Success in the food industry comes down to a lot of factors, food quality, decor, atmosphere, word of mouth, and of course, marketing. A lot of restaurant owners aren’t sure if marketing is right for their business because it can be hard to see the benefits of it and tell if its working, but this problem can be solved with what marketers call ‘marketing funnels’.
One of the best ways to see success for your business is by putting proper marketing funnels in place. By doing so, you provide a clear pathway for potential customers to join you, defining exactly what steps they should be taking from the initial point of finding out about your business right until the moment they purchase, along with taking care of what happens after to ensure that each customer your marketing brings has the highest possible potential to go from a one time purchase to a life-long customer. Lets talk about what a marketing funnel is, the significance of them and how you can implement them to start creating a profitable customer journey.
Before we go any deeper, let’s demystify the term ‘marketing funnel’. At its core, a marketing funnel is just an easy representation of the customer’s journey (the steps that customers or potential customers go through on the road to first buying from you). It starts with them having no idea who you are, moves onto their initial interaction with you and your brand and finishes in a conversion (sale). This progression can be broken down into four fundamental stages: awareness, interest, decision, and action. By putting a marketing funnel in place, we can make useful, clear decisions on the steps we’re taking too get more customers through the door, figure out what parts and working, and then continually improve our weakest point until we have so many customers that we need a bigger location. Perfect.
In the awareness stage, potential customers first become aware of your restaurant. They might have known you existed before, but at this point they are having it’s best points presented to them and they are actively thinking about it. Awareness can be generated through a wide variety of means, whether it be word-of-mouth, Social Media, printed brochures, online ordering apps or any other avenue for promotion. We recommend using Dinabite for this stage as it’s currently free and is by far the quickest way to start seeing profit increases from your marketing.
At the interest stage your customer has now shown some curiosity about your restaurant and wants to find out more. Remember, interest isn’t sales, this doesn’t mean they’ve decided to order, they’ve just reached the point in their head where they don’t object to the concept of finding out about your food. At this stage, they’ll do one of three things, check your website, google you or check your reviews, so it’s important to make sure that whatever they’re finding is doing it’s job and convincing them for you (check out Dinabite for help with this)
When the decision stage has reached, we’re almost there. They became curious about your business, wanted some questions answered, have had those questions answered in a convincing way and now are making the final choice about whether they’re going to order/book now or not. This is a tipping point, and the kind of point where you might want to use website popups on your site to offer discounts, promotions or loyalty programs. You’re looking for the thing that tips them over the edge and makes their decision in your favour.
Finally, we have the action stage, when a decision translates into a customer deciding to purchase. I recommend you try and have something in place that gets them to take a digital action. Marketing is all about measurable results, and if your marketing effort leads to the action being ‘I’ll visit that restaurant for sure in the next week’, and this time a. Leaves a lot of time for them to forget or change their mind or b. Means even if it brings in customers, you won’t know the marketing did it and won’t be able to improve and optimise the marketing for even more money. I’d say most food businesses could connect this to a direct delivery purchase or a reservation booking system. Finally when the customer enters your location, the marketing stops and quality food, exceptional service, and a warm ambience take over in the mission to turn a first-time diner into a repeat customer.
Marketing funnels play an invaluable role in the restaurant business, offering a step by step approach that helps restaurateurs identify the individual stages that potential buyers are at in their customer journey. This knowledge can then be leveraged to deliver targeted marketing efforts, gently encouraging customers to progress towards the purchase button.
Recognising exactly where your customers are in your journey lets you take an approach to your marketing that makes results easy to reach. Are your awareness efforts getting you tons of traffic to your website, but not turning into customers in seats? Then you know that your website isn’t performing well enough at getting them to make a decision. Is your website fantastic, but it’s not getting significant traffic in the first place? Then you know that your awareness methods aren’t working and to focus specifically on that.
By taking this measured approach, you can continue to make small, incremental improvements until customers are pouring through the door.
Each stage of the marketing funnel presents a unique opportunity to connect with potential customers. For example, in the awareness stage, you might run a local event to introduce your restaurant to the community. This could involve offering free samples of your food or organising a cooking demonstration.
In the interest stage, you might create engaging content that showcases your team and tells the story behind your brand. This could be a series of video interviews with your chefs or a blog post detailing the inspiration behind your menu. This helps to build a personal connection with your audience and makes them feel like part of your restaurant family.
The decision stage is crucial, as potential customers are deciding where to dine. This is the time to highlight what sets your restaurant apart from the competition. Maybe you offer an exclusive wine selection, or perhaps you’ve got a distinctive ambience that other restaurants can’t match. Whatever your unique selling point is, make sure it’s front and centre at this stage.
Finally, in the action stage, your focus should be on providing an easy checkout and an exceptional dining experience. This goes beyond simply serving delicious food; it involves creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere, offering excellent service, and making customers feel truly valued. By exceeding expectations at this stage, you’re more likely to convert first-time diners into loyal patrons.
A well-implemented marketing funnel can serve as the cornerstone of a thriving restaurant business. By providing a structured, customer-centric approach to marketing, it gives restaurant owners the chance to guide potential customers along a carefully crafted journey towards becoming loyal customers.
The true power of a well-executed marketing funnel lies in its ability to convert leads into paying customers and then retaining those customers through exceptional service and quality. It allows restaurant owners to target the right audience at the right time with the right message, which is key to driving sustainable growth.
When a restaurant is able to understand and cater to the desires and expectations of its customers, it not only satisfies their hunger but also builds a deeper connection. This connection, fostered through each stage of the marketing funnel, can lead to higher customer retention, increased footfall, and ultimately, boosted profits.
In the crowded market of the restaurant industry, standing out among the crowd and achieving lasting success often hinges on understanding and leveraging the power of your customers, and a marketing funnel acts as a practical guide that can help restaurant owners attract new customers, retain existing ones, and grow their business sustainably.
In a world where customer expectations continue to evolve, providing a memorable dining experience is not a luxury, but a necessity. A well-constructed marketing funnel can help restaurant owners navigate this complex landscape, ensuring that every interaction, from the first ad a potential customer sees to their actual dining experience, contributes positively to their overall customer journey.
As such, the significance of marketing funnels in the restaurant industry cannot be overstated. They offer a data-driven approach to customer acquisition and retention, allowing restaurants to engage with their audience in a more targeted and personalised manner. When executed effectively, they can differentiate a thriving restaurant from one that merely survives.
If you’re looking for more advice on restaurant marketing, you should download our free Ultimate Guide to DIY Marketing for Restaurant Owners, which covers everything you need to start bringing more people into your restaurant, making more money and running adverts.