The storm clouds are gathering, and a recession might be on the way. This is bad news for restaurant owners across the country, many of whom were just beginning to bounce back from the ravages of Covid-19. So, what can you do? How can you protect your dining and hospitality business if a recession does hit?
Firstly, you’ve got to stay positive. While a recession is certainly far from ideal, there are ways you can combat this economic downturn. With the right approach to marketing, you can shore up your business against any hard times that might come. And by the right approach, we mean relationship marketing — something that could protect your business from a downturn.
Understanding Relationship Marketing
Relationship marketing is about going beyond simply converting your leads into customers and guests. Instead, it is about building lasting relationships with the people who eat at your establishment, fostering trust and loyalty over the longer term.
To understand this better, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If an economic downturn does happen, you might decide to eat out less often. So where are you going to spend those dining dollars: with a business you have no real connection to or at a restaurant that makes you feel valued and important? It’s likely to be the latter.
Why Relationship Marketing Is So Effective During a Recession
So what makes relationship marketing so valuable during economic downturns, and how can you put this form of promotion to work for your business? Let’s take a look.
Relationship Marketing Is Highly Visible
Your customers tend to ignore advertisements — we all do. We’re just not interested in what companies want to sell us. That is, unless we have a more personal relationship with that company.
When you have built a relationship through effective marketing, leads and customers are more likely to whitelist your email address, and they will be more receptive to your other marketing communications. In other words, you’re less likely to get ignored, at a time when other marketing campaigns are struggling.
Relationship Marketing Is Personal
Relationship marketing is very much based on personal connections. As you develop your strategy, you’ll gain a wealth of information on your customers and leads, which you can then use to get to know them better. By breaking down your customer base into different buyer profiles, you can begin to craft individual marketing communications for each of these profiles, achieving real resonance with your customers.
This can make all the difference — yes, it’s difficult to market to customers during the recession, but personalised messaging can help you foster these all-important connections.
Relationship Marketing Is Convenient for Your Customers
Personalisation is not just about *what* you say to your customers. It’s about *where* and *how* you say it too. Your customers are interacting with your brand across different platforms and via different devices. You need to know what these common devices and platforms are, so you can reach your customers wherever they are located.
Not only this, but you also need to offer a unified experience for all users. So, if your customer connects with an offer on social media using their mobile, they can switch to their desktop PC and access this offer easily through their user account. Customers certainly want to build a lasting relationship with their favourite businesses. But this needs to be convenient and easy too, which is why multichannel or omnichannel strategies are so important to relationship marketing.
Relationship Marketing Builds Real Trust and Loyalty
As you develop a relationship with your customers, they begin to trust you over time — this is how all relationships work. We’ve already mentioned how your customers probably have less to spend on dining during a recession, but they still want to get out to eat on occasion. So, they need a place that can guarantee them great food and great atmosphere — in other words, a place they can trust. With a strong relationship marketing strategy, you can make sure that place is your restaurant.
You can use other techniques to encourage loyalty too. Rewards programs are great for giving something back to long-term customers and helping to build those lasting relationships. Just make sure that the rewards program is actually offering something of value. And remember that this kind of program should support your other relationship marketing endeavours, like personalisation and multichannel marketing, not replace them.
Reinforce Your Restaurant Business for Whatever Tomorrow Brings with Impressive
Looking to protect your restaurant business against whatever the future throws its way, securing the future of your organisation through downturns, upturns, and anything else? Relationship marketing is the key here. Hopefully, our guide has given you some insight into how this is done, but the Impressive team is on hand to help you achieve the right results. Reach out today, schedule your consultation, and get a Free Marketing Plan from our experts.