I am continually surprised at the lack if initiative shown by some businesses to market their business and product to future customers. This is something that I have been contemplating a lot today after hearing about a business that opened it's doors in February 2012, that has had very positive reviews, but is wondering why they aren't getting new customers!
The Best Compliment You Can Give is a Referral!
While word-of mouth referrals are still the best kind of introuduction to a business, a new business can not solely rely on this to gain new customers.
The business in question is in the hospitality sector and has already received a new following of happy customers, but not enough regulars to turn a profit. Happy customers doesn't always equal happy $$$. Here is the lowdown on the businesses marketing so far:
A newspaper article about the business owner and upcoming opening dates and promotions ran in the local newspaper one week prior to the businesses opening date.
The businesses was advertised with average sized advertisement in local newspaper three consecutive weeks after official opening date.
Two letter box drops in the local suburb advertising opening hours and location, in the week after opening.
That's it folks!!
What they should be doing...(where to start!):
Examples that a hospitality business could use for free and low-cost marketing of their business:
Firstly financially, all costs of to business should be examined, right down to electricity costs and possible over staffing. Eliminate wastage and utilize ingredients to create specials where possible. (remembering this is a hospitality business)
Ensure staff are adequately trained and are professional, friendly to customers, and know their job well. If you are unsure on this, ask a friend or friend of, to visit, dine and make enquiries just as a secret shopper would do. Ask them for honest feedback and make assessments from there.
Once financial issues are checked, start with a marketing plan suitable for your business. Not all marketing has to be expensive. Utilize what you have and can do for low cost marketing - what have you got to lose?
You may know that your menu has affordable options for the budget conscious diner, bur how will future customers know??
Social media is your friend in business!! Create Facebook and Twitter pages and update them regularly. Tantalize readers with posts on the special of the night, upload pictures of your meals with descriptions and information. Keep this regular. Remind fans of your opening hours and services, do they know you offer cocktail parties and functions?
Posting daily doesn't take much time at all. Share your events, thank guests for their comments etc.
Encourage guests to visit your social media page and sign up for your mailing list. Offer a special discount to those who with up, e.g free coffee with every dessert etc. Clients only recive this free offer once they sign up for the newseltter (it can be sent by email once they have signed up).
Create a website or blog if you can't afford a website. Make sure this lists your cullinary team, opening hours, photos and most importantly your current menu! List everything your business offers, including all services like conferences, events, cocktail parties, weddings etc.
Offer links to online ratings pages such as tripadvisor for restaurants or Urbanspoon. More information on this in a previous post HERE.
Offer affordable options and make them known. Not everyone will have a large budget and the public can make assumptions about your business's prices without even sighting them. Let it be know that you offer a wide range of price options. Make other affordable suggestions known like the option to just come for coffee and dessert, do your customers know that you make affogato's and what they are???
Offer a business card bowl for all diners, all card owners must agree to join the mailing list, then go into a random monthly draw.
Utilize your mailing list reguarly. Send out a montly e-newsletter with current specials, upcoming events or highlights form the last month. Include a short "facts about me" featuring staff of the business to create interest and general knowledge, so patrons feel they know you a little better.
Advertise outside your business front. Provide flyers, menus etc.
So you have current guests coming in, offer them an incentive to return. Maybe a free coffee with their next meal or dessert etc. Make them feel that they are wanted and their business is appreciated. Half the battle is getting them there, encourage them to return with kind hospitality. A free cup of coffee may cost your business as little as $0.30c!
Encourage current clients to give honest feedack and listen to it and thank them for their input, no matter how negative it may be.
Write a press release and send it out!
Don't let your marketing campaign go stale! Keep it fresh, vibrant and interesting, most of all keep it regular. . Marketing doesn't have to ge expensive!!
For more marketing ideas to suit your business, Email me!
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Judi Gray is the Owner Operator of Blue Bird Internet Marketing and has been assisting small Businesses with their online profiles since 2011.