As a Restaurant owner, you likely already realize that your marketing strategies and plan need to be different than that of a typical retail business. If you haven’t yet ordered our ‘Restaurant Butts in The Seats Marketing System’ e-book (it’s FREE ) – just sign up Here.
Keeping a restaurant thriving and busy takes even more. Not only do you have to create desire to get new guests to come in and try your great food, you need to keep them coming back. In short, you want Butts In Seats.
Doing this will take both delivering familiar, expected comforts and new, exciting draws.
One thing is certain. Success comes from constantly thinking of new ways to reach your audience. Complacency and automated marketing won’t work.
One of our favorite ways to deliver the familiar comfort as well as new excitement is a loyalty program. (Did you read our articles about loyalty programs? If not click here for part 1, click here for part 2.
Now, more than ever, people want to connect – not online, but in person, up close, with others who share their interests. Loyalty programs allow your guests to meet regularly with other people who have similar interests. They make friends. They come to your restaurant for events, and you are never far from their mind.
This assumes you have an email list already of guests who want to be a part of what you offer.
Here are some of the ways to get your guests to return again and again:
1. Know what they want. Does your demographic want fine wine? Do they like familiar dishes on holidays? Are they adventurous? Do they like cooking demonstrations? Give them what they want.
2. Give them what they want – in new ways. You might have a monthly wine pairing dinner for your list. At Christmas, give them dinner, wine and add caroling to the mix. In summer, offer them an evening of ‘The Margaritas of Summer’ and demonstrate how to make a few.
3. What they are getting is a way to connect with the familiar (your restaurant, food they know will be great, the company of others they have gotten to know by coming to your events, and your consistencyin delivering.
4. They are also getting a new experience – a menu not available anywhere else; a new Tequila not yet released to the public (people love being first to try something!); an interactive wine tasting/food pairing that gives them an opportunity to share their opinion.
A loyalty program is an opportunity for you. It gives you an ever-growing email list of people who want what you offer. Use this list! Between events, don’t forget your group of fans.
5. Send them a gift card. It doesn’t have to be a large amount. The important part is that you are acknowledging them and expressing appreciation.
6. Ask a few to come in and try new dishes you’re considering. They will feel valued because you asked, you get great feedback, and they’ll feel invested in your success.
7. Let them know about upcoming events at your restaurant. Create a monthly newsletter in which you give them news (Perhaps you won an award? Have a new dish? A musical event?). If you don’t have time to do a full newsletter, at least send your list a monthly ‘events’ calendar.
8. Reward them for bringing in new customers. Set up a system by which you acknowledge them whenever one of their friends or colleagues comes in for the first time.
9. Give them deals. Remember, the purpose is to develop long-term relationships. If you break even on your loyalty program dinners, gift card giveaways, and food tastings, that’s great. It creates the feeling of reciprocity (see our article on the marketing tools of influence – you are using psychology to reach and influence your guests).
10. Acknowledge Birthdays, Anniversaries, and Holidays for your email list. Give them something. Thank them for their loyalty.
Think outside the box:
Promote odd holidays or invent new ways to celebrate the usual ones.
11. National Soup Month – promote your soups and stews by inviting your guests to post photos of what they order
12. Father’s Day – offer a Dad Survival Kit which includes a glass of whiskey, a special glass with your restaurant name and logo on it, and a steak dinner.
13. National Hangover Day (January 1). Promote your unique Bloody Mary with breakfast.
Put your current guests to work:
14. Ask them to post photos of themselves at your restaurant and share with their friends on Facebook and Instagram. They’ll get to put their name in a bowl for a weekly drawing for lunch.
15. Buy your regular guests dinner with the understanding that they’ll ‘star’ in a photo shoot or video. Tell a story with photos showing your guests arriving hand-in-hand, getting served a glass of wine, enjoying their dinner, lingering over dessert. Use these ‘stories’ on your social media pages.
Put the media to work for you:
16. Have a big event planned? If it involves alcohol, invite local radio/television personalities to compete for fame and a prize by making their best cocktail. Get someone really outgoing to emcee the event. You’ll get additional publicity because you’ve already invited the media. Chances are, they’ll want to show off their station personalities involvement.
17. Host a ‘Foodie’ night. Invite local Food Bloggers. Make it FUN!
Communicate well and often:
18. Write a short review every month on a new Whiskey or Wine. Tell your readers what food(s) from your menu it goes well with. Encourage them to come in and try the month’s pairing by giving them a deal if they order both.
Want more ideas on how to get Butts In Seats? We work one-on-one with restaurant owners to develop the most effective marketing plan and strategies – based on your unique needs. Give us a call! 530-913-8473.