The first foundational marketing initiative you must complete is market research. By determining your target audience and positioning within the competitive landscape, you can better determine how you truly benefit the people you serve. Whether you are launching a new menu or starting a new marketing initiative, creating or revisiting your market research can help you better serve your customers.
Who is your target audience? And what do they need? To answer these questions, look beyond the option to serve everyone. Dive into demographics to better understand what makes your audience tick and what their food or beverage needs or wants are. Look beyond your menu to determine other ways you can help them with your services, customer service, and more. This is vital information you need to know before beginning to develop your positioning.
If you’re unsure where to begin, start asking your current and previous customers questions about why they sought out your restaurant, why they chose your restaurant, and what needs your menu items fulfilled. They may offer you insights into aspects of your services that mean a lot to your customers and maybe even aspects that can be improved.
If you do not have a lot of customers to ask or much feedback to review, start by asking different members of your team for what they notice the most about how your services truly benefit your customers beyond the original scope of the services themselves. If you can, conduct a survey sent to your target audience.
Throughout this process, it’s imperative that you and your team identify customer objections and roadblocks. When you know what your customers struggle with, you can accommodate them to the best of your ability through your services and customer service. This involves resolving those challenges for your customers. The key is to focus on how your business solves your customers’ challenges, not on the services or menu items you provide. This is the foundation of your positioning.
When positioning your restaurant, it’s important to promote how your services are the most convenient option for your prospective customers. Part of positioning your restaurant as convenient is to provide simple options, pricing, and messaging. To be convenient is to simplify everything and to be able to describe your menu options, cuisine specialties, and unique atmosphere in such a way that anyone can understand it. This is where your messaging comes in.
If you position yourself as the best and most convenient restaurant that offers a specific cuisine, then your messaging needs to showcase that. This impacts your menu, website, social media pages, emails, business listings, receipts, and all other pieces (marketing or not) that have words on them. By simplifying your prospects’ choices with easy-to-understand messages, you are more likely to reach and convert your prospects into customers. This simplicity and convenience also affect other aspects of your business and marketing efforts.
To establish your positioning means you must first know exactly what you offer and then research what your competitors offer. These competitors will primarily be local restaurants (independent and chains) that offer menu items similar to yours, as well as comparable small businesses that may not offer the same type of food and drinks, but that you know your ideal customers also frequent.
When you have a few competitors listed, review their positioning by reviewing their website, business listings, social media pages, and possibly visiting their location or speaking to their customers. The purpose of this exercise is to establish where the competitors are positioning themselves in the local market.
From there, perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis about at least three competitors. Combine your restaurant’s opportunities and your competitors’ weaknesses to establish your positioning in the local market. What can you offer that your competitors can’t? What can you improve to compete with your competitors? Learn from these analyses to create a positioning statement and brand pillars, both of which will help you know what to focus on in your messaging and marketing efforts.
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