Most operators do not collect their customers’ contact information, nor do they have a follow up strategy to continuously communicate with customers outside of their nightclub or bar. The strategy of keeping a list of your present customers is the easiest, fastest and most cost effective way to get new customers into your bar. After all, your present customers have a positive opinion of you, know who you are, and are more responsive to marketing messages from you. Operators who are vigilant about incorporating some form of list building and execute regular follow-ups reap many benefits from doing so.
Here are 3 reasons why you need to keep an internal list of all your regular guests and start marketing directly to them.
It is much, much less expensive to get a regular to return to your bar than it is to generate a brand-new customer who has never been before to your venue. Many times, operators underestimate just how little it takes to get a person to return for a repeat visit. Sometimes all it takes is a post card, birthday card, or newsletter, which is only about $2 worth of postage and printing. Over the course of the year, this one marketing method costs just $24 per person, whereas acquiring a new customer can cost two times that or more. Restaurant Impossible host and celebrity chef Robert Irvine stated in a recent interview that “it is a well-known fact of business that customer retention is much more cost effective than customer acquisition."
For the most cost effective method for keeping people in your bar, look to satisfy the guest expectations already inside your business and begin all of your marketing efforts with them.
Your satisfied current guests are the best source for new people coming in the door. While most people know this instinctively, many do not have an active strategy for stimulating referrals. Instead, the occurrence of an established guest coming through the doors with one or more new customers is treated as random rather than a normal part of a process. The fundamental way to generate referrals is by providing extraordinary levels of service and consistently exceeding guest expectations.
If you take extra steps to make everyone’s experience at your restaurant memorable and personal, you will get more referrals.
A mailing campaign for STARS Air Ambulance (the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society emergency care and hospital transportation helicopter fleet operating in Western Canada) was recently profiled in Direct Response Magazine (March 2016), a direct, digital and data-driven marketing publication. Since forming in 1985, STARS has flown over 30,000 missions, and a mere 25% of their budget comes from the government. Fundraising activities provide the rest of the budget, with the STARS lottery generating more than $11 million annually.
The Direct Response Magazine article highlights the benefits STARS saw when they utilized data to increase their marketing response rates. Despite reducing the amount of packages sent out from 1.4 million households the year prior just to 110,000, STARS achieved a 127% increase in response rates to their unaddressed direct mail packages. They were able to achieve this by hiring a marketing firm to segment data from multiple lists, and identify the households most likely to purchase lottery tickets. The data suggested that middle-aged farmers, along with rural newlywed couples and blue collar workers, were their best targets.
The direct mail package consisted of a 21-page brochure that outlines all the prizes (including cars, homes and vacations), along with testimonials from people in rural areas. This strategy ultimately lowered the non-profit, charitable organization’s marketing expenditures by 27.9 percent. Having the right data and using it properly and effectively allowed them to get a much higher response rate, while at the same time lowering their costs.