Restaurants Are an Unpredictable Business
The hurdles you must jump to achieve success are broad and overwhelming at times. From the local restaurant competition to reputation, customer service to food quality, and even the weather. Getting customers through the door of your restaurant is one of the challenges you face – not to mention return customers and developing loyalty. So how can you compete when your budget is planned around just running the business, and not marketing it? One of the most affordable choices you have is SMS (text message marketing).
3 Keys to Success for Restaurants to Use SMS
On a regular basis, a restaurant owner is likely to be thinking about at least one of these business issues: increasing revenue, reducing costs and improving the company operations and culture. SMS (text messages) can be used to support these restaurant business issues.
1.Loyalty and Promotions
The first step is gaining SMS subscribers through texting in or a web form*. In-store promotions are often the most effective means of driving customers to opt-in and join your SMS Loyalty program.
Print posters, window stickers, table tents – or whatever else you usually have out in the restaurant to communicate with customers – and include a short code (shortened phone number) and keyword with a tempting incentive. A&W Restaurants chose to offer a Free Burger, with some clever stipulations attached to prevent abuse or fraud.
Once a customer has join your SMS loyalty or rewards program, you can do several things to drive further revenue. Ask some questions about food preferences. Send limited time special offers, holiday discounts, and promote your existing offers like happy hour. Announce events, such as live music or special football game watching parties.
>Keep in mind the frequency of messages – sending too many can cause customers to opt-out and possibly be turned off by the over-communication.
>Ask questions that you can use to send targeted text messages later. For example, ask about the kinds of updates the customer wants to receive – special offers, events, new menu items, or all of it.
The old method of collecting feedback on a printed card or receipt has been replaced with a website link, but that is not always so simple. What happens when the customer loses the receipt or just forgets to complete the survey?
SMS addresses the immediacy issue. Being able to text in and reply to a few questions within a few minutes (often while still in the restaurant) will increase your response rates. You can ask the questions completely through texting or send the customer to a mobile website with the feedback survey. And if you are asking the right questions, then you may be able to reduce costs on broken procedures or unpopular menu items.
3. Internal Operations
When it isn’t food or atmosphere being improved, the restaurant staff and their procedures are the next most important to be worked on. Improving restaurant operations and communications allows business owners to reduce costs and improve the culture of the business. This ranges from hiring employees to managing deliveries, internal communications to optimizing menu mix, and improving the overall dining experience.
“Employees use messaging to broadcast alerts, such as when a toxic spill occurs on the worksite or information technology systems are down. Employees text to schedule last-minute meetings or announce date and time changes of events. Employees working off site can give a supervisor or co-worker instant updates on a remote project. And an employee can send a critical message to a supervisor who’s tied up in a meeting without disruption.” (Houston Chronicle)
When restaurants use SMS in the right context, they create a more attractive situation for customers to participate. Customers can derive more value from the instant and accessible channel of SMS, which will often drive them to return to a restaurant.
How is your restaurant using SMS text messaging to grow and retain customers? What mobile marketing strategies have worked best for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
*Be aware of SMS compliance rules about opt-ins
Successful Brands Define Themselves as an Actual Person
In secret meetings, brand managers might refer to their brand as she, he, athletic, hipster, emo, rock star, popular, hungry, party animal, surfer…you get the idea. In this posting, I’ll refer to the “brand” as a “she”. A compelling and interesting brand carefully selects characteristics that her target demographic aspires to become. In a brilliant blend of science and talent, brand managers design this perfect personality who impacts everything that could possibility influence their customers.
Your Brand’s Personality In A Text
Text Marketing is an excellent way to have a brand’s personality communicate with her customers. Think about it – how do friends communicate with each other these days? Do they send letters in the mail (print mail advertising)? Do they hang giant posters of their friend in the front window of their house (in-store banner advertising)? If any friend of mine did that, the stalker card would fly out of my pocket faster than I bolt out of my office door on a Friday afternoon. These days, friends communicate with each other through text messaging and social media. A super in-tune brand engages her fans through their channel of choice – their mobile phone.
One-way text messaging, however, just isn’t going to cut it. If a brand truly cares about what her fan thinks, then it just won’t work. One-way text messaging is, simply rude. If I sent a good friend a text message and she didn’t respond….her phone better be either lost or water saturated. Again, we all know that ignoring a text message is just plain inconsiderate.
3Seventy Best Convey’s Your Brand’s Personality
Luckily, 3Seventy has developed an innovative way for a brand to complete a conversation with her fan, not just start a conversation. Dialog texting is best used to find out 2-3 key pieces of information about your fan. In the world of mobile marketing, we call that “small talk”. So brands, stop being rude. Engage your fans through dialog texting; make them feel like you care about who they are and what they would like to eat for dinner. Your brand is smart and polite, and she will definitely jump for joy when you guide her towards an engaging mobile strategy.
How Retailers Integrate Text Marketing
With consumer’s increased daily use of hand-held devices, shoppers are consulting their devices while grocery shopping. As shoppers look to their devices for inspiration on what to buy, they are also using it for bargain shopping as well.
A report from Allrecipes.com shows that 44% of women use their mobile device more often while at the grocery store compared to one year ago. Combine that fact with the forecast that an estimated $10 billion dollars in mobile coupons will be redeemed this year alone, which is a 50% increase over 2012. Grocers should be looking for a way to take advantage of mobile marketing using both location and time when delivering their marketing message.
There is no easier way than through text marketing. Delivering a simple text message to engage customers opens up a relationship, and gives grocers the opportunity to communicate with the consumer at every point of the retail cycle – from product information to product purchase. Grocers can also capture data such as demographic details, location and frequency of visits from customers when they opt-in to a text marketing campaign.
Marketers can plan for more targeted text messages to customers in the future. By promoting the SMS database through in-store signage, events, billboards and other traditional advertising vehicles like print ads, stores are able to start a more direct relationship with customers. From this intelligent SMS database, marketers are able to deliver campaigns that result in higher ROI’s as well as open up additional avenues like mobile websites, mobile apps and mobile advertising. The key to a successful mobile marketing plan is creating a cohesive customer experience across all of your marketing avenues, and text marketing can act as the glue among those channels.
Companies are always trying to create interest in their products or services, and making use of mobile technology can be an effective way to increase sales. Using QR codes for business purposes can be part of an effective marketing campaign, but I’m not sure that all business owners have a clear idea of how to use them properly or where to use QR codes for business.
Where to Use QR Codes for Business
QR codes are a specific type of barcode that can be placed on many types of media. Businesses have experimented with using them on signage, in-store promotional materials, and even on their websites. They are meant to be scanned with a smartphone. After the scan has been completed, the person holding the mobile device can get access to images, videos, a landing page, mobile website, coupons, and other information.
I think that QR codes could be especially effective on printed materials. They can be added to a company’s business cards, letterhead, and brochures quite easily. Since all of these items have limited space to share information about what the company offers, adding QR codes for business means that the company is creating multiple opportunities to interact with its customers.
If the QR codes are linked to a special offer or VIP promotion, they are more likely to be scanned by the customer. Adding a few words of text inviting the prospective customer to scan the QR code to obtain a benefit can increase the number of times the QR codes are scanned, which will ultimately help the bottom line.