In this series, Creative Marketing Ideas for Restaurants, we’re going to cover a new topic each week that will give you the power to accomplish your goals and grow your restaurant. Keep reading.

The hardest thing to do as a restaurant owner is to get NEW customers thru the door, would you agree? We know how hard it is to get new customers in the door. We also know that statistically, ~60% of first time customers will NOT come back a second time.

That’s a lot of people that never come back to your restaurant.

What if you had a system that could help you capture that 40% that do come back a second time and help get them back a third time and a fourth time?

What would it meant to your business if you could all but guarantee your first time customers come back at least 4 times?

That would be huge, right?

Today I’m going to give a strategy that will help you identify & acquire NEW customers, help your staff know about these first-timers, and the system to keep them coming back at very little cost to you.

How will creative marketing ideas for restaurants help reach your goals?

First, let’s discuss goals.

Your goals are very important to the success of any marketing strategies that you put in place. The strategy’s purpose is to fulfill the goal or goals you have for your business. Each tactic that you employ as part of your strategy needs to help attain that big goal.

If you ever find yourself doing “something for marketing” and you can’t talk about how doing that will directly impact your goal, you need to stop and evaluate.

So, first things first, define your goal or goals that you are trying to accomplish.

In this instance, we want to acquire NEW customers & get them to come back at least 3 more times for a total visit count of 4. With this in mind, let’s get right into the strategy.

How to get new customers and keep them coming back

Let’s first show you a few unique ways to acquire new customers.

A great tactic for acquiring new customers is to give them a compelling reason to come in. This can be a coupon, an event, etc.

Let’s focus on the coupon in this example. Now we have to get in front of the prospective customer.

Since we tend to focus our skills in the online space, we’ll start there.

Instagram Search and Direct Messaging

Instagram is a great platform to use when looking for influential people to provide special offers to. It’s also great for locating people that have recently been to your restaurant… more on this in a future article.

Here’s what to do to get started…

Open Instagram, then go to Search. You can use the Search to find your perfect customers.

You can even use the location search to see who’s been active in your city in the last 24 hours. It’s a great way to find your perfect customers and interact with them.

Which brings us to our next step in the process, Direct Messages.

Once you’ve located your perfect customers on Instagram, you can reach out and send them a direct message. This is a great way to get new customers as well as invite existing customers to come back.

Using this same strategy with Facebook, LinkedIn, and others, you can see a huge impact to your bottom-line.

How to keep customers coming back

So now that you’ve got new customers coming in, how do you keep them coming back?

Well, let’s back up a step and give you a great way to bring a new customer in and let everyone in your restaurant know it’s their first time.

When you invite new people to come to your restaurant, give them a special offer. Something they can give to or show your hostess or wait staff.

To identify them, give them a red napkin. Treat them with the best service you possibly can.

Then, at the end of their visit, a manager should thank them personally and give them a hand-written coupon for a different menu item than what they ordered. Hand-written is the key here. Write it on the back of a business card.

Tell the guest, next they come in be sure to use this coupon and try the item you are giving them for free. FOR FREE. This too is important. Discounts leave people wanting more discounts, but FREE promotes gratitude.

According to Jon Taffer, of Bar Rescue fame, the likelihood of a first time guest returning is about 40%. Getting them back in the door is crucial so this second coupon given by the manager is helping to accomplish this.

Once you’ve got them back a second time, you’ll know that they still need extra special treatment because it’s their second time!

So, now that you’ve gotten back a second time… what do you think this means? You guessed it. It means that your marketing efforts are working and you need to make sure they come back a third time. Again, according to Jon Taffer, about 43% of second time guests come back a 3rd time.

This is another opportunity for you to work your hospitality magic and encourage those that are known second time guests to come back for that 3rd visit! Once you get them back for that 3rd visit, keep on them!

Taffer says that after that 3rd visit, there’s a much higher chance that they’ll come back for a fourth visit. 70% more likely.

Is all this hard work really necessary?

You’re damn right it is. Making every guests visit an amazing experience is so crucial to repeat customers.

New customers are great, but the real money in the restaurant industry is in those customers that keep coming back and recommending you to their friends. This is all about the lifetime value of your customers.

Do not underestimate the value of each and every customer that comes through your door!

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