Reviews: 7 Rules of Engagement for Restaurants

Reviews: 7 Rules of Engagement for Restaurants

Online Reviews: 7 Rules of Engagement for Restaurants. How to use online reviews and your response to them to drive business and guest loyalty.

When was the last time you read through your Facebook reviews? Or (please don't quit reading already) hopped over to your business page on Yelp? Taking a few minutes to address your guests' feedback on review sites is literally the last thing on the priority list of "things to do" for most businesses, but I will maintain that it's essential.

An Intro to Content Marketing

I think you’ll find these two things to be true:

1. Your customers increasingly use their smartphones for information

2. Competition in industries across the board has grown exponentially.

These two realities are changing a business’ relationship with its customers.

With an influx of information at their fingertips, people have become more adept at tuning out what’s not relevant to what they’re looking for. We simply can’t push our agenda on customers anymore like we used to, so now we have to adjust to figure out how to attract them to what we have to say. In a world where businesses are realizing more and more that they are competing for attention rather than action (sales, clicks, inquiries, etc.), strategies are beginning to shift. This is why you keep hearing about this thing called “content marketing” and even though it’s been around forever, it’s more important than ever to have a plan for it.

So what is it, exactly?

According to the Content Marketing Institute (and they should know),

content marketing: “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

You could argue that literally anything you put out as a business could fall into this category, and you’d be right. But, the key here is in how we define “valuable, relevant and consistent”. In this case, content has to be all those adjectives at once… from the point of view of your customer.

This sounds pretty basic, but it’s a total shift in mindset for a business because good content that will attract a potential customer and stand out from the competition has to be devoid of any direct benefit to the brand itself. Good content does not explicitly sell your product or solution, and it also doesn’t promote a discount or offer.

In fact, good content doesn’t mention your product or service at all.

Publishing good content and distributing it to a targeted audience establishes authority (you’re the one giving them the answers!) and keeps your brand top of mind. It’s helpful in the sense that the information you’re providing shows why a customer may want to make a purchase sometime in the future.

If you can solve a problem or provide more information to a customer at the time he or she seeks it, you’ve introduced your brand to them long before they’ve made a conscious decision that they need to buy something in the first place. The goal is that once they are ready to make that decision, you’re the solution that first comes to mind.

Types of Content Marketing

  1. Blogs

  2. Video Channels

  3. Podcasts

  4. Checklists

  5. How Tos, Guides, White Papers

  6. Infographics

  7. Newsletters

The list goes on… Choose one thing to start with and gauge your response over time.

The most important thing is that your content is valuable.

For it to be valuable, you’ve got to know exactly who you’re speaking to and do some work on what your customers’ biggest hurdles are. What kind of questions [relevant to your business and the solutions you offer] might they have? This is your chance to answer them so they’re more informed about what they’re looking for. Once you start doing this consistently, you become the natural choice when they want to take the next step.

Can You Answer This Question About Your Business?

We believe marketing is emotional.

Before they made the decision to buy what you’re selling, you made an emotional connection with your customers. Whether you meant to or not, you made them feel some type of way. Something you said or did showed them what you value and it struck a chord with them in a way that was relevant to their own experience.

Purchase decisions are rarely made solely according to reason, yet many of us still try to appeal to a person's rationale in our marketing. We'll spend a whole bunch of money to talk about our products' awesome features or that special price we're running and completely skip the step of appealing to their emotions first (or more realistically, at the same time). 

I'd argue that appealing to emotions first and rationale second is crucial in any communication with potential customers, but it's most important in the age of social media. If you guessed that that might be because people want to be social and not sold to on social media, you'd be correct. 

Ok, so what should you do differently?

How do we check ourselves to make sure the messages we're communicating in our marketing connect on an emotional level?

It starts with why. Why should they care?  

Actually, it's more like, why is what we're communicating relevant not only to our brand but also to what we know they care about? 

Start here.

If you take your product or service totally out of the equation, what are you actually "selling"?

This is the crucial question I ask everyone that asks me for marketing help. The initial reaction is a blank expression, a furrowed brow of regret for asking my help in the first place. Usually, we get past it and we press on.

How do you want people to feel about you?

What do your customers care about?

What is your differentiator?

But, why do your customers choose you, specifically?

How are you benefiting your customer and improving their life?

These sound like useless, somewhat existential questions, but if you try to answer them, you'll find your thinking might shift on what your customers value. Think about your answers before posting something on social, writing a blog post, or placing an ad in the City Paper, because it might just influence what you say to your customers. Keep thinking this way, and you might just find an increased response from them, too.