~ 4 Minute 35 Second Read
I’ve started a new full-time job doing design for a restaurant that has many locations. When I first checked them out, I could see a lot of potential and with my background in graphic design, social media, and even working at a restaurant; I felt like I was an excellent fit.
It’s been about 3 weeks since I started and I’m still trying to figure out the brand’s identity. There have been a lot of inconsistencies with the name of the restaurant, the social media accounts, the colours used in the branding, and the operations of the whole spot. Adding marketing to their list of importance came about fairly recently (from what I know about 2 or 3 years ago) but I think it was once they noticed a dip in sales and customers coming in that they really wanted to push marketing. In the beginning, they were a very popular and successful spot. It was this success that enabled them to open up a multitude of locations. But now, a number of their stores are slowing down and it’s becoming a concern.
As a more recent outsider, I have a bit of a clearer perspective on what exactly is going wrong. One aspect of restaurant chains that keep them successful is their reputation. If a customer is familiar when they walk into your place after coming from a completely different location, you are doing something right. For example: if you go to any location of The Keg, you will find the same dim lighting, the same artist’s paintings/style, you’ll sit down at a table with the same set-up of plate and water glasses, and you will always be able to celebrate your birthday with a Billy Miner Pie.
If you go to a restaurant in Vancouver and then find a secondary franchise of it in Burnaby, your expectations are already laid out of food quality, service, and atmosphere. If these end up being different (specifically for the worst), you may not come back because now it’s been deemed unreliable. It’s the same reason people become loyal to coffee shops because every morning they form a taste to their favourite chains and know that they will be satisfied when they return in the same way they were previously. While there are always ways to improve with the internal operations (training of employees, upkeep of the restaurant, nailing the recipes, etc.) there is still a form of consistency to maintain in marketing as well.
Jumping into marketing and trying to do a revamp feels like a big overhaul of a project after the business has already been established for years; yet absolutely still worth while. Being active on social media is a huge boom for businesses right now and it gets a lot more eyes on your company; but being active and not really having a motive hinders your potential.
A lot of people confuse a Marketing Strategy with a Marketing Plan.
So what exactly is the difference?
“Marketing Strategy – Your marketing strategy is an explanation of the goals you need to achieve with your marketing efforts. Your marketing strategy is shaped by your business goals. Your business goals and your marketing strategy should go hand-in-hand.
Marketing Plan – Your marketing plan is how you are going to achieve those marketing goals. It’s the application of your strategy a roadmap that will guide you from one point to another.
The issue is that most people try to set out to achieve the “how” without first knowing the “what.” This can end up wasting resources for a company, both time and money.”
(Source: The Balance)
Right now at work, I think we have had an ongoing Marketing Plan before laying out the Marketing Strategies and the objectives. If we don’t know who we are trying to communicate to or for what reason, we will have no data to track and we will not achieve any milestones that we one day plan to reach.
Reasons to Define a Marketing Strategy:
1) To Attract Customers Who You Benefit From (& Ones Who Gain Benefit From You)
First things first to provide a useful service, you need to find the right people to use it. Do this by research and figuring out who your target market should be. You can either specify your demographics (age, gender, marital status, income level, etc.) or you can even get into details by creating buyer personas. This helps you to envision who you want your customers to be and think about them as people instead of numbers. When you realize this, you know that your ads actually have to target personas and not just be thrown to everyone that has a social media account. It’s less about quantity of views and more about quality of those views developing into leads. Not only do you want to find people that you benefit from by an increase in sales but when they benefit from you, they promote you. Word of mouth is one of the most convincing promotions you can get, and you want to make sure that what’s being said is positive.
2) Defining TRACKABLE Goals
Goal-setting is super important in business. After all, if you don’t envision where you want your company to be – how will it ever improve from it’s current state? (Or if brand new – get noticed at all?) A common technique is the SMART method:
Specific – State what you are looking to achieve in detail
Measurable – Use resources to track and measure the results (if digital – ex. analytics, insights, etc.; if traditional – ex. sales)
Attainable – Set goals that you have budgeted for and are realistic in reachability
Relevant – Set goals that push you to where you want to be, don’t just follow trends or do what you think should be done
Time-Based – Be realistic with the time frame of your goals (of course if you have 200 followers today, you won’t reach 1 mil tomorrow)
Having these guidelines help you to brainstorm achievable goals that will push your business in the right direction.
3) Create a Brand Guide
Coming up with an identity is a struggle. Especially when you are looking to cater to so many people. People want to see consistency in a brand so they know they can trust it.
90% of consumers expect that their experience with a brand will be similar across all platforms and devices. They expect a seamless transition between web and device-native applications through colour, flow, and overall quality.
(Source: Crowd Spring)
This means that you should have a Brand Guide/Style Tile to use when you are looking to design anything relative to your company. A specific font should be used across the board, a corporate colour, style, textures, patterns, etc. People respond better to themes and consistency. Here are 2 examples of restaurants that you could recognize at a glance:
I can easily come up with suitable adjectives and terminology that comes to mind for both of these places.
Sophisticated, great quality, clean, date night, calm
BUFFALO WILD WINGS
Younger audience, comfort food, fun, welcoming
And 2 examples that are a bit jumbled in their output (and although could have good content, it’s not as appealing):
BROWNS SOCIAL HOUSE
There are 3 images that have a table and they all look completely different. There is a faded filter on the exterior image of the building while not on the others.
While I do see that this is a burger joint, the plating is different for each. One is on a plate, the other on parchment paper, and another looks like it’s directly on a table? While the burgers have quality ingredients, they don’t come across clean and put together. When you go from a page like this to a page like Buffalo Wild Wings, you see the difference in quality. Even if it’s not the burger making it look good but just the style of imagery, it makes a big difference.
A Marketing Strategy is a huge priority when developing a business and campaigns that you wish to use to grow that business. Doing these steps first will save you from a lot of backtracking in the future. Since we at the restaurant don’t have a target audience or an official brand guide, we have been lenient on the production of our marketing materials and overall image as a brand. Now that it’s starting to cause an impact, I know that this would be the best place to begin.
The next steps I will be taking is to start new with researching our current brand placement. Then I will be coming up with a marketing strategy on what we would like to improve on. That way we can being growing into the potential that I and the customers know we already have but need to showcase at all times in all areas. Overall this will be an abundance of effort but once that’s put in, we will see long-term results. I can’t wait to see what comes of this.
I want to hear from you! Have you given a brand or service a second chance? What made you try it again and did you return since?