There are advantages to being a chain restaurant versus an independent establishment: chains can offer customers lower prices, utilize established brand recognition & equity and activate larger resources through the parent company. However, customers have started to care less and less about these advantages and tend to pick smaller, independent restaurants.
Be aware that price is NOT the main criteria when it comes to picking a restaurant. Customers search for a menu that is more unique and service that is more personal and friendly. According to Technomic’s study in 2016, all consumers groups, except Gen X, are choosing independent restaurants at least 10% more frequently. And that trend is not stopping, especially now in 2018.
For that reason, chain restaurants are having to come up with innovative ideas that will help keep their consumers’ interest. The standard ‘build it and they will come’ mentality is no longer working.
So, we have put together a list of some of the interesting marketing tech strategies we have seen and some of our own advice to help BOTH, big chains and independent owners.
1. Geofence Marketing – Our first and second tip both relate to one another, but geofence marketing is the more specific of the two. With geofencing, you can set a virtual advertising fence around your restaurant. Let’s say you ONLY want to show a lunch ad on Facebook to people that are currently in or may travel within a .3-mile radius around your restaurant. That type of hyper-targeting is called geofencing. You set a small, specific area to advertise in, versus, targeting an entire city or state. Using tools like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, you can set these parameters and only choose to market to customers in certain neighborhoods or in areas around your establishment. It can help you better utilize every ad dollar you spend.
2. Geotargeting – Like the tip above, this is the bigger brother of the two. With geotargeting, you can choose to show ads in specific counties, cities, residential areas or entire cities. And anyone in those designated areas will be served your specific ad. Like geofencing, geotargeting allows you to better use your ad spend and see a return. Have multiple locations? Use geotargeting for one location to show location-specific deals and use the same technique for another location to see what deals work better in which areas. You have the ability to test new deals to see what customers truly respond to.
3. Journey tracking – Owners and operators are using this technique to track their customer’s digital journey from unknown person to buying customer to brand advocate. We have talked about marketing tools like Hubspot, that can track customer journeys, set up marketing automation and buyer personas.
Now, operators are making the investment to better understand where potential customers are dropping off, not converting on purchases, to email/promotional tracking and website engagement. Understanding how effective your marketing efforts are is crucial to how much and where to invest those marketing dollars. Data is powerful. Use it. And if you are not tracking any of these numbers, you are losing out.
4. Work with delivery partners – We have talked about this before in a previous article, Delivery is Not Cannibalizing Your Business. Third-party delivery services can be of great help when it comes to marketing. A restaurant can join forces with the delivery services to offer a promo delivery for a certain period of time which can be great for both companies. This also allows you to reach customers who have either never heard of your business or choose not to go due to it’s location, wait-time or any other reason. This expands your business and keeps tables free for in-person patrons.
We hope our readers have found these tips to be helpful and/or thought-provoking. Try out these techniques and let us know on social media if these help or you need assistance! The Guys are always willing to help.
Need to pass the time between our next post? Then check out Custom Business Solutions for all your restaurant technology needs!