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In it for the long haul

In today's crowded marketplace, only the most loyal of guests stay loyal. Research has consistently demonstrated that any but this most loyal group are as vulnerable to defection or lower usage patterns as highly dissatisfied guests.

Restaurant concepts often ignore the needs of the semi-loyal guest who only dines with them semi-frequently because they believe they are too "fickle."

Effective brand management strategies, however, don't treat the semi-loyal guest as "fickle," but work to understand this guest's "savvy" nature by meeting their needs and moving them into a more loyal relationship. This movement not only generate strong top line sales and profit growth, but continues to fine-tune the concept's ability to keep guests loyal.

Stop talking about your guests and start building a relationship by talking with them. The guests know what they want, they know if they are getting your message or not. Creating ongoing, two-way, branded dialogues with our guests is the new challenge of our industry.

For years the restaurant industry has relied on acquisition marketing to drive top line sales. This has led the communication to be a monologue: restaurant sends message of desired behavior, guest responds with desired behavior. But to compete in today's over-saturated marketplace, a constant two-way dialogue with the guest must be developed. This means reallocating existing economic and organizational resources to customer relationship and loyalty marketing. This drives brand loyalty and retention through a new two-way relationship of listening to and talking with your guest.

How do you begin?

  • Segment your guests and communicate with them based on their profitability. After all, not customers are equal.
  • Increase the frequency of your guest communications. The more often you give guests an opportunity to visit, the more likely they will
  • Let guests decide how they want to communicate with you, either by snail mail or email. The more relevant the medium, the more likely it will be read

Next, research and brainstorm ways to treat guests special and encourage them to visit. As you create more frequent and loyal diners, you'll notice a boost in sales and a higher return on your marketing investment.

The old adage, "You are what you sell" is being replaced by a new one... "You sell what you are." Brand marketing of the past was driven by product, price, promotion and packaging. The new brand management is driven by relationship, dialogue, vales, trust, and communication. In other words, today's successful brands, and their loyal customers are in it for the long haul. Looking for ways to woo the faithful? BrandStand Group has provided a list of ways to maximize your customer investment.

See also:
Get on the brand wagon
And one to grow on
It ain't about the food

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