Mobile marketing has come a long way, and it isn’t about to slow down. Big-name businesses are spinning new strategies, creating new approaches and redefining the consumer’s accessibility options; here are seven takeaways for your mobile marketing app.

Invigorate Your Mobile Marketing App with Seven Distinct Strategies

More than 5 billion of the 7 billion people on earth own a smartphone. Mobile marketing strategies are benefiting from the sheer number of consumer users, and your strategy needn’t be contingent on last year’s biggest booms. Don’t wait; take advantage of these seven crucial strategies for a mobile marketing app.

7 Sure-fire Mobile Marketing App Strategies

Strategy One: Narrow the Buying Process

Consumers like quick, easy buying. Mobile devices, fortunately, have enabled a world capable of providing such services. Unfortunately, mobile marketers have mere minutes to entice buyers. If you can ignite calls-to-action quickly, however, you’re in luck.

48% of consumers start mobile research with a search engine.

Because 48 percent of consumers start mobile research with a search engine, your mobile marketing app strategies only need to offer visual presentation and conducive offers. They should, however, engage customers quickly, help them achieve their destination, and repurpose old marketing approaches with information-packed menus and media.

Strategy Two: Target Browsing Behavior

Browsing behavior is the fuel source for everything mobile. Lightning-quick load times and plenty of multimedia won’t be impactful if behavior isn’t cataloged and implemented. Browsing behavior streamlines future company actions. It assists website loads while enhancing your SMS strategies, too.

Use analytical tools to garner user information, and serve mobile customers on their terms. The future of mobile marketing is one of prioritized customization and personalization. Don’t fall by the wayside as other providers step in to offer buyer-specific exclusives.

Strategy Three: Tweak Your Advertising Via Email

Your email marketing campaign should be conjoined with your mobile marketing strategy. Every marketing effort, every partnership, every sale and every consumer is intimately linked to your brand’s outward appearance. Email marketing should be at your strategy’s forefront.

Direct email marketing campaigns gain much from strategic mobile marketing campaigns, too. Your mobile email marketing strategy is capable of delivering ads in unique form, generating off-platform hype through an extension of your brand’s innermost ideals.

Be careful, though, because mobile platforms aren’t friendly to drawn-out emails with bulky messages. Make sure your messages are tight, and make offers clear immediately. A big chunk of mobile users delete messages before opening them, so it’s important to avoid “being a statistic.”

You might also like: 10 Tips for Effective Restaurant Email and SMS Marketing

Strategy Four: Reevaluate Your SMS Strategy

Currently, 98 percent of text messages are read within minutes of receipt. SMS marketing is one of the business world’s biggest resources, and it’s capable of pumping mass information across wide channels.

98% of text messages are read within minutes of receipt.

Your SMS strategy must be watertight to succeed, though. Don’t use bulk SMS platforms without first segmenting your audience. Moreover, make sure your message content is accessible to the consumer. Consider big-name data plans, like Apple’s. Make sure all content, all images and all links pass through pre-defined industry barriers.

Strategy Five: Swap Conversion for Engagement

Typically, mobile devices carry lower conversion rates than other platforms. They do, however, carry incredibly high conversion and bounce rates. When compared to desktop marketing efforts, mobile-based solutions tend to sacrifice navigation for in-store offers and location-specific services. Don’t play the game until you’ve studied the field. Convert consumers on your website, and communicate with them via text.

Strategy Six: Measure Cross-Platform Data

Cross-platform data is different from buyer behavior, but it serves the same end. Mobile monetization is huge this year, and half of e-commerce traffic is achieved via mobile platforms. When your consumers leave your e-commerce platform—follow them!

Because you’re prioritizing communication on mobile, cleaning up the “spare parts of conversion” requires intensive reasoning and data gathering. Mobile is an asset, but so are your web pages, social media pages, messaging platforms and feedback forums. Don’t let them go to waste.

Strategy Seven: Implement Media

Media rules the business world’s roadside now. Because smartphones are getting smarter, quicker and stronger, multimedia marketing schemes are thriving. Your mobile marketing strategy needs such resources, so you should be engaging YouTube videos, Vines, Twitter-hosted comments and other social media features.

Many consumers access media through apps, too, so remember to implement app accessibility, brand specials and mobile hotspots to please your customers. Overall, keep your consumer engaged. They’re constantly connected already, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Many businesses introduce loyalty programs to attract new customers and turn occasional customers into loyal brand advocates. Take a look at the loyalty program benefits that US consumers say motivate them more and compare it against your own marketing.

Is your loyalty marketing strategy getting the job done?

Nielsen study shows which loyalty program benefits are most effective in motivating consumers so that you can meet your business marketing and growth goals. How does your program measure up?

If you are considering a loyalty marketing program for your business or want your company’s program to do a better job in meeting customer-attraction and other marketing goals, you might want to check out a global study by the consumer opinion experts at Nielsen. This study details the types of benefits that work best in the US as well as other parts of the world.

Overwhelmingly, consumers indicated that discounted and free products are what they want most. The top five benefits desired by US consumers in a Nielsen loyalty study were:

  • 75% – Discounted or free products
  • 42% – Free shipping
  • 25% – Exclusive products or events
  • 24% – Enhanced customer service
  • 12% – Special shopping hours

In the same study, consumers were also asked what factors would make them opt-out of a brand’s loyalty program. These were the top six responses:

  • 50% – Program too expensive
  • 43% – Not shopping enough with the brand to receive the benefits
  • 37% – Program is too complicated
  • 30% – Didn’t like the benefits offered
  • 27% – Too many program communications
  • 25% – Did not want to give out personal information

Make Your Customer Loyalty Program More Effective

Do you know what you want your customer loyalty program to accomplish? If you want it to help increase profitability or margins, offering the discounts or freebies consumers said they want most in a brand loyalty program could hurt your bottom line.

Defining goals is essential to identifying and providing the types of rewards that will help you meet your targets. The benefits that help you convert occasional customers to more frequent shoppers could be different than the type of benefits that will help you attract new customers in the first place.

Here are some potential goals that could help you design a more effective customer loyalty program; should loyalty rewards help you:

  • attract new clients
  • motivate clients to shop more often
  • cause existing customers to shop with you on a greater number of channels (online as well as in-store, at an affiliate site, etc.)
  • incentivize customers to spend more per visit
  • stimulate referrals

If you answered “all of the above” or identified more than one goal for your loyalty program, you may wish to consider launching more than one type of program; at a minimum, you may need to offer different rewards in order to trigger different types of behaviors.

For instance, offering a Buy-One-Get-One offer may help you with new customer attraction or referrals, but it goes against the other goals which lead to bigger margins or profits per customer. One size simply may not fit all when it comes to customer loyalty incentives.

In addition, when designing (or re-tooling) your brand loyalty program, make sure that you try to avoid consumer turn offs:

  • If there is a cost associated for loyalty program members, make sure that benefits outweigh costs or add a money back or partial refund guarantee
  • Consider increasing benefits accrued (if customer’s aren’t shopping often enough to get benefits from the program) or offer increased benefits at tiered levels to incentivize customers to shop often enough to realize member benefits
  • Let customers choose from a range of rewards
  • Survey members to see whether their benefit preferences are changing on a regular basis, such as annually at the time of renewal
  • Let customers choose channels and type of communication they want to receive and make it easy to opt out or change their preferences online
  • Don’t require loyalty program members to reveal information they don’t want to share, and reduce information requested to only what is most necessary to administer the program

A loyalty program can help you meet your marketing goals, grow your business and become more profitable, especially if you take a strategic approach. Tailor your approach to reflect specific business goals and to reflect the preferences of your customers and you are far more likely to get the results that you desire.

Forbes list of customer experience predictions for 2019 starts off with the customer’s expectation of convenience and speed. From the beginning of the customer experience to the end, including at the point of sale.

You can win over a new customer only to lose them at the point of sale.

Consider this: A customer visits your brick and mortar or online store, and you manage to surprise and even delight them with a high level of customer service and product satisfaction… right up until they try to reward you by paying. Up until the last moment in the buying journey, your business got it right. But at the point of sale, something goes wrong, something is down, something is slow, something is clunky and cumbersome.

Given that this is the last moment in the customer experience for this transaction, doesn’t it stand to reason that a bad experience at the point of sale due to a problem with payment processing or poorly chosen merchant services equipment and software could negate or even replace all of the good brand impressions your business made up until the end?

Customizing your point of sale solution can create a competitive advantage.

Even if your point of sale payment processor and merchant services have performed well or adequately in the past, as technology continuously improves, the capabilities your point of sale equipment and software provide might be outdated now. If your competitors have new and improved merchant services tools and your tools don’t measure up, you’ve handed them a competitive advantage.

Working with a local payment processing company like 253 Payment Pros can put the competitive advantage back on the side of your business. Our goal isn’t just to sell you a point of sale solution or merchant services package and move on to the next customer, we want to make sure you get the most appropriate payment processing solution in place, and we are happy to customize an equipment and software package that serves your business well. What’s more, we want to work with you for the long haul. We can educate you on the latest technology and tools to make sure you are getting the most out of your point of sale solution.

Use marketing automation to improve customer satisfaction beyond the point of sale.

The second prognostication in Forbes’ customer service predictions for 2019 also argues for taking a fresh look at your payment processing solution: The triumph of digital over traditional communications. This is where your merchant services software can really shine, in generating automated email marketing that can:

  • reinforce positive customer perceptions about your brand
  • drive referrals via rewards, email and social media
  • increase positive online reviews and ratings
  • encourage feedback for customer support and satisfaction
  • increase customer visit frequency
  • communicate loyalty rewards totals and opportunities
  • increase revenues through special offers, add-ons and upgrades

Gift cards, loyalty and rewards programs facilitated through your payment processing solution can increase customer satisfaction, retention, referrals and much, much more. It’s also probably one of the most under-utilized tools; many businesses fail to take full advantage of the loyalty marketing options available to them in their merchant services software. We would be happy to help you set up post-sale marketing automation so that you can see an increase in revenues from sales of gift cards, return visits from loyal customers and referrals earned through high customer satisfaction.

Simple, seamless point of sale experiences satisfy consumer’s desire for self-service.

Number three on the Forbes 2019 customer satisfaction predictions especially reinforces the need to re-evaluate your merchant services solution overall, and payment processing in particular. Today’s customers want you to be available to them when they need you, but they also want to be able to serve themselves.

More than 8 out of 10 customers across all industries try to complete their own customer journey independently before reaching out to a brand representative (Gartner research). The extent to which a customer can research your products and services, find what they want from your business and complete payment to you without needing the help of someone on your team can create a competitive advantage for your business.

Upgrading and updating your point of sale software and equipment could be the key to satisfying customers who want to self-serve. And when paired with loyalty marketing software, these customers can still feel like they did business with a high level of personalized customer care, even if they never spoke directly with one of your employees.

Digital point of sale is not nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.

Another of Forbes’ predictions is something that shouldn’t surprise: The need to be a digital business. Once again, if you’re working with aging point of sale equipment and software or part of the customer transaction is still performed manually, now is a great time to reach out to us. We can help you with a customized point of sale solution that suits your business’s needs and packs a punch when it comes to return on investment.

When was the last time you upgraded your payment processing and other merchant services? When was the last time you even evaluated whether you have the best point of sale equipment and software in place? Get a no-stress, cost or obligation quote:

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Digital signs aren’t inexpensive, but the marketing benefits for retail stores and restaurants can be significant. Here are ten ways digital signs help retail marketing.

Invest in Digital Signs, Reap These 10 Benefits – Digital Signage Statistics Infographic

Some of the benefits of installing digital signs in your restaurant or retail store are readily apparent. Unlike non-digital signage, marketing messages can be changed more frequently and video-based marketing is a proven winner with today’s shoppers. Even so, the cost of using digital signs for marketing can seem prohibitive, since retail stores or restaurants may need to be prepared to pay for:

  • Screens (often LCD televisions) and mounts
  • Player hardware
  • Software purchase or subscription
  • Installation, on-boarding, setup and initial training
  • On-going support or maintenance

All of this, before the unit is even turned on. Given that this could mean an expense of a few to many thousands of dollars depending on the number of digital signs installed, it’s not a strategy to be implemented lightly. Fortunately, statistics seem to show that the investment is well-worth the cost. As you evaluate which marketing strategies you might use to grow your retail store or restaurant business more quickly this year, consider these ten marketing benefits enjoyed by businesses with digital signs.

Infographic: Digital Signs Statistics Shows 10 Retail Store and Restaurant Benefits

1. Improves Recall

Marketing displayed on digital signs have a recall rate of 83 percent. A Nielsen survey of travelers found that 82 percent recalled specific ad campaigns they had seen during the last month. Plus, since digital displays can be changed frequently and used to display multiple messages over the course of a given customer’s or diner’s visit, they capture 400 percent more views than static displays.

2. Increases Spending

Digital marketing displays bump up average purchase amount at the POS (point of sale) by nearly 30 percent. One big reason for this is how they “feed” the impulse-buy-friendly consumer’s brain. One in five consumers say they made unplanned, impulse buys of products they saw advertised digitally.  Additionally, businesses that use digital signage enjoy a 32 percent upswing in overall sales volume. Digital marketing signs provide the opportunity to make shoppers or diners aware of special or limited-time offers, closeouts, or to introduce them to previously-untried menu options or products. They can be employed at any point in the restaurant customer’s journey, from the entry way to the waiting area, table, bathroom and right up until the POS point of sale transaction.

In one experiment, two static signs went head to head with one digital display in an effort to prompt customers to go to the help desk to receive a free tote bag. Both locations had similar amounts of traffic during the experiment; however, only six people took advantage of the offer in the location where static signs were displayed, while 610 people grabbed the free tote bags in the location where the digital display conveyed the offer – over 100 times more.

3. Increases Retention

Not only do digital signs improve the customer’s ability to recall specific marketing messages, they also improve customer retention for the businesses that use them by 30 percent. Digital signage gives the retailer or restaurateur a uniquely powerful way to engage and interest patrons, which in turn, can help the shopper feel more personally connected to the business.

4. Improves Satisfaction

Using digital signage boosts customer satisfaction by 46 percent. Digital messaging can help patrons feel like they’re “in the know” and make them aware of anything from a flash-sale to in-store only offers, closeouts, and other sale-related data that makes them feel reassured they are getting a great value for the money they spend at a business. They can also be used to let customers know about how the business is participating in the community, charitable give-backs, brand story, company history, and other information that can make the consumer feel happy about choosing to do business there. Digital signage can also be used to help guide the shopper to the items they’re looking for more quickly, giving them additional time to browse before they need to leave or helping the consumer who doesn’t particularly like shopping expedite the process.

5. Generates New Traffic

Businesses that implement digital signage generate a 33 percent increase in the number of repeat buyers; moreover, they also increase in-store traffic by 33 percent. Improved brand and marketing message-awareness can lead to more word of mouth marketing and referrals occurring outside of the business. In fact, in one study of small businesses that had installed outdoor LED digital signage, an impressive 86 percent – nearly 9 out of 10 – believed the new signs had brought them new customers, and nearly as many (83) noticed an increase in sales after installing the digital signs.

6. Keeps Customers In-Store Longer

In retail, the longer a customer stays in the store to shop and browse, the more they’re likely to spend. Using digital signage in-store produces a 30 percent increase in the length of the shopper’s visit.

7. Reduces Perceived Wait Time

Digital displays with engaging content serve as an entertaining distraction, reducing the dissatisfaction that waiting engenders. Whether restaurant patrons are waiting to be seated, waiting for their food, waiting for a sales person, waiting to check out at the point of sale (POS), digital signs can be used to amuse, educate and interest. As a result, even if wait time is equivalent, consumers perceive wait-time to be as much as 35 percent less at businesses where digital signage is present vs. those without.

In addition, digital devices can be used to set expectations and display information about wait times, call customers forward, and let people know which cash registers or stations are available for whoever is next. Expediting the queuing process reduces wait time for everyone, and also helps to manage expectations and reduce customer anxiety (such as the anxiety that they might have been overlooked or forgotten).

8. Significantly Improves Brand Awareness

It should come as no surprise that digital signs are 47.7 percent effective when it comes to brand awareness. Another Nielsen study on “Awareness and Effectiveness of Digital Display Screens in Grocery Stores” found that patrons exposed to point-of-sale digital ads exhibited a 31 percent increase in brand awareness and recall.

9. Creates Intrigue

59 percent of people who saw digital signage wanted to learn more about the advertised topic. Digital displays can often be programmed to display many different messages, exposing the patron to many different brand and marketing impressions during a given visit to the retail store or restaurant. The more retailers and restaurateurs recognize and take advantage of the medium to entertain and engage, the more they can create interest and intrigue among customers.

In addition, digital signage can be used to display information about offers scheduled for the future, helping to spur repeat visits and to potentially increase the frequency at which the customer regularly visits the business.

10. Improves Employee Engagement, Productivity

Customers aren’t the only ones whose behavior is impacted in ways that benefit the retail store or restaurant. Businesses with digital signs had improvements of 20 to 25 percent in employee engagement, with a corresponding increase in employee productivity. Digital displays can also help employees remember to engage with patrons about specific special offers or new products, or motivate the customer to ask the salesperson for more information as a conversation starter.

The good news for retailers and restaurateurs who have been discouraged from installing digital signage due to cost concerns is that unlike the cost of most things – which only rises over time – the cost of this technology has decreased significantly. While the average cost of digital signage was $8500 in 2004, that number dropped to $3720 in 2010. Like similar technologies, it’s one whose highest cost is at the pioneering phase, that is reduced significantly and quickly as more companies enter the marketplace and volume as well as continued advancement decreases the cost of equipment, software, and infrastructure for everyone.

Digital Signs Statistics Infographic Shows 10 Retail Store and Restaurant Benefits

Restaurant loyalty programs that offer deep discounts, 2-for-1 offers or daily deal marketing programs take note: A recent survey revealed the overwhelming majority of restaurant-goers will frequent their regular, favorite restaurants, regardless of price or promotion.

Are restaurant specials or special restaurants the key to restaurant loyalty?

They say “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” and apparently the same holds true when it comes to restaurant loyalty programs. When it comes to restaurant loyalty, it might be more effective restaurant marketing to offer customers a special restaurant, rather than reduce margins and profitability  through discounts and restaurant specials.

Since we provide restaurant POS (point of sale) terminals, software and mobile solutions, we hear about a variety of creative ideas from our customers. When small business owners come to us for restaurant POS equipment or software, it’s often to help fuel their growth. Putting effective restaurant marketing tactics into place is usually high on their list of priorities.

So we took note when a article pointed out that when it comes to customer loyalty to restaurants, only about one quarter of those surveyed in a new report from The NPD Group will switch restaurants because of a special promotion.  A wide majority of restaurant-goers said that regardless of promotions, they would continue to dine at their familiar, favorite restaurants, instead.

restaurant loyalty marketing - restaurant marketing ideas

Turns out, the best way to gain loyalty among restaurant customers isn’t by offering discounts and restaurant specials — it’s by making the restaurant special. So we came up with six ways you can make your restaurant more special in order to garner customer loyalty, repeat visits and referrals.

6 Ways to Improve Restaurant Loyalty Marketing

1. Train and empower staff to go the extra mile for customers in solving problems, righting wrongs or relieving dissatisfaction.

2. Infuse every customer visit with an unexpected, exclusive “gift;” be creative! This could be as simple and inexpensive as:

  • bringing a treat with the check that is different than delivered to adjacent tables
  • bringing a sample size of a new appetizer, entrée or drink and ask diners to taste and provide feedback (this might even spur new sales of that menu item!)
  • having hand-written thank you cards at the ready and asking wait staff to sign and deliver at the end of a customer’s visit

3.  Create a unique and impeccable atmosphere. Infuse elements of your brand identity into memory points throughout your restaurant. Install furnishings that reflect your brand and caters to customer comfort, privacy and other amenities.

4.  Solicit, act on and recognize customers who provide you with suggestions for improvements. People love to be recognized – why else would all those restaurants feature photo walls of sombrero-laden patrons?  Certainly not for the fashion statement!

5.  Be connected within your community in supporting causes and organizations that matter to your most valuable customers.  Host a local business networking group.  Support student car washes and fundraisers.  Recognize local community servants.

6.  Above all else, be known for the quality of experience that you deliver from end to end during the customer’s experience at your restaurant – especially, of course, the food!  Restaurants develop loyal patrons by delivering consistent quality of menu items and exceptional, unique levels of personalized service, time and time again.

The key to loyalty for restaurant customers must lie in delivering what the customer has come to expect – and want – over and over again. They want to know that they can count on their favorite restaurant, and their favorite menu item, when they’ve had a bad day, when they’re hosting an out of town guest, when they want to impress a boss or co-worker or they just want to relax with family or friends.

So forget restaurant specials!  Deliver quality of restaurant customer experience, and you will make your restaurant special – which produces a far greater return on restaurant loyalty.

Most retail businesses have seasonal slowdowns at some point of the year. Here are nine ideas for restaurant owners who want to eliminate the ups and downs that come along with slow seasons.

Counterpunch Seasonal Slowdowns – 9 Marketing Ideas for Restaurant Owners

Most restaurant owners have no problem identifying – or even predicting – which weeks or months of the year are slower than others. Your restaurant may see a decline in the summer months when local residents flee to vacation spots, or when they abandon your restaurant’s cuisine for competitors with more summery fare. You may see a decline in traffic in the winter months if many of the people in your area depart for warmer climates or opt to eat at home instead of venturing out.

Whatever the cause, and whenever your slow season occurs, you may have the ability to negate the consequent slowdowns in your restaurant’s sales by adjusting your marketing strategy. Let’s take a closer look at nine different tactics restaurant owners can use to counteract seasonal slowdowns to ensure more predictable, consistent revenues year-round.

9 Ways Restaurant Owners Can Turn Slow Seasons into Cash Cows

Double Down on Local Marketing

A slow season is the perfect time for restaurant owners to double down on their restaurant’s local appeal and outreach. Reaching out to the people who live and work in your community won’t just help generate sales, it will also enhance your reputation in the community. If you’re not currently reaching out specifically to local residents, try one or all of these ideas.

1. Local discounts. The people who live or work near your restaurant represent the individuals most likely to become regulars at your restaurant; turning them into fans of your business could be gold! Start a promotion that includes a free drink, or 10% off of a local’s order. This will entice them to come back to your restaurant and tell the people they live and work with to check out your restaurant.

2. Local rewards programs. When your local-only promotions successfully draw local people in to your restaurant, show them you don’t stop there. Give them a punch card and every 5th or 10th visit they get a buy-one, get-one free entrée. Not only will they be encouraged to return, they’ll be encouraged to bring other people with them.

Update your POS (point of sale) merchant services systems to feature payment processing software that integrates seamlessly with your customer rewards and loyalty programs. Point of sale loyalty and rewards programs can even generate business with triggered marketing automation based on customer preferences and purchasing behaviors.

3. Host local events. If a local girl scout troop is looking for a place to hold their awards dinner, offer your restaurant. Create a special menu for the event and offer them a percentage off since they are bringing in a large group. Now you’ve not only got the girl scout talking about your restaurant to their friends, but their parents as well. That’s a lot of good chatter about your restaurant! Other groups you might extend a welcome to include:

  • Non-profits, churches, schools
  • Business networking groups
  • Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and other civic groups
  • Coaches, parks and rec teams, etc.

Beef Up Your Restaurant’s Online Presence

Chances are, if you’re experiencing a slow season your business-neighbors and competitors are too. You can leverage a strong online presence to differentiate your restaurant from the pasta place, burger joint, or bar and grill right down the street. Since many online marketing activities require only an investment of time, using your energy to build your online presence is a low-cost way to reach out to a large group of people.

4. Social Media. If you don’t already have a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram the time to make one is now (and you can use them for free). Use these online platforms to call out your customer of the week, talk about your restaurant’s community involvement, and share seasonal promotions. Not to mention all of these platforms make it easy for your followers to share all the great content you are posting. If you do have a few dollars to spend, you can also bolster your local marketing efforts with targeted Facebook ads and sponsored post.

5. Think visual and video. If you have an awesome seasonal promotion, pictures are a more captivating way to promote your menu items than words. Say you’re holding a promotion that allows customers to buy one entrée and get the second half off. Your followers are more likely to read your post if there is a picture of yummy, yummy food associated with your post. Or better yet, share a photo that has the promotion included on the picture. Taking time to edit a photo, will definitely pay off. Likewise, capturing a real customer’s review on video with your smartphone creates a video testimonial that can be instantly shared on your website, social networks, and other marketing channels to help promote your restaurant.

6. Thank your reviewers. The slow time of the year is a great time to respond to those people who left you glowing reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Google, and other sites. This will not only show your past reviewers that you value their opinions, but will show all future customers that your restaurant has great customer service. 70 percent of consumers read reviews before purchasing from a business, so it’s that much more important that you know what your reviews say and you take time to personally respond to them.

Hold Events at Your Restaurant During Slow Hours

7. Host meetings and events. Reach out to local professionals, alumni organizations, consultants, coaches, and small business owners who could benefit from a networking or corporate meeting space. Holding events during slow seasons can help you bring in more revenue and introduce your restaurant to new people. This could also be a convenient way to test out new dishes, since you will often be asked to create menus just for the event.

8. Happy hours. If you don’t have happy hours yet, slow seasons are the perfect time to experiment. If you already have happy hours, you may need to consider changing or expanding happy hours to make it more convenient time for people coming from work. Happy hours are a great time for old friends to reconnect and for consumers to try new places they wouldn’t usually go for a full-fledged dinner. Whatever your hours, it’s imperative to make your happy hour enticing to drive the traffic you want.

9. Research competitors. Take time on your off day to check out other restaurants and see what they are doing to attract patrons during slow seasons (or to see why your slow season is their ‘hot’ one). Once you understand what they are doing, you can make sure your marketing strategy is unique enough to bring in the consumers you need to continue to drive sales.

The keys to overcoming your slow seasons are to reward local businesses and families, establish a strong online presence and plan events. The best thing about a slow season is that you can really execute your thought-out marketing plan to ensure you not only bring in traffic now, but build your customer base for seasons to come.

Startup Darwinism says that as new startups get funded, others go the way of the do-do bird. Here are five keys for growing a startup to make sure your new business survives.

5 Ways to Overcome Startup Darwinism and Turn Your Startup into a Success Story

An interesting report suggests that as more and more startups get funding, more will have to die. While we are not so sure that it’s a zero sum game, we have five tips for growing a startup to help you strengthen your new business.

A day seldom passes that business media sites don’t announce the launch of a new startup or the demise of others. Happily for entrepreneurs today, there are many private and public investors standing at the ready to provide funding for a wide variety of different types of promising new startups.

Lest you think that startup failure is something that only happens to other entrepreneurs, consider these words from Forbes contributor Neil Patel cofounder of some little startups you might have heard of called Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics.  In an article titled 90% Of Startups Fail: Here’s What You Need To Know About The 10%, Patel says, “Nine out of ten startups will fail. This is a hard and bleak truth, but one that you’d do well to meditate on. Entrepreneurs may even want to write their failure post-mortem before they launch their business.”  Bleak, indeed.

If startup funding were enough to ensure success, the failure rate would be much lower. So given adequate funding and – presumably – a business plan worth pursuing, why is it that so many startups fail?  The short answer is: Burn.

Burn refers to the speed at which a startup exhausts its resources. Most startups that fail do so because they burn through their resources faster than they replenish them through sales or additional capital put in by investors. Even fast-growing startups can suffer from burn, when high sales still do not translate into adequate cash flow.

So what is a growth-seeking startup to do? 

5 Keys to Growing a Startup Without the Burn

  1. Stay focused.

Before a startup actually starts up, entrepreneurs are burning the midnight oil. Working with intensity and single-minded focus, they are building the business model, writing the marketing plan and selling their idea to investors.  Once the startup actually launches, and there are a thousand different directions the startup could grow, it’s easy to lose focus and try to move in too many directions at once. Stay focused; work the business plan you sold to investors.

  1. Plan for contingencies.

The road to success is rarely a straight line or a smooth road. Your business plan should have contingencies and triggers built in that will prompt you to shore up areas that are slipping, reduce expenses, expand marketing – whatever the best course correction for the situation. Without contingency plans based on thinking through possible scenarios, when trouble strikes you might not have enough time to come up with a solution on the fly.

  1. Milk your cash cow.

Most businesses, and even most startups, don’t come out of the gate offering just one product or service. Before you open your doors or launch your ecommerce site, you should have a good idea of which products or services are likely to be your cash cows, your most popular entry points for customers, and your most profit-generating offers. These are the products and services that you should spend most of your time and resources in promoting during the startup phase to be sure that you get your business off the ground.  Save pet projects and harder-sells for later on in the game.

  1. Set Aside Money for Marketing

You know you need money for equipment, inventory, staffing and a long list of other items, but if you don’t purposefully set aside money for marketing your startup you may find that you build it and no one comes – because no one knows about your business! Some of the marketing costs you may want to plan for include:

  • Point of sale (POS) merchant services with loyalty and rewards programs built in
  • Direct mailer or door hanger campaign in targeted neighborhoods
  • An attractive website that produces conversions (sales, reservations, bookings, form submission for lead generation, etc.
  • A “soft opening” to spark interest in your business, get early reviews and test your staffing and systems
  • A PR event such as getting local celebrities to try your products or services, or attend your soft open or launch
  • YouTube reviews
  • Videos that explain your products/services, include early testimonials, etc.
  • Social media account set up, sponsored posts, paid ads and boosted events
  • Email marketing – and so on

The more interest you can generate in your business before the doors even open, the faster you can go from launch to profits sufficient to sustain and grow your business.

  1. Don’t go it alone.

Many entrepreneurs are independent by nature. They have had dreams and ideas that they had to pursue on their own, they’ve had to write their own plans, build their own websites, design their own business cards and clean their own bathrooms. They are used to going it alone. Before you launch your startup, get a mentor on board who has business (and preferably startup) experience who can give you good advice and help you shorten the learning curve when it comes to business tasks like bookkeeping and accounting, taxes, marketing, merchant services, human resources and more. The less time you have to spend on administrative tasks and busy work, the more you have to focus on activities that will grow your startup more quickly.

The Best Merchant Services Rise Above Commodities

Much of what is sold under the heading “merchant services” is commodity based. But much of what is delivered under the banner of merchant services varies widely depending on which provider you choose.

What sets the best merchant services companies apart?

At the end of the day we have to measure our success by what we have done for you as our customer. What sets a merchant services provider apart are some of the same factors that make 253 Payment Pros one of the best merchant services companies you could work with:

  • We want to work with you forever, so we aren’t going to over-promise, under-deliver or give you a bait-and-switch experience
  • We want your referrals, so we are going to give you the best rates we can and we’re going to add value at every step from the application process to installation, setup and programming of your equipment and the service we provide over time
  • We want your success, so we are going to custom-tailor merchant services solutions to your business, instead of forcing your business into solutions that are less than ideal
  • We want your loyalty, so we are going to provide you with consistently great customer care from knowledgeable reps who know and understand the unique needs of your business

But don’t just take it from us, hear what some of our customers have to say! 

1. “We get the support we need, right when we need it.” – Powderhaus Brewing

As one of Idaho’s premier breweries, Powderhaus Brewing needs all of their processes running smoothly at all times. With our merchant services, they no longer have to worry about this side of their business. With true next day funding and the lowest processing rates in the industry, Powderhaus Brewing can rest assured knowing that they have a true partner in payment processing, with their best interests in mind.

2. “Not only do we save hundreds every month, but the service is amazing!” Bouquet Flowers

Bouquet Flowers needed a payment processing partner to trust after having been gouged on rates through her bank. Not only were we able to providing a significant savings on processing rates, but the level of local service we were able to provide brought a peace of mind previously missing from the experience. As one of the areas finest flower shops, we’re proud to be a partner in their continued growth.

3. “We save anywhere from $300 to $400 every single month.” – Extreme Pizza

Before working with us, Extreme Pizza was paying significantly higher rates for
their credit card processing while missing out on much needed service and support. Not only were we able to lower their processing rates dramatically, but we helped to streamline their delivery service by outfitting their drivers with mobile terminals, allowing them to process payments anywhere. To top it all off, they now receive the local support they had originally expected, but did not receive with their former provider.

4. “We’re on track to save thousands this year!” – Bob’s Bicycles

Bob’s Bicycles is one of Idaho’s original and most prominent bike shops, with over 30 years in business. During that time, they’ve heard all the stories when it came to payment processing, with few promises being fulfilled. We stepped in to provide Bob’s Bicycles with the lowest processing rates they’ve ever received, while also optimizing the way they take credit and debit cards, in-store and online.

Merchant Services – Industries

We offer merchant services payment processing and point of sale solutions for nearly any type of business, but we have also done some deep dives into industries that give us the ability to craft efficient, effective programs for:



Ho-Ho-How do will you get your salon and its products and services onto the holiday shopper’s radar this year?  These six salon holiday marketing ideas can help you reach more holiday shoppers.

Based on projections holiday shoppers will once again set new records in total spending, with ecommerce gains continuing to outpace in-store sales as more and more consumers turn to the internet for holiday shopping ideas and convenience.

Reaching local shoppers who are bombarded with holiday marketing and advertisements isn’t going to be easy, so we came up with specific salon holiday marketing ideas that can help you reach more local shoppers and boost retail sales during the holidays and bring new clients onto the books, too.

7 Salon Holiday Marketing Ideas to Help You Reach More Holiday Shoppers

Reach Out to More Local Holiday Shoppers Online

Flyers, window displays, in-salon signs at the point of sale and at stylist stations will do nothing to reach the vast majority of local shoppers! Last year half of all holiday shopping was done online, including last minute purchases. Your salon holiday marketing ideas must go beyond the walls of your salon. Website and blog content that is optimized so that local shoppers are likely to find it when searching for holiday gifts and shopping destinations online, along with email and social media marketing will be key to reaching holiday shoppers online.

Reach Out to Gift Card Buyers

Each year more and more shoppers are purchasing gift cards in lieu of giving cash or shopping for presents.  Salon gift cards are a great option for holiday shoppers, but they won’t sell themselves.  Make sure that you are reaching out to not only clients but – as you have the data and contact databases and social media connections to do so – client’s friends and loved ones to remind them that you have gift cards ready, waiting, gift-wrapped and ship-pable to help them cross people off their holiday shopping lists.

Reach Out with Holiday Exclusive Inventory

You may be able to boost retail sales in your salon significantly during the holidays (and all year long) if you add exclusive, limited time opportunity retail items to your wares.  These could be in the form of retail beauty products clients would expect to find in a salon (like POS cosmetics or holiday themed makeup and nail displays) but it might also mean thinking outside the box, and adding fun, kitschy, blinged-out, shabby chic, artsy or other specialty retail items that clients might like to buy for someone on their holiday shopping list – or even just for themselves.

Reach Out to Last Year’s Shoppers

Collecting email addresses and mobile phone numbers at the point of sale, on your website and even through engagement on social networks during the holiday season can help you build a contact list for the holiday seasons to follow. Reach out to clients and shoppers who took you upon holiday offers last year to let them know what you have planned for the holiday shopping season ahead.

Reach Out with a Demo Event

Holiday hair and makeup events can be an effective way for your salon to attract more clients that fit within your ideal client types. Frame your salon’s Christmas, Holiday or New Year’s demo event as a social bring-a-friend outing with entertainment, food and beverages. Think “happy hour” more so than “holiday sale.” Plan to give away a great prize in order to get people to RSVP and show up for your salon’s holiday demo event. Let guests interact with stylists and touch-smell-try products. Give away swag bags that include a small denomination gift card to get a bounce back to your salon. Do 2-3 great makeup and/or hair demos at the event and teach quick tips/tricks with attendee volunteers.

Reach Out to Beauty Product and Service Pioneers

We all have people in our social spheres who like to be in the know, the first to try something new, the first to weigh in about a new product or service, the first to start buzz among their friends, co-workers and loved ones.  You can reach out to these local pioneers and engage them with trial offers on new services or products or hold an event where they get a first peek at your holiday marketing products and services.

Reach Out to Self-Gifting Shoppers

In 2014, 73% of 18-24 year olds (Millennials) said they planned to self-gift while doing their holiday shopping (National Retail Federation’s Top Trends in 2014 Holiday Shopping).  Last year holiday shoppers purchased an average of $141 in non-gift items for themselves and their families. Make sure that your clients and other shoppers know which of your products or services make for the best self-gifting during the holidays, and make sure you extend a bounce back offer to turn a one-time self-gift into a repeat service.


253 Payment Pros offers salon POS (salon point of sale) systems, software and equipment backed by local service, installation and setup as well as payment processing at competitive rates. Even if you’re just looking to compare the merchant services rates you’re currently paying for merchant services, we would be happy to give you a free, no-risk quote.