By Payman Taei, Founder of Visme
As a business owner, "specificity" and "personalization" are by far two of the most valuable tools you have in terms of crafting an effective marketing campaign. When a lot of people think of these terms, however, they focus all of their attention on the outward-facing opportunities they represent. Using a former guests’ name on a letter or sending targeted messages to people based on past behaviors are a great way to create an emotional connection with someone, sure.
But you should focus on the inward-facing opportunities, too.
Case in point: if you really want to better market your restaurant, you have to get both personal and specific regarding how you present yourself to the outside world. This can not only help give people an immediate impression of what you're all about, but it will also help separate you in their minds from so many other restaurants in the area. Getting to this point, of course, requires you to keep a few key things in mind.
Create a Restaurant Loyalty Program
Make absolutely no mistake about it: these days there is no restaurant "too fine" or "too fancy" for a thoughtfully designed loyalty program.
Yes, it's true that part of your success as a restaurant owner will come down to your ability to get new people in the door. But in an increasingly crowded marketplace, you also need to keep the ones you already have coming back. Your food and service will obviously play a big role in that, but never underestimate the power that a loyalty program can bring to the table.
Sit down with a poster maker and design a sign outlining everything a guest would need to know about your program. Don't just tell them what they'll get from signing up, but show them how easy it is to sign up as well.
You should also consider partnering with loyal program services that handle a lot of the infrastructure-side of things on your behalf. With these services, you can basically set up your own branded app-based loyalty program in minutes.
Make Your Restaurant Feel Like the Place to Be
These days, it takes more than just quality food to get people to leave their homes for a night out on the town. You really need to give them an experience that they wouldn't be able to create on their own. And that is precisely what themed-nights and other types of events are all about.
Your approach to this can be very straightforward or you can go above and beyond depending on your audience and the style of restaurant and event you're trying to run. If you have a restaurant that also includes a bar, for example, you could have themed events every night of the week. Sunday can be sports-centric during football season, while Tuesday could be something like "Trivia Night" or even "Movie Night."
Be sure to use an invitation maker to create unique promotional collateral for each event. Send them out either via email or through direct mail if you have guests’ addresses to raise awareness during those early days.
If someone can get a delicious meal and good service, that's one thing. If they're also getting to really relax and have fun in a way that they wouldn't be able to do in their own homes, that's suddenly even better.
As you craft this collateral, however, always keep in mind the importance of brand continuity. In other words, everything needs to feel like it both A) represents the style and feel of your restaurant, and B) is coming from the exact same place.
Yes, you will vary things up a bit depending on the nature of the event in question, but it all still needs to feel like it's coming from the same restaurant or you run the risk of confusing people.
That means that even when you sit down with a business card maker and design your business cards, they still need to feel visually similar to the posters you've made for "Trivia Night." If you're able to master that, people won't just get a good sense of why they should bother paying you a visit in the first place, they'll also have everything they need to convince themselves that coming back for more is a very, very good idea.
About the Author
Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.