Following the opening of a new venue, there’s often a feeling of anticipation and excitement. Locals may have watched as the fixtures went up, and a write-up or two might draw in a crowd. But, after a while, that momentum can dissipate, and attracting new diners can become more of a challenge. Though it may become more difficult over time, established venues are still able to draw in new customers, and there’s a range of strategies that might be helpful in reaching them.
Highlight your specialty
An excellent way to attract new diners is to hone in on one particular type of dish. People are always looking for the best sandwich, milkshake, dumplings and so on – they’ll travel far and wide to find it. Promotional websites like DishCult are often seeking venues that provide that one great thing; for example, the best pie in a particular state. There will always be people who are seeking the best x, y, or z in town, and there may be value to be found in following this pursuit.
Experiment with something new
There will always be customers who are seeking a different experience, or something that is slightly unexpected. It doesn’t require compromise; a venue can offer crowd pleasers that they’ve done for years, as well as a rotating specials menu with dishes that introduce customers to something new: for instance, a delicious regional delicacy. Being one of the few venues that offers a particular dish can be a great way to stand out from the crowd, and bring new patrons in.
A good deal
A good discount or voucher can be irresistible. A giveaway can bring customers through the doors, and a loyalty card can encourage them to return. Providing a deal for a limited period of time can create a sense of urgency to come now – lest missing out on that deal – and discounts can generate goodwill toward the venue, and provide an edge over competitors. There are pros and cons associated with these types of promotions, but a strength is they may attract new customers, who would not consider attending the venue otherwise.
Be active on special events, and in creating partnerships
There’s a strong tie between specific holidays and seasons, and a longing for a particular dish. Think Christmas and eggnog, a meat pie during the football season or a cold drink during the peak of summer. Offering an experience that taps into these events might provide extra motivation for groups to gather and dine together, and bond over a specific dining experience. It can also be an effective way to generate meaningful social media content, and enter a DishCult promotional list, which can be helpful in reaching new customers.
There may also be opportunities to form relationships and partnerships with relevant organisations. Be it setting up a stall at a farmers market, cross-promoting with a local theatre or raising funds for a charity; it can be a great way to establish a strong community presence, and attract new customers who are seeking to support venues with a like-minded values system.
There’s always opportunities to reach new diners. It may require a different strategy, experimenting with something new, or focusing on an existing product. Beyond this, word of mouth is often the best tool for reaching new customers, and providing a great dining experience will likely be an evergreen way to generate buzz about the venue.
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Disclaimer: This guide is general in nature and does not take into account your individual circumstances. Before acting on any information, you should consider whether this is right for your business.