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Can Your Restaurant Afford to Make this Mistake? (Part 1 of 2)

I once went to a presentation by the President of Blenz Coffee, George Moen. Blenz is an international coffee chain that has over 85 stores internationally and growing. George offered this piece of advice for any business: If there’s time to spare, use that spare time to market and advertise your business as much as possible.

Marketing isn’t as simple as printing up business cards, and having people handing out flyers at the door during a slow night. Marketing requires discipline and understanding the habits of your customers and their use of technology.

Great Marketing Depends on Technology Trends:

Much or marketing depends on the trends of technology and the relationships that customers have with technology. What happens is that when a restaurant grows successful is that it often becomes complacent and uses old forms of media to continue to promote the restaurant.

The belief in that what has worked in the past must work now can be a killer. Think about all the large food chains like McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Subway. They didn’t wait around to adopt to new technology. They didn’t wait around for social media to become big before they jumped aboard.

They saw the trends and decided to learn as much as possible about it, and use it to help market their own eateries. And these companies are going to continue to look for trends in technology and anticipate them to help them make bigger profits.

Look at the Historical Trends of Marketing Technology:

If you look at the trends in technology that are related to marketing, it’s always about the newest way to reach the largest audience in the shortest amount of time possible. But now it’s about reaching the largest relevant audience at the right time. And that’s where today’s restaurant marketing is moving towards.

The first real marketing tool for restaurants was through visuals such as flyers, magazines, newspaper, and posters. This form of marketing technology was often localized and did not have a far reach. While newspapers are in heavy circulations, their circulation numbers are dwindling, and newspapers are magazines cluttered with other ads and stories.

Then radio came along, and you could advertise your restaurant on the radio to a massive audience. All of a sudden things changed. All of a sudden people could be reached that lived miles away from a restaurant and some radio campaigns allowed restaurants to reach a national audience. But those that stuck to just radio advertisement eventually lost a lot of marketing power and audience due to the next great marketing invention, television.

Television was invented. All of a sudden people could hear, and see what people in action. This also spawned a whole new industry of the TV commercial, which to this day is still a powerful medium. And TV has been going strong for decades until new generational tastes for how we get our information changed dramatically due to the Internet.

As time passed by and marketers saw the huge potential of globally advertising restaurants for less than what TV would costs, it became the new modern tool to reach billions of people. All of a sudden a whole new generation was switching their medium of choice to find a good restaurant in town through Internet searching.

Magazines were seeing a decline in readership due to free articles, less people were listening to the radio because you could hear podcasts at anytime and people were downloading MP3s, and television was losing out because people could watch whatever they wanted, when they wanted at the touch of their fingertips.

And that’s when restaurant marketing moved massively to the Internet. If you were to look back 10 years ago, it might have been understandable that a restaurant didn’t have a website to market themselves. Now, if you’re a restaurant and you don’t have a website, customers question why there isn’t one? It’s bad marketing and leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

Then the Web 2.0 movement took place. The idea that large collectives of people would share information and connect with each other. People would be able to share reviews of restaurants. All a sudden people didn’t just recommend restaurants through word of mouth, they were recommending restaurants through typing reviews and sharing reviews with a massive network on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and telling their 300 friends. These people were sharing photos on Flickr. All of a sudden your restaurant was part of a community of people whether you liked it or not.

The Internet that was being used at home and at work changed the way that restaurants had to market themselves.

But a greater percentage of people are no longer accessing information on the Internet at home, they’re accessing it through the palm of their hands while they’re walking to their next meeting. Customers are more demanding than ever to get information as soon as possible.

If your restaurant was purely relying on marketing Internet home users, then you’re in a stage where you are using radio to advertise to a TV generation. And this is the mistake a restaurant can’t afford to make. Restaurants must be on top of marketing trends and rely less on less of the old ways of marketing to survive.

What is the next trend in marketing for restaurants? It’s real time access to your restaurant through mobile marketing. If you’re not going with this trend, I guarantee you another restaurant in your neighborhood already is. In the part 2 we look at the different mobile marketing trends that will affect restaurant marketing for years to come.

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