What is the trick to driving repeat business? I'm sure you already know just how hard it is, and how much money you might have to spend, to get a customer in the door for the first time. Once you have them, how do you get them to come back and therefore, reduce the amount of money you must spend on marketing to grow new business?
Let's say for example, I come to your restaurant, You want me to; 1) be greeted pleasantly, 2) be seated quickly, 3) receive quick and friendly service by the wait staff, and so on all the way until I walk out the door and have a warm exit.
Now what? Now how do you get me to "Come back soon"? How do you stay connected and engaged with me once I hit the bricks? Below are a few strategies that we have seen proven to be successful in the restaurant field.
93% of Social Media users expect a company to have a social media presence. That's great, but now what are you going to do with it?
First things first. I implore you that no matter what actions below you choose to implement you also setup a system to track success. Of course one easy method is to peg the sales of particular events to our promotion of those events via social media channels. For example we know that for one client we were able to increase sales for the night of a key monthly event 4% month to month over the course of three months. Other suggested metrics of course include, "Fan" and "Follower" growth rates, and "Check-Ins" via mobile technologies like Facebook and Foursquare.
Here are a few of our proven techniques for driving customer engagement, and increasing repeat business.
Pictures, pictures, pictures - Whether it's Instagram, Flicker, Twitpic, or Facebook getting your photo's out on the web is a vital part of brand management online, remember it's all about engagement here. The fact of the matter is photo's get viewed, and the best photo's get shared too! Since it is estimated that some 2.1 million Tweets on Twitter link to a photo. think about it this way, when you want to update your friends and family about your life, how do you do that, you send a photo right?
Extra fact: One of the best ways to give your Facebook Fan page a quick performance boost is through increasing the number of photo's posted. This is due to the way Facebooks current Fan Page algorithm determines what shows in a users timeline. Simply put, the more clicks, likes, comments, and/or shares (also called "Interactions") the more likely your posts are to make their way into a Fans newsfeed. More detailed posts on that later.
Weekly Spotlighting - This comes down to simple story telling. You see your Fans and Followers are that because they want to know more, they want to know who is the chef responsible for the delicious desert you tweeted a photo of last week. They want to know what drives that passion for fine Mexican Cuisine, or fresh roasted coffee. What is the story of your restaurant, coffee shop, or bar? Simple quick behind the scenes "Snapshots", give us the extra access that we crave. Building a simple email marketing system can do wonders for your restaurant with this kind of content. Introduce your customers to your Chefs, FOH Staff, BOH Staff, spotlight the philosophy and/or history of your work, feature select menu items and what's special about them, what gives them that little extra twist. This will further strengthen your customers connection to you and your business and keep you fresh in their minds.
How-To's - One of the golden rules of social media is to provide meaningful content. Offer value, I'm not referring to coupons here, I'm referring to a real meaningful value. Your knowledge as a restaurant owner or chef is powerful to the vast crowds of would-be foodies. Sharing a bit of that knowledge can help you build loyal customers and serious advocates or your brand. One of the absolutely best times for this are the holidays. Share your awesome tip on turkey stuffing, drink selection, or an appetizer that will knock the socks off the in-laws.
Claim your venue, Special Offers, and Promotions - You wouldn't just ignore your Yelp reviews would you? The same holds true for FourSquare, Twitter, and Facebook (Just to name a few). You NEED to at the very least monitor these platforms for conversations and discussions going on about your business on these platforms. But these are the very platforms that allow you the opportunity to directly drive repeat business. Offering easy to redeem check-in rewards, or exclusive coupon codes delivered specifically through your social media channels offer direct instant incentives and just as importantly give you specific data to track within your POS systems. Just turn on those coupon codes and train your staff to enter them in, then once the campaign is offered, run a report to see how many where redeemed during a particular timeframe.
Contests and Trivia - It's important to mix it up a bit too and contests can bring a great dynamic to your social media efforts. This also offers you a great opportunity to see who are your most engaged customers and perhaps reward them. With another of our clients we run a Twitter contest on a particular day every week. We ask their Twitter followers to Tweet a particular message and all those that do are entered into a drawing to win a dinner on the house that evening. The engagement is awesome and has helped to increase their following, but since the contest is specifically related to #TacoTuesday, it's a very powerful reminder of the business and offers the perfect excuse to not cook that night and come eat with the business. This sort of direct engagement drives sales and makes the register happy on what could other wise be a slow week day evening.
Events - Of course it can't all be self-less giving and free-bee's, after all you're in business to make a living. Creating and/or promoting special events gives you a great reason to go nuts tweeting, sharing, and inviting people to events. There are a ton of free event organizing tools like Eventbrite for this purpose too. Got a slow night? Who says it has to stay that way, grab a microphone and some speakers and launch an open mic night, or a poetry/litature reading evening. A simple and powerful way to both build community around your business and boost some sales for the evening. The trick here is patience and perseverance this might take a bit of time to catch on, but with a little effort it should catch on and eventually have a life of it's own.
Power Tip: The Saved Search - One of absolute favorite things about Twitter is the Saved Search function. Try this right now; go to Twitter and type in a search for your business, if you are a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop, just type in your businesses address. What comes up? If you've had any customers check-in on Foursquare recently then often times they'll auto-tweet that check-in as a way of sharing it with their followers. GREAT, that means you can now follow that customer directly and create an instant connection. This is just one of the many ways to find and engage your patrons via social media. Test it out and let me know how it works!
No matter what specific tactics you employ be sure to follow the general golden rules.
- Provide meaningful content
- Engage and connect with your customers
- Give before you take
- Remember this is SOCIAL MEDIA, behave like you would in any other social environment
Pretty much, don't be the obnoxious ass in the corner shouting about how great they are, your actions will speak loudly for themselves. You will build community and driven customer loyalty and serious repeat business, but here's the bonus! Nothing in the list above costs a particularly high amount of money to implement starting today. Just a bit of sweat equity. Of course time is an extremely valuable commodity, so if you're looking for help to grow your customer engagement via social media please feel free to reach out to use. It's what we do.
What great success stories or nightmares do you have that you can share? Let us know in the comments section below!