Restaurant marketing strategies to encourage real reviews

Social media, travel, and review sites can be a great testament to your business’s credibility, customer service, amenities, and experiences. The problem is, most people only write reviews when they’ve had a shockingly horrific experience, or were completely blown away by something. But how do you encourage the masses of happy, satisfied customers in between those two spectrums to write reviews? A great place to start is with a well-devised approach- be it in terms of marketing your restaurant, or promoting your hotel, resort, or tourist attraction.

The formula is simple. Whenever you make a request of your customer – whether it’s asking for an email address or seeking a review – you must be certain that you give them something of equal value in return. Simple campaigns that exchange real value for real reviews will bring your existing customers closer to your brand, while in turn, generating new reach within your target audience. Here, BIGEYE shares the following quick and easy recommendations – in case you were in need of a little added inspiration:

For restaurants and bars

If there’s one thing you need to know, it’s that locals are truly your best friends. Use this to your advantage by employing restaurant marketing strategies that encourage local reviews. Attract your seasonal audience by engaging restaurant review sites such as Yelp and OpenTable. Host “locals’ nights” and offer a free appetizer to anyone who writes a review. Invite reviewers to preview new menu items or cocktail variations on the house … in exchange for a review, of course. Chances are, your reviewers will want to come back for more … tell their friends … or maybe even spread the word to those random tourists they bumped into on the street.

While some restaurants and bars host trivia night. Take things to the next level with your approach to restaurant marketing by hosting your very own branded “social media night.” Tweet-ups, meet-ups, and other social gatherings are hugely popular. Get people in the door by offering discounts, free bites, or some form of entertainment. Plan these activities on your traditionally slower evenings to boost business you wouldn’t otherwise have  – and to encourage all your guests to review, post, and Instagram away. Possible prize offerings may be awarded for tweets and reviews, or simply let people generate their own buzz around your business.

For hotels and resorts

Offer customers a deep discount or give them one night free for a good review. Chances are, your guests will stay longer than one night, and will be so pleased with their “free” vacation they’ll be more inclined to make up the difference in food and beverage costs or on-site amenities. If you’re worried people will “game the system,” put straightforward terms and conditions around the offer to limit one freebie per household. (This will ensure that the reviewer was a visitor within the past six months.) You’ll get a great review  – and some extra business in the process.

Another option is to create a brand ambassador program. Use a point or discount system to reward guests for meaningful social media posts, photos, and reviews. This strategy may promote quantity over quality, so consider using an “application” process that asks potential brand ambassadors why they’d be a great fit, and what unique social media skills they bring to the table.

For tourist attractions

Most travel destinations boast a host of unique activities. You can’t miss swimming with the dolphins in Mexico. Wine tasting in France or Surfing lessons in California. And most of these activities are prime photo opportunities. But as you might have experienced for yourself, even the most seasoned selfie-taker has trouble capturing these moments from the perfect angle. At the end of each activity, guests begrudgingly head toward the photo stand, where professional photography of their adventure is on display. Sneakily, some guests may attempt to covertly snap a copy on their phone, while many visitors simply choose not to purchase these photos on principle. If you offer one digital copy in exchange for a review (which can be easily emailed after the review is verified), you are creating a currency your customers genuinely value. There’s no overhead cost to you, and consequently, plenty of opportunity for gain. 

Because most tourist attractions are one-off experiences that come with a premium price tag, providing discounts on future visits may not be the best strategy. Most often, this is due in part to the low volume of repeat customers. Instead, let your guests give the gift of their memories to others. Let them know that when they write a review, they have the opportunity to share a meaningful discount with a friend. This technique perpetuates your business and makes your customers feel good for reviewing you, while also sharing something with their friends and family. That’s what we call a win-win.

Did these strategies peak your interest when it comes to encouraging your valued customers to share more about their dynamic, memorable experience with your brand? To continue the conversation by uncovering additional opportunities to engage with your target audience, and develop repeat clientele through reviews, contact our team of advertising professionals today!

Millennial market: Property management marketing the new generation

As you are likely aware, rent costs have spiked nearly 15% since 2010, while mortgage interest rates are at new lows after the recession. Yet believe it or not, millennials are still happily paying an average of $1300-$1500 (or more) for rent month after month, with no property equity to show for it. There are many reasons why millennials are opting to rent instead of buy, and to successfully market to this generation, BIGEYE would like to share the following helpful hints to assist you in gaining a greater understanding of those reasons:

Know who you’re talking to:

There are 92 million millennials in the United States. Collectively, they have over 1.3 trillion dollars of student loan debt, may have spent a few years living with their parents or friends when the recession hit, and are bouncing back from 4.7% national unemployment rates. On a brighter note, financial conditions are improving for the 20- and 30-something set, and many are finding themselves ready to cut loose and enjoy a breath of fresh air.

Apartment living can represent that much sought-after breath of fresh air. When older generations explain what the “American Dream” means to them, they often cite owning property or putting down roots. Millennials may include having luxury amenities they wouldn’t be able to afford if they owned a home, such as valet parking, a pool, free gyms or billiard rooms, or a building concierge. Couple these attributes with easy access to food, nightlife, arts, and entertainment in the heart of most urban hubs. American Dream, indeed.

To millennials, the prospect of a 30-year mortgage translates to staying in one place – in one job – for the next three decades. This is a generation that can barely commit to two-year cell phone contracts. Marketing campaigns mapping out this generation’s lifespan aren’t liberating, they’re terrifying. Marketing campaigns that highlight the freedom of renting (or owning a secondary rental property as an extra income stream) – now that’s something.

Speak their language:

Successful property management marketing hinges on your ability to speak this generation’s language. Communicating with millennials the same way you would to the Baby Boomer generation is sure to leave your apartment marketing a little flat. This generation wants to live in locations where homeownership may be out of reach, or they may not be ready to get married and settle down yet – making homeownership a necessity.

The mistake most people make when marketing to millennials is that they assume the Y-generation is unhappy with this arrangement. Goldman Sachs conducted a study that suggests 30% of millennials believe buying a home is important … just not right now. A similar study  shows more than 79% of renters between the ages of 18 – 35 want to buy a home within the next five years. That means these renters are content being, well, renters until then. But what does that mean for property managers?

In highly desirable locations, such as San Francisco, Denver, or New York City, that means it’s an owner’s market. Even if millennials were ready to buy, high down payments, aggressive credit requirements, and staggering debt to income ratios make this prospect difficult. Property managers that give millennials access to apartments with high-perceived value will win their hearts, and since most renters pay up to 30% of their disposable income in rent according to Zillow, you’ll also have access to a large piece of their business.

Vacancy rates are at a 20-year low according to the American Census Bureau, so property marketing that targets exclusivity and accessibility to desirable locations is crucial for success.

Know your niche:

For millennials, you want to highlight value not price. Chances are, they know they aren’t saving as much as they’d like or that their paycheck is going to their landlord rather than their student loan holders. Successful property management marketing ideas highlight the value they are getting – despite the cost.

Since millennials are choosing to marry later in life, play up your apartment property’s sense of community and camaraderie. Talk about the convenience of having an on-site property manager to take care of (and pay for routine maintenance and upkeep). Highlight convenient month-to-month options that let millennials dream about their next job promotion to Singapore or London. Boast your building’s free wifi or cable packages that make working remotely or being an entrepreneur a breeze (working by the pool sounds pretty great to us).

Once you begin to understand a millennial’s version of the American Dream, you can begin positioning your property management marketing around those elements. Chances are, they’ll be substantially different from customers in other generations, but that doesn’t mean this market segment is less valuable. In fact, millennials make up about 36% of the housing market in the United States, making them the predominant generation in the industry.

The long and short game:

The short game for millennials is all about renting. The long game, however, appeals to their desire to buy. The economy is improving, interest rates are low, and sooner or later, millennials will begin tying the knot, having kids, and settling in to their mid-level careers.

Once you’ve proven that you understand them, they will remain loyal to you as their needs change. Some millennials will likely stay in the apartment market, opting to convert their rent to a mortgage payment on a condo or flat in the neighborhoods where they first started their careers and barely scraped by. Others will “head for the hills” – or suburbia – for a little more space and lower housing costs. As they grow, your marketing campaigns can grow with them.

Millennials are also poised to become some of the biggest buyers in the second and vacation property market. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) noted a staggering drop in the average age of vacation home purchasers. The market that used to be saturated with retirees with an average purchase age of 61 has plummeted to 43. As millennials watch their siblings turn a profit on vacation properties, and sites such as VRBO.com, HomeAway.com, and AirBnB.com make vacation rentals more accessible as a secondary source of income, millennials will flock to these opportunities as a way to – you guessed it – further harness their own financial freedom.

Millennials are very different from other generations, but understanding and marketing to them isn’t as difficult as you think. After all, everyone wants a beautiful space to come home to at the end of the day – no matter what generation you’re in.

Ready to develop a marketing strategy that resonates with your target demographic, including millennials? Contact our team of experts today to schedule a consultation!

 

Why perfecting the retail marketing mix is important

Contemporary retail marketing is a brave new world. While some basic principles remain when it comes to implementing effective retail marketing strategies, others have evolved to acknowledge and appeal to the new breed of consumer. Does your business have what it takes to succeed in today’s dynamic landscape? Let’s take a closer look at three critical components of the 21st century retail marketing mix.

1. It’s not you, it’s them

And by “them,” we mean your customers. While the retail marketing mix involves a number of elements — those trusty, oft-cited “six P’s.”  People, product, price, place, promotion and performance should all be focused in one clear direction: your customers.

It goes without saying that your customers are your business’ most important constituents, but a shocking number of retail enterprises fail to put them front and center when it comes to developing and implementing retail strategies. Here’s the cold hard truth: the more customer-focused you can make your retail business, the more success you can expect to achieve.

Lucky for us, we have more access than ever toward understanding our customers. From tracking in-store footfalls to online conversation rates, the ability to known and learn from customer behavior yields actionable insights into their wants and needs so you can stop wasting your resources on what doesn’t work and instead focus on results.

We’re living in an era of “YOU-tility,” and retail organizations are not exempt when it comes to satisfying the contemporary consumer. One common goal shared by today’s successful retail enterprises? To add value across all of the P’s.  This can mean anything from implementing point of sale solutions for on-the-go customers to targeting promotions to reach a particular demographic via their preferred means of communication, all without bothering the rest with irrelevant promotional materials.

2. Consistency is key

We can all agree that a retail organization which only emphasizes sales is destined to fail. Why? Because retail success also relies upon providing extraordinary customer service every step of the way. Want to gain an inside edge on the competition? Don’t settle for delivering what your customers expect. Instead, strive to exceed their expectations. After all, the ultimate goal is not to make a single sale, but to develop lasting customer loyalty, along with the potential for a lifetime of sales.

Because consumer shopping habits have changed, so must your marketing efforts. This means incorporating a complete range of omnichannel marketing methods in order to leverage technology into sales. To maximize your efforts and ensure that your message reaches your target audience in the most meaningful way, your business needs a compelling online and offline presence.

Today’s consumers expect the businesses they support to be transparent, accountable and responsive. While these may sound like trendy buzzwords, they’re a very real part of any successful retail marketing mix. This means every communication you send — whether in-store or via digital methods  — is aimed at reinforcing your brand sensibility across all touch points.

And don’t forget about email. While most people think social media and apps have overtaken email as the ideal means of communicating with consumers, email is still an important way to cultivate and engage consumers. In fact, a recent Inc. article decreed email marketing to be “vital for businesses of all sizes,” for a variety of reasons including its low cost, mobile reach, and impact upon both online and in-store sales.

Consistency also means establishing expectations for your staff and reinforcing these expectations so that organization-wide operations are coordinated, streamlined, and cohesive. Every team member should be working toward the common goal of satisfying customers through a well-communicated strategic plan.

3. A new kind of location, location, location

The traditional marketing mix has always emphasized location. After all, you’re not going to make any sales if access to your storefront is limited by a poor, inconvenient or incongruent location in terms of your brand and target consumers. And while your physical storefront remains an important concern today, it’s far from the only concern. Why? Because not only are today’s customers more mobile in terms of where they shop, but they also have access to endless e-commerce options. Shopping is no longer about geography. In fact, today’s consumers can get nearly everything they need without stepping foot inside a brick-and-mortar location. In order to keep up with the evolving retail mix, your e-commerce site is as important as your physical storefront when attracting paying customers.

Forrester Research’s report, U.S. Cross-Channel Retail Forecast, 2012-2017, predicts that by the year 2017, 60 percent of the country’s total retail sales will involve the web, and a full 10.3 percent will be online purchases. Unless you’re willing to forgo your 10 percent, creating an inviting, accessible, compelling and brand-centric new “location” — ie. your online storefront — is a must-do.

While finding the correct retail marketing mix takes some time and effort, it can serve as the difference between standing out from your competition and blending in with the rest. Keeping these three things in mind can help you maximize your retail marketing mix efforts in order to enjoy optimal results across your business, brand, and bottom line.

Are you a retailer in search of ways to set your brand apart in a bustling industry? Contact our team of strategists to schedule time to “talk shop” with us today!

Developing a highly effective fast food marketing strategy

It’s 2017 and fast food restaurants are starting to catch on: green is in and greasy is out. We’ve all seen the Instagram accounts with millions of followers that only post acai bowls and kale salads. Okay, so what does this mean for fast food restaurants, and more importantly- what does this mean for their marketing strategy?

Whether the menu is organic, locally sourced, or cage-free, it’s clear that the fast casual restaurant model is winning with consumers. The Chipotles and Shake Shacks of the world have revolutionized consumer expectations of what fast food might actually include. With healthier consumer mindsets, companies like McDonald’s will need to place a greater emphasis on the “food”, not just the “fast” when it comes to effective fast food marketng strategies. While we still crave the efficiency that comes with a quick meal, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t compelled to make healthier choices as we take on the world, either. We’ll take a pricier burrito bowl over the $1 menu McChicken if it means feeling good about my eating choices (and sparking jealousy from my followers on Snapchat).

So what are the fast food giants doing to shake things up? For starters, McDonald’s is shifting its philosophy from “billions served” to “billions heard”. Burger King and McDonald’s have added salads to the menu, and Mickey D’s is now serving antibiotic-free chicken, milk from cows not treated with growth hormones, as well as egg white breakfast sandwiches. Not without notice, the company is taking steps to clean up its act, so to speak.

The misstep here, though, is the threat of brand inconsistency when it comes to strategic fast food marketing. Is McDonald’s attempting to ditch their old image, replacing it with the notion that they’ve evolved into the go-to restaurant for quick and mindful meals, or are they clamoring to reach millennials by being unapologetically indulgent? While I’m glad McDonald’s has added more health-conscious items to the menu, and I don’t believe the chain has to lean one way or another in an effort to remain successful on the fast food marketing front, the traditional image they have consistently held is going to be a mighty tough one to shed – and one they shouldn’t be so quick to throw away with that crumpled-up sandwich wrapper.

I don’t think McDonald’s needs to hop aboard the kale and granola, solar-powered train just yet. People still want to indulge, and as long as there’s a 24-hour drive-thru available, hungry Americans are going to continue to crave their Big Mac fix. Not everyone is counting calories or putting spinach in their smoothies; the problem with McDonald’s image may boil down to simple food quality. By bumping-up the perceived quality of their meals (even if it means increasing prices accordingly), aligned with a strategic marketing plan, they may just remedy any residual reputational risk.

Hungry to develop a fast food marketing strategy that speaks to today’s consumer? Contact our team to effectively super-size your marketing efforts and deliver messaging that resonates with existing and prospective “grab-a-meal-on-the-go” enthusiasts!

Taco Bell’s breakthrough into fast food advertising for breakfast

Live más, and say adios to your boring breakfast sandwich. Actually, Taco Bell wants you to “defect” from your standard sunrise sammy altogether.
That’s the premise of the newly released ad touting the Mexican chain’s foray into the early morning menu market. It’s no secret that the Golden Arches have solidified their standing as fast food marketing breakfast leaders, however Taco Bell, long considered the “scrappy underdogs” – known more for late-night Crunch Wraps than early a.m. bacon and eggs – emerge to break you free from “circular sameness.” Taco Bell’s new, rather somber, campaign reimagines McDonald’s promise of happiness – with a darkened spin. Envision good ol’ Ronald McDonald, only this version has sunken eyes and a harrowing smile, and serves as the totalitarian dictator of the dystopia, Routine Republic, with oppressed citizens underwhelmed by uninspired Egg McMuffins. The grey cement walls of a drab city are covered in majestic sunrise propaganda posters, declaring “Same breakfast, same routine, same smile” with the loudspeaker ironically announcing how wonderful and happy everyone supposedly should be. Meanwhile, just across a filthy ball pit and a field of land mines that explode with glitter (arguably the less violent, similarly traumatic equivalent), is a world where people enjoy hexagonal breakfast foods, sunshine, and a spectrum of color. The protagonists of the story, a brooding male character and his attractive female counterpart, are finally fed-up with “sameness” and escape (set to the anthem of rebellious teens everywhere, “Blitzkreig Bop”).

[quote]As far as production goes, the concepts are incredibly imaginative. From the communist-era artwork of the propaganda posters, to the dingy yellow tube slide the army of unsettling…[/quote]

As far as production goes, the concepts are incredibly imaginative. From the communist-era artwork of the propaganda posters, to the dingy yellow tube slide the army of unsettling Ronald McDonald lookalikes slide down, the ad exudes McDonald’s “breakfast tyranny”. But, at the same time, “it can’t help but come across as some kind of Meta wormhole, like a microcosm of capitalism trying to devour itself. A smaller fast-food giant is knocking a bigger goliath for creating a fantastical totalitarian communist state,” as AdWeek puts it.

Another interesting twist is how cheekily Taco Bell compares the fast food marketing frontrunner to communism and the associated regimes of Stalin and Mao. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Taco Bell’s target young adult demographic might not be as familiar with communism in the same regard as their older counterparts, but the inferences remain. In fact, media outlets including USA Today and Fortune magazine recently compared the ad to a Hunger Games and Divergent-like dystopia – with no mention of communism parallels at all.

Overall, though, this fast food marketing campaign has the potential to deliver for Taco Bell – as the decided underdog, they’re clearly pulling out all the stops to make a name for themselves in the pre-lunchtime race. And while the concept isn’t necessarily the most original (think: Apple’s 1984-inspired Super Bowl commercial for the Macintosh), it does appear to fall in line with the company’s branding strategy. While McDonald’s has been actively trying to shed its image of being over-processed and unhealthy, Taco Bell has no shame in being, well, somewhat of both. Their commercials and promotions, unlike Mickey D’s, don’t include aspects like health benefits or number of calories – quite frankly, no one in the Taco Bell drive-thru is really fretting over how many grams of fat is in a Doritos Locos Taco (the answer: a lot). Taco Bell has built its reputation on putting interesting ingredients inside their popular burritos, catering to the late-night revelers with an affinity for fire sauce. In keeping with their core branding, it just makes sense for Taco Bell to think outside the McMuffin in terms of breakfast food and advertising (perhaps we should go ahead and trademark that one).

[blogCTA] Need some strategic direction? [/blogCTA]

Besides, Taco Bell is undoubtedly aware of the fact that we both know I’m not picking up an A.M. Crunch Wrap as a result of it being a balanced way to start my morning; I’m waiting in the drive-thru for my alternative to “circular sameness” simply because it just sounds pretty dang good.

Looking for a thought provoking, head-turning strategy to better position your brand? BIGEYE is ready to help – contact us today at 407.839.8599 to start the conversation!

What goes into the beauty of a brand’s social campaign

Looking back at ad campaigns with lasting impact, one could safely gauge that the past year-and-a half has undoubtedly been that of taking an honest look in the mirror (naturally, pun intended) through judgment-free eyes – at least that’s been the mantra according to Dove. From the brand’s “Real Beauty Sketches” to the short video “Evolution,” I have to admit that Dove has been a breath of fresh air when it comes to empowering women. Continuing this message on to Super Bowl XLIX, Dove challenged us all to think differently about doing things “like a girl” – with the basis of running, throwing a ball, and the larger impasse – showcasing the differences in how young women, boys, and young girls respectively perceive the phrase. The Super Bowl ad won significant online kudos for changing the conversation, and again, during the 87th Annual Academy Awards, the brand started an entirely new conversation — this time on Twitter.

As part of a hashtag campaign, #SpeakBeautifully, Dove teamed up with the social media platform to add a positive spin on some of the negative tweets about beauty and body image on awards night. Arguably one of the chattiest (and often, cattiest) nights on social media, Dove created a Twitter tool that identified hateful keywords, and responded to them with non-automated tweets during the show. When someone tweeted a nasty comment about someone else, Dove’s Twitter accounted tweeted back constructive advice to encourage more positive online language and habits.

The campaign is based on a study done by Dove, which found that 50% of women are more likely to post something negative about themselves on Twitter, rather than positive. Even more upsetting, four out of five women encounter negative tweets commenting on other women’s appearances. Twitter CEO Dick Costalo has addressed the issue that seems to run rampant on Twitter, saying “We stink at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve been bad at it for years. It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day.” Through a strong partnership with Dove – viewed as having changed the paradigm in the industry – on this social media campaign, he endeavors to encourage positivity towards women, and on a grander scale, initiate changed perceptions on the Twittersphere.

It’s no surprise that the significant, lasting impact of social media’s oft-unmonitored commentary and postings may prove to be incredibly damaging to women’s self-esteem, especially for young girls. As a caveat to that, the anonymity of the Internet, including insults easily shared regarding appearance, can be even more hateful and significantly more widespread. “Ideas and opinions about body image are now fluidly shared every second through social feeds, and sometimes we do not fully realize the resounding impact of the words in even one post,” says Jennifer Bremner, director of marketing at Dove. [quote]“The power to #SpeakBeautifully is in the hands of us all – we can positively change the way future generations express themselves online.”[/quote]

The campaign, Dove says, will continue long after awards season is over. Social change doesn’t happen overnight, but the #SpeakBeautifully campaign sends an inspiring message – that hopefully social media will serve as the catalyst to create a less hostile online environment for women.

Although it’s early in the year, (and admittedly, this national brand has tried to make me cry twice already), I’m growing to realize that there can be true societal beauty in a brand’s social media presence. We at BIGEYE admire a company that uses such a highly televised event to promote genuine, positive change – and not to simply push a product to consumers. Dove, if we could present you with an Oscar for that, we most certainly would.

View the #SpeakBeautifully ad.

If we’ve left you feeling inspired to generate an innovative social media strategy for your brand, contact our team of digital experts today! We have significant expertise in consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketing – like the folks at Dove – and really understand the value of differentiating through the creation of a brand strategy and presence that truly generates lasting emotive impact with your target audience.