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?Branding Bag? Brad VanAuken

Restaurant Marketing

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I recently presented to a local chapter of the National Restaurant Association at their annual meeting. I spoke about “The 10 Things Every Restaurateur Should Know About Building and Marketing Strong Brands.” Here are the ten things:

1. Know your customers
2. Know what they value
3. Build awareness
4. Be unique and compelling
5. Have a convenient/visible location
6. Have convenient hours
7. Develop a concept
8. Exceed customer expectations
9. Focus on front line employees
10. Create sensory experiences
 
For instance, for the first point (know your customers), think about this. What is of the greatest value to each of these customers?

• A harried father with three young children
• A couple celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary
• A large person with a voracious appetite
• Business partners wanting to have a serious discussion over lunch
• A vegan
• A business executive wanting to entertain businesspeople from China
• A delivery truck driver wanting to eat in 15 minutes or less
• A couple on their way to the theater
• A high school boy on his first date with a girl on whom he has a crush
• A group of high school kids hanging out
• A world traveled epicure
• A mother wanting a quick bite to eat while running Saturday errands
• A group of thirty-something women celebrating a divorce
 
Consider the following attributes:

• Menu (type, variety, ala carte versus fixed price, etc.)
• Flavors, textures, ingredients, freshness, organic
• Presentation
• Food quantity
• Availability of alcohol, wine list, etc.
• Ambience (architecture, light, sound, décor, etc.)
• Upscale versus comfortable/homey, etc.
• Privacy (versus people on display to be seen)
• Wait staff (invisible versus interactive)
• Activities for children
• Total elapsed time (leisurely versus quick)
• Total price
 
Often, restaurateurs realize that their restaurants need to be repositioned, but they want to do this without incurring the huge expenses of capital projects/leasehold improvements. This can occur when a restaurant gains the reputation of being a “blue hair” restaurant, which can even dissuade 50 and 60 year olds from dining there. It can also occur, when a restaurant located in a hotel is passed over by people in the community because of the general perceptions of ‘hotel restaurants.’

There are cost-effective solutions to repositioning these brands if the restaurateur can identify whom he or she would like to increasingly attract. Often, a simple gimmick, menu change or other market segment-specific cue can be all that it takes to attract new customers. Drive this with a little buzz marketing, and the restaurant is well on its way to attracting a new audience.

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2 Comments

Lifesperspective on July 02nd, 2007 said

Thanks for the concise info, which I believe works for many businesses and not just restaurants, except perhaps the part on sensory experience. However, I don’t quite understand the point about what is the greatest value to each of the listed customers. Was it just to provoke thought or was it to drive home a point?

Brad VanAuken on July 10th, 2007 said

Thanks for your thoughts…

Restaurants have hugely different customer groups with very different need sets. How a restaurant might please one type of customer is entirely different than how it might please another one. Some people are in a hurry while others don’t want to feel rushed. Some find it friendly to interact with the wait staff. Others find it annoying. Some want huge portions. Others want beautiful presentation. My point here is that it is extremely
important to know who your customers are because they don’t all want the same things.

We offer an educational workshop for restaurateurs that covers
this topic in much greater depth.

Brad

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