Brand Control Part III: The Traffic Game


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This is Part III in our Brand Control series. Throughout this series, we’re looking at how you can grab control of your business, your customers, and your brand through freely available tools and strategies.

This series has included:

Part I: The Numbers Game
Part II: The Linking Game
Part II: The Linking Game, (continued)

In Part I, we looked at the traffic numbers. We saw how big the traffic pie actually is. Part II looked at how powerful marketing companies direct traffic to their own benefit. Now, we’ll look at how to get in the traffic game and come out ahead. This is going to take some breaking down, and rebuilding.

Traffic is movement along a route. So what routes are available? Are you paying tolls for these routes? Are certain routes underutilized? Which routes best serve your business model- and your guests?

The Traffic Game is about gaining traffic influence, and then guiding that traffic. There must be a clear, organized understanding of where traffic begins, how it flows, and where it ends up. These routes are always evolving, so what may have once been a valid source of business may not fit current needs or circumstances. Therefore, these routes routinely need to be evaluated. Just like a menu, they must be refreshed from time to time, and made sure they’re still relevent.

Putting our attention on building traffic is not something to do if our operations are not highly polished. Opening up channels for new business will be not only futile, but damaging if our house is not in order.

This is a good time to pause and take a moment to see if any of the following applies. If so, take corrective action first then come back to here:

When traffic is redirected through our own entry points, emersion into the experience we offer begins. The potency of our customer’s experience becomes enriched. So the flow of traffic you create, as it works it’s way towards you, becomes an extension of your brand- and influences other potential guests along the way. When outside 3rd party services are in control of our trafffic, our authority and influence is given away. The cost to your brand, and the customer journey you’re working hard to create, is significant. Why?

It comes down to the identity of our customers. This is the most valuable asset we can possess. There is no traffic game to win if we’re not in control of our guest’s information. Not just surface stuff like name, phone number and email. But who are they? Where do they come from? What do they want? What do the celebrate? What did they do last year? What do they expect? Who do they talk to? What are they willing to pay for? How much time do they have? What stories to they wish to tell?

The answers to these questions are the routes that guide your incoming and outgoing traffic. These answers are an extension of our brand- like vessels in the body, providing living circulation. When we reflect this back out into the world, into our circles of influence, the traffic routes we create flow inward with the life of our restaurant’s vision, and hopefully, a meaningful, value-driven dining experience. Afterword, people have a story to tell. This outward motion, these new stories, become reputation.

This brings us back to how big the traffic pie is, and how restaurants are being used as conduits by well know 3rd party services to farm customer data.

Before we move ahead to the second part of The Traffic Game, this is a good time to pause and evaluate the state of current traffic routes.

Take these action steps before moving onto the second section of the Traffic Game:

  1. Take our “Traffic Test”
  2. Take our “Hijack Test”
    If the Hijack Test is positive:

    • Have all traffic directed from Google, TripAdviser, and other sites back to your own website. Our Hijack Test will show you exactly where the leaks are. Once this is done, you’ll start saving on monthly fees.
    • It’s not enough to save money; we must invest in marketing. It’s no coincidence that the most recognizable brands in the world consistently spend the most on marketing.
    • Take a percentage of the money you’ve saved and invest it in the following:
    • Local ads including retargeting
    • Make some videos. Show the world who you are, what you offer, and what’s special about your offering
    • Social media management
    • Email, text, and other automated marketing that is also personalized

    Recalibrating your incoming traffic channels may seem risky, and it could be if additional measures aren’t put in place to monitor how your brand is viewed from the customer’s point of view. With the tools that are now available, many old traffic routes that once served a valid need no longer relevent.

Next, Part III, the Traffic Game continues with a deeper look at brand hijacking, and what can be done about it without sacrificing your business potential.