Guerilla Marketing for Operators — Word of Mouth, Differentiators and You.
Yesterday we began our discussion on restaurant guerilla marketing. In fact, we already have a name for said discussion: Guerilla Marketing for Operators. Which, to be fair, sounds like some special forces-type stuff, but whatever.
Today’s post is two-fold: we’re going to be talking about word of mouth, differentiators, the link between the two and how all of this starts at the source: your restaurant.
KEY AREAS OF DIFFERENTIATION
Really quick: a differentiator is something about your business that sets you apart from your competition; hopefully in a good way. I know that should be self-explanatory, but again: I worked with someone who searched for “Yahoo” on Google whenever she wanted to check her email. Never assume!
When looking for things that differentiate your operation from those of your competitors, you want to play to your strengths.
Definitions aside, let’s talk about the three broad areas of differentiation that can be used to build word of mouth among your customers: ambiance/amenities, food/menu, staff.
AMBIANCE AND AMENITIES
In other words, your physical operation. Is it clean? What kind of concept do you have? How successful is it at executing that concept? What about it sets it apart? A few things to consider:
- Music, if any. It should be tailored to your concept and your customers’ tastes/perception of your concept.
- Fixtures. What kind of shape are they in? Are they clean?
- Do you have a killer view?
- What’s the parking situation like? Good? Bad?
Here are some differentiating factors to consider when thinking about your food:
- Are you locally sourcing ingredients?
- Is your menu concept still unique in your area?
- Do you have a signature item or dish?
- Is there anything unique about your ingredients or preparation methods?
- Is your food just legitimately — and honestly — that good?
I’m not going to make any lists here. Instead I’m going to say that your staff — be it front-of-house, back-of-house or management — are the life blood of your operation. This is one of those areas of your business that you have direct control over between the hiring, firing and training of your employees, and it amazes me that when I go out to eat I encounter so many terrible people. Well, maybe not terrible people, they might be fine people. That being said, what’s it take to get a refill around here?
This is sort of a topic unto itself, but I will leave it at this: it’s possible that the quality of your staff can make or break your operation.
WORD OF MOUTH
So all of the above are things that are in your control and all of them are fodder for word of mouth. Have a killer view of the sunset over Lake Michigan? People will talk. Have a great jukebox stocked with interesting music? People will talk. Have locally sourced ingredients? People will talk. Have a knowledgeable and attentive staff? People will talk.
In other words, once you get people in the door, give them reasons to help you get other people in the door. If you’re able to give them a unique and memorable experience (good or bad!), they’re going to tell people about it. This is a theme that we keep coming back to: details matter at every level of your operation.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
Word of mouth is effective marketing in and of itself, but it’s just the beginning. Or, if you want to use a food metaphor, you could call it the icing on the marketing cake. You want to pick some related differentiating factors that put your best foot forward and build your guerilla marketing campaign around those. Which isn’t to say that you should hang your hat on having good parking, but if you’re pushing takeout, absolutely play up your convenience. If you have a great sunset view of something, play up your ambiance to target couples. Again, these are things that will help bring people in the door and then help those people recommend you to others.
Remember: keep it simple, keep it concise and keep it focused.
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DOLLAR.
That’s it for the time being. My outline says that tomorrow we’ll be talking about some specific ideas for guerilla marketing, so come back then and most likely be amazed! Until then, contact the marketing guerillas at Vanee Foods for help with your operation!