Joel Cohen's
restaurant marketing

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Restaurant Marketing: Joel Cohen is a leading authority in restaurant marketing, hospitality marketing & retail marketing, coaching aggressive-thinking hospitality firms across the USA & Canada for the past 35 years!

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Restaurant Marketing Wow Issue #519

Why Are Restaurants Infatuated With "Averages?"
  • What's with our love of averages?

  • I'm always hearing claims such as: Our average ticket is $50. Our average customer count is 2,000 a week; our average food cost is ? you know what I mean, and I can go on an on.

  • If you're measuring your business on averages, you're missing out on important warning signs ? and important opportunities.

  • Why are averages meaningless? The average annual temperature in Houston Texas, according to the US Climate Data is 69 degrees.

  • Sounds like a pleasant place to live until you dig deeper: seven of those months, the temperature is in the eighties, nineties and hundreds and in the winter it can be quite cool. Which means an average of 69 degrees is a misnomer and totally inaccurate as a measurement and a realistic description of Houston's weather. I know; I used to live there.

  • So, what's so special about average? Nothing. We know from a marketing and dining experience, average is boring.

  • From a metric point of view, it says very little other than to make you believe that a $50 average ticket is great. Or is it?

  • Rather than looking at the average, it's more meaningful to look at the distribution of the numbers. How many customers, in our example of $50 average, are spending $80 and more? How many are spending $20-$40?

  • Customers are not created equal, but by digging deeper, you can see there are opportunities: how do you get those spending less to spend more? What are you doing to get those spending more to increase their frequency to your restaurant?

  • You shouldn't market to both groups with the same message. If you do, you're working with averages in a business where there's no such thing as an average customer.

Want To Increase Profits? Read This & You'll Understand Why We Should Talk!

Restaurant Marketing: How To Be The "Only" And Own A Position In Your Customer's Mind

  • Restaurant marketing isn't only about promotions or giveaways. It's about developing a strategy to be re-memberable ... owning a position in the customer's mind with a message that's different and not already occupied in an already over-crowded customer memory bank.

  • For example, you're doomed if your position is based on "better product, cheaper price." That space is already overcrowded and cluttered; easily forgettable and lacks customer loyalty. That's one of the tenants of restaurant marketing.

  • One of the first critical steps in creating a restaurant marketing program is to develop an exclusive claim or position that you would like to own in the memory banks of your customers, and develop elements of your program around that claim.

  • One the best positions to take that solidifies your restaurant is being an "only."

  • Being an "only" puts you above every one else with a claim that has exclusivity. It puts you in the leadership category a position that has shelf-life in a customer's memory bank. Simple restaurant marketing: be memorable.

  • A number of years ago, I advised a western-themed casual steakhouse in South Carolina to develop a position. They were located along one of those restaurant rows with other brand-name steakhouses.

  • They didn't have a compelling claim to separate them from the others. Result: declining sales. I developed a position for them based on the fact that they were the only steakhouse in the area that sold a 40 ounce steak. Allowing me some creative freedom as they were a fun place to go, I developed this line:

  • Gabby's is the only restaurant in the Carolinas that features a 40 ounce Texas-size steak for hungry cowboys & cowboy wannabees ... who want to impress their cowgirls ... (and later added ...) and prove that they're a real man!

  • Here's the secret to the line. Note that it includes a benefit. Most would just say, "we're the only restaurant that serves a 40 ounce steak" but when you add the benefits, it becomes a much more interesting story to tell.

  • Take time to figure out your "only." Do you have a position, a claim to fame that's shareable? And, note, the position doesn't necessarily have to be about the food.

  • This is your exclusive weapon: If you don't have a position in your customer's mind; if you don't have an "only" - then let's talk about honest restaurant marketing that works.

Restaurant Marketing: How To Be The Successful In The Restaurant Business

  • To be successful, you should always be a student, seeking out and following those who already are successful.

  • Follow what they do; copy their strategies and tactics. The amazing things that amazing companies in every business category are doing are all out there to be seen, heard and even copied.

  • There's no greater guarantee of success than to model what you do after those who are already successful doing it. Restaurant marketing is consumer-based marketing and starts and ends with 'people.'

  • The Southwest Airlines Culture, Delta Airlines Strategy of Smiles, Mellow Mushroom's hiring special people, Angus Barn's Church of the Customer Experience, Tijuana Flats' Salute to the Vets are just a few of the many remarkable companies I've written about in my Wow Street Marketing Report - companies that have great "templates for success" - models that can be put into any restaurant concept.

  • I wrote about Uber's strategy for success: "Win every potential customer and you will attract an abundance of the most reliable drivers, which will cut wait times for customers, who will then become loyal Uber clients and by word of mouth attract still more clients." A strategy that's adaptable to your restaurant.

  • And Campbell Soup's strategy for success: "To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace. We're obsessed with keeping employee engagement front and center." A strategy also adaptable to your restaurant.

  • Look beyond the restaurant business because what is successful for one business category can be refined to fit your business. So, rather than wasting time and energy looking for the next big thing, just study what's working already. The Ritz Carlton's Gold Standard Of Hospitality can work for your restaurant. Starbucks pricing philosophy can work for you too!

  • Most interesting to note, the success of all these companies isn't defined by their product price or category. It's not the coffee, not the hotel, not the soup, not the taxi, not the airplane, not even the pizza or steak. The success is defined by the "experience." Your restaurant marketing mantra: "If it doesn't Wow, then it's boring."

  • The driving question on how you can be better has already been answered; it's already out there. All you've got to do is find it. I guarantee you, it's already staring you in the face. And if it isn't, then let's talk about honest restaurant marketing that works.