As a restaurant owner or manager, you should continuously evaluate the success or failure of each individual restaurant marketing technique that you put in place. You should also perform a general marketing assessment to review your entire marketing plan at least once every quarter. Use these steps to assess your marketing strategy:
1. Determine your success.
Track promotions and any changes in profit, or use customer surveys to determine the success of your marketing tactics. Make sure to measure the success of each individual marketing technique. If you try to assess your entire strategy at once, you will never know the effectiveness of each specific tactic.
2. Look for changes in the market.
Changes in the marketplace can come in two forms: threats or opportunities. By analyzing new threats and new opportunities in the local marketing environment, you can better assess the future success or failure of your current marketing tactics.
3. Determine your future marketing strategy.
If your marketing techniques were successful, and there have been no recent changes in the marketing environment that would render them ineffective, continue using and strengthening these proven techniques. If aspects of your marketing seem to have no impact on sales or profits, scrap them and brainstorm new ideas.
As you develop your promotions, before you even begin to conduct a general marketing assessment, make sure to facilitate the direct tracking of as many specific promotions as possible. The following tools can help you track the impact of your marketing techniques:
One of the most reliable ways to track your marketing success, coupons can be used with almost any promotion. They are perfect for tracking business received through direct marketing campaigns, print advertisements and your website, if it includes a coupon page. If you are advertising coupons in a broad range of these marketing campaigns, be sure to make the coupons different for each unique campaign. Once you have filed the coupons according to specific promotions, tracking your success is as simple as counting the number of coupons in each file.
Special phone number.
If you purchase multiple phone lines, you can determine where calls are coming from. For example, you could tell which takeout and delivery calls are coming through your website, which calls are coming from flyers and which ones are coming from the phone book. You will need to either purchase a special telephone system to track the calls or purchase multiple lines and use a separate telephone for each line. A special phone system can keep a log tracking the calls, or you can manually keep your own tally.
Email tracking software.
In your email campaigns, you can use email marketing software to track how many people read your emails and how many people click on a link to your website or a coupon. » Learn More
How can you tell if your PR or viral marketing techniques are successful? What if a paid advertisement does not include a coupon or special phone number? Since there are no phone numbers or coupons attached to these marketing strategies, you may need to rely on comparing numbers and customer surveys to assess their success.
You can track your marketing simply by looking at your sales. Use your POS system to keep a detailed log of your hourly sales, expenses and profit margins. Sometimes, changes in those numbers are all it takes to determine the success of a marketing campaign. For example, if you run a radio promotion at 5:00 on Monday that advertises your Monday night Happy Hour, and twice as many people as usual show up that evening, you can be fairly confident that advertising your Happy Hour promotion in that radio spot is a successful marketing technique. If you do not have a POS system, keep track manually of your daily sales.
Survey a random sampling of customers to help determine which marketing techniques are working. In the survey, ask, “How did you learn about us?” and list your marketing campaigns as options. The choices could include the following:
- Through friends or family
- Ad in the newspaper
- Food critic’s review
- From a news feature or article
- Phone book
- Online search
- Flyers or takeout menu at hotel or airport
- Restaurant directory or guide
- Saw your restaurant and decided to try it
Depending on the answers, you can determine how well each of your marketing tactics is working, including viral marketing, public relations and even your exterior design and curb appeal. In the survey, to determine which demographics you are attracting, you can also ask customers to volunteer the following information:
If you are hoping to attract customers in a specific age range, ask for the customers’ year of birth to determine how many of your customers fit within your desired age demographic.
If a lot of your customers have children, but you do not usually see them in the restaurant, you could probably increase check sizes by making your restaurant more kid-friendly.
Address or city of residence.
This will let you know how far people travel to eat at your restaurant, and whether you are attracting more out-of-towners and tourists, or more locals.
Frequency of visits.
Once you know how many times customers have eaten at your restaurant, you can estimate the percentage of sales that comes from repeat customers, and the percentage that represents new business. You can tailor your future marketing strategies accordingly.
How often they eat out.
Find out how often your customers go out to restaurants in general. In conjunction with the information on their “frequency of visits,” this will help you determine the percentage of time customers eat specifically at your restaurant, and will highlight any opportunities you might have to attract their business and loyalty away from your competitors.
How often they order to-go.
You could also find out how often your customers order takeout or delivery. This will help you decide whether you need to implement a new takeout and delivery service, or better market your existing services to capitalize on your customers’ love of food-to-go.
Occupation and education.
This will help you determine your customers’ average income, and what kind of promotions they would be most open to. For example, people with low personal incomes are likely to respond well to value-oriented promotions.
If you discover that a large percentage of your customers speak another language at home, you may want to implement bilingual marketing techniques to better promote your restaurant to them.
Where to Place a Marketing Survey
At the table.
Most commonly, customer surveys are placed on comment cards at the table, or given to the guest along with the check. This is the most accurate and unbiased way to gather information. To entice customers to fill out the cards, you can offer those who complete a survey a free beverage, automatic entry into a giveaway or a bounceback offering a special deal on their next visit. » Learn More
Inside direct marketing materials.
Another choice is to mail or email surveys directly to your customers, along with an incentive, but keep in mind that the data will be slightly skewed, since it only surveys those customers who have given you their contact info and opted to receive your promotions. » Learn More
On your website.
You can also put surveys on your website, although this will also skew your research to include only customers that visit your webpage. » Learn More