Yup, the new General Data Protection Regulation law is upon us and I imagine that, like me, you’ve been knee deep in marketing permission emails, list deletion, policy writing, document securing, staff training and marketing strategy re-hauls.
I also imagine that you took a sharp intake of breath when you realised that you’d lose up to 95% of the marketing list you’ve meticulously put together over many years. All those networking events. All those “drop your card in the bowl” competitions. I share your pain.
But, and I have to admit it has taken me many months to come up with a “but”, the arrival of GDPR is a fantastic opportunity to take stock of your marketing approach and shake it up. It should make each and every business ask themselves:
- Does our marketing work?
- Are we targeting the right people?
- Are we getting across the right message?
- Are we delivering these messages effectively?
- What should we stop doing?
- What should we do more of?
For the past few years I’ve relied heavily on e-marketing platforms like MailChimp. There’s a lot to commend them – they’re often free, you can use their templates or customise them to make them your own. It’s a relatively easy process. But it’s still time consuming, and the reports with the open and click-through rates can be depressing, and it can be hard of keeping the lists up to date, with bounce backs, all data, unsubscribes, cleaned data etc. All that work, and for what? Hand on heart, when is that last time I won any business through an e-marketing campaign? The problem is, too many people are inundated with too many emails. I personally have multiple email accounts and my customers, staff and suppliers take priority, leaving little time to scrawl through the social and promotions tabs.
Conversely, social media has multiple benefits. Users choose to “like” or “follow” you, they can opt out at any time and you can instantly see what’s working and what’s not by the level of engagement. They already buy into what you do, and they’re likely to share your posts to like-minded people, expanding your fan base further. Who, in the history of e-marketing, has ever forwarded an e-shot to all their friends?
I feel that social media works particularly well for hospitality businesses, especially small ones, as what we offer is emotive and experiential, making it easier to connect with customers on-line. You can post pictures of delicious food, members of staff, quirky decor, new table settings, bedrooms you’d never want to leave, your facade, awards, certifications – it only takes a little imagination to never run out of compelling images and ideas.
It’s simple and quick to post, but you need to take time to analysis what’s resonating with users and what isn’t. Just when I thought pictures of handmade artisan cakes were a winner on Instagram, I posted a picture of a tray of peppers roasting and got double the amount of likes. A Facebook post with a photo of the facade of one of my coffee shops prompted heart-warming stories of how much the building meant to people. Conversely, a picture of a delicious looking, home-made gluten-free cake prompted a comment about why can’t they also be dairy free.
Take time to reply to these comments as they provide another fantastic opportunity to engage with comments. I’ve received a few comments about lack of vegan choices, so I looked for more, and more interesting, options, resulting in a much happier, and still loyal, customer, as well as a sharp reminder to me to never stay still and get complacent.
While you’re busying away on social media, never forget to market within your business itself. You’ve already attracted customers who want to be there, so make the most of the opportunity. Use blackboards, table talkers, flyers and posters, as appropriate, to shout about what else you do, up-and-coming events and promotions. Let customers know about the provenance of your food, drink, soaps, fabrics and anything else with a story behind it. Recruit and train your staff so they are a brilliant face of your business. And do whatever you do fantastically well.
It’s all marketing. And if you do it properly, it all works.
Victus Consultancy has thirty years of experience in the hospitality and catering industry. We can help you with all aspects of running a hospitality business such as marketing to present your brand to create a strong, positive impression. Simply call us now on 07732 454 639 for a no-obligation chat.