When someone says, “let’s do Mexican tonight,” you want people to know your restaurant immediately when mentioned in that list of options. That’s brand awareness.
When someone says, “where do you want to eat tonight?”, you want your restaurant to be on that list. That’s top-of-mind brand awareness.
In most cases, hunger is the driver of a restaurant decision (think about how often your family discusses the question: where do you want to eat tonight?), not a specific type of cuisine. Which means your competition is not the other Mexican restaurant across town. Your competition is every restaurant within a 2-3 mile radius of a customer’s home. The key to edging them out is top-of-mind awareness.
Top-of-mind awareness (the first brand name that comes to respondents mind when asked about a specific industry) is the initial step for building brand loyalty and product preferences. Creating a well-built connection and a strong relationship with customers should be the main goal of your marketing efforts. If you build this level of awareness, your restaurant will always be on the short list of options when the question of “where do you want to eat tonight” comes up.
To create this top-of-mind awareness in your target audience, your marketing strategy needs to focus on fueling word of mouth within the local community. If your offerings are truly delicious, then stimulating a little trial should do the trick.
Trial stimulation is about giving people a reason to try your restaurant. Engage diners with new menu items, specials, promotions, insider information and news through email, social media and more. Events are a useful way to bring in the community and get people to try your restaurant. A well branded event can be anything from live music nights to birthday parties to one-of-a-kind neighborhood experiences. Give out coupons and discounts to local businesses. Pick a tactic (or two) and spread the word out!
Most of us understand these marketing tactics. What many restaurants fail to realize is exactly who their target audience and competition are. Once this is understood, you will discover the need to adjust your marketing to achieve top-of-mind brand awareness in your community, not to just be the best tacos in town.
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