Category: Tips

Discover your Restaurant's Target Audience

Do you know who dines at your restaurant? I don’t mean take a look around and see whose butts are currently in your seats. I mean, are the people that you wanted to target when you first thought about opening your restaurant the ones actually dining there? More importantly, do you even know WHO your target market is?

Before I go any further, it’s important to define what I mean by target market:

A target market is not who YOU WANT to sell your food to. Instead, it’s the type of people that are EXPECTED to buy what you’re selling.

You can’t open a vegetarian restaurant, hoping to target steak eaters. Similarly, you can’t open a steak house and expect your customers to be women who are passionate about eating healthy. Make sense? So how do you decide who to target?

Start with the facts.

What is your unique selling point? What makes your restaurant different than anyone around you? Or anyone in your same industry? Your unique selling point will drive the type of people who will frequent your restaurant. Take into consideration the following:

  • Age
  • Income Level
  • Education or job status
  • Marital status
  • Size of household
  • Housing/Rental prices
  • Local Businesses

Begin to create a fictitious profile of your average customer based on the above criteria.

What defines your target market?

What are the values, opinions, culture, lifestyle and topics of interest that makes up this demographic? If you can’t hire a marketing research firm to find out the information for you, consider doing the research yourself. Get to know the people in your area. Frequent shops, other restaurants, local events, etc. where your proposed target market shops, eats or hangs out to observe their character and buying habits. Check the social media profiles of these shops, as well as competitors, to see what customers love about these companies. See if there are any voids that need to be filled, which could lead to opportunities for your restaurant. Add these findings to the profile you began to create in step 1.

Does your target market live or work close enough to your concept to help support it?

Once you’ve defined the demographics and characteristics of your target market, are they anywhere near you? The U.S. Census Bureau is a great resource to use to find out. Type in your locations zip code, and the U.S. Census Bureau will spit out frequently requested data about your community (population, income, housing, etc… all the criteria you used to complete step #1!) Why is this helpful? If your marketing to college kids, but the nearest college is 30 miles away, your restaurant might have a problem. The closer your target audience is to your concept, the more likely they will come.

But it doesn’t stop there…

What is the generational profile of your target audience? Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen X’ers? Each group has different needs and values, which will effect your marketing messages and the platform you use for your target audience. For instance, Boomers are more likely to visit dining-in restaurants, while Millennials opt for delivery. Millennials rarely look to Facebook to keep up with brands, while it’s the predominant social network for Gen X’ers. Speak the language that best resonates with your target audience, give them offers that align with their values, and seek to connect with them on the platform where they can be found.

Whether your restaurant is established, or your concept hasn’t been built, learning about your target audience is a critical step to developing the right promotional strategy… and it’s never too late to get started. Give us a shout if you would like some assistance defining your audience. TweetFacebook us, or comment below!

Time for your restaurant to refresh?

Recently, I was talking to one of our client’s about updating their logo. Their company has been around for close to 20 years, and from the day the doors opened, the look and feel of their company identity remained the same. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

However, their business was undergoing some changes. The original owners, a husband and wife team, were gearing up to retire in a few years, and their daughter, a recent graduate from college, was being groomed to take over the business.

Their biggest competitor was a nationwide and popular brand whose identity is modern and refined. Our client’s identity? Not so much. While their existing branding served its purpose well, it was apparent that a refresh could take our client from looking like a small mom and pop business, to a much larger one that could give this national brand some competition.

Even though our clients were on board with redesigning the identity, there was still some concern.

How would our existing clients feel about changing the identity that they’ve grown to know the past twenty years?

It’s a valid concern, and something that should not be taken lightly. Most people aren’t fond of change, so it’s important to handle a rebranding, or an identity update, with care to make sure your current customers stay with you throughout the entire process.

First, we must make it clear that a brand isn’t considered a logo, stationery, or a package design. A logo is simple in definition: a mark or symbol that companies use to promote their business to help with visual recognition for existing or potential customers. A brand is different, because it is the total package; the promise that you make to your customers and the feeling they get when they hear your brand’s name. For example, when someone thinks of Subway, they tend to think of a quick, healthy option to fast food that publically displays fresh toppings and meat available for sandwiches or salads, hence the tagline “Eat Fresh.” The brand wouldn’t have the same feeling if you walked in and noticed the veggies were soggy, the cheese was sticky or had mold on it, or if they served your food in a brown paper bag. Instead of white wrapping in clear plastic bags.

Now, back to our client’s story. Yes, it’s always a gamble to change a company’s identity, and there’s a good possibility that customers might leave once the switch has been made (remember that fear of change thing?). However, as long as the original brand promise is still in tact, and being met, it’s a much easier process.

Here are a few ideas to consider when changing your identity:
  • Bring your clients and employees in on the process. Survey them before you change anything to see what they thought about your old identity. What was it they liked? Was there anything they didn’t like? Look for similarities between answers to see what can be improved upon or what features or feelings need to stay. Then, after the new identity is created, show them the final result to get any feedback. There will always be something that someone doesn’t like (i.e. “I hate orange”, “That font isn’t exactly what I would have chosen”, etc), however, getting feedback can also point out things that might not have been noticed before. If you’re interested, Google “Sun Rise Sushi” and you’ll see how customer/staff feedback probably would have been a good idea!)
  • Get personal. Personal connections keep customers happy. Take the time to reach out to customers and personally talk to them about the identity change. Assure them that although the look of your company might be changing, they can still rely on the same level of customer service, personalization, fair pricing, etc. Ensure the brand promise they’ve grown to love will remain the same no matter what the new identity looks like.
  • Repetition. Most people need to see things more than once before they commit it to memory. Make sure all follow up correspondence, social media graphics, envelopes, packaging, etc. contain your new identity. Check analytics to make sure your messages are being read, or follow up with customers to make sure they’re receiving, and reading, your correspondence. Until the new design is committed to memory, you don’t want them missing out on an important email, letter, or package.

Remember, there’s a difference between refreshing an identity and refreshing a whole brand. Rebranding is a longer, more complicated process. As far as our client’s story goes, we haven’t finished our client’s new identity just yet, but we’re well upon our way and things are already looking promising for them! Keep tuned to this blog to see their final product, or, if you need help with your own identity refresh or rebranding, give us a shout! TweetFacebook us, or comment below!

GoogleAlert

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to certain things I like to cut corners. I’m always looking for grocery store BOGO’s, sometimes even pairing them with coupon’s (watch out!). I’ll run multiple errands at one time to save gas. I’ll even pick up things around the house in pairs so I can drop them off at once to save time.

As a restaurant owner, keeping up with your company’s online reputation, what your competitors are doing, trends in the marketplace, etc. can be a daunting task. (Remember that “be present” thing I talked about in my last blog post?) But, how in the world are you supposed to fit maintaining and establishing an online presence when you have staff to manage, financials to monitor, maybe even food to cook?? Not to mention the thousands of other things on your to-do list??

Well don’t fret my pet, I have a corner cutting secret that will cut your Internet researching time down tremendously… sign up for Google and/or Talkwalker alerts!

These powerful (and free!) tools make it easy to conduct online “intelligence” on your company, your customers, your prospects, or even just for fun. Both of these services monitor the web for words and phrases you’re interested in, and sends you an email every time it finds a new result. Don’t worry, you can set up email preferences so you’ll receive updates as often as you’d like, whether it’s daily, weekly or to update an existing RSS feed.

Want an example of how I’ve used alerts? After college, I moved to Atlanta, GA to start a career, and it didn’t take me long to discover Mellow Mushroom, a local pizza gem. Since 1974, Mellow Mushroom has been baking the most delicious, craveable pizzas on the planet (as noted on their website – and I completely agree!)

When I decided to move to Florida in 2000, there wasn’t a Mellow Mushroom within 200 miles. Once I discovered Google Alerts, I quickly added their name to my alert list to stalk…err–follow… one of my favorite brands. In 2006, a dream of mine came true when I received an alert announcing a new Mellow Mushroom store location… five minutes from my house!

Now, I use Google/Talkwalker alerts to keep up with Mellow Mushroom current news and events, such as “Way Back Wednesday.” In honor of their 40th anniversary, Mellow Mushroom “turned back the clock” and offered items on their menu the same price as they were back in 1974: Cokes were 30 cents, selected beers 75 cents, and a small cheese pizza was priced at a whopping $2.50! How else would I have known about this special event? I guess I could visit my local store everyday… but that might not be the best idea for my waist line.

Intrigued? You should be. A free, time-saving, business booster and information gathering tool… what more could you ask for? Maybe some direction on how to get started, and ideas on what to do with the data you collect? I thought you’d never ask! I’ve put together a handy resource guide that details out how to get sign up for one, or both of these services, along with ideas on how to use the information.

To download, simply enter your details below and the guide will be delivered to your inbox. Or, if you’re already using Google or Talkwalker alerts, let us know how they’re workin’ for ya. Love them? Or, not so much? Tell me about it! Tweet, Facebook us, or comment below!

waiter serving young people in restaurant

Once upon a time there was a small, locally well-known, restaurant that approached Exakt Marketing with a laundry list of concerns they were looking to fix. Among them were concerns that their sales were flat, and while they attracted a decent lunch crowd, they wanted to get to a point where there was a steady stream of traffic throughout the day.

At a time where restaurants open and close at the blink of an eye, they also felt they had an amazing story to tell: they’ve been in business for over 100 years, have a positive reputation around town, and a loyal and friendly staff, some whom have been with the company over 40 years!

After not seeing the results they had hoped for dabbling in offline print and commercial advertising, they thought it was time to establish a greater social presence, to keep existing customers engaged (sharing photos of food, and in-store activities), informed (being able to broadcast weekly specials quicker), and also as a way to attract new ones (by telling an engaging story). They felt confident this was the missing link to help their business reach the next level, and couldn’t wait to see their business take a turn for the better.

And they all lived happily ever after… the end.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. As we started to do some initial research, it became apparent the root of their problem wasn’t the company’s absence from the social sphere. Instead it was much deeper… it was a lack of understanding about their customer’s expectations. Were they doing everything they could to satisfy their needs in order to create the best overall experience? Or was the restaurant being run (and marketed) by what the management team THOUGHT their customers wanted to see and hear?

Be present.

Within five minutes, and a quick Google search later, we discovered complaints about inconsistent food preparation and quality. Many were about items that the restaurant was locally “famous” for.

According to Qualtrics.com, “The single greatest predictors of customer satisfaction are the customer experiences that result in attributions of quality, which is often measured by: overall quality, perceived reliability, and the extent of customer’s needs fulfilled.” If the restaurant had taken some time each month to scan through online reviews (i.e. via Yelp or TripAdvisor), they would have noticed a disparity in the quality of food their customers were expecting, versus what they were actually being served.

But but but… “being present” is going to take too much time!

Being present and aware of what’s going on inside your restaurant doesn’t mean you have to sit at a table every day and observe your surroundings. It also doesn’t mean you can sit on a beach somewhere, surf the internet, and get reliable feedback. Instead, a good balance of hands on and hands off monitoring should be on all restaurant owners’ agenda. After all, happy customers = happy to return (hummm…didn’t I say that in my last blog post?)

So here are five suggestions on how you can monitor what’s really going on inside your four walls:

  1. Talk to customers directly
    Reward your customers! Randomly pick someone and offer to buy them dinner in exchange for 15 minutes of their time. Maybe it’s after they finish their meal… or maybe you set up another time for them to come in. Make sure they understand you value their time, and won’t keep them long, but their feedback is important to keep your restaurant on top of its game. Hint: While it might be easier to survey a “regular customer,” the goal is objective opinions. Would a “regular” be completely honest? Or, survey both and compare the results.
  2. Conduct surveys
    Setting up a brief customer service survey can have powerful effects. Not only can you identify underlying problems, but it also can show your employees the importance of fulfilling and exceeding your customers expectations. If your restaurant collects customer’s email addresses, there are free online survey software programs, such as SurveyMonkey, that distribute survey’s via email. Or you could set up a dedicated landing page on your restaurant’s website for customers to visit and fill out an online form. Provide the link (and remember to offer a reward!) at the bottom of each customer’s receipt.
  3. Hire mystery diners
    Mystery diners, or shoppers, will dine and survey your restaurant to make sure customers have the most pleasant experience they can. They take all touchpoints into consideration from ease of parking, to employee relations, and food quality. The best part is they’re disguised as regular customers, so no one knows when they are coming, or who they are. Then they provide detailed reports on their findings. Sounds a little scary, but then again, if you’re doing everything right there’s nothing to worry about right!? The reality is you’re hiring them to tell you what you can improve upon.
  4. Set up Google Alerts or Talkwalker Alerts
    Google Alerts and Talkwalker Alerts are free services will allow you to set up email alerts when anything associated with your restaurant’s name, industry, food style, etc. is mentioned on the World Wide Web. Email alerts can be sent daily, or weekly, depending on your preferences. It’s a great way to know who’s talking about you, if you can’t consistently monitor everything yourself. Hint: Make sure to put any words in quotes that you want the service to recognize together. For example, if your name is Ruby Tuesday, you should type in your alert as “Ruby Tuesday.” Otherwise, you will see results for items mentioning “rubies” or events or stories containing the word “Tuesday.” However, if you’re looking to monitor all information pertaining to food trucks, simply typing in food truck (with no quotes) could be sufficient. Adjust your alerts to find the right combination that works for you. (Also, check out my latest blog article for more on this topic)
  5. Monitor Yelp, TripAdvisor, and UrbanSpoon reviews, as well as social media
    These powerful online services can give insight on whether or not your customers’ needs are being met. Pay close attention to any negative reviews and decide if you’re able to make some adjustments based on their feedback. When you have customers who’s experience was less than par, make it easy for them to tell you about it (not someone else), and make a point to acknowledge their feedback. Let your customers know what’s being done to fix the issue, so there won’t be a repeat upon their return. Hint: Find a way to keep in contact with your customers so you can let them know when changes and improvements occur. This might be through social media outlets, email blasts, or within an announcement section on your website’s homepage.

Whether you implement one of the suggestions above, or all of them… you monitor everything yourself, or hire someone to do it for you… it’s imperative to not assume you know what your customers want and need. The only way to find out, is to listen.

What are you doing to be present when it comes to your restaurant? Anything different than the suggestions above? Tell me about it! Tweet, Facebook us, or comment below!

It’s been 1 year since Facebook acquired Instagram and boosted its users to “more than 100 million monthly active users” by making the app available to non-iPhone users, according to Mashable. It’s all about being seen. Let’s talk about your restaurant on Instagram.

You might be thinking to yourself, “why should my restaurant have an Instagram?” or perhaps you’re questioning the functionality of it all. Let me just break this all down for you to help you understand why you should create an account for your restaurant and how to use it to its full potential.

The Why:

  1. You will have the ability to explore what your customers are eating and hear their input/comments.
  2. Repair a bad experience– if there is one. Chances are, if customers are taking pictures of food and drinks at your restaurant they are probably enjoying everything.
  3. You want to create a unique experience for your customers by taking advantage of their desire for pictures. Social media users love photos, especially of your food!
The How:
  1. Connect and follow up on customer experiences. There are 3 main ways that you can keep tabs on who has been at your restaurant: the user has tagged their location (your restaurant) and you can search for all photos taken there; the user has hash-tagged the name of your restaurant or perhaps a particular dish or drink; or the user has tagged you (the restaurant’s handle) directly.
  2. Feature your specials and leverage real-time events happening in house.
  3. Encourage your team and staff to acknowledge your restaurant’s Instagram presence. Utilizing Instagram as a marketing tool will bring in new and potential customers, especially those who already have a burning interest to visit.
Have you had an experience with Instagram that is worth sharing?
We would love to hear it!

If your restaurant or company is in need of a full-service marketing agency, please contact Exakt Marketing. We believe that every interaction is an opportunity to create a unique experience.

Now that it’s 2013 you’d think that almost everyone would know what a blog is. But did you know that businesses that blog 4-5 times a week generate 5 times more traffic than those that don’t. Now there’s a good reason to start blogging! Having a blog is essential and extremely beneficial to all businesses, regardless of your industry. So for all you graphic designers who aren’t blogging, you may be missing out on some of the greater values in blogging besides sharing your thoughts. There are a lot of reasons that designers should blog and here are some of the best perks and benefits of being part of the Blogosphere.

Blogging Can Boost Your SEO: By frequently blogging and putting out fresh content you can boost your SEO ranking and drive traffic directly to your site. Be sure to use keywords and links in your content to ensure that search engines will crawl your site more often. And always make sure you post your blogs to Social Media sites like Facebook and Twitter. This way your blog will appear in more than one site and reach all your customers.

Blogging Expands your Knowledge Benefitting Yourself and Others: Blogging is a great way to engage readers in your products and services and what you do best. But it’s also a great tool to use to educate yourself as well as your customers. By researching the latest trends and topics of your industry and sharing them with the world you will see how valuable blogging can be to yourself and give you an edge over your competitors.

Opens Doors to Meet Future Partners and Customers: Blogging enables you to connect with others within your industry and develop relationships. If you’re having a tough time seeking new clientele or deciding on a new design try putting out a blog to help answer those difficult questions. You may also be lucky enough to find people to collaborate with on projects and find people who have skills in other areas you are not as strong in.

Opportunities and Exposure: Getting your name out on the web is vital to success and a blog allows you to reach clients and contacts on a global scale. By showcasing your skills and products you can receive feedback from each corner of the world. You’ll be surprised where the unexpected may lead and you never know where your next big opportunity may lead you.

We’ve all been there. You hear the rumors, you notice the whispers, maybe you’ll even participate in the gossip. But, when it’s about you, how do you respond?

We all want to defend our reputation. We are proud, we care, and we want everyone else to love us too. So, what do you do when this reputation is about your restaurant? When you notice that negative review (that is bound to pop up) on the various review sites that everyone participates in?

After you are done staring at the screen and willing the review to disappear, without success, it’s time to address it. Your handle on your business’s online reputation is key. Here I want to give you some advice for responding to reviews as a restaurant owner:

1. Stay calm and carry on – A common saying and for good reason. Especially as a restaurant, you will receive a bad review on Yelp, UrbanSpoon, etc, and the quicker you realize the inevitability of this, the better off you’ll be. We want everyone to love us, but all five-star reviews for one place is questionable to your audience. After all, nothing and nobody is perfect, right? Having a negative review isn’t the end of your world and in fact, should be viewed as the potential to turn that customer’s experience into a positive one on their next visit (that you should invite them to, see below), or learn from what the guest has to say.

2. Respond in a timely manner – The sooner that you acknowledge and respond to a review, the greater chance you have of making an impact on that reviewer. Besides the impact you make on the one who wrote the review, you’ll also show others who visit the review site that you are an owner who cares about reading the reviews and trying to make things right, if applicable.

3. Always give thanks – Whether positive or negative, it’s important to show your guests the value you place on their feedback.

4. Be personal – It’s easy to reply to all reviews by copying and pasting a standard response, but why not up the ante a little bit? Guests want to feel like whatever they say is appreciated and heard. If it is, you should show it. A simple, “I’m glad you enjoyed your burger!” will suffice and show that you actually read the individual’s review and want to start that interaction.

5. Make it right – Inviting in a guest who left a negative review for a meal on the house is a great chance to not only show your dedication to your customers’ experiences, but to gain a fan for life. More often than not, those guests who leave a negative review will be more than happy to try your restaurant out again and give you another, fair chance…and then write a positive review about the great time you are sure to show them! If the chance to make it right is not granted by the reviewer, respect their decision.

Here at Exakt Marketing, we are committed to assisting our clients with understanding the importance of reputation management and it’s a successful part of our marketing services.

Have you been managing your online reputation? What has been the result?

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