Whether your restaurant has an actual mobile restaurant marketing app or just a mobile-friendly, search-friendly website, the right digital marketing can be a revenue generator by giving new visitors reasons to visit and loyal customers reasons to come back.

5 Restaurant Digital Marketing Darlings Boost Customer Attraction and Retention

Like it or not, the battle for the hearts and minds of restaurant patrons might be won online as well as in the kitchen. Here are five ways to engage local consumers using digital restaurant marketing tools so you can grow your restaurant faster.

Once a ‘set it and forget it’ type of placeholder for many restaurants with a job of doing nothing more than displaying contact information, directions and a menu, today, restaurant websites and restaurant apps must be constantly updated and be designed to attract and engage local customers.

The more your restaurant’s website (or restaurant app) is optimized to attract local consumers via online search, intrigue them upon arrival and give them reasons to subscribe to updates and visit again, the more likely they are to become first time, then repeat and then long-time loyal restaurant customers.

When it comes to improving your website, including how it displays on mobile devices (which are all important in the restaurant industry, where consumers often take action within minutes after searching for a restaurant online) it’s all about two things:

1. What does the site visitor want to do? and
2. What do you want the site visitor to do next?

Making it easy for restaurant website visitors to do what they want to do is paramount if you want to bring more of them in the door. But landing a new customer is not the end-game, it’s the beginning. Once you have them on site and they got the information they were looking for, what’s next?

Your answers to the first question will get them in the door. Your answers to the second question will determine whether they become repeat customers, leave reviews, subscribe or follow your restaurant’s social pages, recommend your restaurant to their networks, develop loyalty and so much more.

If your restaurant’s website is still in placeholder mode or your restaurant app doesn’t seem to be helping you attract new customers, now could be the ideal time to improve your digital marketing game with these five restaurant marketing ideas.

Attract and Retain Customers with these 5 Restaurant Digital Marketing Ideas

Use Your Vibe to Entice

Google My Business and most restaurant ordering apps give you the ability to post photos (and sometimes even videos) that give customers a peek at the action going on in a given restaurant in real-time. You might not want to post a live stream of your restaurant online (but you could if you wanted to), but that doesn’t mean that you can’t post real-life photos on your restaurant app or website showing happy restaurant customers to entice website visitors to become real-time visitors themselves.

Allow for Online Check-In and On-the-Way Notifications

Allowing regular customers (customers who are members of your loyalty program) to check in online or notify you they will be arriving soon could be a great perk for customers who patronize your restaurant frequently. During busy hours this could help push your most loyal patrons to the front of the line, reinforcing the relationship and affinity they have with your brand. You can also make updates to your website or restaurant app in real time showing any wait time.

Reward Social Payments

Every time a happy restaurant customer posts a photo of their favorite entrée or to-die-for cocktail online, they are paying you with a social signal. Use your restaurant marketing app to generate more social shares and check-ins by rewarding customers for these online endorsements, such as entering each into a prize drawing, sending them exclusive offers or upping their loyalty rewards. One great way to track these activities is to promote use of a unique hashtag that applies to your restaurant. Tie rewards for social payments to your loyalty program as another way to reward your biggest brand advocates.

Trending Menu Items

While some restaurant goers like to stick with one or two favorites, many would probably come out more often if they were looking forward to trying something new each time. One way to highlight things on your restaurant menu customers might not have tried yet would be to show a trending menu items page or app on your website and social networks showing which appetizers, salads, cocktails, entrees or desserts are popular in your restaurant right now. Besides helping to suggest something new, it also essentially provides social endorsement.

Test Market an Item of the Week

If you are introducing new menu items or tweaking old favorites, promote awareness of these changes on your website, social networks, and in email and text marketing with a test marketing program. Allow customers to ‘opt in’ and give them the option of trying the new item with a special offer or a free tasting with their meal.

 

You’ve got an app – now what? Retail, service and restaurant businesses that use push marketing effectively can score more sales and increase revenues.

More than half of all app users have push marketing notifications enabled on their mobile devices according to a whitepaper called Recipes for Perfect Push Messages recently published by Localytics.com. These users launch apps 88 percent more often than users who have push notifications disabled, which means that they are biting when it comes to notifications. Taking this into account, we are offering these five tips on how to use push marketing to attract more shoppers and increase sales.

How Does Push Marketing Work?

A push marketing notification (also called server push notifications) is a form of automated loyalty marketing where a software application sends information to a computing device (like a smartphone) without a specific request from the device’s user. This information could be delivered as an email message, text message, social media notification or an app notification.

Although the user has not requested the information, there is still an element of permission-based marketing here as the user must have at some point opted in to an email subscription, text subscription or has downloaded and app and either set or left app notifications turned on.

5 Ways to Use Push Marketing to Increase Sales

#1 and 2: Send Push Messages on the Right Day at the Right Time

What is the best time to send a push notification? It depends.

The Localytics study found that – in general – push messages have the highest click rates when sent in the afternoon, between Noon and 5 PM. Evenings were the worst time to send push messages, perhaps indicating that consumers hold evening hours as reserved for personal and family time, or indicative that it’s too late in the day to head out to a local retailer’s location.

Which day of the week do app notifications get the most clicks?

Saturday and Sunday were (by far) the worst days to send them and Thursday was the weekday with the lowest click and response rate. Push messages sent on Fridays received the highest click rate, Tuesday the second most.

Best Advice: Push notification success comes down to knowing what shoppers want, and when.

Like any other type of marketing, you have to understand likely shoppers and your brand’s ideal buyer types to know when they would be most likely to open and read a notification as well as when they would be most likely to take action. These times might be the same and they might not. And different segments of your audiences may also call for different push marketing strategies. The more you can segment and customize push notifications, the better your click and take-action rates are likely to be.

For instance, to attract consumers shopping at retail stores on weekends, mid-morning on a Saturday or Sunday might be the perfect time for a restaurant to send a push notification. That same restaurant might want to send push notifications about using their facilities for corporate parties on a weekday morning or even late afternoon, thinking that staff responsible for planning the company party would be more likely to read, research and book space at that time.

#3: Less is Much, Much More

When it comes to push notifications, less content seems to be more effective. Click rates for notifications with 10 or fewer words were 8.8 percent, dropping drastically to less than five percent for notifications of 11-20 words and falling even further for messages with 21 words or more.

Best Advice: Focus on one message and use clear, compelling language to get your customer’s attention. Think of a push notification the same way that you think of the seven seconds you have to get the attention of someone who visits your website. Fail to connect quickly and you lose the opportunity.

#4: Tell Them Exactly What You Want them to Do

For years conventional marketing wisdom has suggested that asking questions is a great way to discover buyer motivations and help them move through the buying journey from brand discovery to preference and purchase. For push notifications, the opposite holds true. Click rates go from 3 percent to 6 percent for push notifications that don’t ask questions, but tell the user what’s important or what to do instead.

Best Advice: People are freaking busy! Tell them what they should do (come in) when (now) and why (compelling time-limited offer).

#5: Use Super Offers to Attract customers

Need to imply urgency? Telling shoppers when offers end is likely to produce more action than telling them they have to shop today. The Localytics white paper offers up some key tips for which words get more clicks with holiday shoppers, with words like “super” and “offer” coming in on top with nearly three times as many clicks as words like “today,” “deals” and “win.”

Best Advice: Use words that convey compelling value and time-limited urgency to get customers to act. Remember that people are busy and they have lots of options when it comes to spending their money. Use words that make your message stand out from the pack.

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Here’s a closer look at webroomers, showroomers, and four tips for retailers who want to win the hearts, minds and purchases of both.

Webroomers and Showroomers – Pros Cons and Conversion Strategies

Webrooming and showrooming are two sides of the same coin.

Webroomers browse and research purchases online before buying at a brick and mortar store, often because they still want to see the item in person before buying but sometimes to avoid paying for shipping or waiting to receive the item.

Showroomers visit local brick and mortars to see, touch, try and sometimes try on items before ultimately buying them online at a lower price. While price may not always be the reason that showrooming leads to online buying, an Accenture report found that discounts were important to the buying decisions of more than nine in ten shoppers who engaged in showrooming.

Both have produced angst for retailers, since time and resources invested in creating and running online stores and physical retail locations go uncompensated if shoppers use their sites and stores for research, browsing and product experience, only to reward a lower-priced competitor with the sale. So much so that some brick and mortar retailers even charge fees for trying on or trying out their equipment, knowing that shoppers are likely going to buy somewhere else.

Retailers who have both online and offline shopping locations and the ability to offer consumers a seamless webrooming and showrooming shopping experience can negate the negative effects of both, provided their pricing is competitive and they can offer free or low-cost fast-delivery shipping. They still might not always win the sale, but by offering an omni-channel shopping experience, they give themselves a better chance.

What motivates Webroomeres and Showroomers to buy?

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – or at least meet them where they are. Webrooming and showrooming is standard practice for many shoppers, and it’s not always about price.

Digital shopping gives consumers the ability to make the most of their time online and off. By researching products, stores, prices and availability online before buying at a local store, they can get shopping done more conveniently and efficiently. Some keys for winning the business of shoppers who are webrooming include:

  • Free shipping and same or next day delivery options
  • Quality of graphics high enough that they feel confident about buying online, sight unseen
  • Super-fast, uncomplicated checkout process
  • Painless, convenient and free return policy if something’s not right
  • Real-time or automated marketing encouraging them to buy online or at least buy at the ecommerce site’s brick and mortar location

When it comes to consumers who visit showrooms with the intent to research and buy at a lower cost online (which is sometimes even done while the showroomer is in a physical retail location, right in front of sales staff) it’s important to remember that price objections can be overcome for some. To get the sale in-store before showroomers look for a better deal online, try:

  • Appealing to the shopper’s desire for immediate gratification –“You can own this today!”
  • Adding value that online retailers can’t or won’t, such as free returns, free adjustments, warranties, free or automatic upgrades when new models come out, etc.
  • Price-match guarantees
  • Using limited quantity or limited time offers to appeal to the buyer’s FOMO (fear of missing out)

4 Ways Retailers Can Win Over Webroomers and Showroomers

1. Webroomers and showroomers should be segmented, too.

All shoppers aren’t created – or motivated – equally. While some might be motivated to find the lowest price whether online or in a brick-and-mortar store, consumer shopping behaviors come from a variety of motivators. By discovering those consumers who want convenience, immediate gratification, who fear missing out, who appreciate value as much (or more) than perceived discounts, you can convert many webrooming and/or showrooming shoppers into buyers.

2. Automation and real-time marketing can improve conversions.

We live in a real time marketing world. Hitting shoppers with a real time offer before they leave your website or walk out of your retail store can provide the incentive they need to buy from you.

3. The ROI of Webrooming and showrooming isn’t limited to sales.

Just because a webroomer or showroomer didn’t buy from you, that doesn’t mean you didn’t get a win. Brand awareness, future sales, personal referrals and recommendations can all lead to sales down the road. Don’t skimp on the customer experience, even if you are convinced a shopper is going to buy somewhere else this time.

4. The opportunity to convert a webroomer or showroomer doesn’t end when they leave your store or site.

Give your business the chance to deliver bounce-back offers and create long-term relationships with shoppers. Capture email addresses, get social followers and use retargeting automation to keep the dialogue alive with webrooming and showrooming shoppers long after they leave your store or website.

Business location is one of the most important decisions that someone launching or expanding a brick-and-mortar business will make. Here are five tips for choosing the right business location that can help you zero in on the best one for your business.

5 Ways to Determine Whether a Potential Business Location is Right for You

Location, location, location! For brick and mortar businesses, few decisions will have more of an impact on the ultimate success and sustainability of their business than the location where they choose to open their doors. Here are five things to consider if you are going to open a new business or expand your business to a new location any time soon.

Few decisions will impact a new business’s ability to be profitable and sustainable more than that of where to locate the business. We came up with this five-point checklist to help those who are looking for help in deciding whether a potential location would be good for their business in the short term as well as over the long haul.

5-Point Checklist for Choosing the Right Business Location for a Brick and Mortar Store

1. The Proximity of Ideal Client Types (Target Audiences) to the Business Location

Put me in an interesting location with good people – and I’m there.” – Jane Curtin

The proximity of a proposed new business location to individuals that would be a close match to the organization’s “Ideal buyer types” as well as general target audiences is the first consideration that must be satisfied. If a brick-and-mortar business location is not convenient to an adequate number of target audience members relative to where they live, work or play, it’s not likely to be successful or sustainable.

One obvious way to determine whether a location would be suitable for starting a new business or expanding an existing business into a new location is to spend some time at the site, watching to see what type of clientele is patronizing the other existing businesses in the area. Census data and trends can also provide important insight. And free tools like Claritas 360 Zip Code Look Up (formerly Nielsen’s Prizm) can provide you with an overview of the demographics and lifestyle characteristics of zip codes immediately surrounding a proposed site.

2. Business Location Price (Compared to Projections)

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill

The cost of a business location is not just a dollar amount. This Excel spreadsheet Entrepreneur.com profit and loss template can help you lay out a three year projection that puts a location’s rent (or lease or mortgage amount) plus property taxes, insurance and other costs into perspective.

profit and loss statement template

Besides the actual dollar amount you would pay to lease, rent or buy in order to get into a prospective new business location, you should also take a look at whether the landlord is willing to make concessions or allowances for any of the following:

  • When does the agreement kick in? You do not want to be paying rent during the weeks or months it takes to make the upgrades, repairs, renovations or remodeling that need to be completed before your doors even open.
  • Who is responsible for the cost of renovations and upgrades needed to open your business?
  • How long are you going to be locked in, how much notice do you need to give in order to vacate, and are there any ‘kick out’ clauses that give you the right to leave if your business can’t make it there?
  • Are rent increases automatic or tied to a percentage of business growth? How often has the landlord typically raised rent for tenants, and how large have the increases been?
  • Who is responsible for facility repairs and maintenance for your square footage? How about for common areas?
  • Will you have the ability to sublease the space or re-assign the lease to another business should your business need to move somewhere else (or close?)
  • Can you add co-tenancy agreements, so that if a tenant leaves that typically helps bring traffic to your store, you can relocate as well?
  • Can you negotiate for an exclusivity clause that prohibits the landlord from renting other nearby properties to competing businesses?
  • Do you have to make personal guarantees or provide any personal collateral that would be at risk if your business could not fulfill the terms of the lease?

Before signing onto a long term lease or rental agreement, it would be well worth your time to speak to other tenants or the owners of nearby businesses for insights on the quality of property management that the landlord generally provides. It could also be beneficial to work with a broker in order to negotiate through the terms of the agreement in order to protect your business, your own personal assets or achieve concessions which effectively reduce the real cost of the property.

3. The Business Location’s Amenities

Location is all about the efficiency of work for me.” – Michelle Grabner

Some of the location’s amenities may be reflected in the lease or rental agreement as noted above in terms of costs; however, that’s not all. For instance, a location’s proximity to key vendors and suppliers could also make it a more attractive alternative than others.

A location that provides an easy commute and also offers great options for employees to eat, shop, workout, and so on, that could also make it more attractive to quality hires, as would enhanced security and safety, low crime and an overall good reputation.

When considering amenities, think about the non-direct benefits that a location has to offer. If these characteristics make it more attractive for your customers or your employees, they should be considered.

4. The Location’s Alignment with Your Brand

Location is the key to most businesses, and entrepreneurs typically build their reputation at a particular spot.” – Phyllis Schlafly

The location you choose for your business should align well with your brand. If the appearance, décor, ambiance and other characteristics that impact customer’s perception of your brand do not align with your brand’s reputation (or the brand reputation you want to build), then the location may not be right.

You may be able to upgrade or renovate to turn a location’s square footage into one worthy of your brand reputation; however, if other businesses in the area or common areas contradict that image, then – again – it might not be the best place for your organization.

5. Projected Location Changes

The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” – Michael Porter

Here today, gone tomorrow? When choosing a location for your startup business or choosing a place to add a new franchise or branch of your business, you can’t just consider what the location has to offer today, especially if you will be committing to a long term lease or you will be investing significantly in order to bring the space up to par.

Project into the future three years, five years, ten years or even twenty years down the road. How will your business change? Will the site still be adequate to your needs? Is there room to expand? Will the location continue to be convenient to where members of your target markets are expected to live or work?

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As a new franchise owner you are probably keenly aware that you face all the same challenges faced by any new small business owner. Here are four tips that can help you be a better leader as a first-time boss, right out of the gate.

First-Time Boss – 4 Leadership Tips for New Franchise Owners

At the end of the day, the success of your new franchise might come down to leadership more so than any other factor, so here are four important ways you can improve your leadership abilities.

If you have just opened up your first franchise business or you are considering franchise opportunities that will allow you to become a small business owner for the first time, you probably have a fairly long list of priorities to accomplish. One “to do” item that might not have made your list yet is improving your leadership abilities, but we would like to make the case for putting this priority high up on your list.

Is leadership really that important? The CEO Institute sums it up this way, “Leadership is the major factor that makes everything work together seamlessly; without leadership, all other business resources are ineffective.”

While we have all come across organizations (and most of us have even worked in some) that managed to carry on and even grow with poor leaders in place, it begs the question: How much more successful could those businesses have been with good leadership at the helm?

As a new franchise owner, you probably have thought about the type of leader you want to be, especially if you have worked in an organization with bad leadership before. Though you might have the best of intentions, the pressures of acting as a leader for the first time (especially in light of all the other challenges you will face as a business owner) might cause you to revert to some of the negative leadership styles you have seen demonstrated before.

First-Time Bosses – 4 Key Leadership Principles for Franchise Owners

Focus and Vision

“The leader’s singular job is to get results.” Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, writing on Harvard Business Review

There will be many, many situations and problems that arise in the life of a franchise business that have the power to distract franchise owners from the goals they need to remain focused on in order to run a successful business. When focus is lost, and key goals are no longer the focus of day to day priorities, organizational vision goes by the wayside too.

The Big Picture

“A leaderless organization is like an army without generals.” The Importance of Leadership in BusinessSmall Business Chronicle

Franchise employees aren’t foot soldiers, but the analogy is worth evaluation. Soldiers on the front line don’t usually have the big picture; they see only a small portion of the battlefield. They can only be successful with leadership that understands how to effectively deploy all of the units, weapons and strategies to achieve victories in individual battles; and ultimately, to ‘win the war.’

New franchise owners – even those that find themselves fulfilling ‘front line’ roles within the business as so often happens in the early days of any small business – must also maintain perspective relative to the big picture. You have to know how all the parts of your franchise business need to work together in order to achieve the short and long range goals you have for the organization.

Self-Awareness and Empathy

“When good leadership is in place in a company, it can be felt throughout the entire organization… Bad leadership can also be felt throughout the entire organization – only not in a good way.” Good Leaders Are Invaluable To A Company. Bad Leaders Will Destroy It. Forbes Magazine

In the early days of a franchise business, the franchise owner might be the only leader. As the business grows or new franchise opportunities open up and are added to the organization, more leaders will be put in place. Franchise owners must be aware not only of how their leadership style affects the organization, but must also be empathetic to how their employees are faring under the other leaders and managers in the organization. Leaving a bad leader in place anywhere in the franchise will be a drag on productivity and morale.

Doing Things Right vs. Doing the Right Thing

“A leader is someone who does the right thing, whereas a manager does things right. Or to put it another way, management is an occupation, leadership is a calling.” Importance of Developing Leadership SkillsBusinessDictionary.com

There is no final destination on the journey toward becoming a good leader; it’s a constant evolution. Don’t be afraid to ask trusted peers, friends, and even the people who work for you how you can improve as a leader, and make it safe for them to give you constructive feedback. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to move people out of leadership roles they are not ready or suited for. Don’t be afraid to recognize and reward staff members who step up inside or outside of their regular roles. Hire smart people who are good for your organizational culture, equip them to move and be ready to take a few chances on their recommendations.

As you grow your new franchise or open up new franchise locations, remember that you will constantly be given opportunities to learn new things about yourself and others that can make you a better leader. The more you risk changing yourself, the greater your potential reward.

You might also like: Sole Props – The Rise of Independent Workers in the US – Infographic

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With a little creativity, the same retail marketing ideas big chains use at the point of sale during the checkout process can be applied by boutique retailers as well.

3 Point of Sale Marketing Lessons Boutique Retailers Can Steal from Big Competitors

Coming up with fresh marketing ideas to draw consumer attention away from the ads of large retail store competitors can be a challenge for small retailers. These scaled-down retail marketing ideas come straight from the marketing playbooks of the big players in retail, and can help your local small business compete better.

Practical Ecommerce reported on the checkout process of ten leading online retailers. With a little creativity, studying the way large retail chains increase revenues at the point of sale can be applied by boutique retailers as well.

These three retail marketing ideas that can help local, independent retail stores grow their business by encouraging shoppers to spend more at each visit, registering and following up with customers and by facilitating deeper, more loyal relationships between consumers and independent retail stores.

3 Big Chain Retail Marketing Ideas Scaled for Small Boutiques

Boutique Retail Marketing Idea #1: Keep People Shopping

Retail e-commerce sites often give shoppers multiple opportunities to resume shopping rather than check out (when they place an item in the cart, when they view their cart, before finalizing checkout, etc.) Boutique retail merchants can help keep people shopping, longer, by:

  • Making sure they have a larger bag or cart than they need
  • Relieving shoppers of items they are hand-carrying by offering to hold them at the checkout area (which may also reinforce the inclination to buy the item, rather than thinking about it or putting it back)
  • Placing items which shoppers need to try on into a dressing room so they can find additional items to try
  • Offering to store other bags while they shop (shopping bags, heavy coats, umbrellas or other encumbrances they may have arrived with)

Boutique Retail Marketing Idea #2: Register Customers and Follow Up

Try to collect at least one piece of customer contact information at the point of sale with every transaction, beginning with email address and mobile phone number. Let customers know at the point of sale that if they provide you with an email address and/or mobile phone number, you will follow up by sending them a special offer, a special thank you reward, an invitation to future sale events or to join your loyalty program – and then DO IT!

Boutique Retail Marketing Idea #3: Talk Rewards

Some e-commerce sites not only add shopper’s item to their cart, they also tell them how far away in purchases they are from earning additional rewards (like free shipping).

As a boutique retail merchant, you have the ability to create a truly unique loyalty and referral reward program for your customers. Your plan could include points, dollars or other measures by which they reach the next level of rewards, and you could also get creative and partner with other local retailers for cross-promotional rewards and offers – something big retail rivals wouldn’t take the time to do.

Use text and email marketing to send a monthly update to all customers who participate in your rewards program about their status and suggest ways that they could move to the next level. Hold loyalty rewards member-only events once or twice a year as a “thank you” and the means to introduce new items or blow through old inventory.

For customers who have registered with you for updates but are not members of your rewards program, send email and text message marketing highlighting the benefits of joining your program and what rewards they might have already earned – but missed out on – based on past shopping at your boutique.

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If your business depends on in-store shopping, or you just want to make your business more profitable, here are five retail marketing strategies that can help.

Study: In-Store Shoppers Spend More than Online Shoppers

No matter how convenient, eCommerce can’t rival in-store shopping when it comes to physical experience, and it might show up on the bottom line. A First Insight Report found that 71 percent of shoppers spent more than $50 shopping in-store while only 54 percent did the same when shopping online. For businesses that depend on attracting and selling to local shoppers, tweaking their retail marketing strategy might help attract more of these shoppers.

Even popular retail giants that spend millions on marketing and advertising can struggle to attract the numbers of in-store shoppers they want to see, despite facilitating (and not fighting) the new consumer penchant for showrooming (researching and shopping in-store, and they buying online, usually to get the lowest price). So if it’s not about big money, retailers who creatively re-think their retail marketing strategy could be the ones to get more local shoppers back inside their brick-and-mortar stores.

5 Retail Marketing Ideas to Boost In-Store Foot Traffic

Come Up with an In-Store Only Gimmick

While differentiation is an important part of marketing, it’s not always easy to pull off. A gimmick is a unique or quirky special feature that makes something stand out from competitors. A gimmick can even be developing a special feature for the sake of having a special feature.

If nothing about the customer experience at your business is unique – quirky – special – or different from the experience customers can expect from competitors, including e-commerce buying options, then why should they come to your brick and mortar store to buy?

Speaking of in-store marketing gimmicks: Fast food giant Arby’s recently discovered a traffic-generating gimmick, albeit by accident. Having launched a marketing campaign with the tagline We Have the Meats® along with a photo showing Arby’s meat selections stacked atop one another, they responded quickly by making the Arby’s Meat Mountain available by customer request, even though it’s not officially on the menu. News of this $10 meat-lovers delight quickly spread via viral means and brought consumers in-store to see if they could tackle it.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: Sell Online as Well as Off

Brick and mortar retailers may be able to significantly boost revenues during the holidays and all year long by adding a shopping cart that both local and remote customers can use, incorporating shipping and handling fees into pricing in order to sell online without increasing shopper costs, and stepping up email marketing and social media efforts.

Stepping up communication is critical to attracting local customers. Engagement via social networks boost top of mind awareness and makes your content and offers highly shareable. Being present in your customer’s email inbox at the right time means that when they are ready to buy, they are going to remember to visit your store online or offline while researching their options, early in the buying process. Extending customer-exclusive offers via email, text messages (SMS) and social networks can be an especially meaningful way to reward your most loyal customers and keep their business in-house. Holding “flash” sales with offers only extended via email marketing, text (SMS) marketing and social networks can be an effective way to drive traffic during slow hours or help slow movers make their way off the shelves.

Use cash advance financing to add a web store to your website!

Expand your business with brick-and-mortar or online, virtually, by adding e-commerce to your list of shopping options. Adding a shopping cart to your web site – or building a whole new web site in order to accommodate online ordering, call-ahead ordering, inventory queries and so on can be out of reach without adequate working capital. Apply for one of our retail business loans and find out how much working capital may be available to help you grow your retail ecommerce or brick and mortar store.

Expand Engagement Campaigns Over Advertising Campaigns

The cost of traditional advertising has been prohibitive for most small businesses and can be even more expensive when a corresponding return on investment does not materialize. Plus, advertising is often a one-and-done proposition, requiring constant reinvestment in order to maintain brand awareness and put offers in front of target audiences.

Engagement, on the other hand, goes deeper, lasts longer and – maybe best of all – costs far less than advertising. A brick-and-mortar Main Street business can engage its local target market by stepping out of its location and into the community, being present for community projects, supporting local charities, donating and time and resources toward local people in need and providing resources beyond products and services for local consumers.

Find out what else interests your customers – and give it to them. By making your web site as well as brick-and-mortar business location more valuable to your target audiences, you give them more reasons to visit, refer others and create buzz about your business.

Put VIP customer-exclusive events back on the calendar. While we may be more “connected” thanks to technology than ever before, digital connection does not always replace face-to-face engagement. Give your customers and prospects the opportunity to take part in hands-on demos, product sampling, education, exhibits and other in-store events during hours that are closed to the general public. Giving away event grab bags, holding substantial event-only prize drawings or amping up your event with music, wine tasting and food can also help boost event attendance. Hold one or two significant events – perhaps with other retail marketing partners – each year that will get customers buzzing inviting their friends to visit your business and move people into your organization’s insider “circle of friends.”

Is there an organized “shop local” effort operating within your community? If not, now might be the perfect time to move your local business networking group from brainstorming into strategic action. Shop local activities help to educate local customers about the economic and civic benefits of spending their money at local establishments instead of online or at remotely-headquartered chain stores. When local consumers realize that – just by shopping – they are helping to improve their own community, they may be far more likely to go out of their way, or even spend more, in order to do so.

Master Local Search Optimization (or Local SEO)

Google has made it abundantly clear that local businesses must optimize their web sites for search and provided guidelines for doing so. Publishing content on a regular basis per local SEO best practices will bring more local web traffic to your site, which in turn can bring far more customers to your brick and mortar location to buy.

As you develop content for your website, be sure that your on-page content includes phrases that local shoppers would naturally type into a search engine when looking for the type of solutions your business provides. Use these phrases where it makes sense in your online content in order to help those local shoppers find your business more often in online product or service research.

To help you get started, here is a quick guide to SEO in 2019 as well as an article specific to local SEO, titled Local Search Trends from 2017-2018 from searchenginewatch.com.

Accommodate the Convenience-Driven, Multi-Device Consumer

It may be impractical (or even impossible) for you to actually sell and ship the goods or services your business provides online, but that does not mean you cannot accommodate the convenience-driven, multi-device shopper. For example:

  • Be sure you have a search-optimized mobile version of your website and make sure that you periodically test it to be sure that it is synced with your regular website, is providing useful analytics and works well across device types
  • Make it possible for people to check inventory, reserve items for pickup or pay online for pick up or local delivery
  • Provide price and feature-comparisons on your website and in in-store signage to save shoppers the trouble of comparison shopping
  • Solicit customer preference about how they want to receive offers and updates, and put them into practice as quickly as possible by extending valuable, contact-only offers, tips, resources and ideas

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Are you over-paying for credit card processing? Whether your operation is brick and mortar, ecommerce or mobile, we would be happy to give you a free, no-obligation quote to compare against your current point of sale equipment and card processing solution:

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Overcoming buyer objections can quickly turn into arguing, so it’s important to master persuasion skills and strategies in order to avoid turning off prospective customers by coming on too strong.

Overcoming Buyer Objections – 6 Persuasion Strategies Could Help You Close more Sales

When it comes to your buyers, are you overcoming objections, or just arguing? If you cross the line, you are much more likely to lose buyers than convert them. Here are six persuasion strategies every sales and marketing pro should master in order to close more sales.

Not all buying cycles are created equal. For low cost or low risk goods and services, sellers may not need to do much more than make buyers aware of the opportunity to buy.

For B2B and high-priced retail sales and marketing professionals, however, the buying cycle is usually more complicated. If you find that it’s difficult to distinguish between the art of overcoming buyer objections and arguing over buyer’s concerns, it might help to take a closer look at these six strategies that present persuasion in a more scientific light.

Before someone becomes a customer who is always right, they are a buyer who probably doesn’t have all the facts. The job of sales and marketing is to identify the buyers who have needs that their products or services are best-suited to meet, desires most-likely to fulfill or problems most-likely to resolve. Once found, the next step in the buying cycle is educating the prospect and – if needed – overcoming objections.

You might also like: 73% of Consumers Would Pay More for Good Customer Service

When a buyer is not convinced that their objection is being adequately addressed or has a long list of objections, it’s easy for explanations to turn into arguments. Once the process takes on a negative feeling, a buyer will often walk away and it can become difficult to salvage the opportunity to make a sale. In some cases, unhappy buyers will even tell other people about their negative experience, and preclude the opportunity for other sales as well.

Master 6 Persuasion Strategies and Get Better at Overcoming Objections [Infographic]

1. Reciprocation

Reciprocation in business is the idea that customers often respond positively when – as a business – you do something they perceive as (a) positive and which lies (b) outside of their expectations. Studies show reciprocation works as a method of persuading others to take desired actions. For instance, when restaurant waitstaff included candy with the bill, on average:

  • Women left 21% higher tips
  • Men left 18% higher tips

2. Social Validation

Remember those times your parents asked this question: “If all your friends jumped off the top of a bridge, would you do it too?” when they wanted to encourage you to resist peer pressure? It turns out, you might! One social validation experiment attempted to determine how many people would follow suit when they saw someone else (or a group of people) looking up. They found that:

  • When passersby saw one person looking up, 4% of them looked up as well
  • When passersby saw 5 people looking up, 18% of them looked up as well
  • When passersby saw 15 people looking up, 40% of them looked up as well

3. Consistency

Some people will stick to their guns in order to appear consistent to others. For some people, even providing informal or tacit approval of an idea or commitment is enough to make them follow through. The infographic below note that one fund-raiser asked people to sign a petition of support two weeks below his event and the result was a whopping 100% increase of monetary contributions due to prior commitment.

4. Respect for Authority

Uniforms, suits and other trappings of authority can go a long way to inspiring trust and helping to persuade people to take action – even when that action could be perceived as illegal! A University of Texas-Austin study found that 350% more people were willing to follow a man crossing the street on a red light – when that man wore a suit and tie.

5. Liking

People like to accommodate people they like, plain and simple. Three statistics referenced in the infographic include three techniques that might make people like you better:

  • Compliments – A UNC (University of North Carolina) study found that both true and untrue compliments produced the same amount of liking
  • Cooperation – Like reciprocation, people may be more willing to take a desired action when they perceive that you are meeting them halfway
  • Congruence – People may prefer to do business with you when they identify personal interests that align or other similarities that exist between you

6. Scarcity

Get ‘em before they’re all gone! When quantities are limited, people are more likely to take action in order to avoid loss. Plus, when items are moving quickly or nearly sold out, people may perceive them as more desirable.

*Studies and Statistics Cited by The Science of Persuasion Infographic (Below)
Impact Learning Systems (a division of Miller Heiman)
Infographic - science of persuasion overcoming objections

Americans have embraced food trucks and other mobile businesses nationwide, but is your point of sale marketing turning mobile business lovers into loyal customers?

Why Point of Sale Marketing is a Necessity for Food Trucks and Other Mobile Business Models

It’s a growing and competitive market. To win in this type of environment, food trucks must do more than serve great food. Food truck industry stats speak for themselves:

  • It’s a $2B a year industry – according to Food Truck Nation, the food truck industry grew 300 percent from 2014 to 2017
  • It’s super-competitive – according to Food Truck Operator, food truck growth is outpacing other food service, including restaurants, by 5.4% to 4.3% for the industry overall
  • Low cost of entry – startup costs can be as low as $50K (Food Truck Nation)
  • Excellent revenue to startup costs – a food truck that drives revenues of $250-500K annually can be started for less than $100K (Food Truck Operator)

When the 90 percent who rated the food truck experience as “excellent” or “good” were asked why, more than 8 in 10 used words like fun, exciting, new, different and unique (Mobile Cuisine). Worth noting here, once someone has visited a food truck once or twice, words like new, different and unique may no longer apply.

Startup costs for a food truck or another type of mobile business are generally far less than their brick and mortar counterparts and the startup process is very different. However, to generate repeat business – which is far less expensive than acquiring new customers – food truck POS marketing (point of sale marketing) must adopt many of the same loyalty marketing activities their brick-and-mortar competitors do.

7 Food Truck Point of Sale Marketing Ideas

1. Capture Contact Information

It’s pretty much impossible to do post-sale marketing when you don’t have the ability to email or text the customer. Food truck POS marketing starts with capturing the customer’s email address and/or mobile phone number along with permission to send them information after the sale. This can be done in many cases by simply giving the customer the option of receiving a receipt by email or text, but can also be encouraged using:

  • Giveaways – such as a free lunch next month
  • Surveys and feedback – how was your experience and/or what would you like to see next
  • Notifications of locations – where the food truck will be next or when it will return
  • Online ordering or order-ahead options
  • “Remembering” customer orders and customizations to save time in the future

2. Use Video and Selfies to Turn Customers Into Foodies

You can use video and selfies to turn customers into foodies at the point of sale by asking what they loved and why for a quick video testimonial or inviting them to pose in front of your food truck for a selfie and hashtag your food truck and location on social media.

There are foodies with large followings in virtually every urban and even many suburban areas of the U.S. Discover which foodies are influencing your target audience on Instagram, Snapchat or other platforms and engage them (generally done by paying them to try and then to review your food online) to generate social influencer marketing on social platforms, including a video or selfie done in front of your food truck. Lather, rinse, repeat as you seasonally change your menu or introduce new items to cater to those who used those three magic words: New, unique and different.

3. Adopt a Neighborhood Cause

Show your love for the ‘hood! Adopt a neighborhood cause for a benefit events or proceeds donation (such as, “$1 for every specific item sold this month will be donated to…”) And again, you can cater to that crowd looking for new, unique and different by changing causes monthly, seasonally, with the release of new menu items, etc.

Invite local dignitaries and media to press-worthy events to give proceeds and/or monies or items raised to the charity or cause to receive public relations for your efforts. Make the event even bigger by teaming up with (or issuing a competitive challenge) to a local brick-and-mortar restaurant to increase exposure and make this even more interesting to local residents.

4. Upsells and Add-ons

Like any other restaurant, food truck employees should be asking customers “do you want fries with that?” where “fries” is interchangeable with any type of appropriate add on or a beverage or an upgrade (supersize!)

5. Samples

Give food truck patrons a chance to weigh in on upcoming menu items or create demand for new items before they are released by sampling bite-size items to customers while they wait for their orders. This is also a great way to gather testimonials to use in marketing when you launch the new menu items.

6. Video Display

Use videos at the point of sale to stimulate customer interest in other menu items, reinforce their buying decision through happy customer visuals and videos, notify customers of future appearances, events or promotions, and so on. Customers should be able to take this in while they are waiting for their order.

7. Point of Sale Loyalty Marketing

When asked about loyalty marketing, 73 percent said loyalty programs should be a way for the business to show loyalty to the customer – not the other way around (kitewheel.com). Make sure your loyalty program gives customers rewards they actually want, and stimulates action on a frequent basis.

Marry your restaurant’s point of sale card processing solution to your loyalty marketing strategies. Following up with new customers with automated and personalized email marketing could turn that first timer into a long time fan. Reach out to us to find out how it works:

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The end of room service? Not so fast! Reignite traveler demand for your hotel and its room service with these four hotel marketing strategies.

Hotel Marketing Strategies – 5 Types of Travelers Can Revive Hotel Room Service Revenues

While some hotels have decided that the sun has set on room service as one aspect of the service they provide to travelers, others are taking a closer look before deciding to follow suit. Before you decide to discard room service at your hotel, try turning it into a profit center by catering your room service menu to these five different types of travelers.

Like any other tactical part of your operations, room service should be viewed as a tool you can leverage to achieve your overall hotel marketing strategy. Since some hotels are calling it quits as far as room service for travelers, you may be able to carve out a competitive advantage for your hotel and improve your ability to attract new guests and ensure repeat guest visits by coming up with a creative approach to room service.

One size may fit all (or at least most) when it comes to the room at your hotel, but thinking one-dimensionally about your hotel’s room service will not fit all of your guests. Travelers come in all shapes and sizes and numbers, and not everyone is looking for chocolate covered strawberries and champagne. Use these entrepreneur.com-inspired ideas to tweak your hotel room service, turn it into a profit center and create a strategic competitive advantage.

Hotel Marketing – 5 Types of Hotel Guests Turn Room Service into Revenue

Instead of taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach, think about ALL the reasons people might want room service and create segmented room service options tailored to meet their needs, such as room service menu items for these five different types of traveler stays.

1. People who aren’t feeling well

Often the reason that hotel guests stay in and order hotel room service is because they aren’t feeling well or are recuperating from common effects of travel (not sleeping well, staying out too late, attending parties, etc.) These travelers are not looking for exotic, rich room service menu items – they need something simple.

Create a menu of room service options just for recuperating travelers with items like chicken soup, saltines and 7-up that comes with a side of antacid, Tylenol or Tylenol PM.

2. People traveling with small children

Hotel guests traveling with children may prefer room service to corralling kids who are weary from travel or tourist activities, especially if your room service options are perfectly chosen and perfectly sized for them. Think about creating room service options for travelers with kids like peanut butter and jelly picnic trays, pizza and ice cream or even kid-friendly meals bundled with an in-room family movie and fresh-popped popcorn.

3. Couples in search of romance and privacy

Attract more honeymooners to your hotel by creating room service packages with room service menu choices geared just for them. Here is where you will find those chocolate-covered-strawberries and champagne, but you can also think in terms of omelets for 2 and other room service menu options designed for couples.

4. People traveling for work

Your room service items for people traveling for work (or who may even be using your hotel rooms as temporary work spaces, meeting rooms, etc.) should be designed for quick delivery. Beyond food and beverages that you could have delivered within 15 minutes (like bagels, cream cheese and yogurt, or cheese, meat and cracker platters, veggie trays and other options that could easily be scaled for one or two or even a larger group of people) you could also put some non-edibles on the room service menu. Those traveling for work may appreciate being able to order pens, legal pads, and zip drives along with bottled coffee and energy drinks.

5. Hotel guests with special nutrition needs

It’s hard enough to “eat right” at home where people can be sure to include all they need and exclude things they cannot or should not consume; it’s doubly hard to do so while traveling! Think about guests who have special dietary needs due to allergies or who may want to subscribe to various types of vegetarian, gluten-free, low carb, high protein or other weight loss, gain or maintenance diets.

You might also like: 3 Room Service Reboots that Generate Revenue

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If you need a hotel point of sale solution to more-efficiently capture guest’s room service, restaurant and other hotel credit card transactions, we can help. Get a free, no-risk quote for restaurant merchant services, even if you just want to compare it against your current card processing fees.

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