Restaurants deploy several marketing strategies. They advertise on local television and in local newspapers. Recently, social media marketing has also become an effective way to attract customers to the restaurant. Ratings and comments allow the public to give others an insight into their dining experience.
What is word of mouth marketing?
Before the average customer turns to these forms of advertising, they rely heavily on word of mouth. This is the most important way for restaurants to gain foot traffic and a loyal customer base. Word of mouth marketing is no longer confined to conversations between friends at social gatherings it has expanded into the digital realm.
Social media is gaining traction as a word of mouth marketing tool. Someone with a large following who Tweets or posts on Instagram or Facebook about an establishment is giving word of mouth marketing and can either act as a champion for that restaurant or its worst nightmare.
Why is word of mouth marketing important?
The biggest benefit of word of mouth marketing is that it costs the restaurant nothing in terms of dollars. However, a bad dining experience spread by word of mouth can be very costly.
Statistically, 92% of people trust the recommendation of someone they know. Consumers trust their friends. They also trust the word of celebrities.
Only 72% trust an online review as much as they trust a referral from a person. It’s estimated that 1,000 pleased customers could generate 500,000 additional customers in a restaurant. It can create a snowball effect. This information was gathered in a Nielsen study.
What strategies can restaurants use to maximize their word of mouth marketing?
1. Engagement with customers
Restaurant diners want to engage with the management of the restaurant. It’s not possible for the manager to have a conversation with every patron. However, it’s important that management knows what people like and what they’re looking for.
Years ago, the traditional feedback card was offered to customers at the end of their meal. Their input could be evaluated to establish the quality of their dining experience and whether they would recommend the restaurant to people they know.
Today, the feedback card has been all but relegated to the history books. Social media is the best way to get the opinions and inputs of consumers. Directing them to a review platform encourages them to interact with the restaurant’s social media page.
The best approach when it comes to reviews is to interact with customers is to thank them for positive reviews, inquire about negative reviews and ask what the establishment could have done to make the dining experience better. Knowing this is vital because customer experience is the most important focus for restaurants.
2. Equip people with the tools they need to start word of mouth marketing
Restaurants that want customers to engage in word of mouth marketing on their behalf need to offer the customer something to talk about. If nothing special has been offered to customers, they have no reason to go out and tell their friends about. Here are some elements to consider:
- A restaurant needs to have a good menu with foods that people like. They need to be innovative and have a signature dish. This mouth-watering meal needs to be such that it brings customers back repeatedly. It will then get them to recommend the restaurant to their friends.
- Hosting events and running specials with discount offers gets foot traffic into the restaurant. This means that management has access to a larger pool of diners to spread the word about their restaurant.
- The overall dining experience is augmented by the atmosphere in the restaurant. People want to feel like they matter. Deferential treatment by staff members makes them see the experience as enjoyable. Even the décor can affect a customer’s decision to return.
3. Provide avenues for word of mouth marketing
Give customers different reasons to offer feedback. Have competitions where customers can suggest a new dish they’d like the restaurant to serve.
Offer customers who give feedback on the restaurant a lucky draw for a meal voucher or another suitable reward. Give them different options in how they give their feedback. Prompt them online to subscribe to a weekly email listing any promotions and other news.
When customers are empowered with knowledge and incentives for reviews, they are more likely to participate. In addition, they will be more willing to spread the news about the establishment.
If you want to get people offering you word of mouth marketing, offer them a reward for doing so.
The Nielsen study concluded that only 33% of restaurants surveyed are actively seeking feedback. This means that they are not exploiting the potential for word of mouth marketing. It’s clear that management marketing meetings are focused on conventional marketing strategies.
These are important tools. However, they are not the only tools at the restaurant’s disposal. Word of mouth marketing is growing in importance. Restaurants that use it will soon see that it eclipses most other mechanisms.