Is Restaurant Marketing Broken?

A colleague asked this question in one of our forums recently and it has been haunting me ever since. So I must get this out.

Is Restaurant marketing broken? – Yes

What exactly is it that’s broken?

  1. The understanding of what works and what doesn’t work for businesss. Retail strategies do not work. Most of everything I read from “business marketing gurus” is based on some notion that:
  2. you must discount in order to either maintain your market position or to simply survive,
  3. you have to use their product/service in order to take advantage of getting in on the cutting edge of some great marketing revolution/revelation which really isn’t.
  4. value is the same thing as price.
  5. relationships are not as important in building loyalty or that loyalty is defined by the dollar amount of what you offer in some frequency scheme.
  6. the only way you drive trial is by giving away your margins and your market positioning.
  7. That chains set the example for everything.  Independent make up the bulk of all food service operations in the U.S.  Chain strategies are based on increasing short-term transactions. Independent strategies must be based on increasing long term relationships.
  8. Independent operators usually do not have the experience, resources, sophistication or the expertise to successfully market their business.
  9. Most operators suffer from some type of coupon/discount addiction.
  10. Most marketing problems are based within the businesses operational weaknesses – and those stem from a lack of strategic thinking.
  11. The ability to differentiate yourself and build guest relationships lessens the more you utilize a technology based marketing strategy. Social relevance is what’s important, not technological dependence.
  12. Operators still have not grasped the extremely important idea that you must know who your guest is and what they value in their relationship with the business.
  13. Most operators believe it is somehow noble to go down with the ship than to ask for professional help.
  14. That past success is a high indicator of future success.
  15. That change = innovation. Most of the change I see can simply be defined as substituting one bad tactic/event/campaign/effort for another.
  16. Fear still rules more than excited opportunism.
  17. Most operators still have not grasped the critically important concept of Branding.
  18. Tactics without a comprehensive marketing strategy never work. Or the wrong tactics with the right strategy doesn’t work or the wrong strategy with the right tactics won’t work.
  19. That people won’t pay more for meaningfully differentiated value – even now – but necessarily want a lower price. People DO want and WILL pay more for meaningfully differentiated value and DO NOT necessarily want lower prices – unless your offerings are a commodity in your market.
  20. That the recession is the reason to blame for a lack of success. All the recession has done is purge our ranks of bad operations and bad operators. It’s not the economy, it’s the inability of operators to create meaningfully differentiated value.
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