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10 Insights On Surviving and Thriving in the Restaurant Industry During Tough Economic Times

Restaurant Marketing & Advertising

10-restaurant-marketing-insights-surviving-thriving-tough-economic-timesConsumers don’t stop spending during uncertain and challenging economic time periods, they buy more safely and critically.  Restaurant brands that maintain their voice during trying economic time periods will be able to prevent their customers from moving to the competition.  It’s vital to communicate effectively during challenging economic times.  How else will your customers know what you can offer them?  The alternative could be even worse, “out of sight out of mind”.  Continuing to have a presence during this time projects the confidence necessary to provide customers with the reassurance they are making the right buying decision.

10 Insights on how to THRIVE during uncertain and challenging economic periods:

1. Research and know your customer – Knowing how your customers are redefining value and responding to tough economic times is crucial.  Customers are more willing to not “dine out” and willing to trade down in these times.  Trusted brands are especially valued. Your customer is always right – a truism to the success in the service industry.

2. Maintain marketing spending – This is not the time to cut the advertising/marketing budget.  When your competitors are cutting back, this is an opportunity to outsmart them and ramp it up.  Uncertain customers with less discretionary income need the reassurance of known brands.  Consistent messaging and top of mind awareness is the key to not only weathering the storm, but seizing the opportunity.

3. Challenging times are the best times for your brand to stand out – We all know perception is reality, and it works both ways.  Use an economic downturn as a time to shine. As competitors go silent, you jump in with both feet.  Tough economic times mean; lower production costs, lower media costs and a higher ROI in a short amount of time.  Quite simply, your dollars go a LONG way.

4. Nurture and hold on to existing customers – Hold on to your loyal and existing customer base before searching for new customers.  This is your base and if you forget about them, they will quickly forget about you.

5. Product innovation – Innovate to encourage more value conscious customers to keep spending with you.  As your customers desires change, continue to expand your offerings and give them a variety at a good value.  Specialty and Seasonal menus during these times add excitement and “newness” and encourage repeat visits.

6. Offer sterling customer service – The last thing you want to be doing now is losing customers.  Your customers are your lifeblood during challenging economic times, and you should fight to keep them.  Now is not the time to cut back on quality and service.  Now is the time to give your customers more.  Don’t forget customer count includes new customers AND repeat customer visits.  So, let’s keep them coming back by offering a value that will keep your regular customers engaged and at the same time create trial visits.

7. Don’t devalue a strong brand by deep discounting – Sure, deep discounting will get you short term sales.  But, deep discounting won’t get you long term loyal customers that will be with you through thick and thin.  Advertising a “value offer” to keep customers coming back and entice new customers works great, but keep the “value offer” fresh.

8. Strengthen marketing/advertising messaging to show solidarity with the customer – “we’re all in this together” – The truth is we ARE all in this together and we DO have empathy for the customer because we feel it too.  Showing the customer we care and empathizing with the customer creates an emotional connection that will last for years.

9. Be present where your customer spends their time – Invest in media channels that deliver the best returns and prove the most resilient in tough economic times.  Your media plan should be diverse and cover as many channels as possible to increase reach (reach as many of your customers as possible) and increase frequency (reach your customer as many times as possible).

10. Think you can’t afford to produce TV Ads/Campaigns and can’t afford to run TV Media? Think again.  It’s a whole new world and your brand, no matter what the budget, can now be seen and can now be heard.  Gone are the days when you have to be a national brand with deep pockets to have a presence.  With the plethora of media options available and a lower demand for ad inventory due to competitors cutting back, negotiating ad space for less is made possible.  And, the advancement of digital cameras (lowering the cost of having to shoot on film) has made producing TV Ads/Campaigns extremely affordable.  There has never been a better and more affordable time to advertise than now.  Food is visual – Your customer must see appetizing food that touches every sense to get them to get up and “do something”.

“Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time” – Henry Ford

For more information, contact Paige Gillingwater, President and Executive Producer of Black Lab Productions.
Phone number: (310) 880-8067 or Email: paigeg@blacklabproduction.com