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How We’ve Been Bringing In New Local Customers, Consistently & Predictably For Over 6 Months Now On Auto-Pilot!

‘Hear how we have consistently bought in 2 to 3 tables per night (av 3 people per table) of new local customers for our restaurant client, customers who are spending on average $50 per cover.  We’ve been consistently doing this for over 6 months now, basically on auto-pilot as far as the restaurant is concerned.  Over that time we’ve also added a database of 1,458 ‘new locals’ that can now be directly targeted.

Whilst we’ve used some of the latest technology to achieve these result, the principles behind it are nothing new and the results have been amazing.

So strap yourself in as we walk through the process of what we did, how we did it & the principals behind each step.

Principle One:

We Wanted To Attract New Customers, But Only Local Customers:

This restaurant is particularly dependant on local patronage, it’s a suburban restaurant, it’s not in a tourist location (if it was, this strategy could still work to get the locals in as well, but a different strategy would be employed to attract tourists).

So we developed a campaign that is only directed to people in the immediate suburb and its surrounding suburbs.  Plus we just targeted those who are most likely to dine at the restaurant, based on age and interests – that way the people that come in for the first time have a good chance of returning since they live close by.

We targeted this group using Facebook, as it allows us to pinpoint targeting and ensures that our message is only going to the people who are out potential local customers, so no wasted ad spend.  

Principal Two:

Target People Who Have  Special Occasions Coming Up:

For this campaign we targeted people who were having a birthday as people usually like to celebrate on their birthday, so you can give them something special (making them feel special) without cheapening your brand – since it’s for their birthday (so there’s a reason to offer them something) and most people will celebrate with family or friends (so they’ll bring a group) and of course many people will spend a little more on their birthday than they would spend otherwise.

Again, we used a Facebook ad to achieve this as Facebook allows you to target this group.

Principal Three:

You Need an Appealing Offer – That Doesn’t Hurt Profits and a Good Looking Ad With a Call To Action:

It’s crazy when we see some of the ridiculous offers that restaurants make, they are often great for the customer but they leave the restaurant without a profit for the night and that’s just plain crazy.  The restaurant is often making this ridiculous offer in the hope that people will return, but often the offer is being made to people who are out of the area and only visiting to take up the great offer – so it’s often a one time visit and a loss for the restaurant.

We like offers that are appealing, but that will ensure that plenty of money is being made.  Don’t get us wrong, this whole strategy is set up to get new customers and turn them into regulars and as such we can look at the lifetime value of that customer over time – this is not a single ad, it’s a full-on strategy.  But that does not mean that you can’t make good money on their very first visit.

In this particular case, as it was a Mexican restaurant with great food & drinks, the offer was a free Margarita & dessert for the birthday person, no strings attached!  So yes, someone could have come in and just ordered a the freebies and left, but over 6 months no one has.  In fact, on average they bring in two other people and on average each person has spent $50 to $60.  Often, since people have received something for free, they then feel that they can afford to spend a bit more (the money that they saved).

Plus it’s created some fantastic goodwill, new customers have been so thrilled that the restaurant invited them in especially for their birthday and gave them something for free.  And it was totally free, not a discount, but a gift.  That way there is no ongoing expectation that services will be discounted as the last thing that a good restaurant wants to do is be known for it’s great ‘Groupon Deals’ or something similar as in the end the customers will only want to go when a massive discount is on offer as that’s what the restaurant has conditioned their clients to expect.  Have a think about it from a retail perspective, for the last few years our major retailers have been desperate and as such the entire year is almost a permanent sale for one reason or another.  As such, if I walk in to make a purchase and there is no sale, I’ll often just wait until there is one, as I’ve been conditioned to expect a big discount, so I now feel I’m paying too much if I pay the standard retail price.  It’s not a position that you want to put your restaurant in!

The actual ad that we run (in this case on Facebook) is also important, you want lots of good images of your food etc plus you want to ensure that you call out your specific audience – ‘hey, are you having a birthday, we love celebrating birthdays here at (your restaurant name and suburb) and we have a free gift for you.’  Plus a specific call to action – ‘click here to claim your free gift’.

Principal Four:

Personalised For The Customer, But Automated For You:

People are over the generic, we all love a personalised conversation, it makes us feel special.  

For this campaign, we used an automated ‘chatbot’ that we customised for our client and for this particular offer.  It helped ensure that the new customers felt like they were having a one on one chat – but it was all automated.  So once someone clicked on the ad, they went directly into the ‘chatbot’

As such, the restaurant staff usually had no personal interaction until they welcome these new customers into their restaurant and made them feel special with their great food and service.

This campaign would still work with just a simple Facebook ad, leading back to the restaurant’s website or even a lead page within the Facebook platform.  Certainly not as effective as using the full automation that we set up, but it would still be effective to some degree.

Principal Five:

Make It Measurable & Adaptable:

Ever heard of the term, pay & pray – it’s what many advertising campaigns are.  How many times have you invested in a one-off ad and then just hoped that it worked?  

This campaign was built as a long term strategy and it’s measurable, so our restaurant began to know exactly what to expect, week after week.  Plus using digital media, we always have the option to make ‘live’ changes immediately if we need to tweak the ad copy or the offer etc.  

As far as measurement, using our Facebook stats we could see exactly how many people were clicking through on our ad.  Then as part of our chatbot, we had a ‘redemption’ step, so when the customer comes into the restaurant, in order to receive their ‘gift’ the ‘redemption’ offer needed to be clicked on the chatbot.  The restaurant takes note that it was a ‘birthday’ booking so they can see the total spend and whilst we did not in this case, we have the ability to include that information within the ‘chatbot’ so it can be entered when their offer is redeemed. 

Principle Six:

Turn New Customers Into Regulars:

This is so, so, so important – the cost to acquire a brand new customer is significantly greater than servicing your regulars, in fact, it’s anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.

So this campaign had automated features to encourage the new customers back again and again, by offering them something special on their next visit (within a limited time frame).

The reason we do this is: If somebody goes to a restaurant for the first time and has a great experience, the statistical likelihood of them doing a second visit is about 40%.

The second time a customer comes and has a flawless experience, The statistical likelihood of a third visit is still about 42%. The third time they come, the statistical likelihood of a fourth visit is over 70%. You have to market to three visits, not one.

Principal Seven

Generate Great Reviews:

I think we all agree what a huge impact online reviews have these days and unfortunately, too many negative reviews (and everyone will get them) can have an impact.  The best way to get rid of the negative is to bury them with positive reviews.  

This campaign had a built-in automated system to first confirm that the customer enjoyed their birthday experience and then if they were super happy, which many were, then we encouraged them to leave a public review and made it easy for them by automatically sending them the link to do so.

Principal Eight:

Build A Huge Database:

It’s important to try and capture details of customers who are dining with you and if possible even those who are your ideal audience, but have not visited yet.  Once you build a database then you have the ability to go back to your warm audience, at any time, usually very, very cost-effectively and get them into your restaurant.

The campaign that we used, in this case, works away every day, just in your local area.  Those who take up the offer and also those who engage but don’t take up the offer, are all added to an ever-growing database of locals who can then be contacted in the future and now know who you are.  In addition, by using Facebook ads, if you happen to use a video (rather than an image) then you can also retarget just those people who watched all of, or a portion of your video.

The beauty of this strategy is it is only getting pushed out to your local area, to the demographic most likely to come into your restaurant.  So as soon as people engage with this strategy, whether they end up making a booking or not, at a minimum you are able to capture their details to be able to get back in front of them.

Principal Nine:

Stand Out From Your Competitors.

This is a unique strategy and it helps set you apart from your local competitors.  It will not be like this forever, but for now, very few restaurants are targeting people who are having a birthday, especially in this very personalised way.  

The strategy helped this restaurant stand out, in fact on many occasions when new customers have come in to take up the offer they have asked for the manager, simply to thank them for the offer and have said that it helped make their day.  If you can provide something special to your customers, then they will remember that and are far more likely to return.