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I’m sure you’ve read many articles about getting the right customers into your restaurant and encouraging them to come back. This subject always bears repeating, especially since customer visits are the lifeline of your restaurant. Sometimes the hardest part is figuring out who the right customers are for your establishment. Remember, the right customers are the ones who are the most profitable, not necessarily the ones who drive the most foot traffic. If you are already using a loyalty program through your POS system to track customer information and demographics, your work is almost done.

Here are some helpful tips to help you effectively target your perfect customers:

Know why you chose to market to these customers. Are these targets previous customers who spent a certain amount or ordered something specific? Are they prospective customers who live in the sweet spot of your delivery area? This can make or break your marketing efforts, resulting in either increased profit or precious marketing dollars in the trash.

Make sure your offer is truly appealing… Do you really know what your customers want? What is it about your restaurant – the atmosphere, the food, the service – that keeps them coming back for more? It may take some digging to find the answer to this one, but the profits that come from highlighting this answer are well worth it.

…And that your offer doesn’t result in lost profit. Don’t make the mistake that other restaurants have made by offering discounts or coupons that drive traffic, but end up costing you big time in terms of inventory or other expenses. For example, if you have a wild and fun atmosphere, hosting an open house to the public with local wild and fun celebrities may drive customers into the door without ever looking for a discounted meal.

Give them a measurable way to respond. Whatever marketing tactic you choose, make sure it’s a tactic you can measure, by either running reports on how many gift cards have been purchased or how many daily specials have been ordered during the promotional period. It is also a good idea to compare sales on a promotional night to sales on the corresponding night from previous weeks. Developing customer loyalty is useless if you have no measurements on the actual success or lack of success of your promotions.

Lather, rinse and repeat. Now that you’ve run your promotion or highlighted the one or several things that make your restaurant the place to eat, drink and be merry, take the time to look back at your marketing efforts and analyze your tactics and results. There are always things to tweak or adjust, from refining your target market (again) to changing the content just slightly for better results.
Don’t look at using targeted methods to reach new or existing customers as something you do once or twice a year. Continued efforts to drive more profit by proactively reaching out to your customer base will lead to your best and most profitable years that still lie ahead for your restaurant.

Alaina Ankrom, Channel Marketing Senior Analyst NCR