If your sales have been dragging for a while now, it may be time to rethink your overall marketing strategy. If you’ve never really had a marketing strategy—if you’ve always believed that word-of-mouth alone was all you’d ever need to succeed—it’s time to reconsider. Fortunately, a customer relations campaign doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, especially if you’ve already got a POS system in place. Here are five basic and inexpensive marketing ideas to help jumpstart your sales in the coming months.
- If you don’t maintain a customer database, create one now. There’s no excuse anymore, so quit putting it off. You need to start collecting customer names, phone numbers, physical addresses and email addresses in order to develop an ongoing customer relations campaign. Many restaurant POS systems offer database management software, and even if you’re not tech-savvy yourself, you can assign the responsibility to someone on your staff. Just remember to ask permission before adding any customer to a mailing list.
- Create a loyalty or VIP club. Once you’ve created a customer database, it’s time to set up a loyalty rewards program for everyone on it. Develop a system that allows your regulars to accumulate points toward free food and offer them coupons and other special deals along the way. Start out with this can’t-miss VIP offer: Send your members a card on their birthday with a gift of a free pizza. Let them know that their business is important to you, and your business will become more important to them.
- Stay in touch. Once you’ve built up a strong list of customers, you need to keep your pizza foremost in their minds so that, if they crave pizza, they’ll immediately think of you and only you. To get to that point, marketing experts say, you need to contact your customers with repeated messages at least six to nine times before they’ll remember you. You can do that with a weekly e-newsletter, post-visit thank-you cards, postcards with special deals and even the occasional handwritten letter.
- Make a personal connection. When developing your VIP mailings described above, personalize them by providing photos of yourself and your team. Photos create a sense of familiarity, and familiarity leads to a sense of comfort, which leads to repeated visits and word-of-mouth recommendations.
- Cater to kids. Pizza tops the list of kids’ favorite foods. In fact, kids play a huge role in deciding where the family will eat out. That means you need to create a fun, welcoming atmosphere for the little ones. Create an online kids club with games and special coupons. Offer coloring books in your stores and hold contests for best drawings. Hang every contest entry up in your store in order to make every kid feel special. Hire a balloon artist to entertain the kiddies on a certain night of the week. Or simply have your servers hand out free balloons to every kid who eats at your pizzeria.