Restaurant owners, like many other types of business owners, generally aren’t marketing professionals – and they don’t have the time or the desire to break into branding strategies. However, that doesn’t make branding and marketing for restaurants any less crucial to success. Today, our branding agency is talking about the most direct path to restaurant success, with some targeted branding and marketing advice that applies to all industries.
Branding Agency Highlights 4 Restaurant Brand-Building Areas
There are four distinct areas in which restaurants can focus to build their brand (and their bottom lines):
- First-Time Diners
- Return Diners
- Average Sale Amounts
- Group Sizes
As our branding agency has discussed in the past, acquiring a new client costs approximately 7-10 times more than retaining an existing one. That makes the following statistic disheartening:
80-90% of restaurant marketing budgets are spent on acquiring new customers.
Why? Because that’s what the competition is doing. That doesn’t, however, mean it’s the best approach.
Instead, our branding agency recommends that restaurants:
- build loyalty programmes (to increase the percentage of returning diners)
- increase sale averages (with price increases, upgrades, merchandise, and deals that align with the brand’s USP)
- increase the average size of groups (by offering group discounts and hosting parties, for instance)
In many cases, our branding agency has found that word-of-mouth advertising takes care of bringing in first-time diners…meaning that a restaurant’s energies are best spent engaging and retaining them once they’re there.
Branding Agency Advice for Building a Restaurant Brand
Now you’re wondering how your restaurant can build revenue in all four of the above-mentioned areas. Here are some ideas to inspire the building of your restaurant brand:
- What is the one thing that your restaurant does better (or differently) than your competitors? There may be more than one thing, but we suggest that you start by focussing on one, defining USP (unique selling point) in order to position your restaurant brand in the market. This should be clearly communicated in all of your marketing. It is your promise to your ideal client.
- Is there an interesting history or story that led to the creation of your restaurant brand? Share it. Make it accessible to your target audience. The majority of people’s purchases are emotionally driven. Appealing to their sentiments will go a long way in gaining their loyalty.
- How will you make your customers’ dining experiences unforgettable? This area is virtually limitless, but we suggest that you tailor their experiences to your USP, so that your brand is cohesive and consistent – which will build trust, satisfy needs, stimulate emotions, and create positive (and return-inducing) memories.
- Identify your busy season or busy times of day and market to boost sales during that period. Too often, restaurant marketing strategies include plans for building business during slow times. Do not attempt to change your ideal clients’ behaviour. Instead, cater to their preferences. Plan to spend approximately 3-6% of your sales on marketing, and market more heavily during your busy season(s).
- During your slow season (or slow times of day), reduce your dining space if possible. This lends a feeling of fullness to your establishment, which acts as social proof to new and existing customers. Do the same with your parking area, if applicable. Any branding agency will tell you that there is no better testament to a restaurant’s popularity (and quality) than a full parking lot and dining area.
- Invest time and funds in menus that not only represent your brand, but build it. Include your restaurant’s story and make the visuals rich with your brand design. Patrons will spend a lot of time staring at that menu. Make it work for you. Additionally, we recommend that you evaluate your menu’s performance (and the performance of individual menu items) every 6-12 months and reprint as needed. The extra effort and cost will prove to be good investments in brand-building.
- Think about food service and presentation and ask yourself, How can I represent my USP with a unique dining experience? Firstly, know your ideal client and how he or she prefers to be served (buffet, family style, server), and then build upon that with a unique experience. It can be as dramatic as fondue, flambé, and at-table food preparation, or as simple as unique bread baskets and table settings. Remember that 75% of your brand’s uniqueness will be attributed to the dining experience – so make it satisfying for your ideal client.
- Ensure that all employees (hostesses, wait staff, bartenders) are well-versed in the language of your brand. Encourage every employee to be a passionate brand ambassador with their words, actions, and commitment to customer service. This will build customer loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising. Current customers will be proud to bring friends and will feel confident in recommending your restaurant to others.
- Market your restaurant brand to hotels, airports, and visitors’ centres as if they are valuable prospects…because they are. Ensure that they have menus on-hand and that they are aware of any current promotions. Supply them with samples, free gifts, and free meals so they’ll feel compelled to recommend your restaurant.
Business owners are busy with all the daily tasks associated with keeping their business afloat, and therefore often resort to the same marketing techniques being used by their competitors. This can be problematic. Their competitors are operating with different budgets, are targeting a different type of consumer…and often, aren’t getting the results they’d like from their marketing overhead.
This branding agency urges you to evaluate your restaurant - or any type of brand, for that matter - as a unique entity with an exclusive clientele. Focus less on marketing and more on branding and promise delivery…and your restaurant just might be the focus of the next big food revolution.