Here’s a bit of research I’ve been doing on marketing during tough economic times.
1. Trim the fat
Instead of focusing on how bad things are, try to identify opportunities unique to periods of economic recession. Let’s face it– we rarely make changes when things are going well. According to an article from Experience Thread, “during good times, fundamental problems are frequently ignored, like outdated products, services and technologies.”
It’s only when we are forced to scrutinize every expenditure that some of these redundancies and wasteful practices come to light. Look at where your money is being spent. What about your energy usage?
2. Emphasizing value and networking
The majority of articles I’ve come across focus on ways to cut spending without sacrificing quality; in other words, saving money in ways your customers won’t notice!
Don’t discount! Chain Leader firmly states.
Offering discounts boosts guest counts but also pressures margins and weakens image, the article said. Instead, sell gift card at 3rd party retailers. Host tastings or other special events that will offer customers more opportunities to come visit your establishment.
3. The Club Culture
According to Chain Leader, the loyalty program, or club, is a new trend restaurants are embracing. An email or loyalty program makes it easier to build a network with existing customers and gives them one more reason to come to you.
Their Thanksgiving e-mail invites people to sign up for a Facebook page where they can take surveys about how they like the restaurant. The Facebook page has different content than the e-mail and also encourages people to sign up to receive the e-mails. Both ends work to acquire and retain customers.
It’s a great way to talk to current customers and keep them involved with the restaurant and it’s a good targeted approach to reach guests and to build your list.
Ted’s also sends triggered e-mails for birthdays and anniversaries, as well as monthly newsletters about new menu items, gift cards, new retail items, promotions and events at their 57 restaurants across 19 states.
4. Revamp the menu
According to Nation’s Restaurant News, restaurants introduced a record number of new menu items during October, 2008.
According to a Technomic report, chain restaurants introduced a record-high number of limited-time offers and other menu additions this October as sluggish traffic prompted them to try new customer lures.
Other examples include marketing specialty, limited-time and holiday items for added variety.
5. Know thy customer
Last, and maybe most importantly, restaurateurs must know their customers.
MSNBC offered several tips for conducting customer surveys in order to understand your customers’ interest, goals, priorities and desires, and thus, create “laser-focused marketing that speaks directly to them and solves their specific problems.”