Technically, word-of-mouth is the oldest and the most effective form of restaurant marketing that we can think of. The fastest and most effective marketing technique is one where one investment (one customer) can yield more outputs (more customers). According to a report, ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family.
Reviews by friends and family and online reviews influence our food choices and destinations; hence, a significant focus should also be given to boost the Word of Mouth Marketing for restaurants. Word-of-mouth marketing in the restaurant industry is one of the most effective marketing practice.
The traditional 4 Ps of marketing does not work for word of mouth marketing for restaurants, and to get people talking about your restaurant is not as easy as it seems. However, smart restaurants know how to make people talk about their restaurant and leverage it as a potential restaurant marketing strategy! Here are some factors influencing word of mouth behavior in the restaurant industry and how you can use it.
Employing Word of Mouth in Your Restaurant Marketing Plan
Word-of-mouth marketing in the restaurant industry revolves around 3 E’s of marketing- Engage, Equip and Encourage, and Empower. Let us dig further into the 3 E’s of word-of-mouth restaurant marketing, where we will also discuss how to put word-of-mouth into action-
1. Engage Your Customers
Customer engagement is one of the smartest keys for customer retention and the best way to do restaurant marketing. You need to start talking to your customers and listening to what they are saying to keep them engaged.
Making customers feel valued, and assuring them that their opinions matter is an excellent tool.
a) Personal Touch- Lending a personal touch to the service goes a long way in improving the guest experience of the customer. Remembering the names of the regulars, and their usual orders have known to work wonders. This is the reason why people prefer going to their favorite watering holes where the Bartender knows them.
b) Regular Updates- The essential part of Customer Engagement is maintaining consistency. You need to be regular in your updates. It is a good idea to send weekly or monthly newsletters to your customers. Make sure that your language is casual to create that personal touch. Also, send out SMS updates to let your customers know about the latest deals and offers running in your restaurant.
c) Social Media- Customer engagement has become inevitably easier with social media platforms. Apart from your brand’s official pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, online review sites provide vast engagement opportunities for food lovers. Make sure you are available to be reached out on all the relevant social media platforms and also make sure that you respond to all your customers. Give special attention to negative remarks and reviews, and ensure you handle criticism smartly and also offer compensation where required.
2. Equip and Encourage Your Customers
Equip your restaurant with reasons that customers cannot resist talking about. Once you are equipped with substantial reasons, you can easily encourage people to get talking. Let us look at some ways you can encourage (read- push) people to talk and discuss your restaurant.
a) Have a USP- Create a lasting impression. People tend to spread the word about things they like and dislike. If there is something about your restaurant that entices them and makes them like your restaurant, they are sure to share their review amongst their family and friends.
Hence, having great services only goes so far, so invest in creative ideas like a theme-based restaurant, a specially designed menu, creating a mesmerizing ambiance, having a great decor/interiors or curating fusion food items that can all contribute to generating interest amongst customers. This will not only attract new customers but will also help you retain your existing customers.
b) Feedbacks- Feedbacks undeniably have an impeccable impact while considering dining options. Negative feedback, if any, should be dealt with promptness. You can use POSist’s Feedback App that allows you to ask for customer feedback based on the items they ordered, the guest service, and the ambiance, etc. It also allows you to set real-time alerts for poor reviews so that you can take instant damage control actions. It has been seen that if customers are asked about their experience at the restaurant itself, even a dissatisfied customer is less likely to still rant about it on social media or review sites.
c) Social Media- Millennials’ love towards social media has made social media one of the most significant contributors to restaurant marketing. Having active and updated social media pages of your restaurant can create a significant influence on people. Sharing updates on various promotional activities, offers, and events on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even Email can completely revolutionize your restaurant business by increasing your restaurant marketing and customer engagement.
3. Empower Your Customers
Empowering is a step ahead from just encouraging customers to talk about your brand. To conjure up the best word of mouth marketing of your brand, you need to provide avenues so that customers can become your brand advocates. You can check out how you can encourage your customers to talk about your restaurant positively-
a) Social Media Campaigns- From polls to vote for the best restaurants and polls to select the best meal of a particular restaurant to motivate people to engage with and share your content/offers, empowering customers build real-time opportunities for customers to advocate your brand.
b) Referral Programs- Referral programs have been known to work wonders to get word of mouth going and has been a proven restaurant marketing strategy. You can create exciting campaigns and ask customers to sign up and refer their friends. Online marketing or social media activities that entice customers to further share your content/offer in return for an offer provides a great win-win situation for both customers and restaurants.
c) Promotions and Events- Promoting your restaurant through marketing offers on food and by organizing events can be beneficial for your business. Such activities and promotions not only limit your audience to the ones you target but leaves you with a pool of opportunities as people will spread the word or accompany with them people in their contact. Also, try these 5 Restaurant Event Ideas to Liven Up the Slow Nights at Your Restaurant
Ultimately, for the word to get out, the product or the service should speak for itself. Word of mouth marketing for restaurants is very much dependant on you to put in extra efforts to provide an excellent guest experience to your customers.