Let’s say that you opened a new restaurant in town. The restaurant gets some “buzz” and some positive reviews in the local media. It’s packed every night. People call days ahead to reserve a table. Your restaurant is clearly the “next hot thing”. How do (or should) you market your success?
Right now, it’s hard to imagine that there will be a time that you’ll wish for customers to sit at your unused tables. You need to recognize that you’re the current fad, and that unless you take action now, you’ll simply be “that new place that people used to eat at.”
It’s possible that people that eat at your restaurant will simply feel at home in your ambiance and love the ever-increasing quality of food. They’ll come back regularly and share their latest “find” with their friends (and so on).
With a little effort now, you can greatly increase your chances for long-term success by asking everyone that calls for the first time: “Where are you from?” and “How did you hear about us?” Record their answers. After they visit, offer them a chance to be on your VIP customer list (for free); get their contact information (including email) to tell them about upcoming special events.
Without this information, you’re in a vacuum. Fast-forward six months. The phone isn’t ringing as much. Tables are going unused. How can you find people who would enjoy your restaurant?
How did you hear about us? If the answer was a mention in a specific media (magazine, newspaper, radio, television), then you know what your target market pays attention to.
Where are you from? If people are coming from specific geographic areas, then you can target that location in your marketing / advertising.
Where have you been? If you’re keeping track of frequent guests and notice a drop-off, send a “missing you” message. You want to find out if there is something that you can do to re-attract them.
Ironically, the best time to market yourself is when you’re “hot” – you’re repeating the “buzz” that people are already hearing. You’re investing in your future by creating a clear message of who you are now. You’re not guessing where to market yourself initially – your existing clients have already told you what matters to them.
To create long-term staying power, you need to leverage your short-term success into long-term smart planning.