You’re focused on running your business. All the time. When you’re at work. When you’re at home. In the one hour a week that you’re somewhere else. All the time. You’re focused on making your business work better. And you’re thinking about COGS, labor costs, hot and cold holding temperatures on top of making the business go and providing something excellent to your customers.
So when you think about marketing your business, you can list dozens of details that are important to you to explain why your business is better than your competitors.
You know who doesn’t think about your business as much as you? Anybody. Nobody does.
If you’re the average person, you think about your next meal as long as a couple hours before, maybe. 17% of respondents in our 2015 consumer survey said they don’t put any thought into their next meal decision. Clearly, they’re thinking about different aspects of your business than you are.
On the rare occasion that they do they think your restaurant from the other side of the counter, they don’t think about COGS, labor costs, hot and cold holding temperatures like you do. And to be honest, they never want to.
When you’re thinking about your marketing, you have to start with things they think are important. Speak to their needs. And remind them of the things that delight them. This is a simple matter of perspective.
How can someone so focused on the operations side understand the interests of your customers?
They’re already telling you every day. Or maybe not you – but probably your staff. Your social media channels are for certain.
Ask your staff what they are hearing from customers. Better yet, formalize a process for them to share feedback. Starbucks famously launched MyStarbucksIdea.com as a place for customers to drop feedback and ideas for improvement directly to the coffee chain. To do it simply, you could leave a notepad at the register.
When you read ‘feedback’, you think ‘complaints’.
Especially on social media. And hearing those complaints is hard, but complaints can be turned into insights about what your customers love. What you need to ask “Why?” Complaints are usually relative. ‘The burger was cold’ this time, but it was perfect last time. ‘Service was slow this time’ usually means it was faster last time.
If you can withstand the frustration of hearing some complaints, you will also find that your customers give you positive feedback, too. Compliments. And best yet, positive comparisons to your competitors.
The comparisons are valuable. But even more so, understanding how they identify you in the context of other restaurants or stores is invaluable.
When building a marketing strategy there are two major questions.
- What do we hope to achieve?
- What are the constraints?
Those bits of feedback are your constraints – the limitations you’re up against. Some may be complaints, true. But, you can find a way to make those challenges a positive in your marketing. Your service isn’t slow; you are offering an opportunity to experience their meal and their time together. You’re not more expensive; you’re providing more value than competitors.
Explaining who you are and why customers should visit is not easy, but the first step is understanding who your best customers are and what they love about you. Then, it’s just about reframing all of your expertise about the business within their perspective.