So you’ve selected your branding and hit the ground running. You’ve done what you can to build out your social media platforms, and you’re starting to see some serious merchandise sales. It’s safe to say you’re starting to get your community’s attention — but is your branding working?
Good branding can help you lure in new customers and give regulars a sense of why they should return. Your branding shapes all of your marketing efforts, and it’s important to select campaigns that sync up with the message you’re trying to tell.
Some restaurants have access to a ton of data analytics, whether through their website, social media, or POS systems. Others are doing their best to make it on their own. Even without these fancy portals, there are several questions you can use to measure whether your branding is working.
Read on for our guide to good branding and learn how to make adjustments within your restaurant.
Campaigns and Promotions
When it comes to good restaurant marketing, nothing beats a promotion. A recent study found that most customers who return to restaurants to cash in on their loyalty programs prefer to be rewarded with free items.
If your regulars admit to coming back in for discounts and freebies, those same deals are sure to win new customers.
However, it’s important to make sure you’re not spending beyond your means to win over these new customers. Instead, try to imagine a rotating set of promotions that can help you grow your business without going broke.
Are Your Promotions Consistent?
When you’re first starting, it can help to establish different daily promotions to get your customers in the door. Offering half-price specials on certain days may be enough to spark their curiosity, but it’s best to set up a consistent calendar from the get-go.
Customers who fall in love with your promotion will want to return for the same steal, and if your promotion schedule is all over the place, they may get confused.
Some restaurants also over-promote by offering scattered deals every day of the week. It’s one thing to establish a daily schedule, and it’s another to host different events or hourly specials that disrupt your restaurant’s usual flow. These elements can also flag poor branding. When you have too much going on within your restaurant, your customers will come to associate your restaurant with several different themes. Where you can, you should use your promotions to highlight your branding and pay homage to some of your strongest specials.
Uniting all your deals under one umbrella is a great way to hammer your brand into the minds of hungry customers. That way, when they start to crave your food, they’ll know exactly where — and when — to find you.
Are Your Discounts Hurting Your Brand?
It’s one thing to offer a daily special, but it’s another to allow customers always to access half-price food. If your customers can access serious discounts online, they may continue to go back to these platforms to ensure they can always hack into another discounted meal.
Over time, they’ll grow used to paying a discounted price for your food and shirk away from the idea of paying full price. Moreover, they’ll devalue your brand.
This often happens to new restaurants that run Groupon promotions for too long. While customers may initially be excited to see your brand on the coupon site, they’ll make sure to go back and purchase the discount before shopping with you if they know your ad will always be there.
If more and more people catch on, you’re looking at weeks or months of half-price shoppers and may end up making regulars out of your least helpful customers.
What Are Your Guests Saying?
The best way to gauge your branding is to check out what your guests think. This may mean logging into the shaky Yelp portal to see what good (or bad) reviews you’ve received, but it can be even more helpful to follow up with customers directly.
If you’re wary of pulling up a chair with your guests — don’t be. There are plenty of other ways to record their comments and keep track of feedback. Helpful advice from your customers is worth its weight in free desserts. Try to gauge whether their comments align with the vision you have for your brand.
Do they notice the elements of your restaurant you put so much work into? Do they resonate with the flavors or dishes you’ve decided to highlight? And most of all, do they understand your branding?
This last question should not be asked outright but rather gauged by the other information you gain. Try to review the goals you set for your brand and the “brand story” you want your restaurant to tell. Are your customers picking up on these ideas, or are they distracted by your promotions and trend-watching?
Only you can ask the questions that can gauge your brand’s success and make sure to take advantage of every medium at your disposal. Placing physical comment cards around your restaurant and promising a deal or freebie for those who fill them out is an easy way to secure reviews. Creating a similar process online is super easy and can be linked and shared in your weekly email newsletter.
How Can You Get Your Branding Out There?
If you’re struggling to make a splash in your community, there’s one surefire way to get noticed: grocery store advertising. Because most grocery stores pull their customers in from a three-mile radius of the store, you can count on hyper-local targeting to reach the customers that matter most.
Through grocery store advertising programs like coupon-receipt advertising, you can print your ad on the backs of grocery store register tape and send every shopper home with your coupon.
This is a great way to get your supermarket advertisement out as quickly as possible and an easy way to win back customers from your competition.