaurant? Radio, TV, newspaper, Valpak, word of mouth...  Restaurant marketing has many forms, and in most circumstances, people won't go someplace new based on just one of
these - except word of mouth.  Think about it - you see an ad for a new
place with "" 
Well, really?  Are you just going to take their word for it?  Or are
you going to ask around and get other peoples' input?  Most of the time,
it's going to make you aware, but not call you to action.

Now, if your best friend, who you've shared plenty of meals with, tells you "that is the best Italian I've ever had" - you will listen and be more likely to try it.  He knows you, knows what you like.  You know
him and his tastes.  "But, Karl," you say, "how do I create word of
mouth without getting someone in the door first?"  Patience, my friend -
I'm getting there!  Obviously you can't really do that - but you can
maximize the people who DO come in the door.

Your restaurant marketing toolkit:

  • Mobile optimized website, well laid-out and easy to navigate
  • Claimed profiles on Yelp, Google, Urbanspoon, Foursquare, etc.
  • A variety of marketing channels appropriate to your target clients
  • Personable customer service staff
  • Customer loyalty program

You want your staff to take care of your customers, who are in a later part of the cycle.  While exceeding their needs, your staff asks the customers to join the customer loyalty program, whatever it may be. 
They also encourage the customers to post comments online, both on your
site and on Yelp, Google, etc.

I hope you see where I'm going here - get your customers to be your salesforce by using their positive word of mouth.  All positive reviews can make new customers question the accuracy of the reviews.  Negative comments give you a chance to respond, correct,
and show a true dedication to the customer and their needs.

You still need to get the word out to more people.  Use the media options we talked about to make people aware of you - but make sure you take every opportunity to add word of mouth behind your ad.  Post
testimonials, direct people to Yelp, whatever.  Most of those media work
better with a call to action in discount form - bite the bullet and do
the discount.  You are trying to build a clientele - but don't give away
the farm.  You don't want customers that only comes because you give
70% off! 

So now you have created new relationships; this needs to be an ongoing part of your plan.  Keep talking to your customers, keep encouraging them to join the loyalty plan, keep taking great care of
them.

we will look at Need Recognition - targeting your customers' needs and yours as well.

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