What customers do you go after?

I have been reading quite a few articles on how to market during tough economic times. There are conflicting opinions on where to concentrate your marketing.

One school of thought is to concentrate on the customers you already have and try to increase their frequency or increase their average ticket. On the other hand it has been said you can only get so much milk from a cow before it dries up. Both arguements have some validity.

The question is really what is the best bang for the advertising dollar? Do you spent the cash on a loyalty program or on something that will bring new faces in the door? Or do you try and do both on a shoe string budget for each.

I would be interested to hear your opinions and some examples of what people are doing. I have been mostly concentrating on pleasing the customers I have. I am hoping they are so overjoyed with the wonderful food and service they get they tell their friends :slight_smile: . New customers make up 10% of my orders.

I think you are looking at marketing in the wrong way. If a marketing program that costs you $100 brings you $101 in profit, there is not a cost involved as it has paid for itself. If you pay $100 for a marketing program and recieve a $25 return, don"t waste your money and repeat the process. You need to always bring new customer into your business and should always strive to maximize what you’re current cutomers contribute to your bottom line. These should never be mutually exclusive. Find marketing routes that pay for themselves and quit worrying about the “cost” of that marketing. Start looking at marketing as a neccesary expenditure that is required to stay in business and compete, as opposed to an expense that needs to be minimized and you will most likely have a healthier business.

I firmly believe that if you cultivate your relationship with your existing customers (maximizing their level of satisfaction with every experience), they will grow your business for you through word of mouth.

With a successful small market model, I find that most people try a new restaurant at the recommendation of a trusted friend or family member. A deep discount may appeal to a new customer without such recommendation, but will also diminish the perceived value of your product from the start.

I have only recently begun mailing my existing customers and have been pleasantly surprised with the results. These are the times when the good get better and not-good-enough get out.

I’ve discovered all the marketing programs that return $25 on a $100 investment.

Can you tell me where I can find all the marketing programs that will get me $101 on a $100 investment ?

You need to do BOTH!

Existing customers are already interested in your restaurant. They’ve proven that by giving you their money! Pizzachop said it perfectly: “…if you cultivate your relationship with your existing customers (maximizing their level of satisfaction with every experience), they will grow your business for you through word of mouth.” Knowing you as I do I believe you really do try to maximize every customer experience. Encourage these satisfied customers to do even more business with you! Marketing directed to existing customers should give you a 5X better return than the same dollars directed to recruiting new customers.

Since your existing customer list gets smaller over time, you also need to recruit new customers. You’ve already heard lots of ideas on the Tank about low-cost ways to get new customers. Use these! Years ago I attended a seminar at Pizza Expo given by Big Dave Ostrander. Of all the presenters I heard that year, his ideas made the most sense. No fluff. No theories. Only his ideas and how they worked in his restaurant. You can see the information he presented in this seminar in his “Big Bucks with Big Dave” book here: http://www.bigdaveostrander.com/docs/BigBucks.pdf

The key is to pick one thing, do it, determine the results, then tweak it and repeat. Add additional activities as you have time and resources. Money will not be the problem because everything in Big Dave’s book is almost free.