There is no better form of marketing for a restaurant than word of mouth. If a friend of mine tells me about a great experience at a restaurant, I am infinitely more inclined to try out that restaurant than I would be simply by seeing a commercial. When it comes to this type of restaurant marketing, the proof really is “in the pudding” as the old saying goes.
But if you are a restaurant owner, and you think that marketing and promoting ends once a customer – new or old – walks through the door, you are a making a big mistake that is costing you money. Suggestive selling and up-selling are two of the most effective tools that restaurant owners have in their tool belts.
And few devices are better at achieving all of these objectives (and more!) than buttons.
Yes, buttons. (Were you expecting something else?) Owning a button machine and having the ability to nimbly churn out custom buttons can be a tremendous asset for restaurant owners and one that we think not enough restaurants take advantage of. We haven’t done any scientific studies, but we go out to eat enough that we can judge empirically that buttons are an underutilized tool in the restaurant biz.
Take, for instance, daily or weekly specials – both staples of the restaurant experience. It is the responsibility of the host and wait staff to educate patrons on the current specials. An excellent way to do this is by suggestive selling. Buttons make suggestive selling almost subliminal – which we all know is a very effective form of advertising.
Simply by having your hosts and wait staff wear pinback buttons or photo buttons depicting an appetizing special, it will plant the seed for guests. If this strategy is combined with table displays and menu inserts, it further reinforces the “Order the special!” message you are trying to get across. Undoubtedly, more specials will be sold that day.
Any kinds of food or drink specials can be effectively promoted inside your restaurant this way. And if you have new food or drink items, even better! This is the perfect time to create buttons to help spread the initial awareness.
Consider also up-selling, which in terms of using buttons is quite similar to suggestive selling.Perhaps you want to increase the number of desserts you are selling. By having a delectable, luscious piece of chocolate cake oozing from a button pinned on a waiter’s apron or pocket, you can plant the seed for dessert ordering once the main course is over.
Moreover, eating out at a restaurant is not just about food. People also want an experience, and they are more likely to return to an experience that they identify with, even if their identification with it is something innate that they cannot explain.
Consider Applebee’s. Despite being a nationwide chain, they have branded themselves as a restaurant that cares about the community it is in. To that end, most Applebee’s you go into feature memorabilia and apparel from local high school and college teams. What a perfect way to incorporate buttons! Maybe the local high school football team just won a sectional championship – why not make buttons that feature the score or a picture of the big play? Perhaps a big local event is coming up – why not make buttons that feature the date and location to help promote it? Both of these button strategies will build goodwill in the community and, in turn, further develop your brand as a locally-focused establishment.
- Want to create an incentive for your employees to work hard? Have an Employee of the Month button!
- Want to reward your customers? Give out buttons that identify them as VIP customers and perhaps even entitle them to discounts or free meals.
- Want to further brand your business? Create fun, brand-appropriate name tags for your wait staff.
And here is another:
Kids love getting things when they go out with their parents. How about a button (which would cost mere pennies to produce) for youngsters that says “I conquered the Chicken Finger Mountain” when they eat their entire meal of chicken fingers (and obviously the many other iterations of this that are possible)? As any parents now, if you can create a child who is a loyal customer, the parents become loyal customers out of necessity!
The sooner you act, the sooner you will be on your way to increasing your bottom line and your brand, and all it takes is the willingness to start making some buttons!
Brighid Brown – Director of Blogging and All Things Cool at ABM