Today’s marketing gurus will tell you that marketing in the 21st century is about building connections. Not just casual connections, but unique, personal, meaningful connections.
What does this mean for your restaurant? And, how does it relate to promoting specials and new items to keep your customers coming back? We can take several things from the marketing concept of building connections. Great food, service and ambiance are vital to your restaurant’s customer retention, but you also need to build relationships to keep customers coming back.
It’s in these customer connections that you’ll promote your specials and new items to keep customers returning for more at your restaurant.
In this blog post, we’ll dive into ways you can create meaningful connections with your customers so you can promote specials and new items to keep customers coming back.
Social media is one of the best ways to establish, build and continue relationships with your customers. Social media provides an easy avenue to promote your menu specials and new items while building customer loyalty.
Social media is no longer an option for the successful restaurant. Dare we say it’s mandatory? (tweet this)
Let’s talk about ways to promote specials and new menu items on social media.
1. Facebook: Use social-only promotions to drive sales of your new menu items. This rewards your customers for interacting with you via Facebook. Announce your new menu items and specials using vibrant photos and descriptive text.
One restaurant promoted their new menu item by featuring a photo on Facebook and asking followers to name the new menu item. The winner got a free dinner featuring items from the restaurant’s new menu.
This promoted the new menu item and encouraged customer loyalty while at the same time encouraging other Facebook users to come in and try it themselves.
2. Twitter: We love the idea of offering a secret menu item that is only available to people who mention you in a Twitter tweet. To do this, you offer a special that is only available to Twitter users who know your secret code. You encourage your customers to mention one of your tweets (a specific one) and then offer them a special that isn’t available to the general public.
This keeps your customers checking in on your social media channels. The secret is also a great call to action as most people are excited for something exclusive.
3. Instagram: Use this idea whether you’re promoting a special or a new menu item. Post a photo on Instagram of your menu special or new menu item. Encourage people to like to win your update. This encourages new customers to follow your social media channel.
When you post your photo include some instructions for the contest. Keep track of your new likes during the campaign, randomly choose a winner at the end, and notify the winner by mentioning him/her on Instagram.
You can use third party apps to manage your Instagram campaigns and spread them all over your channels, but this is a simple way to get started and promote your specials and new menu items. It also encourages customers to come back to your page as well as your restaurant because you’ve increased their loyalty through your contest.
One example of social media marketing done right is AJ Bombers, a small Milwaukee burger joint. They have an incredible 32,000+ Facebook fans and 24,000+ Twitter fans. They worked hard to establish their brand identity across not only Facebook and Twitter, but Foursquare and YouTube.
They use scrumptious images of their menu items. They post engaging content, creating connections with their customers. This connection then makes it easy to intersperse daily posts with promotions and specials. They’ve figured out the perfect blend of content and promotion.
AJ Bombers leveraged social media making it super easy for their customers to trust them and continue to do business with them.
With nearly 183 million smartphone users in the United States, text message marketing (SMS) is a new and viable way to promote your specials and new menu items.
While it may seem complicated, it is actually quite simple and takes very little time. Text messaging encourages your customers to opt-in to your mobile list just like they do to your email list. Once they’ve opted in, you can start sending out texts.
Use this option to announce specials and events as well as new menu items. Don’t send too many – find the right balance to grow your restaurant business and encourage customer retention.
Text messages should be short and have a very clear call to action. (tweet this) This is a great place to offer exclusive, today-only specials. Creating a sense of urgency encourages sales.
Let’s take a peek at how restaurant chain, Chipotle, has leveraged text messaging. They offer text-to-win campaigns to their loyal diners and fans. They’ve increased their success by tailoring their messages to an individual’s preferences and needs. They’ve encouraged customer retention by offering text specials.
Don’t let your restaurant’s diners leave without offering them the chance to sign up for your exclusive email list. Let them know you won’t bombard them, but you will offer news on specials, events and new menu items as well as foodie tips and tricks.
This connection is important to keeping customers coming back. It’s a bit of a give and take. They’re giving you their email address in exchange for something only you can provide – exclusive offers and specials.
Try and provide an interesting tip or tidbit in your emails. This helps build their loyalty. For example, they’ll remember your restaurant as the one who told them how to caramelize sugar when they’d always thought it impossible.
While your restaurant is the place your repeat customers visit, think of your restaurant’s website as the central hub to establishing an online connection with your customers. Use your website to post your specials and new items. Include links to your social media platforms and email and text message sign-up forms.
Make sure your website is mobile friendly. A site that degrades on a phone makes you look less professional and may hurt your customer retention.
Have a customer loyalty program? Feature it on every page of your website. Use your blog to feature new items and promote your specials. Make your website and blog a comfortable place for customers to visit so it’s one they re-visit often. Provide an online menu that is beautiful and easy-to-read. Provide on-line ordering.
Lastly, remember it’s the connections that keep your customers coming back. It’s the connections that provide you an avenue to promote your specials and new items.
While we’ve talked a lot about online connections and avenues for promotion, don’t forget that it’s your restaurant that is at the top of your marketing pyramid. Establish the connection in your restaurant with great food, service and atmosphere. Encourage your in-restaurant customers to sign up for social media and opt-in to your lists and visit your website while you have them in person.
You’ll solidify your connections thus providing an easy avenue to promote your specials and new menu items!
If you’re ready to build the central hub of your online marketing, Restaurant Engine can help! We can create a responsive (mobile-friendly website) complete with online menu and a blog. Contact us today to learn more about our complete restaurant website package.