Restaurant Marketing Ideas for 2020

The restaurant industry has historically been among one of the most competitive industries. In today’s digital marketing landscape, this has never been truer.

When advertising your restaurant online, you’re not just competing against other restaurants to get your ads in front of your potential customers. You’re competing against millions of brands that are targeting the exact same individual.

This article showcases 7 ways you can get in front of potential customers and keep your existing customers loyal in 2020.

1. Messenger Marketing

With modern technology, wearable devices, and a phone in every pocket, it should be a no-brainer that restaurant marketing tactics should evolve as well. The days of generic direct mail campaigns to the masses are gone. These types of marketing campaigns were very difficult to track, and would often result in wasted money.

Messenger marketing for restaurants is a great new way to engage with your audience, track their behavior and purchases, and bring in predictable revenue on a monthly basis. Using applications like ManyChat or MobileMonkey you can set up these campaigns for your own restaurant. They can be fairly complicated, however, so it may be worth working with a restaurant marketing consultant to get help.

Even a simple Messenger Marketing campaign generated over $16,000 in revenue for a restaurant over the course of 4 months.

2. Free Wi-Fi

If you aren’t offering Wi-Fi in your restaurant – or you are just freely giving it away – you are making a huge mistake.

Don’t charge your customers money for the Wi-Fi. Instead, they require them to sign up with their phone number and email address.

This is a fairly inexpensive way to boost your customer remarketing list – plus offering Wi-Fi is another perk for your customers. On your form, you can notify them that they’ll be opting into email communications automatically, but they are free to unsubscribe any time. Then you can send emails about sales, new menu items, and friendly reminders about how awesome your restaurant is.

You can also ask them if they would like to receive text messages from your brand.

3. Text Message Marketing

Text message marketing has been on the rise for a few years now, but brands are still trying to figure out how to use it to their advantage. The key with text message marketing is to hit your customers frequently enough that they keep you top of mind, but not so often that you become a nuisance.

There are also a lot of privacy laws that apply to this type of marketing, so it is critical that you get your customers’ permission (and a second opt-in) before you start utilizing this channel.

Once you have a customer list, you can advertise your sales or promotional menu items. There are a lot of third-party text messaging providers to choose from. Several of them are budget-friendly. Some of them may even integrate with your POS system. It is critical to shop around for the best bang for your buck with any technology platform – but that is especially true for text message marketing.

4. Push Notifications

If your restaurant has an app, you are likely already utilizing push notifications. However, if it doesn’t, or you aren’t, here are a few examples for when to use them:

  • When a customer is near your restaurant
  • When you have a sale or coupon code
  • When you release a new or promotional menu item
  • When they have not visited your restaurant in a specific amount of time

If you do not have an app and are not interested in creating one, you can set these up as browser notifications. Browser notifications are slightly less effective because they are designed for the desktop instead of mobile. However, if you’re mostly serving a lunch crowd – it could be worth sending a lunch reminder push notification out to your potential customers.

5. Delivery

Delivery is king in the restaurant industry at this time, and there are no indications that that is going to change in the next couple of years. Some restaurants are attempting to fight the inevitable, and it isn’t going well for them. Still, others are doing the bare minimum by simply pairing with a 3rd-party food delivery service but that may not be a great strategy either.

Delivery is king in the restaurant industry at this time

Yes, you should consider partnering with a food delivery service, but you must also make sure your food (or at least the food you allowed to be ordered through the service) is still delicious when it arrives. Too many restaurants are offering their entire menu without any modifications, and it is preventing their growth.

If the budget allows, it is also worth offering promotions or even purchasing ads through these delivery services so that your restaurant is sure to be seen. Many of the delivery services will remind customers of restaurants they have ordered from or browsed in the past so that extra marketing boost can help offset the cost of the service.

Several restaurants also offer promotions for new customers, such as free delivery. You’ll want to explore your promotional opportunities with each third-party vendor before settling on one specifically.

6. In-Store Kiosks

Several fast-food chains have started incorporating in-store kiosks already, and this is another trend we expect to see growth over time. Customers enjoy being able to customize their orders without having to talk to a person. They also help increase accessibility at your restaurant.

Additionally, in-store kiosks give you the opportunity to collect additional data that restaurant owners have not had access to before. For example, you can collect data about the most-viewed menu items, even if they aren’t ordered the most. That type of insight encourages you to change an ingredient in that menu item to make it more appealing.

Many in-store kiosks also partner with the POS for aggregate data about specific customers. This means you can personalize your marketing efforts in a new way. Imagine being able to send an email or text to a specific customer, advertising a discount on an item you already know they love.

Although the initial cost is high, there is also a decrease in labor costs associated with a kiosk. It is certainly something worth looking into this year.

7. Community Events

People are also placing higher importance on brands who do “good” and restaurants do not fall out of this category. While it’s great if you can source all local ingredients and recycle practically everything, that may not be realistic.

Another route to consider is utilizing brand activation ideas such as getting involved in local community events and sponsoring charity events. These can seem like losses, but they can do a lot to boost your reputation in your local community.

If you aren’t sure where to start, contact your local school systems and see if they are interested in doing a “Dine and Donate” event. Basically they pick a day and anyone who brings in a flyer for the event on that day (or mentions the promotion if you don’t really want to collect dozens of flyers) your restaurant would donate a percentage of the check to the organization.

While you certainly shouldn’t do this too often so that it isn’t sustainable, it can be a great way to get in front of new customers while building goodwill and a solid reputation in the community.

Things to Keep Doing

We’ve also put together a shortlist of items that you should already be doing by now. If you aren’t, make these marketing efforts urgent priorities. While you may not be able to incorporate all of them right away, you’ll certainly want to tackle a majority of them by the end of 2020.

Advertise Your Restaurant on Social Media

Yes, there are a lot of brands advertising on social media already. However, most social media advertising platforms do offer pretty specific targeting options, which means you have a good shot of getting in front of your customers.

Because competition is so high, social media advertising should not be your only marketing strategy. However, it definitely needs to be part of your restaurant marketing mix.

Facebook is the largest social media marketing platform – and for good reason. Facebook also has the most users. One of the best parts of Facebook advertising is the audience targeting options. You can choose customers based on their locations, and/or their demographics. If you have an idea of who your target market is, this can be invaluable.

You also have the option to target an audience based on their interests. That means if you’re a vegan restaurant, you can target users who have expressed interest in veganism. If you are a burger and fries place, you can target users who love a good sandwich.

Another great component of Facebook advertising specifically is that you also have the ability to create specialized ads when a potential customer is near your restaurant. This can mean if they are a few blocks away to within a certain zip code. This type of targeting is great because it can also help you get in front of potential customers who may just be visiting the area instead of only those who live nearby.

Local SEO for Your Restaurant

Make sure your website is optimized for local SEO. This means optimizing your website so that you always rank in localized searches. This means making sure you’ve completed your Google My Business profile, and embedding a map on your site. You’ll also want to include your city name and state in titles, headers, and meta-descriptions within your site. While this sounds like a complex strategy, once you understand the concept of local SEO, it can be fairly straightforward to implement.

Manage Feedback

Online reviews greatly influence decisions when it comes to choosing a new restaurant to go to. While you can’t/shouldn’t delete negative reviews, you can respond to the guest’s comments and try to make bad experiences better.

You should also respond to positive reviews. This will create a relationship between your brand and the customer, which may encourage them to share their experience with your restaurant with their friends and family. You can also consider services such as Ovation to help you easily capture and manage feedback from your customers.

Restaurant Loyalty Programs

If you don’t already have a loyalty program in place, get one. There are several options out there. You might look to see if your POS system has one already. If your POS system does not, there are several third-party vendors you can try. Most of them are pretty affordable – and it is easy to calculate your return on your investment once you start tracking your loyal customers.

Some examples of third-party loyalty programs include Preferred Patron, ReUp, and Upserve.

Discount Apps

There are several restaurant discount apps out there such as ChowNow or Restaurant.com. You might even consider running a promotion on Groupon. This is an excellent way to draw in new customers as well as to remind past customers to come in again.

Print Advertising & Coupons

For almost all industries, print and coupons seem to be dying off. The two industries where that doesn’t seem to be the case are restaurants and grocery stores. If you are already sending coupons out to local residents, continue doing so. In fact, there are now several services available where you can send specialized coupons or letters to those who have just moved into your city or within certain zip codes.

If you haven’t implemented this strategy already, consider it. There is likely a coupon circulation in your area designed for local restaurants to advertise in.

In Closing

If you are interested in any of these marketing tactics but aren’t exactly sure how to set them up or which ones to prioritize, consider hiring a restaurant marketing agency or restaurant consultant. Restaurant consultants have likely worked with several restaurants in your area. They are already familiar with how to best get in touch with your target market.

A restaurant consultant can help you create an overall marketing plan for your business. Some restauranteurs consider hiring a general marketing firm to handle the promotion of their restaurant. However, they quickly discover that marketing or PR firms can be too expensive for one single restaurant. Your consultant will either handle your marketing directly or come up with a promotion and brand strategy utilizing outsourced agencies that the consultant is familiar with and trusts.

This marketing strategy can include everything from the overall restaurant concept to web design and the social media strategy. You will discuss your current marketing efforts and any that you wish to include in the upcoming year, and your restaurant consultant will balance your budget along with the typical efficacy of each tactic before helping you decide on a perfect strategy. Hiring a restaurant consultant can be an excellent way to boost your brand quickly, without having to make any marketing mistakes in the process.

5 SEO Improvements for Your Restaurant

What Is SEO?

Search engine optimization is a key component to any restaurant marketing effort aimed at helping your restaurant improve, expand, and evolve in today’s technology-driven world. SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is the acronym for increasing the amount and quality of traffic to your business’ website through search engines like Google. SEO is a way for business owners to attract a specific demographic that is genuinely interested in your restaurant, instead of random internet users clicking your ad.

Why Is SEO Important for Your Restaurant?

SEO is a crucial part in growing your business because it is the key to getting a larger amount of traffic to your business site, in turn, bringing you more paying customers, and could mean never paying for regular advertisements again. Investing in search engine optimization will enable you to use locality, customer sentiment, as well as structured data to maximize your business growth. No matter how low your performance on search engines has been in the past, you have the opportunity to boost your popularity on search engines and other websites as much as you want through SEO.

In order to get the most benefits out of search engine optimization; one must understand how it works. Search engines like Google and Bing have something called a “crawler” that gathers information all around the internet about different content and brings that data back to the search engines. The engines then use this data through an algorithm to match up with certain searches, bringing more users to your website.

Search engine optimization may sound complicated, but it gets easier to understand over time. The results will speak for themselves. By following a few guidelines, you can help your business thrive through SEO.

Tip #1

Designing Your Website & Managing Content

One of the most important factors in today’s online world is a solid, well designed, maintained website that will catch eyes, and quality content and information to captivate and inform readers. First and foremost, if you have the budget, hire a reputable web design and development agency to get your website updated, accessible, and aesthetically pleasing to help your site give off a professional impression. If you don’t think you can afford to hire a professional, there are many online resources that you can use to help you create your own website design and outline from scratch for free or at a low cost, such as Squarespace.

Secondly, take the time to seek out a qualified individual to do content writing for your website, for things like FAQs, menus, a section about the restaurant and its story, and any other important information you want them to include that will captivate and inform customers visiting your site. After all, if you’re going to be investing in generating more traffic to your website, you should want the content to resonate with your visitors.

This will require a budget as well, since content creators’ time is very valuable. Be sure they are fluent in your language, have proficient writing and editing skills, and can come up with fresh, inviting writing to present on your website.

Tip #2

Sort Out Your Content Preferences & Strategize

In order to increase traffic to your restaurant’s website, you will have to pinpoint the location the majority of your customers will come from based on popular work locations or common tourist attractions. Doing this will enable you to narrow your audience and ensure the people visiting your site will actually have a genuine interest in it and won’t just click off immediately without giving it a read. You can use resources like Google Keyword Planner to plug in a specific geographic focus area.

After you’ve sorted out the ideal demographic based on your location, you will want to select which specific words or phrases are common among your target audience. You can pinpoint generic terms, such as “restaurant,” or pair them with a specific location, such as “New York City restaurants.” These would be considered “high-level restaurant terms,” simply meaning these are among the most common searches people may use on a search engine.

Aside from these high-level terms are “niche-specific terms,” which are more specific searches, but still broad in nature. These can include certain foods or atmospheres, such as “Chinese restaurants” or “family restaurants.” To get a good idea of examples you can use to get more clicks, you can use resources like Yelp and TripAdvisor and take a look at their search filters to get an idea of different categories people search for on those platforms.

Brand terms” are simply terms used for your specific brand, like your restaurant’s full name. These are terms you can begin to use once your business is well established and popular in the area. Be sure not to focus solely on these terms, and include more broad, general search terms to be sure your business gains traction and outranks other recommended restaurants on search engines.

Tip #3

Be Active and Present on Social Media

Social media is inarguably a massive part of business development and maintaining a customer base, Facebook is one of the most popular platforms for restaurants to interact with customers and keep them in the loop. One way to utilize social media for your business is to offer rewards or discounts for customers sharing posts from your restaurant’s page. This will help spread the word about your establishment while keeping customers engaged and excited about your business, especially if they get something out of it!

Regular posts and updates about your business will also keep customers in the loop while keeping your business relevant. The more they see from you, the more likely they are to pay your restaurant a visit. Be sure to announce any new menu items or merchandise, as well as any special events or discounts happening on your social platforms to inform your fans, and hopefully they will share and spread the word to others on the platform as well.

Tip #4

Encourage Feedback

The best way to keep your restaurant at the top of its game, as well as search results, is by having an extensive collection of positive reviews, ratings, and testimonials from customers. By having high-star reviews, users are more likely to click on your restaurant when looking at it against others. The more positive reviews you have, the better your customers will perceive your business, making them much more likely to spend money there.

Consider a rewards program or free coupon for customers leaving reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and more. This will be appealing to them as they will feel their opinion matters and will be heard. Not only this, but they will benefit from sharing their thoughts, and will be more likely to return to your establishment to do more business in the future.

Tip #5

Get Technological

Almost two-thirds of website traffic comes from mobile phones or tablets, according to Google Analytics. To use this to your business’ advantage, invest in making your website mobile device friendly, to ensure customers can access it from anywhere. This will eliminate frustrating buffering and wasted time, which could result in negative reviews from customers.

One step further would be investing in a mobile app for your business. This may be costly, but it gives customers an opportunity to browse menus, place online pickup orders, even be involved in a customer rewards program, should you choose to create one for your restaurant. This will help give customers a streamlined, positive experience with your business, just from using a convenient mobile app.

Tip #6

Whatever you do- Monitor What’s Going On

Any change you make can either harm or help your business, so you need to be aware of how the decisions you make are affecting your business. Begin by equipping your website with Google Analytics, which will help you keep track of your site traffic and give you an idea of how many people are being reached. You can also use tools like Unamo SEO, which will analyze your site, help you improve in certain areas, and will show you your site’s progress on a daily basis.

To go one step further, you can hire a content manager to analyze all this data. They can set up all these tools and platforms to keep track of your website’s progress and traffic and can make different adjustments as needed to make sure you’re getting the results you want. This will be another thing to factor into your budget, but if you aren’t a tech-savvy business owner, this may be a better option than trying to do it all yourself.

Conclusion

Search engine optimization may seem very complicated and hard to understand, but it is simpler than many may think. It is a key component to business expansion and can work wonders when it comes to getting your business the exposure it needs to reach its’ potential. By being active on social media, forming a good relationship with customers, and hiring help when you need it, you can easily take your business to the next level. Be sure to keep up with the times, keep your website up to date and mobile device friendly. Keep your business on the up and up by utilizing these SEO tips.

Earn More 5-Star Reviews with These 8 Reputation Management Tips

There’s no doubt that managing your online reputation and reviews is important, but just how important is it?

Check out some of these statistics from a study conducted by BrightLocal:

  • 93% of people will look at your reviews to determine if you’re a good or bad place to visit.
  • 91% of people age 18-34 years old, trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from friends or family.
  • On average, people will read 10 reviews before feeling like they can trust your business.

Online reviews are super important! So, what can we do to make sure every customer walks away feeling like they had a five-star experience?

Below are some tips to help you earn more 5-star reviews, and be better equipped to manage your reputation.

1. Know When to Correctly Ask for A Review

Do not simply ask customers to leave you positive reviews. To do this would be too forward and demanding. Yet, you certainly do get more reviews when you politely ask for them.

So how can you ask for a review from customers in a way that will be encouraging, instead of desperate? The last thing you’d want is to appear too pushy. Not only that, but this type of behavior is frowned upon by sites such as Yelp.

So here’s an easy way to do it.

When you speak with customers after a stay, a meal or a purchase, consider politely asking for reviews from those of your patrons who had great experiences with your establishment. You can ask them for reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor – which are the top 4 review sites that every restaurant or hotel should monitor.

If you have their email address, you can also email them after their stay with a link directly to your company’s site, making it easier for them to leave a review. You can even use programs like Podium to automatically help customers post positive ratings on social media platforms.

2. Know How to Manage Your Online Listings

The best thing to do is to follow five easy rules to manage your online reviews. You will want to always make sure you are acting quickly and with a sense of compassion when it comes to managing these reviews.

Firstly, know how to answer back.

Use the proper tone and words for the situation at hand. Do not fight back with a customer over a bad review.

Rather, you can try to spin it in a positive way. Offer a solution.

Even simply acknowledging the situation can sometimes be enough.

Second, make sure you write back fast.

This is the age of now. Bad reviews can go around like the plague, so handle it quickly.

A fast response shows that you really care about the customer, too.

Third, make sure you know about social marketing.

These days, over 90% of buying decisions are influenced by social media.

You must know how to connect with your followers and your reviewers. Offer them something in return for leaving a review. This generates positive feedback for you and demonstrates loyalty to the followers.

Fourth, stay current.

Keep reviews fresh and up to date.

This lends credibility to your online presence and has an impact on your sales conversions, too.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Effective reputation management can sometimes be a lot of work and require a significant amount of time. But it’s important.

Many restaurants will hire an agency to help take some of that burden of their shoulds to manage their reputation, and that is often a good choice for them.

Also, there are plenty of reputation management tools and services can be very helpful. For instance, you can be notified when a negative review is posted thanks to various programs and applications, some of which are tailored to your business.

We’ve seen them utilized by all types of hospitality brands.

3. Make Sure Your Guest Experience is Worth 5 Stars

There are many things you can do to make sure your guests have a five-star experience. You may not be running the Ritz-Carlton, but you can absolutely treat your guests like they are the most valued clientele ever.

The best things you can do for your customers is to ensure they have a great experience by…

Being Attentive and Responsive to them.

Keep true to the norms of your platform. 24-hour response time is acceptable for email, but 24 hours on social media is a no-no. The ability to respond in minutes is ideal and demonstrates a great online presence, plus care about your clients’ needs.

Knowing Ahead of Time What Their Needs Are.

You are the expert in your field-flex that muscle and show them you know your stuff! You might even offer a deal on that particular part or service as a means to get them to come back to you when the time comes.

Being Honest and Transparent.

Honesty is the best policy, and it is true more than ever when it comes to your establishment.

This is the age of the internet where people of all walks of life share stories and experiences. Lying about something would only tarnish your reputation- so just be honest from the get-go.

Actively Being Involved in Solving the Conflict

Taking responsibility and solving the problem yourself is a huge win. Pawning it off onto someone else looks sloppy and delays conflict resolution. Once you have figured a solution, follow up with your client and verify that needs are met or better yet, exceeded!

Being Ready, and Happy, To Help Your Customers

A positive attitude works wonders for customers. Smile! Act like they are the only customers you have helped today.

4. Be Active Online

Make sure that you are active on all of your social media profiles.

In this manner, people are more likely to come to you if they have a problem instead of going directly to a review website.

Just an email is not enough. Even if it is plainly listed, many people think twice about contacting in this method. The way to work around this is relatively easy: have an online presence.

Make sure you put a face to the name and utilize social media. Write about your establishment in blog posts, post on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure you have an “About Us” page that is current.

Lastly, be sure all your contact information is clearly listed, and you include turnaround time for when you will contact your client back.

5. Make Sure You Apologize

Apologizing is the name of the game in some situations when it comes to having a small business, or a large one, for that matter.

But knowing when to do so is important, too. Be sure that you are keeping a close eye on what people are posting. No matter how great their stay was or how easy it is to reach your team, there are bound to be a few negative words posted.

Many customers who have had an experience that was less than savory really just want their situation to be acknowledged. They may want to speak with you directly, or they may have posted an online review.

In any case, you should always apologize whether the problem is real or perceived. You can say that you are sorry the experience was not up to par, and that you hope the next one is much better for them.

The best thing, of course, is to use the right words and tone, and always be sincere when you say your apology.

6. Amplify Your Positive Reviews on Social Media

Sometimes we become too “enamored” or wrapped up in responding to those who have left us negative reviews. This is certainly important as we want to make sure we can fix the problem and get them to come back for another chance.

However, you should take pride in your positive reviews just as much. You can and should absolutely share the positive feedback you get on your blog or social media profiles.

After all, we discussed earlier how much of a role social media plays in consumers’ buying decisions. Why not create a positive image for yourself using real reviews from happy clients?

7. Be Easy to Reach

I cannot stress enough how important it is that your contact information is up to date and gets customers to an employee that can help them solve any issues.

Having an email address with a turnaround time for responses listed, a phone number where a human being can be reached, as well as a social media account that is active and thriving are all ways consumers can easily reach you.

The important thing is to make sure your clientele know that they can easily and directly reach you in the event they encounter any problems with their purchase or service.

8. Change Things Based Upon Feedback

Customers always have ideas and suggestions about how things can be improved. Some are actually good ideas, others are not. It is still very important that you read through them, however.

You might see some common themes or trends emerge that could be worth acting upon.

For instance, if you note that several customers had issues with your payment vendor, it may be time to contract with a new one. If several clients noted that a particular server brought them the wrong order, consider coaching or retraining that server or finding them a better job fit.

When you make big or small changes based upon customer feedback, this shows you really care what they have to say and makes a big impact on the experience for customers in the present and future.

Conclusion

So, what are your ideas for creating a guest experience like no other? I’d love to know your thoughts. Feel free to send me an email at jeremy@longitudebranding.com

Also, if you found this article helpful, we’d appreciate if you could share this with your network. Thanks!

8 Most Common Reasons Restaurants Close Within the First Year.

Every now and then, the concept of owning a restaurant can make you start up a new company while overlooking the actual responsibilities and issues that restaurant ownership entails. All too often, this leads to novice restaurant owners closing their doors in the first year.

You shouldn’t be one of them.

According to some studies, 60 percent of restaurants close or change ownership within the first year of operation, and 80 percent close within the first five years.

Restaurants fail for many reasons, ranging from health-related closures to constantly poor reviews. However, if you understand the most common factors that cause restaurants to fail, then you can identify warnings signs early, make better decisions, and hopefully not face a disaster.

A Terrible Location

You’ve heard it said: Location, location, location.

One of the greatest, if not the greatest, reasons a restaurant fails is a poor location. Low visibility, no easily accessible parking, and low foot traffic is a mix that makes turning a profit almost impossible.

Choosing the right spot can even compensate for many of the other shortcomings in this list, but a great location won’t ever compensate or excuse you from providing the basics of excellent service and great quality food.

A great location won’t ever compensate or excuse you from providing the basics of excellent service and great quality food.

If you are already operating in a bad location, there are strategies and things you can do to overcome that challenge. Here’s an article we’ve published that may give you some ideas: 7 Ways Your Restaurant Can Still Thrive Despite a Bad Location

Not Enough Capital to Operate

Based on the sort of restaurant you are planning to open, hundreds of thousands of dollars or more may be needed to cover payroll, suppliers, and other expenses until you turn a profit.

Keep in mind that your loan has to last through the grand opening day. Before you serve a single customer, don’t foolishly purchase brand new appliances and furniture for a restaurant. Buy only what you need and weigh the advantages of the equipment you are using. Do not put anyone on the payroll until as near as possible to the opening day.

Be very frugal with your starting loan; do not treat it as if you were just winning the lottery.

As your planning your restaurant, here is a free guide you can read to help you along the way. It covers everything from concept, to funding, legal setup, and grand opening. The Ultimate Guide: How to Start a Restaurant

Bad Customer Service

Poor customer service is a common reason for the closure of any restaurant. A reputation for poor service will spread like wildfire and sometimes it may seem irreparable. Even the finest three-starred restaurant would close down with poor service. Customer service is one of the essential pillars of operating a successful restaurant, and to remain open.

A reputation for poor service will spread like wildfire and sometimes it may seem irreparable.

In the early phases, asking for customer feedback ensures that you can work out the kinks before it’s too late.

Poorly Managed

When you’re searching for a general manager to help run your day-to-day operations, you’ll probably find someone with the most experience and excellent references –and an all around good vibe and cultural fit.

But even still, sometimes you may find a few months later that they’re not running the restaurant well. They may be alienating employees, taking long breaks, or even worse –stealing money or taking advantage of restaurant resources.

These day-to-day pressures of owning and operating a restaurant, combined with the difficulties in staffing restaurants and hospitality brands, can cause great harm to your staff and team culture if not addressed. You need to do regular check-ins with your management and team members to make sure they’re performing at their highest potential.

Poor Marketing & Advertising Efforts

Advertising and marketing are both essential to creating the reputation of a unique restaurant –especially as more and more chain restaurants open throughout the nation. Most people believe you need to pay exorbitant prices to attract customers, however, you can spread awareness at little to no expense to a targeted demographic with social media and word-of-mouth marketing.

Even more importantly, before you begin spending money on any marketing or advertising, you should make sure you have a clear game plan and strategy on what message you’ll be communicating with your customers.

Who are your customers? What do they care about? What makes your restaurant unique? Why should people care about your restaurant?

Do you have a purposeful and profitable brand strategy?

Answering all of these questions and more will help ensure you have a compelling brand story that attracts more customers. Do you have a purposeful and profitable brand strategy? Read more about our restaurant brand strategy process – BrandGPS™.

Ignoring or Evading Taxes

Federal and state taxes come with heavy penalties, charges, and other assorted fees when paid late, but when a restaurant faces tough times, on-time payments are often difficult. Many owners will completely avoid paying taxes and hope that they will get away scot-free.

It may happen once, but tax negligence ends almost always with heavy penalties, closures of businesses, or even jail time.

Being Too “Hands-Off”

To be a restaurant owner, this means that you need to work at your restaurant. Your job as an owner isn’t to just hang out, chat with customers, and become a famous restaurant owner in the process.

Great restaurant owners are often the first in the door and the last out at closing because the owner not only has the most to lose, but the most to gain. Unless the property is solely an investment or the proprietor lives outside the city, the person in charge should be there every day, discovering new solutions to increase profit margins, engage team members, and develop a profitable brand.

Not Properly Tracking Food Costs

The first step towards making a profit is to know how to correctly price your restaurant menu. Do you understand how to calculate your cost per-plate? The majority of owners don’t. For instance, you could try adding an expensive premium ingredient to a lower cost dish, to take full advantage of your per-plate cost and profit margin.

Several other modifications can help to bring the cost of food down without the same flavor. Sticking to the 30% food price golden rule will help you to maintain a healthy profit margin for all of your menu items.

Sticking to the 30% food price golden rule will help you to maintain a healthy profit margin for all of your menu items.

In Conclusion

Now you know the primary reasons why many restaurants fail. You have the chance to study your market and research new ideas – make sure that your concept really works.

Yet, if you never step out and try -you’ll never truly know what it means to be a restaurant owner.

Regardless of all of your planning, the restaurant may fail. But if you continually try to grow and learn while operating within the core functions of any successful restaurant (excellent food, service, and location) you will increase your chances of achievement.

On top of all this, developing a great concept, great name, and brand identity for your restaurant is the icing on the cake. These core foundational strategies will help you be more focused and intentional toward building a strong reputation for your restaurant – and a restaurant that’s set up to succeed.

Want to know more? Download our free E-Book: “7-Figure Restaurant

8 Tips to Help You Build a Team Culture and Increase Employee Engagement

If you are running a business, no matter what field you are, it is crucial for you to understand that your team is your company’s biggest asset. It is not your product, your address, or your name that would bring your company success.

It is the people who are working for you that can do that. They can also be the reason why your business could fail.

That is why one of the essential things that you do for your company is to build the right work culture.

This will ensure that your team stays happy, inspired, and engaged. But first, you need to establish what kind of culture you want to build.

What Does Team Culture Mean?

“I hated the culture there that’s why I left,” is one reason often mentioned by employees who resign despite having a huge salary or amazing benefits. There are also several issues where companies have such high turnover rates because of their “toxic culture”.

What is this culture that keeps getting mentioned and why does it have such a huge impact on the desire of an employee to leave or stay with a company?

Culture is the attitudes, values, behaviors, and beliefs that are shared by the people in a company, a department, or a team.

It is essentially how the people there work together in order to reach their shared goal, usually, this is to finish a project, win campaigns, or hit sales quotas. It also has to do with how the people in the company treat each other.

Culture is not something that you normally see in a company manual. It is unwritten and unspoken.

Sometimes a team can show their unique culture, something that is a little different from that of the company’s. However, in most cases, the team culture is influenced by the entire company’s culture.

Is Fostering A Good Team or Company Culture Necessary?

Good company culture is seen when everyone collaborates, shares their knowledge, effectively communicates, and supports each other. When people feel that they have a place in the team, they normally perform better.

When they feel that there is somebody that supports them, they tend to take greater risks and show growth. This is not only good for each employee but ultimately good for the company.

In an organization where the culture is strong, people take initiatives and they trust each other to do the right thing. If the culture is weak, most of the time, the employee would wait to ask each other if they can do something.

It is what is called a “permission seeking” environment. Projects get delayed because of this type of culture. That is why it is important to cultivate this “team culture”. It leads to autonomy. People who do not need to be managed to work faster and more confidently than those who require directions.

Here are 8 things that are practiced by workforces that have been able to build a strong team culture. You can try to apply these in your own situation and see how effective they are in inspiring and engaging your employees.

Set Your Visions and Assign Clear Goals

It would be hard to motivate a team to do something if they have no clear idea of what exactly they are working towards. You cannot just tell them to “do their best” when they do not know how you qualify “best”.

That is why you need to be clear about the team’s direction, vision, and goals. Establish what your “ultimate goal” is for the company. Lay down the values that you want everybody to have in order to achieve that goal.
When orienting a new hire, have your HR personnel highlight what his or her work is going to bring the company. Let the employee know where their contributions lead.

By focusing on the importance of one’s role in achieving the company’s ultimate goal, an employee is made aware of his or her importance. The employee is also made aware that his or her failures and short-comings will affect others. This fosters a culture of accountability.

Start the Change with The Leaders

The kind of culture that your company develops is the kind of culture that your leadership exhibits. If the leaders follow the company rules consistently, the team will do so as well.

The kind of culture that your company develops is the kind of culture that your leadership exhibits.

If they consistently act inappropriately, you can expect your team to start acting inappropriately as well. If leaders and managers let blunders slide without discipline, that will become the norm in the company.

Your company’s leaders should have a clear view of what your culture should be. This way, they can be the models that everybody else will follow. If you have your vision and goals in place, you will have a better idea of what type of culture to cultivate.

For example, if your business has to deal with strict deadlines, your leaders should know that tardiness is not something that should be taken lightly. They, in turn, cannot be allowed to come in late without sanctions because the employees will see this and start ignoring the rules as well.

Hire People That Have the Same Values as Your Company

Even at the very beginning, you want to make sure that you get people that fit right in. This is one reason why you interview an applicant, right? Besides discerning whether that person can do the job, you also want to see if that applicant is a great fit culture-wise.

Job skills are things that you can teach. Attitude, on the other hand, can be pretty difficult to change.

Additionally, when an applicant shows that his or her culture aligns with your company’s, you can be assured that that person will bring that attitude anywhere, even outside the office.

You have heard of employees who act one way at the office and then change completely when outside. Is this somebody that you want to represent your company?

Build Effective and Positive Communication Channels Between Managers and Staff

Effective communication is very important in any relationship. It is known that part of good goal-setting is being able to communicate those goals effectively to your team. Managers should be able to keep their teams updated with what needs to be done.

However, communication must be two-way. The team should also be able to tell the managers what they think about the work. Allowing the employees to be able to express their suggestions and feedback will help the leaders adjust their strategy in order to do the job better.

It is important for the leaders of the company to make themselves available to their employees as often as possible. Additionally, they need to show their staff that they can come in and not be punished for making suggestions and providing criticism for existing policies.

Being able to communicate in a positive manner will validate the importance of each and every employee’s opinion. They will feel that their input is not just necessary but is valued and taken into consideration.

Put in Place A Good System for Recognizing Accomplishments

Engagement is often achieved when your employees feel that what they do is being valued. When a company provides recognition for the hard work that employees put it, then it is making a statement that the contributions of the people working there are appreciated.

This has been proven many times. Employees value recognition rather than getting a higher salary. And the recognition doesn’t have to be grand.

Employees value recognition rather than getting a higher salary.

A small note from a supervisor or a 10-minute program to acknowledge a contribution by the people in a department can go a long way in fostering team culture and employee engagement.

Experts claim that focusing on recognizing milestones rather than profit foster a more positive culture in organizations.

Rather than look at how much your team brought in, managers are encouraged to acknowledge the small contributions that each employee made and highlight how this solved a problem for the team.

Regularly Hold Activities That Allow the Employees to Build Positive Relationships

Most workforces that are highly engaged allow their employees to connect with their coworkers and build positive professional relationships. Successful companies know the value of hosting regular events and gatherings that foster camaraderie and team building.

When coworkers are able to build relationships, they view each other as friends, people to help and ask support from. This creates an atmosphere of cooperation. It also makes coming to work more exciting for employees.

It has been proven that people who are able to make strong friendly ties with their coworkers report sick less often and are more engaged.

Allow Your Employees to Take Part in Activities That Foster Personal Development

Letting your employees know that the company cares for them, their wellbeing, and their future is a vital part of building a team that is highly engaged. How do you do this? Invest in your employees’ future by providing them opportunities for training.

When the employees see that you want them to improve, they will be motivated to engage more. Additionally, any skill that they acquire will bring improvement to the team in some form.

Have the managers take part in mentoring programs that would teach employees transferable skills. This way, they can bring these new learnings wherever they go.

Allow the employees to be part in decision-making activities, especially if the decision will have a direct impact on them. This way, they will feel more in control of what is happening to them in the company. By giving them this responsibility, they see their value and become more engaged.

Show Your Employees That You Trust Them

Micromanaging each and every task assigned to your employees will show them that you do not trust them or their capabilities to do their job.

Again, this leads to having your employees ask for permission every time they need to do something.

Once you have communicated the goal to your team, step back and allow them to do it. People who see that their superiors trust them to do the right thing feels more inspired to do a good job.

They become motivated to prove to their leaders that they can do what has been assigned to them.

Conclusion

Remember that highly-motivated and engaged employees care about the company and want the team to achieve its ultimate goal. They are inspired to do their best because they know that their actions solve problems for everybody.

They take responsibility for their actions and take initiatives. These are the type of people that you want in your company. In order to attract and keep these people, you need to build the right culture.

Follow the steps above and see how it will affect your team’s culture. Do you have other ideas on how to build a better team culture, shoot me an email at jeremy@longitudebranding.com

8 Ways That Brand Positioning Will Help You Grow Your Business

With the correct brand position, it’s your business driver, helping you to inform your messages about marketing, how your services are shaped and even how you structure your prices.

The success of your business is influenced by strong brand positioning. But many highly competitive companies have difficulty in positioning themselves and explaining why their business matters. It is difficult, but critical, to do this right. Your customers will not know whether to purchase from you or from your competitors if you fail in this.

In short, positioning is the means by which your brand is markedly distinguished from its competitors. It’s all about what you offer, the value and the position you hold in your intended audience’s mind. Defining a clear position allows you to check your perceptions of the market and to improve the position of your product and/or service upon that market.

How can your company benefit from brand positioning? Here are several different ways here:

1. Brand Positioning Differentiates You in the Market

The world doesn’t need more widgets. However, when your company or your products or services provide an unprecedented proposition, solve an unsatisfied need or deliver the desired experience, Brand Positioning will help you differentiate yourself from the crowd.

Brand positioning allows you to stake out a unique territory (e.g., an industry specialty or a highly specialized service offering) for your business where no competitor will dare to venture because they will be labeled as a “me – too” company, just following in your footsteps.

2. Brand Positioning Cuts Through the Noise

A clear brand position allows you to communicate and reach your target audience efficiently and effectively. We are bombarded every day at every corner with marketing and sales messages. Everyone is fighting for your attention. By speaking directly to the people you intend to attract, your Brand Positioning breaks through the clutter in the midst of all this noise. Your brand is seen and heard clearly instead of shouting to an empty room or to a crowd that doesn’t care about you.

Your Brand Positioning breaks through the clutter in the midst of all this noise.

3. Brand Positioning Helps You Become a Specialist

You will be forced to focus your services accordingly by laying claim to a particular feature or benefit through positioning. This, in turn, will make you perceive yourself as an expert in these services, which will increase your value to your prospects. This is especially important because “specialists” are growing twice as fast as companies that describe themselves as “generalists.”

Positioning helps to provide your business development team’s persuasive sales tools to nurture and close more sales. Unique brand positioning enhances the visibility of business and top – of – mind recall for prospects to help drown out the competition.

4. Brand Positioning Makes Choosing Your Business Easier

Consumers want decisions that are easy. To find the right one for them, they don’t want to screen 30 alternatives. They want to know who to trust and what to buy quickly and easily. Brand Positioning deliberately and subconsciously triggers an emotional response from your target audience. If in the shortest amount of time the right levers are pulled, you increase the likelihood that people will decide “yes.”

5. Brand Positioning Allows You to Compete on More Than Just Price Alone

Whether the mass market uses your brand or you offer a high-end luxury item, Brand Positioning will provide you clarity on your specific value. Your value is what you offer to customers, how it best meets their needs, and how insufficient the alternatives that competitors offer are. You have nothing to offer but ambiguity without Brand Positioning. No one values ambiguity (or buys it).

No one values ambiguity (or buys it).

6. Brand Positioning Justifies Your Pricing

Sometimes your brand still needs price justification even when your value is known. Brand Positioning is where you identify your brand and compare it to the competition and its specific offering, informing you that your price point is strategic and justified. Are you more expensive? Less expensive? Is it obvious why? Are consumers going to respond favorably?

Positioning your business against the competition will assist you in deciding what new services to offer and how to price them. Are you a boutique company at a higher price? Or a low-cost, no-frills business? Which new services support this positioning and pricing?

7. Brand Positioning Informs and Improves Your Design

You will have the insight to make more effective decisions throughout the creative process once you have developed the core message needed to promote your brand positioning. Clear positioning drives communication that is clear.

Visual design needs to build a compelling story that involves strong positioning. If you don’t know what your competition uses, how would you know which colors, fonts, or symbols to use? What if, for example, you didn’t know that color influences the taste of consumers for particular foods? It’s not much different than writing good copy, the difference being that you’re communicating and creating perceptions through images.

8. Brand Positioning Empowers Your Brand’s Story and Messaging

How will you be able to write quality copy without knowing your brand positioning? If you don’t understand how your brand is positioned in the marketplace and your customer’s mind, it will be very difficult to write anything meaningful about yourself. Communicating to an audience is almost impossible if you do not accurately understand the uniqueness of your brand or competition you face.

So asses your brand and ask yourself these questions: is your brand positioned to…

Compete with Confidence? A strong starting point helps you understand, recognize and embrace your meaningful difference to the people that matter to your growth. Look at your competitors to see if you need to change your positioning. How will you compete with the other brands that your audience is comparing you to? How can you best position your brand against any new competitors that may sprout up in the market?

Show people the value of your brand? Your positioning should make your brand more meaningful to those who already understand your brand. You need a deep understanding of your target markets in order to create meaning. Did their behaviors, ways of thinking, principles, needs, ambitions, fears, frustrations, joys, and fantasies change? Work to create simple and meaningful positioning that you can tailor to the target markets of your brand. Work to create simple and meaningful positioning that you can tailor to the target markets of your brand. Positioning that doesn’t fit your customer’s needs, and even foresees them, will struggle to remain relevant today.

Standout in the sea of competition? Your brand positioning should give your brand a coherent, recognizable and impactful picture. This picture distinguishes you from your rivals. What are your differences? Have they been changing with the market? What are your key differences as understood by your target audiences and internal teams? Is the differentiation steady and sustainable? Make sure you’re working to own the space that should separate you.

Make smarter and more informed decisions? The positioning of your brand should be a tactical and strategic compass. Consider whether your staff and leaders use your positioning to guide their strategic decisions to make sure of this. If your leaders do not make important decisions that match your positioning, it’s time to reset and align. Your brand will be more competitive and adaptable when you use positioning to make long and short-term decisions. So bear in mind that long-term successful positioning always leaves room for growth.

Brand positioning, done correctly, can make a marketing powerhouse for your business. It can help focus your services, marketing message, and prospects appeal to your business.

Brand positioning, done correctly, can make a marketing powerhouse for your business.

Highly focused positioning allows you to build a powerful and compelling message around specific areas of expertise that will appeal greatly to a targeted audience in need of your premium services. That’s why it’s so important to have a brand positioning strategy. It gives your prospects value, gives them something to be interested in, and ultimately will persuade them to purchase from you.

When it’s all said and done, Brand Positioning is the most crucial singular part of developing a brand by allowing you to define where you fit into the vast sea of your competition.

6 Reasons Why Top Performing Companies Are Investing Big-Time Into Their Brand Strategy

It’s good practice for any business to be concerned with cutting costs, pinching pennies, and investing their money wisely. For virtually every small to medium-sized company that is interested in growth, the fact of the matter is that you only have a finite amount of cash to reinvest into your business. So the decision behind every investment should be made with good judgment.

As a branding agency, it shouldn’t surprise you that we believe a strategic brand is worth every penny.

But you shouldn’t take our word for it. Some of the top performing companies in the world are investing in their brand strategy, and it is paying off. Take this statistic for instance:

From 2007 to 2015, the average company in the S&P 500 showed a return of 49%. Yet at the same time, if you invested into a company with a strong brand value to enterprise value ratio of more than 30%, you could have generated a return greater than 94% over that same period. If you had invested in the top 10 companies with the highest BV/EV ratio, you could have experienced a 96% return on investment. – according to BrandFinance.

From Confusion to Clarity

One of the most common statements we hear from business owners who have gone through our brand strategy process is an overwhelming sense of clarity and confidence it has given them. In fact, in the middle of our strategy workshop, there’s often a lightbulb or “ah-ha” moment that occurs. We’ll see something click, and their eyes get wide and they’ll say something like, “YES! That’s exactly what we’ve been trying to communicate but never could!”

As it relates to your business, you may have a clear vision or story in your mind. It makes perfect sense to you, but no one else. No one on your team really understands why you do what do, why it matters, why you’re unique, and how to communicate that clearly and consistently to your customers. In fact, for many businesses, if you ask 10 different employees to tell you what the company is and what you do, you’ll likely get 10 different answers.

If your own staff can’t articulate your purpose with clarity, the chances your customers are clear on that are very low.

Competitors Are Everywhere

You probably know you have competitors – this isn’t news to you. But I guarantee you have way more competition than you think.

Every business has thousands and thousands of competitors.

You see, when it comes to how people spend their hard-earned money, there are nearly limitless options. People buy things for many reasons. Whether it’s something that will solve a problem, make their life easier, or make them feel good – there are thousands of products or services out there that will do all of those things.

The challenge is that you have to communicate to them that your product or service is worth the money. You have to make them see the value that you can provide, and why that should matter to them.

You have to make them see the value that you can provide, and why that should matter to them.

For instance, you may not immediately think that an event venue would be seen as a competitor to a flower shop, but when a bride and groom are planning their wedding with a limited budget these two different companies are now competing for a spot on their wedding day.

Avoid the Catastrophic “Field of Dreams” Strategy

Top performing companies understand that simply opening their doors and “trusting” that people will miraculously show up isn’t a business strategy. Unfortunately, we see this happen all the time.

We call this the “Field of Dreams” strategy.

Before you open your doors it’s important to have a very clear understanding of your business, your audience, and your position in the market. A brand strategy that is robust and comprehensive will give you all the important tools and insights you need to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success.

We see this especially true in the restaurant industry. Too many business owners believe that customers will just show up just because they have good food. What happens too often is they’ll open their doors, experience the “newcomers” rush of customers for the first 2-3 months, and then it tapers off pretty quick. The “newness” has worn off, new customers have stopped coming in, and past customers haven’t found a good reason to come back. Often less than a year later, their doors are closed.

A brand strategy gives you a plan and strategy to avoid this happening to your business.

Perceptions Are Reality, Whether You Like it or Not

From the very first moment someone interacts with your business, there are perceptions being created. They’ll perceive things like:

  • You’re affordable or expensive
  • You’re high-quality or low-quality
  • You care about them or don’t care
  • You’re an expert or you’re a novice
  • You can help them or you can’t

You’ll usually only have a very brief moment to make a good first impression, and within the first few minutes of interacting with your business, someone has made all sorts of assumptions about who you are, what you do, and what you stand for. This will often happen without even a word said.

A brand strategy will give you a strategy to influence the perceptions that are being made, so you won’t be leaving it up to chance.

There’s Strength in Knowing Your Audience

If you owned a company that helped single people to find a date, it probably wouldn’t make sense to promote it at a wedding trade show. Likewise, if you sold commercial-grade refrigerator parts to businesses, it probably wouldn’t make sense to walk down the middle of a busy street and try selling your product to everyone you meet.

These are extreme examples, but the fact is that top performing companies don’t have time for wasting their marketing efforts on communicating in the wrong way, with the wrong people, in the wrong places.

Too many businesses are spinning their wheels with ineffective marketing and wasting a lot of money in the process.

There is a strength that comes with understanding your audience, what’s important to them, and how to get in front of them. When you understand these things, you’ll get much better results for every marketing dollar you spend.

There is a strength that comes with understanding your audience, what’s important to them, and how to get in front of them.

Top performing companies know this, and the sooner you have a brand strategy in place to help you accomplish this for your own business, the better.

Charge What You’re Worth

Top performing companies don’t need to compete on price alone. This is because they are able to communicate the value of what they provide, separate from the price they charge.

How many times have you heard, “I can go down the street and get the same product for $5 cheaper.” or, “Joe’s Auto Shop said they can fix the same part for $100 less.”

This is a bad place to be as a business. First, because it shows that your customer doesn’t perceive any value in your brand, they only care about the cost of the product or service. And secondly, it’s not sustainable. There is always going to be someone who can provide a service or product at a cheaper cost.

A brand strategy will give you the confidence to position your business as a better option outside of price alone.

A good example of a strong brand position could be an auto repair shop that has built a strong position as being the most knowledgeable in their industry.

Now when a customer is making their purchasing decision, they are often more willing to spend a premium amount for a premium service. Best of all, when this company delivers on the promises they make, they are building very strong brand loyalty. So even if there is a competitor that can do it for cheaper, their customers will always come back because they’ve positioned themselves as the most knowledgable in the industry – a clear choice.

The Bottom Line

When it is completely integrated into the fabric of your company a brand strategy will impact your culture, your systems, your management, your daily operations, and will provide more clarity and direction for your entire organization. Whether you’re evaluating new opportunities, deciding how to allocate your resources, or simply trying to drive better results for your bottom-line.

Top performing companies understand the value, and the reasons are clear and simple.

Real-World Examples of How a Brand Strategy Can Improve Your Business Operations

The power of positioning in an effective brand strategy.

One of the primary misconceptions we fight to overcome is that branding is just about logos and colors. Because of that misconception, some people associate “branding” with the arts and when it comes to making an investment into their business it is seen as a nice-to-have.

What has been interesting over the years of guiding people through our brand development process is the various operational changes that ripple throughout the business. The brand strategy process we take people through literally affects every area of their business.

Before getting into the examples and applications, let’s highlight two of the exercises that are a part of our brand strategy development process.

Understanding Brand Positioning

One of the key exercises in BrandGPS™ is developing the positioning statement. 

What is positioning?

The unique position or point of differentiation that you occupy in the marketplace as understood by your customers.

This should be a clearly articulated set of words that demonstrates who you are and why you are unique. It gives the customer a reason to buy. It should be something that none of your competitors are saying or could say. As you can imagine this can be a challenge.

With an existing business, we are not trying to create something out of thin air. We typically drill down into who they are and what they’re doing and realize that the position has been there for a while. They have just never had the clarity to pull it out and communicate it in a way their customers could recognize.

We have written on this topic more extensively here. Or for a deep dive on the topic, read this book. 

Identifying Position Supporting Actions

You can claim to be the “only” or “best” or “first” in something but if you can’t back it up the damage will be worse than taking no position at all. In guiding our customers through the process we work to develop the list of position supporting actions. Authenticity should be a brand value of every organization. People can sense a phony brand a mile away and will run from organizations that make unkept promises.

If you are building a team, everybody needs to understand your position and exactly what they need to do to support it. This isn’t just tweaking your messaging. Your entire team and operations should be centered around building the right reputation for your business.  

We ask questions like:

  • “What can we do to ensure our audience recognizes our position?”
  • “What operational changes would make our positioning more authentic?”
  • “What are daily, weekly and monthly tasks that will support our position?”

Real-World Examples

See the following examples of positioning statements the drove operational changes: 

“Bringing people together with homestyle recipes.”

This catering company is full of heart and built on the family matriarch affectionately referred to as “Big Mama.” The idea of bringing people together was her mission and the homestyle cooking was usually how it happened. In a sea of cold/sterile corporate catering options, this company stands apart with their warmth and attention to detail. Some of the operational changes that resulted were separating part of their services into a different company.

They had tried to put everything they were doing under one brand and that was causing confusion and muddying the waters for their communication. Another operational change was that they wanted to create a guarantee that when you order with them it will be there on time. If your catering shows up late or incorrect it can cause a lot of unneeded stress at your event whether its a wedding, corporate event, or family gathering. 

“The only partnership-minded experts with a top-down approach to preventing IT problems.”

Through the positioning exercise, this client identified a multi-faceted competitive advantage. Their “secret ingredient” is unmatched by the competition and leads to big wins for their customers—the top-down preventative approach. After identifying the position it became clear that they needed to further develop this system, give it a name, and better communicate it to their customers.

The “partnership-minded experts” position is also driving a more intentional effort to further their IT education. Yearly and quarterly training sessions will help to reinforce the position of experts. Another operational difference that comes from being positioned as “partnership-minded” is the commitment to only proposing the right solutions. Whereas many in the field are taking advantage of their customers’ ignorance by selling unnecessary products to boost profit. 

“We make it easy for you to get the parts you need.”

This client is in a very antiquated industry that is very slow to adapt to the online world we now live in. This company was already ahead of the competition but they wanted to solidify this statement as their battle cry. This drives them to constantly improve how easy they can make it for their customers to get the right parts quickly.

Operational changes that came from that include redesigning the website to be extremely intuitive for looking up parts and improving the checkout process. They also saw that sometimes people don’t know the part number for what they need so they are working on a feature where the customer uploads a picture from their cell phone and the team tracks down what the piece is. 

“Ingredients for sharing life around the table.”

This retailer specializes in spices, herbs, teas, & coffees. Defining the position around sharing life led to several operational moves that help support the position. For instance, the commitment to being family-friendly led them to create a children’s area in the front of the store for kids to learn, color, and enjoy themselves. From a purely business perspective, this could be seen as a waste of valuable and limited retail space. But that is what separates brands you love from brands you forget about. Another operational aspect is creating recipe cards and sample boxes. Whether it’s friends or family, most people love to gather in the kitchen and try new things. The emphasis on “ingredients for sharing life” has enabled multiple brand-enhancing products and ideas. 

Have you defined the positioning statement for your business? Have you developed the supporting actions and operational changes needed to back it up? Is your team equipped with a clear plan and action steps to building the reputation you want?

Talk to a brand strategist at Longitude° to learn more about how you can grow your business by improving your brand.

4 Ways to Experience Huge Growth for Your Business in 2019

“New year, new me.”

The new year is often a time for people to take a fresh approach to their life, habits, dreams, and ambitions. Whether you’ve joined a new gym or decided to quit a bad habit, chances are that you’ve made a resolution or two in your lifetime. Sometimes we fail at sticking to our resolutions, other times we succeed. Yet, as the new year approaches, the thought that you can start with a clean slate is exciting and can make even the biggest goals seem achievable.

When it comes to your business, you probably have goals for 2019. You probably want to start some new initiatives to improve your business, or maybe your goals are to stop doing certain things that are a waste of time, money, or energy. Whatever the case, our team wants you to succeed in your business. So here are 4 New Year’s resolutions you can make to improve your business in 2019.

1. Improve Your Strategy

“I resolve to stop playing the guessing game.”

When was the last time you decided to go on a long road trip, and that very same day you got in your car and started driving without anything packed, no map, no GPS, and no plan on where you’re driving? Chances are, you’ve never done that because that wouldn’t be very smart.

Why? Well, there are a few reasons why.

First, if you have no plan on where you want to go, why even go anywhere? You have no purpose to embark. Second, even if you did have a plan on where you wanted to go, you have no map or GPS to guide you there. You might get there eventually, but you’d probably take a lot of wrong turns and encounter a lot of roadblocks along the way. And third, if you did have an idea of where you were going, and a map to get you there, you still wouldn’t be prepared for the journey ahead.

If you have no plan on where you want to go, why even go anywhere? You have no purpose to embark.

It sounds crazy to think of someone going on a long journey without the right supplies, tools, maps, and plan needed for it to be a successful trip. Yet, we see this all the time and all-too-often this spells disaster for a business. If you only take away one thing from this article, take this point to heart—You need a strategy. Don’t play the guessing game. Pushing forward and “hustling and grinding” without a plan isn’t admirable, it’s silly.

2. Improve Your Competitive Positioning

“I resolve to stop copying the competition.”

When you own a company, you’re wearing a ton of hats. We get it. It’s difficult to know where you should be investing your time and money, and where you’ll get the most return on your investment. When you have been pulled in so many directions, feeling like you’re always putting out fires, and you don’t have a clear strategy it’s tempting to simply look at your most successful competitor and do exactly what they’re doing. However, this could cost your business big-time.

The purpose of a strong market position is centered around making your business stand out amongst the rest. Whether it’s a unique service you provide, a promise you make to your customers, or operational difference, you need something that communicates how you are not only different than the competition, but better than them. What’s your “special sauce”? What’s your “secret ingredient”? What are you “leading the industry in”? What’s something you can do that no one else can do?

When you have a strong market position, you’ll become a more clear choice above the rest. Customers will understand why you’re different and it makes their decision fall in your favor. If you only ever copy your competition, then you’ll likely make a lot of expensive mistakes and miss a lot of great opportunities. Without a strong market position, you get lost in a deep abyss of “the same.” People ignore you, and you end up scrounging for new customers each month and are forced to compete on price alone.

Without a strong market position, you get lost in a deep abyss of “the same.”

3. Improve Your Marketing Message

“I resolve to create a message that sticks.”

There are likely thousands and thousands of potential customers out there, actively searching for a service or product that you provide. The problem is that they’ve either never heard of you, or if they have heard of you, but your marketing message didn’t communicate that you were the answer they were looking for.

Maybe they were confused about what exactly you sell or the service you provide. They could have been misled to think you were too expensive and high-quality, or too cheap and low quality. Or worse, maybe their eyes just glazed over as they read your generic tagline that doesn’t really say much.

When you don’t have crystal clear message that is short and impactful, people won’t respond. You have only a few short seconds to communicate clearly with a potential customer, and if there is any ambiguity or misinformation they will ignore you and move on to the next option. Remember, you don’t have to necessarily be better than the competition, however, you certainly need to communicate better. Communication is the key to connection.

When you don’t have crystal clear message that is short and impactful, people won’t respond.

4. Improve Your Visual Identity

“I resolve to create the right perceptions.”

On the same token, not only should your words communicate well, but your visuals should as well. After all, as the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The visuals surrounding your business are just as important in telling your brand story as your words are – maybe even more so.

Consider this, if a large burly man knocked on your door wearing a clown costume, and with a high-pitched voice introduced himself as “Dr. Wilson” said he was here to mow your yard, you’d be confused right? Yet, this is how a large number of businesses operate and manage their brand. Their imagery, visuals, photography, colors, and typefaces are all saying different things.

Investing in maintaining a high level of visual quality and consistency is one of the best investments you can make into your business. Maintaining this identity gives you a strong voice when words aren’t enough. When people are first introduced to your business, it’s usually part of your brand identity: your logo, signage, business card, shirt, vehicle, etc. You only get a few seconds to make a good first impression, and you won’t get that chance back.

Maintaining this identity gives you a strong voice when words aren’t enough

“I resolve to have the best year yet.”

If you resolve to make these four improvements to your company in 2019, then it could be the most successful year you’ve ever experienced. How do I know this? Many of our past clients have seen huge growth in their business after committing and investing to grow in these four areas. There is also plenty of research and studies which show there is a huge return on investment for having a brand strategy. It’s just smart business.

The team at Longitude° wishes you a very happy new year! We hope that 2019 will be a year of growth realized and goals reached. If you’d like any help along the way, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at info@longitudebranding.com.

What’s the ROI of a Brand Strategy?

Business Minded vs. Brand Minded

Trying to convince certain business owners or executives to invest in a brand strategy can be a very tricky thing. In their mind, there’s never a right time and it’s rarely an important consideration. This is because to them, ROI isn’t clearly measurable. On top of that, most of their time is spent trying to solve complex business problems or putting out fires in their organization.

What these business owners may not understand, or may be too busy to hear, is that a well-built brand strategy could solve many of the problems they’re facing – often times before they even occur.

A well-built brand strategy could solve many of the problems they’re facing – often times before they even occur.

A brand strategy is a vital piece to any organization who wants to be competitive in the marketplace. Without it, you’ll likely face many problems and frustrations that you shouldn’t be facing. So why are some business owners and CEOs so apprehensive to make the investment?

Put yourself in the shoes of the average business owner or CEO. You have team members emailing or calling you every single day, vying for your attention, explaining to you what’s wrong, and bringing long lists of issues that they believe need to be improved. You have trouble finding support and talent you need for important positions and have trouble keeping the good talent you may already have. You’re burning through money – more cash is going out than coming in. Then you get a phone call from someone who asks, “Have you ever thought about a brand strategy to build a better emotional connection with your customers?”

You’ll say “no thanks” and hang up. It’s not only bad timing, you’re not even speaking the same language.

The problem is in the fact that when many business owners hear the words “brand” or “branding” they think coloring books, pretty colors, and painting classes with Bob Ross. CEOs and business owners are typically product driven, solution minded, or deeply focused on their operations. They want a mathematical equation to know that if they invest one dollar, they’ll receive two dollars in return. They don’t care to spend money on “unnecessary” things like a brand strategy to help their business grow.

Dollars and [Emotional] Sense

Many business owners or executives value cold hard numbers and metrics, not emotions and feelings. For them, if they don’t see a clear monetary value assigned to something, they’re not going to consider making an investment of time or money into it.

The average executive is more willing to consider a “business solution” versus a “brand solution.” The biggest failure in this thinking is the fact that these two solutions are, and always will be, tied together. You can’t separate the two. Your brand, your culture, your reputation, your core values, your market position – these are all foundational building blocks upon which a profitable business must be built. Without these clearly defined, your chances of seeing meaningful business growth are seriously stifled.

The biggest failure in this thinking is the fact that these two solutions [business and brand solutions] are, and always will be, tied together.

The ROI of Story

When an organization has a clearly defined strategy, and purposeful vision, it will make a direct impact on your bottom line. Your marketing efforts, sales, and advertising will all be improved. You can attempt to assign metrics to every investment you make and have spreadsheets for days, but without the right message, metrics don’t mean anything. Telling your team members or stakeholders that your mission is to generate X increased revenue within X amount of time isn’t casting a vision. It’s simply a goal. A vision must be something that everyone on your team understands and can buy into long-term.

A vision must be something that everyone on your team understands and can buy into long-term.

It should come as no surprise that finding and keeping talent is one of the most common challenges businesses face. The beautiful thing about a great brand strategy is that you’ll have a stronger brand story. When your employees are more engaged and understand this story, they’re going to be more engaged and perform better. When your team is engaged they will perform 147 percent better.

Your narrative will not only impact your employee engagement but will also have a big impact on the decision your customers make regarding doing business with you. When it comes to people deciding to buy from you, 72 percent of people make decisions based on a vision.

It’s clear that an investment into brand strategy can have huge returns, across multiple aspects of your business. Every real business wants to experience growth in some way. However, as you are growing are you truly increasing the value of the business you’re building? When you have a strong brand narrative and vision, this answer becomes easier to answer.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

In a study by McKinsey & Company, it was found that organizations with a clear story perform 20% better than those with a weak story and vision.

Additionally, powerful strategies will influence your plan of action for how consistent your voice, message, tone, and look is throughout various touchpoints with your audience. When companies are more intentional and consistent with their brand, they experience on average a 20% increased revenue versus those companies who are inconsistent.

If you’re still not convinced that you need a brand strategy, here are some other numbers that you should consider:

  • 91% of consumers said that they are more likely to buy from an authentic brand than from a dishonest brand. (AdWeek)
  • 82% of investors believe that brand strength and name recognition are becoming more important in guiding them in their investment decisions. (Reuters)
  • 64% of consumers cite shared values as the primary reason they have a relationship with a brand. (Harvard Business Review)
  • 48% of consumers expect a brand to really know them and be able to help them discover new products or services that match their needs. (Cube)
  • 77% of B2B marketing leaders say branding is critical to growth. (Circle Research)

So, next time you hear the words “brand strategy,” don’t think “pretty colors and painting class with Bob Ross” – think clearer decisions, better engagement, loyal customers, and more money in the bank.

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