Your restaurant or brewery is your baby. You’ve loved it, built it brick by brick into the business it is today, and your hard work is beginning to pay off. Customers are finding you through social media and word-of-mouth. Even so, you could be missing out on the biggest potential marketing tool at your disposal: an email newsletter.
“But I’m a restaurateur/brewmaster, not a marketer,” you might say. “How would I know what to even say?”
That’s the beauty of an email newsletter. It’s a great place to showcase your passion and love for your business and let your customers see that devotion. Once they do, they’ll know immediately they get to reap the benefit of what you’re offering.
Let’s get the nitty-gritty out of the way first. Stats.
- Email is one of the most used—and growing—electronic mediums there is. 90% of adults have it, use it, and with smartphones, a huge chunk of that percentage keep their email in their pockets to look at in a moment’s notice.
- Email marketing returns 28.5% of investment over direct mail. Plus, it’s environmentally friendly.
- Stats on this one vary, but conservative estimates say that for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you’ll bring in $38. That’s a HUGE return.
It’s also easy as a startup to get stuck in new customer initiatives, overlooking your existing customers and failing to convert them to brand loyalists. A newsletter is a great way to speak to all the customer types, new, known and returning, and brand loyalists.
Benefits to Email Newsletters
Size doesn’t matter. You can still compete with the big fish. Email newsletters are a tool to perfect your strategy, and if your strategy outperforms those of the bigger, more well known restaurants or breweries, you’ll see big returns.
Build YOUR Brand. It’s easy to get caught in the mindset that to compete with other restaurants or breweries, you have to do what they’re doing, only better. No. You can focus on your aesthetic, mission, and brand, and your uniqueness will make you a standout. Some strategies are tried and true, but the most successful brands create all-new strategies or turn existing strategies on their ear for a one-of-a-kind spin that sets you apart.
Email Newsletter Members Like You. Through a newsletter, you’re talking to people who want to know more. You don’t have to convince them. You don’t have to entice them. They’re already intrigued or they wouldn’t have signed up. So your information will be delivered to a receptive audience more likely to take advantage of any deals, discounts, promotions, or events you’re participating in.
Keep Them Coming Back. Customers like getting deals on things they’ll already spend money on. If they receive discounts, specials, and coupons to use for something they’ll already do, their loyalty will only grow. Discounts also entice them to step outside their comfort zone. If your restaurant is offering a special on a specific dish they’ve never tried, they may give it a go, find out they love it, and come back for more time and again.
Speak Directly To Your Base. Unlike social media, advertising, and your website, where you put information out there for all to see and hope some of them like it enough to darken your door, email newsletters speak to people already familiar with you. As such, you can speak more casually with them. Personalization helps build onto your existing relationship so they become even more loyal because not only do they feel like they know you, they feel like you know them.
Control the Message and Spend. It’s getting more and more expensive to advertise on platforms like Facebook, and their reach is steadily declining. There’s a lot of noise out there, and it’s hard to stand out in the crowd. With a newsletter, you have the opportunity to control what you say, how you say it (with no character limits, but keep it reasonable), and exactly when that email drops in their inbox. Data on open rates and click-throughs will tell you when the best time to hit send is, and you can offer small incentives to people who sign up for your list.
Customers Prefer Email Newsletters. Of every kind of marketing strategy, email marketing is the most effective. People who sign up to receive information look forward to hearing more about your business, learning when you’re having special events and discounts. If you’re launching a new beer or a new menu, these are the people most likely to attend. Want to stand out at a festival? Have the longest line because you’ve tipped your loyal customers where your booth will be and how you’ll be enticing them with your great new recipes. Others will see your popularity and want to get in on the action.
Do More than Inform
Email newsletters give customers a glimpse into the heart of your establishment. Explain why you started your business, why you love it so much, what led you to choose one type of cuisine or brewing process over another. Let them in on the secrets. Provide them with an appetizer recipe or instructions to brew one of your carefully crafted beers on a smaller scale at home. People love to feel included, and if you give back, they won’t feel like you’re only wanting something from them all the time.
Newsletters are an opportunity for education. If you’ve chosen only organic ingredients, take the opportunity to explain why that’s healthier, better, and tastier than something more easily accessible. If you brew a specific way, explain how that changes the flavor of your beer.
Then invite them to visit you in person. For breweries, a great way to get customers involved with your brand is to offer tours of the brewery itself. People like to see how the things they like are made. While that doesn’t help in a restaurant setting—not only would the kitchen be crowded, it’s probably against health and insurance codes—there are other ways to bring customers in with the same kind of idea. Have a dessert tasting event to get people in the door. The beauty of an event like that is you can ask for feedback to learn what people in your area like in terms of potential new menu items.
Winning awards is great to help gain traction in your market, but building a relationship goes just as far with creating customer loyalty. You’re playing a long game here. By strategizing for several months how to fill out your newsletters, you can build a story into them, like chapters in a book, to layer more information and incentives for your customers to take advantage of. It’s like a journey, one your customers can take with you, and when they do, they will become invested in your business and help it grow.