Brand Control Part IV: The Social Game

PART IV of IV

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This is the Part IV 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)
Part III: The Traffic Game
Part III: The Traffic Game, (continued)

Let’s bring it all together

So, are you turning numbers into business, and are the conversions as profitable as they ought to be?

There’s an old saying that it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much you keep. For the restaurateur, this is more important than ever as the each dollar gets harder and harder to hold onto. That’s why this Brand Control series is so important – it’s ultimately about recapturing the dollars that leak from your business when they don’t need to.

Let’s refer back to our two sample restaurant searches- one restaurant fully linked to a 3rd party booking site and another restaurant that directs traffic back to it’s own website by reclaiming it’s business listings (and removing the 3rd party links that direct traffic to a different website).

  • Restaurant Search A Facebook Page:

    Socal_FB_SearchB

  • Restaurant Search B Facebook Page:

    Socal_FB_SearchA

  • Restaurant Search A Twitter Page:

    Socal_TWTR_SearchA

  • Restaurant Search B Twitter Page:

    Socal_TWTR_SearchB

  • Restaurant Search A Instagram Page:

    Socal_Insta_Search A

  • Restaurant Search B Instagram Page:

    Socal_Insta_Search B

Let’s add up the direct reach above:

  • Restaurant A Total:

    11,918 Facebook Likes
    5,057 Twitter Followers
    7,676 Instagram Followers

    24,651 Total

  • Restaurant B Total:

    7,578 Facebook Likes
    3,628T witter Followers
    5,588 Instagram Followers

    16,794 Total

Often there’s this “discussion” about sending new business and it’s certainly an important part of growing a business, but what truly keeps restaurants steady through seasonal changes, economic fluctuations, new competition and other external factors, is solid repeat business and powerful word-of-mouth advertising that only repeat customers can deliver.

The Social Hijack:

Restaurant A is outperforming Restaurant B socially. This is the result of disciplined brand management, consistent engagement, fresh content, and great execution. But the kicker is their strong efforts are going to cost them unnecessary money for their own achievements. They unknowingly transfer something even more valuable to another company- the wealth of their customer data – that they cultivated.

Their reach of potential 24,651 social accounts will ultimately pass through the restaurant’s own website or social page, and then away to the 3rd party website when the online reservations are made.  Who is benefiting who the most here?

So when a great Facebook post reaches 7,578, and any social activity which then spreads the post through people’s social network through more liking and sharing, and thus results in plans to eat out, there’a a bill attached to that. Add Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and others to the mix and that’s a pretty big footprint for one restaurant. Every potential online booking conversion out of this potential pool of 24,651 social accounts will be attached to lost dollars that didn’t need to be spent.

Restaurant B’s smaller potential reach of 16,794 will direct traffic to the restaurant’s own website where the relationship takes a more concentrated form. Why? Because the opportunity to capture, personalize, and repeat is now in the hands of the business that the customer wishes to do business with in the first place. The open door to a 3rd party has been shut. Think of a leak in a damn getting fixed. Now water levels can start rising.

Brand Control is about fixing these kinds of leaks that weaken identity and customers relationships.

The Acquisition Game:

This is all about the cost of customer acquisition and data associated with such an acquisition. The fix is to stop footing the bill for business that’s already yours while giving away resources and leverage.

The last piece of all this is how to capture NEW customers without relying on another company that usurps your hard earned customers. The service they provide is simply marketing. And marketing comes down to cost of acquisition. If you have a brand new customer walk through the door how much did it cost you to get them? For the 3rd party service, it may be$1 per cover – that is provided that there’s wasn’t any additional financial resources or TIME on the part of your business vested in getting those customers to find the 3rd party site. As we’ve seen in many cases, through portal and social hijacking, the cost of acquisition is actually much higher than you think.

The goal to complete your brand reclamation process, is to do two things:

  1. Reduce the cost of acquisition for new customers
    • Do you own online local advertising
    • Reach out to and reward area business that may send guests your way
    • Incentivize your customers to invite their friends and family to the restaurant
    • Put a call-to-action in everything you do- from emails, to guest checks, to social media posts, to server interaction, etc…
    • Participate in community events
    • Reach out to local influencers and make arrangements to reward them in exchange for mentions
    • Make it easy to broadcast the restaurant to the social networks that make sense for the desired clientele
  2. Retain full control of all customer data.  With greater ability to influence repeat customer business, the critical need to drive new customers is reduced.
    • Store all customer data in a place that’s yours
    • Segment customer data for personalized attention when they visit the restaurant, and follow up marketing
    • Automate marketing so that the risk of “getting too busy” is reduced
    • Capture new data whenever and wherever possible: online, at host stand, at the table, with mobile devices, even snail mail if possible.

Most importantly, true customer acquisition is only effective if the guest experience is memorable, delivers value, and excites guests enough to return.

It may sound harsh, and even old-fashioned, but this means taking full responsibility of how the guest perceives their dining experience, and not pointing fingers when covers are down.

If the restaurant’s not busy, it’s ultimately on leadership to find out why. If the product is good, and people feel good when they are in the restaurant, and they feel that the money spent was worth it, they’ll return when the opportunity presents itself and take opportunity to send others there as well. If that’s not happening, then there’s a root cause that’s getting neglected.

It also means saying no to situations where essential processes are outsourced. It means not having a crutch installed at the front door that enables the host team operate on auto-pilot. It means everybody is in the game each and every moment they’re on the clock- in one form or another. It means everybody is accountable when it comes to making each dining experience something to remember.  When this happens, the most unfixable form of brand hijack takes the restaurant down – the hijack from within.

The most infallible form of guest acquisition, and brand control, always returns to the the food, the service, the feeling and the value. It’s the ABC’s of running a great restaurant and nothing more. This is all we want when we dine out. It’s a timeless and infinitely dependable formula. There is only one true force that eminates outward and attracts people to discover what’s going on. It’s your brand when it’s alive and well in it’s purest form.