With the Restaurant Association of Ireland recently reporting that 1 Restaurant Per day was closing in Ireland and that 80% of Irish Restaurants were running at a loss this is a difficult time for Irish Restaurateurs. Increasing your businesses visibility and building a strong relationship with your customers has never been more important.
Direct mail, newspaper advertising, radio and e-mail are common ways to advertise your Restaurant. However, with a recent poll of mobile phone owners interested in getting text offers, showing that 53% would like to receive text alerts from Restaurants (Source: Harris Online Poll July 2009) a properly run SMS marketing campaign can be an import addition to any restaurants marketing strategy, helping you build up a relationship with your customers that will encourage repeat business and fill tables.
SMS marketing is, by its nature, very personal and opens up great opportunities for you to build direct relationships with your customers. Using text messages to deliver marketing and promotional offers is fast, flexible, targeted, reliable, and most importantly cost-effective.
So what are the keys to a Restaurant running a successful text message marketing campaign?
Choose a Mobile Marketing Provider
For many business owners the barrier to running an SMS marketing campaign is simple. They don’t know where to start. Providers have recognised this need and there are now a number of excellent Web based SMS marketing services available, which aim to provide business owners with easy-to- use, cost effective ways to run an SMS marketing campaign.
The majority of these services, including our own uConnect service, will provide you with all the tools you will need to run a successful campaign and most services will allow you to register free of charge and give you a number of free SMS credits to get you started. So even the most non-technical and non-marketing savvy small business owner can register with an online text message marketing service and be up and running in minutes.
Build your “Mobile Club”
The most important step in any text message marketing campaign is building your subscriber database (your mobile club).Text message marketing is permission based i.e. consumers need to opt-in to your mobile marketing program, so the first step in any program is to build up your mobile marketing club. While this can take a little effort the benefit of this is that you are always sending your promotional offers to an audience that is genuinely interested in hearing from you. This is one of the reasons why mobile coupons and promotional offers sent via SMS have such a high redemption rate.
An effective way to build your mobile club is to register a Mobile Keyword with your mobile marketing service. A keyword is a memorable word you can display around your business or on your promotional literature. When a consumer txts this keyword to a dedicated mobile number or short code they will be added to your mobile marketing database.
Offering an incentive to join your mobile club is a good way to drive registrations. For example, letting people know that if they join your mobile club they will be entered into a draw for a free dinner will provide a great incentive to join. All good mobile marketing services will allow you to automatically send a text message back to a subscriber when they join your mobile club, so why not automatically send them back a promotional txt when they opt-in e.g. a discount on their next meal if they display the text when paying their bill.
This is a great way to start building up a relationship with your customer, and it will help build word-of-mouth regarding your mobile club.
Time your Offers
Once you have built up your mobile club its time to start using it to drive business. One of the most powerful elements of text message marketing is the way it allows you target your message to your customers at a time that will have maximum impact. For example, you can send a message to your mobile club detailing the days special offer 1 or 2 hours before dinner, just when your customers are deciding what they are going to do for dinner. And as 94% of text message sent are read (with 75% being read within 4 minutes of being received) you can be confident that your message will be seen.
The immediacy of text message marketing also means you can make real-time promotional decisions.
For example, if business is slower on a given day than expected you can make a decision to send a special offer text to your mobile club and have it in your customers hands within minutes. Putting a time limit on the offer e.g. “10% off all main courses when you display this text. Offer valid up to 3pm today only” is a great way to create a sense of immediacy.
Once built, your mobile club is a valuable marketing resource for your restaurant. By opting-in to your mobile club these customers have shown that they are interested in hearing from your restaurant, so cultivate that relationship. Sending your mobile club special offers not available to other customers will build loyalty and help generate word of mouth about your mobile club.
Notifying your mobile club of new menu items and any special events you are running will help build on your relationship and hopefully encourage repeat business.
Do More with Mobile
Of course there is more to mobile marketing than just text message marketing. With smart phone users increasingly using their phones to access the internet, a well executed mobile strategy can help your business stand out from the crowd. Graphical mobile coupons, QR Codes and mobile optimised websites are all areas that your restaurant can leverage to create eye-catching promotional offers that will help you fill your restaurant.