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5 Ways to Freshen Up Your Restaurant Franchise Marketing in 2023 Restaurant franchises can take advantage of technological advances that will transform bland marketing strategies into high value marketing campaigns that drive greater revenue.

By Stephen Gould Edited by Chelsea Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When it comes to marketing your franchise in 2023, the same old, same old, won't cut it. Times have changed, and competition for consumer attention and patronage is at an all-time high as the market size increased by nearly 16% in the past year. It's time for franchises to explore new ways to reach and engage their customers and ultimately drive more revenue. Technological innovations now allow marketing campaigns to be highly targeted and include high-value messaging to customers.

And with the automatic collection of data providing insights into customer behaviors, a franchise can speak directly to the customer with the goal of changing that behavior to drive greater revenue. It's time to consider technological advances and utilize them to transform bland marketing strategies into lucrative marketing campaigns that generate sales. So, here are a few tips:

Related: The 4 Marketing Moves Every Franchise Should Make

Talk to the right customer with hyper-segmentation

A one-size-fits-all approach to marketing isn't an effective strategy for 2023. When promoting a special, an event or even when focusing on a specific goal, it won't be successful unless it's communicated to customers who will actually be interested in it. And the only way to know who will be interested is through segmentation. Let's use a Rib Night as an example.

Your franchise has acquired customer data through its free WiFi hotspot and is looking to gain more customers for the Rib Night, so the customer data is segmented and customers can be targeted and receive more personalized messages that align with their behavior. The following demonstrates how messaging is personalized based on insights gleaned through consumer data:

  • Customers who have visited for dinner Monday through Thursday receive a message alerting them that you're bringing back Rib Night on Tuesdays during the month of January.

  • Anyone who has previously been to Rib Night receives an early announcement inviting them to it and asking how they liked the last one with a link to a survey.

  • Customers who are weekend regulars receive a message alerting them not to miss Rib Night on Tuesdays and to show the text for a BOGO dinner with their favorite rib buddy.

Add convenience with SMS marketing

When considering marketing tactics for 2023, if SMS isn't at the top of your list, it should be, since the numbers don't lie. Customers prefer receiving offers via SMS. Plus, if you haven't incorporated SMS campaigns since you're already doing email, consider this: SMS has a 98% open rate. Since a majority of coupon redemption happens via smartphone (80%), and SMS is easier to see, open and access, it makes sense that it has a higher open rate.

SMS can be utilized in a myriad of ways. You can send a text message with a link to your menu, an invite to an event, inclusion in your loyalty program or to provide incentives for "lost" customers to return. For example, you could even say, "Did you know that our text messages are linked directly to our phone? Click this number to call in your order!" And those calls can be routed to your existing landline.

Related: Here's Why SMS Marketing Is Literally the Best Idea Ever

Ditch the outdated loyalty program

Nearly 70% of businesses have increased their investment in loyalty programs over the past year. It's clear that the benefits of having repeat, loyal customers are substantial, and the ROI on loyalty programs is significant ... when done right. If your loyalty program utilizes paper punch cards or a plastic scan card, your loyalty program is outdated. Instead, your franchise can modernize its approach while providing personalization and improved customer engagement. After all, 75% of consumers say they're more loyal to brands that message them on a personal level.

But to execute a loyalty program with effective personalization, there's one necessary ingredient: data. Without customer data, it's impossible to segment and target customers according to behaviors and preferences. It's customer data that tells you whether the person only ever visits on trivia nights, if the person prefers to only come for drinks and appetizers and whether the person has an affinity for wings.

When it comes to capturing data, harnessing technology is the key. Here's an example: Your restaurant franchise's goal is to have everyone come in and dine during their birthday month for a free entrée since it's unlikely someone would dine alone on his or her birthday (thus increasing revenue and introducing new customers). Your franchise can provide the following offer: "Text us your birthday to XXXX, and during your birthday month, you'll get a free entrée AND be entered to win dinner for two the following month."

Redefine your contests

Contests boost audience engagement, make your brand more memorable and drive results such as social media engagement, increasing followers and motivating customers to visit. In fact, social accounts can grow to a whopping 70% when utilizing contests. They can also increase acquisition of owned data. Contests present exceptional value in a marketing program. The simple keys are:

  1. Make the contest easy to administer — there's no reason to create more work than necessary

  2. The contest should be easy to participate in — the customer needs to be rewarded and not burdened

  3. The contest shouldn't be the end goal. Otherwise, just hosting a game show would make more sense. The purpose of the contest should be clear, internally, of what you're looking to achieve.

  4. There needs to be an endpoint, and it needs to be communicated so that customers know the outcome.

Here's an example often used when a new franchise opens to grow the number of participants in a loyalty program: While at the restaurant, new visitors who access the free Wi-Fi receive an SMS offering the chance to be entered into the monthly drawing for a beach cruiser when joining the loyalty program.

Related: How a Contest or Giveaway Can Attract Business Prospects

Unify your messaging for clarity and results

While implementing any of the above tactics is beneficial, optimal results are rarely achieved without unified, consistent messaging across marketing channels and franchise locations. Businesses that integrate all marketing channels are more than twice as likely to report higher marketing effectiveness vs. those using less integration — or none at all. No single channel of communication is going to connect with all guests. Using multiple channels, such as SMS, Wi-Fi messaging, social media and digital displays ensures that the message is available in the form the customer wants, and most importantly, that it is consistent.

Here's an example of how a restaurant franchise can effectively integrate its messaging. Let's say that the franchise is focused on increasing its dessert revenue and plans to have the first five days of each month be "5 Fat Days" where desserts are featured and promoted. The franchise creates messaging with the goal of increased dessert revenue in mind and integrates it in these ways:

  • Digital display signage: Shows five pictures of their top desserts with a QR code that sends a text message with "DESSERT," and the text system responds with a link to the extended online dessert menu.

  • Social media: On Facebook, explain the 5 Fat Days, and introduce a contest where customers can text YUMMY to the restaurant's text system for the chance to win a free dessert every month.

  • Wi-Fi marketing: The greeting text that guests receive when they connect to the Wi-Fi during the last week of the month is, "Don't forget the 1st through the 5th is BOGO desserts with the purchase of an entrée." Or at lunch during the first five days of the month, "Hey, it's 5 Fat Days the 1st through the 5th, with free dessert tonight" (and links to the social post about 5 Fat Days).

If you're still utilizing an old-school approach to marketing and haven't embraced technology in your tactics, it's time to make a change in 2023. With the wealth of available data that allows for hyper-segmentation that informs customer behavior, there are ample opportunities to leverage this to drive behavioral change that produces more revenue for your franchise.

Stephen Gould

CEO of CogoBuzz

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. In 2014, he launched the CogoBuzz and MyConcierge initiatives focused on integrated communication technologies.

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