You're at the Prom…Ask her to dance!

Matt Plapp - Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Marketing & Social Media Consultant
Matt Plapp - Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Marketing & Social Media Consultant

You just did all the work and successfully convinced a consumer to come to your store…NOW WHAT.  In-store marketing is the easiest and most cost effective marketing available. One of the business categories that should be using it more than others are restaurants. I usually eat out 8-10 times per week with clients and the family. About 3 months ago I decided I was going to keep track of what restaurants where doing to capture their clients information. Why, well it’s simple, there are 3 basic hurdles in marketing:

1. The clients need to know WHO you are.
2. The clients need to know WHERE you are.
3. They need to BUY from you.

So if I’m a business that relies on repeat business, like a restaurant, then capturing my customers information is a MUST. I’m sorry and happy to report that I came across 2 in 3 months, yes 2 out of aprox 75 restaurants actually had a way of capturing their customers contact information by a texting program, social media promotion or frequent customer card. I say happy because that’s what my company, Driven Media Solutions, does for small businesses.

I was recently at a very good 1 location pizzeria in Florence, Kentucky. The owner and I were meeting about their marketing. As we talked I noticed 5 groups of customers who dined and left. I asked the owner if she knew them, she said “no”. I then asked does she want them to come back (loaded question) and of course she said “yes”. So I asked why she made no effort to capture their info. She had no answer, she had never thought about it. Why was there not a table topper that said “text XYZ to 12345 for a chance to win a FREE lunch”. Or follow us on facebook for special offers, or have the waitress have them fill out a quick survey that offers 50% off their next meal and a frequent user’s card. EVERY customer who came in would text in to win. Most would follow on facebook and the vast majority would fill out the survey to get 50% of their next meal and a loyalty card. Everyone wants something for FREE. Once you capture their information you have just accomplished the largest part of the marketing mix. You have a list of customers who know WHO you are, WHERE you are and currently BUY from you. So when it’s time to do a coupon, sale or promotion you already have the hardest part covered. Would you rather send a B.O.G.O (buy one get one free) to 10,000 random people of which less than 1% will redeem it or send it to 1,000 current customers of which a large portion will come back for more.

Think about the texting and facebook opportunities. Imagine that the electric is out in a large part of your city (like Cincinnati in September 2008) and you have electric. You have done the work and have a text list of 1,000 local customers and a facebook fan page with 800 followers. You send out the following text or facebook message “Our electric is on and we want to help your family. Come up now for 25% off any meal and sit in our ice cold dining room”. Or it’s a Tuesday at 5pm and you have not had good traffic on Tuesdays so you send out “Buy 1 get 1 Free dinner”. You WILL get traffic and you are marketing 100% to your target market.

So to recap we just talked about the following items:
1. Capturing Your Customers Information
2. Texting Specials
3. Facebook
4. Customer Loyalty Cards
5. Creating a Customer Database of CURRENT CUSTOMERS

I know, right now you’re wondering, this will cost too much. WRONG, texting packages start at $99 per month, customer loyalty programs are basically small print jobs and facebook marketing is FREE if you do it yourself. And don’t just think this applies to a restaurant, everything I mentioned above would work for any type of business: Auto repair, clothing, office machines, apartment communities, etc. What’s expensive is letting known buyers walk out of your store without ever trying to get their information. At the same time you’re showing the customer that you really don’t care if they come back and that hurts your brand.

When I ask my customers about their brand I usually get a response targeted to their advertising. When in fact, I’m looking for a statement that defines their company and how the public relates to it. Uniforms, phone-answering, sales training, clean restrooms, trained employees, consistent company colors, clearly marked showrooms, in-store marketing and more importantly a staff that understands exactly what your brand is and how they are to carry that out in their job EVERY DAY.

Matt Plapp is a Marketing Consultant in Cincinnati Northern Kentucky the area specializing in small business marketing via grass-roots, events, guerilla, online and social media marketing. You can contact him at

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