marketing restaurant

Marketing: Convert First Time Clients Into Regulars

Though Christmas has passed, important holidays are just around the corner. Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it. Is your business preparing? Most businesses can find themselves overbooked during Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. If only they could be this busy – everyday. What can you do to turn these one-time clients into regulars? Here is a list of promotional and marketing ideas to encourage clients to come back.

Package It!

Often for days like Mother’s Day children purchase a service or product to pamper and comfort. Instead of pushing a traditional gift card use service packages instead. Mother’s Day packages can be for a variety of multiple services, or a bulk purchase of the same type of service. 

Unlike a gift card, service packages will give new customers exposure to multiple services or products. A first-time customer will be more likely to find something they like with a package. Once the customer discovers the service they like, they will keep coming back. Be sure to promote the packages before Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day using social media, Message on Hold programs, ecommerce websites like Groupon or Living Social, and with window signage.

Increasing sales at salon.jpg

Loyalty Programs

Once your customer has used your product, service, or made a reservation, be sure to mention any loyalty programs available. You can do this by having a conversation with the client at the end of their meal or service, sending a follow up email/text, and promoting it on your website. The most effective digital tactic for building awareness, retention, acquisition, and conversion by 56% is email marketing according to Gigaom

Customers who feel they are part of a select group will be more likely to return. Your loyalty program doesn’t have to be anything fancy, it can be as simple as a punch card.  For example, there are two Laundromats in my town. One Laundromat has always been there and is fairly small with a friendly staff. The other Laundromat is brand new and much larger. I’ve been to both. The small Laundromat offers loyalty punch cards that entitle you to your 10th load of laundry for free! The larger Laundromat makes you purchase a laundry card for a $1.00 and offers no loyalty programs.  I prefer the punch card. 

If you decide to move forward with a digital loyalty program, you can create a short 30 second video. The video can explain the loyalty program and show how it is used. This video can be posted on your website and social sites. Not only will a loyalty program make a first-time customer want to return, it can give you the edge over another local business. 48% of consumers say the best time to gain their loyalty, is after the first purchase according to Clickfox.


Simple Reservation Booking

Turning first time restaurant customers into regulars.jpg

Keep it simple. Make your reservation booking available digitally – multiple ways. Let first-time customers book over the phone, with SMS texting, on social media, through an App or your website. People are more likely to share a positive experience, so make sure booking a salon appointment or dinner reservation is simple. First-time customers will share their experience with friends and family through their social media feeds. Your business will be modernized, and it will be a simple way to collect additional information for your marketing database. The more information your gather about your clients, the easier it will be to reach customers where and when they want communication!

Referral Programs

When your first-time customer is currently eating their dinner, or getting their salon service, train staff to communicate with them and make them feel comfortable. We’ve all visited a new restaurant for the first time and felt the awkward silence. Encourage your staff to develop authentic relationships with your new clients. Have staff members bring up in conversation the referral programs and loyalty programs.

Referral programs are great. Not only do they encourage new business, but you can reward your current customers with incentives. According to American Marketing Association a reward increases referral likelihood, regardless of the size of that reward. Once again, you’re making the client feel valued. A referral is something people will typically do regardless, but to receive something in return is an added bonus. Friends who are referred by a friend are four times more likely to buy according to Nielsen

The key to keeping any business, is making customers feel valued, appreciated, and building authentic relationships with clients. When working with first-time customers, they are no exception.  Illustrating value and showing appreciation to first time customers can be challenging but done right – very rewarding. Depending on the business model you have in place, try using one or two of the above suggestions. If you still aren’t sure it will work for you, A/B test with promoting Gift Certificates or coupons and measure the difference.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.