How To

Restaurant Marketing – What am I doing now that is hurting my business?

One of the most important questions that you should ask is: Am I doing something now that is hurting my business? I’m sorry to say this but you most probably are. There are two types of getting the message to your customer, one is through traditional broadcasting mediums: television, radio, newspaper, flyers, and table tent ads. These are broadcast: “I got a message, I want to get it out. I am going to make it short and succinct and it’s going to say who I am, where I am, what I want you to do, and maybe give you a deal or something. Boom! Here’s the message.”

The new messaging platform we call communicast is what we’re all calling social media, but the truth is, it’s a two-way street. It’s a communication that we’re having, and we’ve got to learn to think about it differently. We’ve got to learn to think about the fact that we’re communicating. We’re not just sending a message to them. We should be listening as well. We are creating a conversation just like when you’re at a party.

This is very, very important because if you take all of the things that you know about getting your broadcast message out there and you put it into these new platforms – You put it on Facebook, you put it on Twitter – it’s going to come off all wrong. You are going to look like a spammer. You are going to look like a guy who’s only interested in pushing your message down somebody’s throat. The real problem with that is you’d have gone to some effort to get these people to follow you on Facebook and follow you on Twitter.

It’s not very difficult to get someone to follow you. You have a very simple offer, like free drinks with dinner when you follow us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, and people will follow you, but the second they hit that button and say, ‘unlike’ because you’ve sent too many broadcast-style messages to them, you’re doomed. You’ll never get that person back. You’ll have to buy them free dinner to get them to come back, and you want to get them and hold them close and keep them listening to your message until the day they die. This is very important. This is how you turn customers who are occasional customers into regulars through your messages to them, through consistent messaging.

McDonald’s knows this. They run their ads all the time but those are broadcast ads, and from the way they do things, they still have got their broadcast mentality going. It needs to be engaging. Think about you’re at a party. You think you’re trying to make friends with somebody. “What do I have to do? I have got to tell them a good joke. I have got to tell them something interesting. I have got to entertain them. I have got to get them to like me.” If you just go and say, “Hey! Come on down. I have got two-for-one specials!” That person at the party is not going to be interested in it. If you just run around the party and give that message to everybody there, they are going to think you’re the weirdest guy, and they are going to be hitting the ‘unlike’ button and not inviting you to the next party. That’s effectively what will happen to you if you don’t make this transition from the broadcasting mediums to the communicasting mediums.

You are probably doing this now, and you’ve probably got a lot of people ‘unliked’ you off of Facebook or stopped following you on Twitter, and if you’re not careful, soon you’ll be one of those people that says, “Oh, this stuff. This social media. This doesn’t work.” I have heard that from people. You think it won’t work but it does. You just absolutely have to do it the right way, and it’s not hard. Just approach them the way they want to be approached. Talk to them the way they want to be talked to. Don’t talk to them like you’re some big building or big restaurant talking to people. Nobody wants to talk to a restaurant. They want to talk to people.

They want someone to bring them interesting stuff. They’d love to see videos of your chef making things and talking about it. This is quick and easy. You get a smartphone. You go in there. You shoot a quick video. It doesn’t have to be polished and smooth. In fact, the less so probably the better. You don’t want to, you know, uncover your dirty laundry necessarily, but you do want to show them that you’ve got interesting things going on, that you wait staff is entertaining, that if they come and hang out in your restaurant they’re going to have fun.

Show little clips. In fact, my number one tip to anyone would be take a smartphone or a tablet or something that’s got video on it and ask your customers to do little testimonials as they’re leaving the restaurant. And you’ll have a video that’s like, “Hi, we’re Bob and Mary and we came down and we just love this place. You should come too.” You get a collection of those going and its social proof. People are like, “Wow! Maybe you should go down. Look at all these videos they’ve got in their restaurant.” People love these things. They like it and they are entertained. This is not a difficult thing to do, but you need to be diligent about it, and you need it to have your voice. It needs to be you. You need to be genuine. Don’t go and hire some kid from the neighborhood because he’s good with computers to do your social media for you. That’ll be him, not you. You need to kind of get your voice.

If you’re going to hire someone to do this work for you, make absolutely sure that what they’re doing is concise and fits your strategy and has a voice that is you, is genuinely you and is not some facsimile of you and that you’re paying attention to what’s going on, and you know, even if they’re doing a lot of the heavy lifting, at least you can join in and be part of the conversation and keep things going and engaging, that’s the one thing I would do. So good luck to you and the business.