It is said that if you can’t get your product to the customers when, where, and how they want it, they will simply buy a competing product. This is increasingly true especially in the service business where there are a lot of competitors. There is a restaurant open on every corner of the street and in order to differentiate your restaurant from the crowd, you need to have different marketing channels.

            The first benefit of having marketing channels is that it saves time and money. You will be able to attract the right type of customer in an efficient way. Rather than letting them find your restaurant by luck, you create an excellent image/brand of the restaurant so that the customers can associate themselves with that brand.

            Another benefit is that it helps in rapid distribution of products and easy access to new customers. Having the knowledge to understand the needs of the customers, predicting the inflow of customers on a certain day; supply chain management would be easy if those things are in place.

            The factors of channel selections are the type of customers, the type of products, channel partner capabilities, business environment as well as competing product’s marketing channels.

Everyone knows that in order for a restaurant to be successful, the location has to be great, the food has to be great, the customer service has to be great and so on. However, the owners often miss out on the most important aspect of running a restaurant i.e. consistency. No matter how great the restaurant is, if the chef is switched every single week, the taste of the food won’t be consistent.

            Similarly, no matter how great the marketing strategy is, if the marketing message is not consistent on all advertising platforms, it creates confusion within the customers. There will be a mismatch between what the customer sees and what they get afterwards. Therefore, it is necessary to have a solid integrated marketing communication (IMC).

            In this modern world, customers check your restaurant online before even thinking of entering into the restaurant. Therefore, your restaurant needs to be updated consistently on new offers, new deals, loyalty membership cards, interesting menus, BOGOF and so on. If the marketing message is not tempting enough, people will not enter your restaurant.

People think psychology and consumer behaviour has nothing to do with business but this is farther from the truth. It is important especially for a business to understand the consumer’s buying behaviour. We have already discussed how to segment target markets and create a USP for that target market.

So, now we need to go one step deeper. Does our restaurant attract those types of customers and their buying decision? This question needs to be answered. If a restaurant is opened in a high-class location and targets people with higher socio-economic status, are you creating that type of environment inside the restaurant? If there is no car parking, then those target customers will not bother to come to your restaurant.

In order to understand these concepts, there are several factors that influence consumer’s buying behaviour. First are situational factors such as social situation, time, reason for the purchase and mood. Second is personal factors which include personality, gender, age, stage of life, attitude and lifestyle.

Moving along, there are psychological factors such as motivation, perception, learning and mental positioning. Last but not the least, there are societal factors that include culture, social class, opinion leaders and friends/families.

There is a difference between a famous, well-established restaurant and an independent restaurant that have just opened weeks ago. That difference is in terms of brand awareness. People do not know about the recently opened restaurant. So, the question is how do we go from a newly established restaurant to a restaurant that is filled with people who love the food, the customer service, the location and everything.

There are mainly four stages of customer experience. First is the pre-consumption phase where people do not know about your restaurant. We need to communicate our value proposition through brand awareness. We let them know about the type of restaurant, the types of food we serve, the location we are in, the opening and closing hours, the ambience and everything in between. Basically, we are trying to make the potential customers aware that we are in business and you are welcome to visit us in our restaurant.

Moving along to the second stage, which is the purchase phase. This is the time when the customers remember that ad that they saw of your restaurant. They decide to search more about the restaurant. How are the customer reviews? What’s the social media handle like? Is it car parking in the restaurant? What food do they serve and many more. In this stage, your restaurant should remain true to its value and showcase its value proposition in the best way possible.

On the third stage, which is the consumption phase, these people actually come to your restaurant. They order food, maybe bring along some friends, have a good time and leave the restaurant. You as the restaurant owner need to make sure that their experience should be flawless from the time they enter the restaurant to the time they exit out of it. This means that the decor and the ambience must be on it, the waiting staff should behave nicely, the food should be warm and well-presented, the waiting time for the arrival of the food should not be too long and many more.

The fourth stage is the post-consumption phase, where the customers have the option to either say that the restaurant was good and tag this restaurant on their social media or say that the restaurant was bad and the service was long, the waiter was rude, the music was too loud and so on. The response that you get from the customers is going to determine if the restaurant is going to stay in business for a long run or not.

There are two forms of marketing: internal and external marketing. Internal marketing focuses on the relationship between the business and the employees whereas external marketing revolves around businesses and customers. Businesses only tend to focus on external marketing but it is equally important to balance both types of marketing.

You see, the owner cannot be present all time in the restaurant therefore, all the interactions will be done by the FOH staff such as waiters and bartenders and managers. If you want your staff to be their best and perform their best then, you need to focus on internal marketing.

This includes hiring the right people for the job, training them, managing the employee’s emotion, reward and recognition and many more. I have gone in depth about this in my HRM series for restaurants.

For the external marketing side, it focuses more on attracting customers into the restaurant. In the awareness phase, you would do live events, branding, community building exercises, google optimization. For the engagement phase, you could integrate influencer marketing, social media marketing, and user-generated content. And for the retention phase, try out things like loyalty cards and different offers. 

If you search on google about marketing and what marketing comprises, you are going to hear a lot about 4P’s. 4P’s are the fundamentals of marketing and it consists of, you guessed it, 4 P’s which are place, price, product and promotion. Let’s discuss it one by one.

            First comes the product. Restaurants sell foods and drinks and they are able to sustain themselves through these sales. If enough people come to the restaurant within a month and all of the expenses are covered, then the restaurant goes into profit.

            Then comes the place. Where you place your restaurant determines how expensive or cheap the rent is going to be. You need to do good marketing research before searching for a location. Opening a pork-styled restaurant in a neighbourhood of vegans is not going to work.

            We move on to the price. Price is determined by where the restaurant is located as well as various other factors. If your restaurant is opened in a high-class area, you can charge a premium price on the menu dishes. However, everything else should also live up to the potential such as excellent customer service, nice decor and ambience, ample parking space, great food quality and taste and so on.

            Finally, we come to promotion which basically means advertising. What are you doing to make sure that people know about your restaurant? Without advertising, your reach will be limited to your friends and families alongside people close to that area. Therefore, in order to reach more people, you need to heavily invest in marketing your brand.

            The other 4P’s especially in the service industry are People, Programming, Partnership and Physical Evidence.

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