This guide to restaurant target marketing will teach you:
- What targeted marketing is and why it’s important
- How to define your target customer using demographics
- How understanding your target market improves your restaurant
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Understanding Restaurant Target Marketing
What is Restaurant Target Marketing?
Target marketing is operating from an understanding of who your target customer is and shaping your marketing message to appeal directly to their needs and interests.
Target marketing is especially important for restaurants because advertising is expensive. To get the most from your marketing dollars you need to develop a crystal-clear strategy that brings in new customers and creates regulars.
Why Should Restaurant Owners Care About Target Marketing?
If your dream is to start a restaurant, take this advice to heart. Understanding your target customer will influence every decision you make, from the colors in your logo, to the type of cuisine, to the music you play.
It’s much less costly to start out knowing your target customer and developing your brand message from the beginning. Being unclear about a specific target customer means your marketing and your whole restaurant concept will be unfocused and have no clear value proposition for your customers.
For established restaurants it can seem costly to reform your brand. But it’s never too late to reset and improve your marketing. It could mean the difference between long term success and constant struggle. Developing your core clientele and understanding what motivates them is key to cultivating the restaurant success you desire.
How To Start Thinking About Your Target Customers
It’s important to know who your best customers are so that everything you do in the restaurant appeals directly to them. When you understand your target customer you can more confidently make the important decisions you make every day.
A clear brand message based on an understanding of your customers helps you form a personal connection that is meaningful and authentic. By making your guests feel understood and accepted for who they are, customer loyalty is created.
Avoid This Mistake At All Costs!
Although the temptation will be there, the biggest mistake you can make is trying to target “everyone”.
This would be the exact opposite of targeted marketing. If you want to be successful with your restaurant marketing you must differentiate your business from all the others out there and provide something unique in the market.
Embrace the fact that people have different opinions, tastes, lifestyles, and personalities, just like you! To create a brand image for your restaurant, you need to take advantage of these differences. This is how people form a personal connection and bond with your brand.
Targeting Grows Your Restaurant Business
It’s not an arbitrary decision for a steakhouse to choose a cowboy and western theme instead of tie-dye and reggae music. The steakhouse knows their target market and the style choices show that the owners appreciate their customers tastes for what they are.
When you understand your target customer and provide outstanding service tailored to their lifestyle, you will create a cult following and a type of gravity that pulls in those who can relate.
Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure
How to Discover Your Restaurant’s Target Customer
Defining a Target As A Startup Restaurant
One of the reasons that franchise restaurants are often so successful is because they identified a specific target customer in the market before they launched. They did a lot of market research to show that the segment of the population was sufficient enough to support their business.
The choices for location, menu, ambiance and marketing message were reverse engineered after identifying the demand in the market. Unfortunately, many restaurant owners develop their concept first, before doing demographic research to find the most profitable target customers in their communities.
As a startup restaurant you have an opportunity to do this important demographic market research before you invest your time and fortune into a restaurant concept.
Defining Your Target As An Established Restaurant
Most restaurants fail within the first five years. If you’ve lasted this long then you must be doing something right. With the experience you’ve gained in the restaurant industry you probably have a sense of what types of customers support your business.
The challenge for established restaurants is to either define their target customers more clearly and go after more of the same, or to pivot and target a customer type that can more suitably support your growth and restaurant sales goals.
Only you can make this decision for yourself. But whichever path you choose, demographic market research is the first step to an informed choice.
What Is Demographic Market Research?
To discover your ideal target customer, explore the local demographics. Start with the raw numbers such as median age, cultural background, income, family life, education, etc.
Your local city government can help you find this demographic information and much of it is published online. From these raw numbers you can start to identify a segment of the market that can support the type of restaurant concept you’re interested in providing the community.
Building Your Customer Model
Once you’ve looked at the raw statistics regarding income and lifestyle it’s important to add some personality characteristics to your model customer.
Think about the uniqueness of your community. The country, state, town and neighborhood all have a history and a culture. These factors play a role in the tastes and preferences that develop regionally.
Start defining in a broad way how these influences affect the individual members of the community your restaurant operates within.
Next start thinking about how the sports teams, landmarks, accent, and particular way of doing things that are all a source of regional pride. Tap into this current and begin listing more details about what is important to individual people who live in the area your restaurant serves.
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Specific lifestyle questions to get started:
- What is their age?
- What is their gender?
- How much money do they make?
- Are they single or married?
- Do they have kids?
- Do they dine in groups?
- Are they value shoppers or do they enjoy luxury?
- Do they identify with a specific ethnicity, culture or cuisine?
- What “big picture” lifestyle choices might affect their dining preferences?
Your Target Customer Is Coming Into Focus
To gain even more detail will take some sleuthing. However, it’s a crucial part of your restaurant marketing strategy.
If you have an established restaurant you can conduct casual interviews, distribute customer comment cards or look at your sales reports. Rezku POS features an integrated CRM that can help you with this process.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software helps you track your individual customer's buying habits. From your CRM reports, you can determine which individuals spend the most, their dining frequency and what menu items they buy.
These are the people who identify most with your brand. Study their habits closely.
You will develop an improved understanding of your target customer in time. Don’t be afraid when your customer model evolves. It’s a place to start so that you can develop your marketing strategy and your business plan.
Improve Your Restaurant Business By Understanding Your Target Customer
Think of yourself as a private investigator
The work is never finished. You’re always on the lookout for more details about how to serve your customers better.
It’s important to talk to restaurant patrons all the time, and not just small talk. Really seek feedback about their lifestyles, what they like and what they don’t like about the restaurant.
Is the music in the restaurant too loud? Are there not enough high chairs? Is there anything they wish was on the menu? If you want to attract more customers like them, you need to understand their preferences in detail. Adapt to their needs and you’ll attract more like them.
Get your restaurant staff to spy for you
When interacting with diners, make sure your staff asks questions too. “How could we improve your experience next time?” is a great question. Leave comment cards and take this feedback to heart. By showing your customers that you care about them you’ll earn their trust and loyalty.
Strengthen your brand with bold decisions
If you don’t know who your target customer is then you won’t know what your brand’s image is. You won’t know what choices to make or they’ll be unnecessarily risky.
On the flip-side, when you’re confident about who your target customer is you can make bold choices that appeal directly to their interests. This personal touch will seem like it was designed just for them.
Not everyone in the world likes a linguica and red pepper wood-fired pizza, but if you know your target customers’ tastes you can confidently expect it to become a profitable bestseller.
Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure
Create marketing that inspires loyalty
This is one of the most important reasons to understand your target customer intimately. You can identify what types of advertisements, promotions and social media posts will interest them.
When you have developed your target customer profile with such detail, it’s like talking to a friend. And this is why it’s so effective. No one likes advertisements that seem spammy and irrelevant. But personalized marketing warms our hearts and makes us feel special.
Restaurant target customer marketing is focusing your restaurant business around a profitable market segment that you discover through demographics, customer feedback and experience.
Your target customer defines everything you do in your restaurant, from your advertising to the food on your menu to how your servers greet guests.
Creating a target customer profile and developing it over time is one of the most important things you can do to improve your restaurant’s success. By focusing your efforts on your target customer rather than trying to appeal to everybody, you’ll be able to create a unique brand for your restaurant and cultivate customer loyalty.
This free in-depth guide on restaurant target marketing is provided by Rezku, an innovative restaurant management consulting and technology company based in Sacramento, California.
Our products and services are designed to reliably and affordably serve the needs of busy restaurant owners who “just want it to work”. Our commitment to service and ease of use has helped us win awards and earn the loyalty of our customers.
Find out more about Rezku on our homepage, and get a free consultation with one of our experts.