Marketing is an uncertain science, a mixture of luck and intuition, data and experimentation. And, when it comes to restaurant marketing, innovation can come from creative agencies, courageous restaurateurs, or franchise companies that want to bring their values to life. The next seven are a mix of the above. Whether big or small, they each offer insight or insight into how best to promote restaurants, build customer loyalty, and build a compelling brand.
Think globally, act locally.
Nando’s Peri Peri, a South African fast casual chicken chain, entered the Chicago market with a spirit of generosity and goodwill. Forgoing aggressive promotions and the usual freebies, the new location implemented a temporary pay-what-you-want invitation and donated all funds donated to a local nonprofit, endearing themselves, in the process. , local residents, both for its friendliness and its “peri peri” spice. What he lost in profits initially, he more than made up for in his well-deserved reputation as a “good neighbor”.
Turn data into dollars.
Dallas-based Marketing Vitals has a unique value proposition for the restaurants it works with. With its painstakingly accurate analytics software, it offers business consultants, restaurateurs, and national and international restaurant franchises the ability to turn guesswork into certainty and data into dollars. By offering answers for everything from top-performing servers to what drives traffic and when, they allow restaurants to scale smarter. For an industry with an infamously low profit margin (on average, 60% of full-service and quick-service operations fail in the first three years), such precision can be the difference between living the dream and filing for bankruptcy.
Make the experience memorable.
Jax Cafe, a beloved Minneapolis steakhouse, spends $50-60,000 a year printing custom matchbooks for its customers. Since people often celebrate special occasions, like a prom or birthdays, at restaurants, matchbooks end up being both treasured keepsakes and reminders that the restaurant was part of those wonderful memories. What more could a restaurant ask for than to be associated with people’s happiest events? And in such an elegant and romantic way, much less!
Use technology to create smiles.
At San Francisco-based “The Melt,” the ordering app comes with a little bonus. When customers sign up for the app, they also have the option to add their favorite songs to their profile. The next time they pick up an order, their favorite track is added to the restaurant’s playlist and they’re served their food, along with a side of whatever they like to listen to. It’s personalization taken to a whole new level, and it can be the difference between a customer and a fan.
Anticipate customer needs.
It would have been easy for Starbucks to rest on its laurels as a popular venue for business meetings away from the office. But rather than take that traffic for granted, Starbucks has created a free plugin that lets Microsoft Outlook users organize and host business powwows nearby. The best marketing strategies are win-win, and Starbucks’ proactive plug-in has saved professionals time while increasing shareholder profits.
Prioritize value creation over self-promotion.
When B-Dubs TV, Buffalo Wild Wing’s in-house television network, began recruiting high school sports superstars and their fans to submit clips of epic moves and moments, it transformed from a company trying to sell beer and wings to a company that is invested in providing cutting-edge customer experiences, which has made it stand out from all other companies selling wings and beer. He was able to capture the powerful feelings people feel at a sporting event – elation, excitement and investment, and direct them to his brand. Not in an evil way, but by supporting high school athletes and their school spirit.
Arby’s and his agency, Fallon, faced the challenge of reviving a marketing strategy that simply failed to convert. At a time when many QSRs were scrambling to include healthier options like salads and fruit cups on their menus, they decided their real strength was meat. By embracing their passion for meat and sharing it in a bold and irreverent way, Arby’s not only thrived, but also set an example for other similar brands in embracing what made them distinct.