Twenty Two Costly Marketing Mistakes – Part 1

Restaurant operators can dramatically increase their number of new customers and referrals if they avoid these costly marketing mistakes.  Here, in the first of a three part article, are the first 10 mistakes to avoid.

Mistake 1:  Advertising to the wrong market.  If you advertise low price, you’ll attract people who want low price.  And the problem with price buyers is that they’re never loyal to you.  They’re loyal only to low price.  As soon as your competitor offers a price lower than you, these price shopper’s go to your competitor and you’ve lost a customer.  If you want to attract low price shopper’s, then, by all means advertise low price.  But if you want to attract people who are willing to pay for the service they receive so you can make money, don’t advertise price.  Advertise value.

Mistake 2:  Advertising percentage off rather than dollars off or free.  Many potential customers don’t know the restaurant’s regular prices so they can’t tell how much money they’ll save.  Instead, introductory offers should be made in terms your potential customers can relate to.  I recommend you advertise in dollars, such as “$7.50 off your first dinner” or “Free appetizer or specially made dessert valued to $7.99 with dinner”.   “We know you are going to love our food, our restaurant and our service.  We know you’ll be back – that’s why the first dinner is on us!”

Mistake 3:  Failing to advertise your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).  The purpose of marketing is to tell your prospective customers how you’re unique.  Your USP is the one thing that sets you apart from your competitors.  Start by identifying what you do that’s different from everyone else.  For example, your USP might be exceptional customer service, complete dinners including bread, dessert, coffee and salad, or takeout/home delivery within 30 minutes.  Then feature your unique selling proposition in the headline of your ads.

Mistake 4:  Failing to point out how you’re different.  People come to your restaurant because they think you’re different from other restaurants.  So it’s your job to point out to prospective customers how you’re different.  In your ads, if you say, “Italian food,” you’re saying the same thing as every other Italian Restaurant.  Instead, tell your prospective customer why customers choose you instead of your competitors.  Identify different services you provide, home delivery, takeout, catering, free hall rental with groups over 50 people.  Reassure your potential customers that their food and dining experience has a satisfaction guarantee.

Mistake 5:  Failing to overcome phone call fear when prospective customers call about booking a large special event like a wedding or business function.  Consumers are tired of selling and sales pressure.  In fact, many consumers hate pressure so much that they don’t call because they’re afraid you might try to pressure them into making a decision.  The hesitation that keeps them from calling is called phone call fear.  It’s the fear of how they think you might treat them over the telephone.  To overcome phone call fear, reassure callers that you don’t use sales pressure.  Offer free information that you’ll send to anyone who calls.  Offer a free consumer awareness message on voice mail to help educate consumers about what to consider when catering to a special event.  This allows prospects to get information in a non-threatening way, and it allows you to establish a high level of credibility.

Mistake 6:  Using dishonest or misleading advertising.  This seems obvious but many restaurants use misleading advertising to attract people into their restaurant.  Then when they get there the staff doesn’t give them the special advertised or they don’t get the same service your regular customers get.  When you mislead consumers, you lower yourself to the same level as bait-and-switch con artists.  Over the long term, you won’t benefit because once customers discover they’ve been misled, they’ll never do business with you again.  You gain nothing by misleading consumers.  In marketing, a straightforward honest approach is the only method that works.

Mistake 7:  Failing to explain how your prospect benefits.  Your prospective customers want your service for only one reason:  “What it will do for me?”  Don’t concentrate on the features of your service; instead, identify each feature and then explain how that feature benefits your prospect in terms of what he needs, wants and feels.

Mistake 8: Failing to promote benefits other than good food. No question about it, people want good food. You gotta eat. But your customers want other things too. A pleasant dining experience, good service, variety, to feel special, save time and convenience. In addition, they want to avoid dishes, preparing meals, food going bad in their fridge and supermarket lineups. Make sure you promote other benefits as well.

Mistake 9:   Failing to stay in touch with your customer base.  Customers are the source of your current business and future referrals.  The moment they feel you don’t care about their business, they’ll go somewhere else.  I urge you to stay in touch with customers by publishing a regular newsletter that provides them with relevant information about your restaurant’s services, what’s going on in the community and some funny stories or inspirational quotes.

Mistake 10:  Advertising in the yellow pages when you don’t offer catering or delivery.  I’ve learned that the only time yellow page directory ads work is when you cater to tourists, deliver or catering.  Now, I’m not saying a yellow page ad won’t bring in new business:  it will if it is part of a well researched marketing program.  But the cost is so high that you’ll get a better return on your investment by using the money for other types of marketing and advertising.

Rory Fatt is President of Restaurant Marketing Systems and the Controversial Critic of Normal Ways Owner’s Promote Their Restaurants.  To get a copy of his FREE REPORT “How To Double Your Restaurants Profits in 119 days Or Less” click here.

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