Word of mouth and positive reviews accrued over time are good traditional ways to draw in customers. Yet, in the digital age, traditional word-of-mouth marketing is like an old wood-paneled station wagon relative to getting the word out. It is semi-functional and will get you to your end destination (almost most of the time), but it’ll only average 13 mpg on the highway and is in dire need of a makeover, believe me I have a very clear vision of my early childhood. 

On the other hand, social media and digital buzz are equivalent to a Tesla in Plaid Mode. With integrated WiFi marketing, it is not about customer data as much as it is about engaging the customer to dramatically impact brand recognition and reach. By making the right communications to the customer, you’re guaranteed to drive stellar marketing objectives and make your business the apple of customers’ eye when trying to make a decision on their next meal.

Handing in the station wagon keys

So, how do you get to Tesla-level marketing with your restaurant’s brand? The key is utilizing social media platforms to drive to new levels of awareness. Of course, there are multiple social platforms and therefore multiple techniques for each. For example, on Facebook getting your loyal customers to share something from their visit, called User Generated Content (UGC) from a basic post or ideally to include a check-in, while on Instagram it’s more about a picture of a beautiful steak, or a reel of a friend group’s night out. Despite these minor differences in presentation, whatever your target platform is, your objective is the same: showing customers and potential customers why they should choose you and why you’re their best choice.

Using Facebook as an example, please don’t put up the generic sign “like us on Facebook” and think it’s enough. Those message strategies have become the obscure background, like other common signs and ad varieties. Additionally, actually getting consumers to read your ad may be next to impossible given how much they dislike them and also the fact that 86 percent of consumers have what is called banner blindness. This means that after prolonged exposure to ads on their screens, potential ad viewers tune out the non-essential items on their screens. The customer’s attitude for ads is, justifiably, in thinking if your best idea is the same ad or messaging at every restaurant, then why bother trying at all?

Even in situations where a customer may be inclined to take the action you want them to, the process and number of clicks it takes for them to go from A to B needs to be simple and concise. What does this mean? Think of this simple process to simply “follow” your restaurant, it’s nothing less than a four-plus-step processes such as finding and opening the Facebook app, entering the search, typing in the restaurant name, hopefully, picking the correct page home page and then, finally, clicking follow on what they think is the right profile. While the three-click rule’s veracity is debated, it is true that the easier and more accessible your restaurant is digitally, the more likely you’ll make a conversion. What if, literally it was one click? Move over Elon, there’s a new innovator in town.

Grabbing a Tesla

Taking the next step, Integrated WiFi marketing can do all the work in plugging your business into the hip and personalized ways to reach each customer on an individual basis. The system is made up of consumer data and intelligent AI that makes decisions on what type of message and promotion is right based on that, wait for it, meta-data based on that actual customer’s behavior. For example, for the customer that drops in for one cocktail and leaves, the system recognizes that behavior and is programmed to deliver a text 30 minutes after the guest arrives. 

What would you like to say to that specific customer with that specific behavior, perhaps something like, “Hope you’re loving it here, we’re happy to have you in our restaurant! If you have a second, click this link to our Facebook and hit the ‘follow’ button and you and a friend can enjoy a free shareable with an entree tonight.” This is engagement gold: understanding your customer’s behavior, leveraging that understanding to modify their behavior and increasing your revenue while improving your customer relationship.

While there are a plethora of amazing ways to utilize integrated WiFi marketing, the key is to remember that it all comes down to relationships. Sure, the traditional means of promoting and growing positive perceptions about your business will always hold value, but the fact remains the old ways are no longer the most convenient or personal for customers in the buying/selection process. 

By reducing the effort customers have to put in with finding things that they will like based on their data, it eliminates the hassle and costly guessing game of determining which blanket marketing strategy will work best on the most people. With integrated WiFi marketing, you provide customers with a tailor-fit experience. Considering 88 percent of surveyed U.S. marketers noted a growth in business after implementing personalized messaging and 71 percent of consumers want this type of messaging, it’s a necessity for your restaurant. 

Stephen Gould is an entrepreneur with a successful history providing guest-engagement software solutions for the hospitality industry and he is the founder and CEO of NConnections. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Central Florida. Before transitioning to technologies within the hospitality industry, Steve worked in government contracting and internet security for 18 years. 

Customer Experience, Growth, Marketing & Promotions, Operations, Outside Insights, Story