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Why–and How–Marketers and Operators Should Embrace Millennials Marketing

December 22, 2015

Knowing Millennials to Build Millennials Marketing

The increasing significance and impact of Millennials in the marketplace in general and restaurant in particular can be seen as a real plus for those of us who have always recognized the sales generating value of “The Brand.”

Why Millennials Matter

Most sources put Millennials into the 18 to 34-year-old category (book-ended by an older Gen X at 35 to 50 and a younger Gen Z at 2 to 17), and there are now more Millennials (75.3 million) than Baby Boomers.  More importantly, Millennials are outspending Baby Boomers with over $1.3 trillion in annual spending.

When it comes to dining, Millennials are more than 20% more likely to eat out in a week and go to a fast casual restaurant than the general population.

How Millennials Are Different—Values and Technology

General indications are that Millennials are less attached to conventional institutions because they are Knowing Millennials Valuesmore likely to be politically independent (50% versus 39% of Gen Xs) and religiously unaffiliated (29% versus 21% Gen X).  Not surprisingly, they tend to be distrustful with only 19% believing people can be trusted (31% for Gen Xs).  Millennials are also carrying more debt for their age and are not in a hurry to get married (only 26% were married at 32 versus 36% for Gen Xs).

However, even though they are facing more economic challenges and might be expected to have less faith in the future, Millennials are optimistic.  They are as optimistic as the previous generation which experienced significantly better economic conditions, and 85% have confidence in their future earnings measuring up to their expectations.

Of course, technology and social media are major factors in Millennials’ lives and, therefore, Millennials marketing.  They have wider networks of friends, with the typical Millennial having 250 Facebook friends—fifty more than the Gen X counterparts.  With Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, they are twice as likely to be taking selfies and using the visual channels of social media as Gen X.

Connecting through Millennials Marketing

Millennials Marketing Must Rely on Millennials' Values

With these behavioral and attitudinal differences, creating Millennials marketing programs to engage them can be another matter.  Roughly two-thirds believe companies don’t know how to talk to them, and they may not trust the message when they do get it.  Virtually every (85%) Millennial wants companies and their social media to be authentic (and personal, direct), and 56% are more likely to get their content and information from their social media worlds rather than emails or search and 26% go to news feed sites rather than email and search.

Making your Millennials marketing relevant and engaging can be critical because Millennials typically contact five people when pondering a purchase decision (only three for Gen X).  Less than half trust (there’s that word again) “experts” and only 4% admit to actually being influenced by them.

On the other hand, 59% listen to their friends, 35% can be influenced by “strangers,” and 23% (a surprise to me) are influenced by celebrities, especially for apparel, food, luxury goods, and brands.  And finally, more trust social media and digital advertising over traditional channels like broadcast and print while about half trust retail websites.

In summary, understanding Millennials and creating Millennials marketing means knowing they are:

  • Generally less trustful of others and institutions.
  • Optimistic in spite of debts and the Great Recession.
  • Relying on friends, word of mouth, social media, the Internet—even celebrities—for information on brands.
  • Visual.
  • Seeking authenticism.

What Millennials Want

Millennials want their relationship with your brand, company, and restaurant to be authentic, transparent, and trustworthy (not deceptive)—even personal.  More than three of four want to identify with what your company stands for (helping to explain popularity of Starbuck’s and Chipotle–before the E. coli scare?).  In the best of all worlds, they want to identify with a personality while finding an emotional connection to your very tangible benefits (they also like discounts, free perks, and rewards recognizing their loyalty and relating to your brand).

The most meaningful, sales generating brands deliver an authentic personality (people buy from people) to build relationships and help customers engage with them, and this is even more important to Millennials.

Use your social and content marketing to develop personal relationships while discovering your Social Media Is Key to Millennials MarktingMillennial customers’ interests—rather than only blasting away about your products or your services (make an effort to develop the right ratio of relationship focused to direct sales building messaging).

Ask them questions about how your brand and menu fits into their lives.  Show them aspects of your brand which might not be directly related to the product or service but the overall experience (I had one client whose biggest Facebook response was started by a customer commenting on a contemporary artwork in their restaurant).  Create a conversation.  Coming out with a new menu item?  Engage them in the development and they may do the selling for you.

Many of the above themes also relate to menu development.  Think of themes like healthy, calorie conscious, low preservatives, natural, authentic, integrity, and  local, if possible—without thinking “purist.”  Also, a move toward the bolder, more adventuresome, innovative, and customizable might be helpful in capturing the Millennials interest.  Consider their overall experience and your brand.

Because it is exactly what they are looking for, the best sales building Millennials marketing programs leverage the chance to create relationships and engage with Millennials while delivering products and services to this financially powerful and restaurant happy generation. 

[Notes:  Facts and perspectives for this post have come from the Pew Research Center, MENG’s Digital Marketing Survey, a JustJump Marketing MENGinar, “15 Economic Facts about Millennials” from the Council of Economic Advisors, Morgan Stanley’s Here Come the Millennials, and the Boston Consulting Group’s Perspectives: “How Millennials are Changing the Face of Marketing Forever.”
A very similar blog post first appeared in the MENG Blog on December 15th 2015.]

MUFSO 2015 Restaurant Conference Update with Tips and Notes — Part 2 of 2

October 11, 2015

MUFSO Breakout

MUFSO is the restaurant industry’s major Multi-unit Foodservice Operators Conference held annually in Dallas.  It was held on September 20 – 22 this year.

This is Part Two of my tips and selected notes from the General and Breakout Sessions I attended over three days in Dallas.
Let me know if you have questions or need further clarification.

Breakout:  “Lessons from Winning Brands”

Hosted by Sarah Lockyer, NRN, with representatives from The Melting Pot,
First Watch Restaurants, and the Saxton Group (McAlister Deli).

● Listen to your customers.  Hear what they are saying about their needs, the competition, and you.iStock_000018946626XSmall
● Menu:  What local items are asked about, like local
craft beers, fruits, vegetables.
● Know their expectations and where value lies for them.
● Service includes knowing what want and what they value.
● Do the ordinary things in an extraordinary way.
● Survey customers with bounce back coupons to thank them for participating.
● Impress your customers with your standards.

Breakout:  “Six Trends You Should Know to Meet Guest Needs and Thrive:  A Look at Foodservice Industry Trends”

 With Susan Miller and Clark Jones, Coca-Cola North America

● Food is now a lifestyle trend.  160 food related TV shows.  40% of
Millennials consider themselves foodies.
● Public concerned about cost of living but also feeling more confident and
resilient.
● 59% believe science and technology to make things better.  70% of
13 to 65 years old with smartphones (85% of Millennials).
● 63% think their values can make a difference.  “Purposefulness.”
● 51% believe discoveries will make a difference.
● 56% of Millennials believe stress is bad.
● Trends

● 81% want to know what companies stand for, want to know the
whole story
● Health-wellness:  71% want ingredients transparency because they
they matter…33% meat eaters eat meat-free more often.
● 3 of 5 more likely to visit restaurants offering environmentally
friendly foods.
● Employee empowerment.
● Digitization…35% of Gen Z likely to order at kiosk…table top table
ordering.
● Flexibility…snack sizing…up 3 pts in one year.  Customization…create
your own.  All day breakfast (McDonald’s example) preferred by
7 of 10.

Food with story…Health empowerment…Ethical eating…Foodservice everywhere…Digitization…Flexible + experiment.

General Session:  “Dare to Serve:  How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others”

With Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen CEO Cheryl Batchelder

iStock_000009178000XSmall● New rule:  Dare to serve.  Dare to find new directions in turnaround.
● Choose to serve.  Who do we serve?  For Popeye’s, it was the franchisees.
● Love the people you lead.
● Deliver results.
● Leadership = courage & humility.
“Courage is not the absence of fear but the overcoming of fear.”
– Nelson Mandela

General Session:  “Winning CEO Panel”

Hosted by NRN’s Sarah Lockyer with Julia Stewart of Dine Equity, John Gainer of Dairy Queen, Charlie Morrison of Wingstop, John Miller at Denny’s, and  Peggy Cheng at Panda ExpressMeasure Your Customer Enhancement and Sales Results

● More control to Millennials.
● Don’t know what to do:  ask your customer.
● 48% of Wingstop customers are Millennials.  Need both tech and quality and sense of control.       ● Expect economy to be “lumpy and bumpy.”
● Storytelling can help differentiate your brand/chain from competition.
● Hire by “mind set, tool set, skill set.”
● Pricing.  Product.  Location.  Segmentation.  What need can you fulfill?
● DQ:  Franchisee profitability + Sales + Growth.
● Share plans with vendor community to get their involvement, commitment.
● Don’t delay decisions (research demonstrates companies that make more decisions faster               succeed more often).

MUFSO Restaurant Conference Update with Tips and Notes — Part 1 of 2

October 11, 2015

MUFSP

MUFSO is the restaurant industry’s major Multi-unit Foodservice Operators Conference held annually in Dallas. It was held on September 20 – 22 this year.

This is Part I of my tips and selected notes from the General and Breakout Sessions I attended over three days in Dallas.
Let me know if you have questions or need further clarification.

Breakout: “Big Customer Data: How To Get It, What To Do with It”

Panel hosted by NRN’s Ron Ruggless with representatives from Dickey’s
Barbecue Restaurants, Pie Five Pizza Co., and Taco Bell

iStock_000016987294XSmall

● Track customers, using data to get promotions right and leverage what’s happening in real time. Amplify customer stories, adding personality to the message. Taco Bell’s breakfast success helped by data management.
● Customer data can help define new store locations.
● Make adjustments in plans and programs based on from better understanding customer experiences.
● Form cross functional “labs” for teams to understand and digest data is fundamental. Insights available to marketing and others which is point of cross-functional. Different ways to organize around data, but my experience or bias is to have marketing “on point” working with IT because
marketing is closest to customers but make sure all have access with regular team meetings.
● Be aware of new tools to enhance data reading and dashboard development.  Some of them are free or of very high value, and some third party consumer data services can be linked directly to your data.
● WSJ posted “…twenty of the Best Big Data Services.”
● Creating effective, visually enhanced dashboards is rewarding as data becomes easier to manage, read, interpret, and meaningful to more people.  Don’t let your data management become boring.
● But bring data in-house. Own it, make it yours.
● Most important is leveraging data to better understand incremental and transactions are keystone.
● Some are trying to bring lifetime value into the equation (haven’t heard that
one for a while).
● When signing up members for email lists, loyalty programs, and other similar ventures, don’t ask customers for lots of information. It will reduce the response rate and you may end-up not getting basic contact information.

Breakout: “Beyond Selfies: Are Your Customers the New Marketing Department?”

Panel hosted by NRN’s Ron Ruggless with representatives from
White Box Social Intelligence, Facebook, and Peiwei

'Social media' concept with other related words

‘Social media’ concept with other related words

● Instagram is a major social media vehicle for casual dining with two times the sales impact versus the fast casual segment.
● Yelp! creates a similar relationship for casual dining with negative comments about 14% less than the overall industry.
● Twitter has twice the impact in fast casual as it does in other segments.  14% of comments are negative and mostly related to wait times and service staff.
● Family dining also Instagram focused but not as much as casual dining.  19% more “happy” responses than industry.
● Yelp! and Google+ reviews considered to have measureable sales impact, both positive and negative so keep an eye on them.
● Not clear Facebook “likes” impact sales.
● Yelp! “really does matter.”
● Listen. Analyze. Benchmark to your segment. Track against sales and traffic. Consider what needs to be done.
● Mobile is big, even for Facebook.
● Millennials might check Facebook ten times a day.
● Smartphone ownership now over 70% and 85% for Millennials.
● Millennials willing to share info and be brand ambassadors but need authenticity and entertainment for the right experience, relationship.
● Seek customer engagement (#CX, relationship building).
● Share platforms with messages as there are many cross users.
● Social Media advice: reflect the company culture, involve the company, okay not to always “get it,” and be authentic, genuine, love the process.
● Watch for Instagram changes…remember Instagram can impact sales and “is Millennials.”
● Video is a force.
● Check out PEW Social Media 2015. It’s free and very informative.
● Be agile…speed trumps perfection.

General Session: “Words with Melman”

Panel hosted by Restaurant Hospitality’s Mike Sanson with Richard Melman
and Altamarea Group Chef Michael White and Co-founder Ahmass Fakahany

● Menu designed to increase frequency and cater to wide range of customer motivations. PricingiStock_000011101990Small (2) and nutritional needs important factors. (Alta.)
● Flexible, agile. High volume, good food. Part artist, part businessman. (RM)
● Developing people is focus.  Now has a culinary school to develop talent.
● Hiring is critical. Avoid hiring with doubts. Follow up with extensive training. (RM)
● Customer service/experience. Social media. (Alta.)
● Train to have energy, to listen, to understand preferences. (Alta.)
● Need confidence to take complicated things and make them simple. (RM)
● Only “problem” is having enough customers. Don’t take things for granted.
(RM)
● Patience. Perseverance. “Pain of working hard is easier than pain of
defeat.” (Alta.)

Four Branding Steps to Improve Customer Engagement–and Sales!

August 31, 2015

To create and support sustained and profitable sales growth, the “tip of the spear” will always be customer engagement.  Customer engagement is the indisputable moment of truth when your company connects in a memorable, emotionally satisfying way—or not.  It is the powerful combination of not only delivering what your customers want but also helping them feel connected to your business.

Customer Engagement Is at the Head of the Spear

I was talking to a friend and expert at developing retail and restaurant customer service last week.  His programs were rightfully about employee motivation, and they focused on daily competitions, sales targets, recognition, training, team building…However, there was no mention of engaging the staff with the business strategy and brand even though great brands and service leaders like L. L. Bean, Nordstrom, and Zappos make brand values (and company culture) an unforgettable part of the company’s fabric and the customer’s experience.

Don’t get me wrong.  It is not an easy process.  But the results from a loyal and expanding customer base are long lasting and profitable.

Here are four key steps for making sure the power of your brand (and company culture) is having its full, supportive impact on your strategically focused customer engagement. Brand Building Is Key to Effective Customer Engagement

  1. Create a lasting brand platform. There are many forms of brand platforms, and you can even find alternatives online.  From my experience (advertising, packaged goods, and restaurant/retail), the best brand platforms include the company’s core values, competitive positioning, key customer promise, personality, and tone.  A good brand platform is competitive (to be financially viable) and has the emotional elements customers recognize and relate to (people buy from people).
  2. Get it out of the marketing department. The brand is the company’s brand, not the property of your marketing team or advertising agency. Your marketing team or brand consultant can manage the process, but the ideal brand platform is endorsed by the CEO and the management team who have been deeply involved in its development.  It is consistently promoted across departments, from HR to Finance to Operations.
  1. Repeat.  Repeat.  Make sure your brand message gets repeated enough to become part of the daily company fabric.  A major obstacle to this is that management teams tend to get quickly bored and assume that repeating a similar message once, twice, or even three times is sufficient to ingrain thinking and create habits.  It’s not.  Even when the management team has become fully immersed, the staff member welcoming your customer by the Internet, in person, or on the phone is just beginning to get the idea.
  2. Staying the Brand Course to Build Customer EngagementDon’t let it go.  If properly developed, your brand platform process has been inclusive and collaborative, built on solid data, information, experience, and decision making—and more than simple “consensus.”  Your brand platform will be customer-centric and aligned with your dynamic and lasting business strategy.  It is not an advertising or promotional line that is easily changed any more than your overall business strategy and culture are easily changed.  “Stay the course” and refine it carefully and thoughtfully as you move ahead 

The bottom line?  The customer experience builds loyalty and sales, but the best customer experiences are driven from inside the company, its brand, and its core values.  The most impactful customer experiences are effective and meaningful in both the short and long run because they are supported by the thrust of the business strategy and brand.

In fact and if asked, I can point to at least two of my own restaurant marketing experiences which very successfully followed this process.  One had over 50% revenue growth through geographic expansion in four years and the other had over 50% AUV growth in five years.

[This post originally appeared on the MENG (Marketing Executives Networking Group) Blog on August 20th 2015.]

Social Media: Six Steps to Increased Customer Engagement and Sales

July 5, 2015

July 5, 2015

Social Media can and should be a popular marketing tool because it appears to be:

  • Social Media Tools to Enhance Customer EngagementRelatively inexpensive (low production and space costs).
  • Easy to manage (run internally with lower cost staff/your office Millennial?).
  • Reaching your best or most loyal customers (because they make the choice to follow you).

However, an effective or optimum use of social media can be even more positive and beneficial to the brand, customer loyalty, and sustained sales growth when it is focused on customer engagement.

First, social media or social marketing (my preferred label because social media is a tool of marketing) can be an excellent vehicle because it does, in fact, reach people who are interested in your brand concept.  They—not you—have made the choice to know more about you or what you are up to.

Second, social marketing can be seen as an electronic extension of direct marketing which always strove to get closer to the customer, to get more personal and build relationships.

And this is what gets me back to my earlier “however.”  So much of what I see uses social marketing as a tool to exclusively promote by highlighting items and deals instead of creating stronger, more personal relationships.

How can social marketing be a more effective brand and sales builder?  There are six basic steps, and Step Five may be the key to unleashing the full value of social marketing.

Planning Social Media to Build Customer Engagement and Sales

  1. Take the time to understand how your social marketing efforts will support your business plan. How will they contribute to the sales, brand building, and the customer engagement so important to your business?  What is social marketing’s business role and how would you characterize your long term expectations?
  2. Create and communicate a social marketing strategy that connects social marketing to the business plan. It should make it clear how each tool in the social marketing tool box is expected to contribute to the brand, sales growth, and an overall success.
    Does the strategy focus on communicating your brand’s values while listening to and connecting with your customers?   Does it support engagement as well as promoting sales driving events?  How will you measure social marketing’s effectiveness?  What are your success metrics results?
  1. Know your customers and their preferred social marketing vehicle. Because of its size and history, Facebook will be a dominant factor.  However, remember that Instagram, for example, can be a favorite for restaurant customers because of its visual benefits.  Usage of your social tools can vary by age, income, social groups, and the message itself.  It’s also important to keep a daily eye on Yelp!, Open Table, and Google+.  Take the time to pick the right tool for the targeted customer and the particular message.
  2. Make it clear who on your team is expected to do what and when, whether you are using external or internal resources. Establish the communication ground rules that reflect both your culture and brand (with any luck, the brand will speak to your culture!).  Do they understand your brand’s positioning and values, competitive advantages?  Will they be able to communicate or respond with the right voice?
  3. Create a social marketing calendar reflecting the inherent opportunity to leverage the social Manage Social Marketing for Increased Customer Engagmentmarketing tools to build relationships, increase customer engagement, and enhance the customer experience. Make sure you decide in advance how many of your messages will be used for promotional purposes v. brand building and customer engagement (my suggestion is an 80/20 split, respectively).  Use your relationship building to create dialogues and find out what your customers think about and want from you.You could ask for their menu, product, or item suggestions and share your more popular recipes, especially featuring seasonal favorites.
  4. Are there “inside looks” and information that might be interesting to your customers?  Is there a special chef your customers would like to know better?  What are the challenges of using locally grown products in your recipes?  What foods are nutritionally strong and why?  Have you ever talked about your décor (One of the biggest customer Facebook responses was to a restaurant’s art!)?
    As my father would have said, it is called social media for a reason.

  1. The last step might be the hardest to do consistently: use available analytics to understand your Measure Your Customer Enhancement and Sales Resultsresults and improve on them.  You might want to consider outside experts in Google Analytics and the like because an investment in building a more effective social marketing effort could quickly pay for itself in increased revenues. But remember that a lot can be done on your own if you give it the time and discipline.And then see how all of this is impacting your Steps One and Two so you can start over at a higher level with more engaged customers!

An improved social media experience delivering more customer engagement will build a stronger brand and more dynamic relationships creating increased loyalty, sales, and profits—well worth the time and effort.


 The original version of this blog post first appeared in the MENG (Marketing Executives Networking Group) Blog on June 30th.

Your Brand and Emotion: The Key to Customer Loyalty

July 3, 2014

Most of us recognize the impact of emotion in our personal lives.  Where would we be without a rich treasure of memories, all of which are triggered through emotional connections?

My mother is 101 years old and will probably go beyond 102 (we’re counting on it).  She’s very much emotionally alive and “in the moment.”  However, watching her memory fade makes me realize how important our memories, linked to our emotions, are to the fabric of our lives.

Our business world is properly filled with both logic and analysis and dollars and cents.  We make decisions based on the bottom line, the “net net,” a balancing of the “pros” and “cons.”  Albert Einstein was thinking logically when he said “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend fifty-five minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”

Yes, there are some of us who consider emotions to be soft, unpredictable, and ineffective with logic as the ultimate victor.  And yet as business leaders, we need to motivate if we are to effectively lead teams and engage customers to turn them into repeat visitors.

Why Is Connecting Your Brand to Emotion a Key to Success?

Emotion can positively impact your Brand’s sales in three ways: customer motivation, memory, and loyalty.

Warmth and Competence are key to The Human Brand.Customer and Staff Motivation

Over 80% of our judgments are based on the combined perceptions of warmth and competence (Wojciske’s findings influenced the book titled The Human Brand by Malone and Fiske).  Competence relates to performance, but warmth relates to a willingness to be comfortable and to trust someone else, whether it’s an individual, a company, or a brand.  A sense of “warmth” allows people to connect and engage.

The Emotional Link to Loyalty

If emotions are tied to our connection to and engagement with a brand or company and our free-to-smile (2)remembering relates directly to events for which we feel a strong emotion, then a customer’s loyalty will be stronger after an emotionally positive and memorable event, like great food and a wonderful experience at a restaurant, whether it’s quick service or fine dining.

Want more?  Gallup’s recent article, “Customer Satisfaction Doesn’t Count,” declares that “If you don’t make an emotional connection with customers, then satisfaction is worthless.”

Their research demonstrated  that customers don’t buy strictly for rational reasons—much more important is engaging them on an emotional level.  And businesses that optimize this connection outperform competitors by 26% in gross margin and 85% in sales growth.  And, according to a recent Mori study, emotionally engaged customers are many times more likely to repurchase and recommend and less likely to shop around.

Building Memories

boy-and-dog (2)

Whether it’s something funny, romantic, warm, wonderful, or just the feeling of connecting with someone or something (or equally negatively charged events), we remember experiences that have an emotional element to them.  In fact, the latest brain science indicates the level of emotion makes events more memorable, even over an event’s personal significance to us.

We are learning that pleasant emotions tend to fade more slowly than negative ones, giving us more reason to quickly and aggressively redeem an occasionally negative customer experience with a more positive one.

Positive memories are not only more memorable but also bring back more detail.  That fix of a customer problem will be remembered much better than the original problem, and it will help your customer feel connected to your brand.

The Logical Conclusion to the Importance of Emotion in Your Brand

Your customers want to reward you for creating ways for them to feel connected to and engaged with your brand, big or small.

Great service is one answer, and so is a special atmosphere or an occasional surprise (an amuse-bouche in the fine dining world).  Or a special menu or promotion to give a loyal customer another reason to return? Or an extra smile for a loyal customer? What’s your way of building customer loyalty?

Why Mobile Really Matters to Restaurants…and Why It Doesn’t

March 17, 2014

Momentum behind Mobile Usage Continues to Build

 

Restaurants Mobile

The importance of mobile to restaurants and other retail businesses has been consistently building since 2011 and should not be news to any of us. But to refresh your motivation on the subject:

  • Mobile tablets and smart phones grew twice as fast at the Internet, three times faster than social media, and ten times faster than PCs.
  • Tablet and smartphone shipments exceeded PCs and laptops back in 2011.
  • More tablets and smartphones were “installed” last year than PCs and laptops.
  • Chadwick Martin Bailey research indicated 92% of consumers searched for a restaurant with their smartphone web browser and 81% with an app.
  • A 2014 Econsultancy/Adobe research briefing reported
    • 62% of Smartphone owners expect your company to have a mobile friendly website.
    • 42% expect your company to have an app. 

I have seen indications that smartphone users follow-up a restaurant menu viewing with a visit more than 55% of the time. A 2013 Google/Nielsen study indicated restaurant goers were 50% more likely than the average smartphone user to search while “on the go” and 23% more likely to search from their office. And what drove their searches? It was for more information (primarily menus) almost 80% of the time.

Starting with the Mobile Basics

The basics start with making sure your website is mobile compatible because most smartphone searches focus on and compare menus.

If you can create an app for your restaurant or restaurants, you will gain the additional benefit of not only being mobile friendly but also building a closer relationship with your best customers. If they download and keep your app, you can be confident they are also showing a preference for and potential loyalty to your restaurant, and that’s a relationship to be nourished.

Regardless of how quickly you can go beyond a mobile friendly website to the app phase, the big question will be how well you follow through to deliver a mobile experience customers expect and enjoy. Engagement and relationship building are what should be driving your social media, and a well executed mobile website and app do that and more. Like social media, your mobile program should focus on delivering interesting information, highlighting changing situations, adding elements of surprise, and generally providing value to your customer.

When the advantages of time and location are added to social media through your mobile program, the opportunities to engage your customers with take out, special lunch, dinner, and late night suggestions or happy hour enticements add to the dynamics of the relationship for as long as you make the effort to know what your customers want. Your program must be used to learn more about your customers in terms of when and for what they want to be contacted. But a quick word of caution: meaningful app development requires a good level of customer engagement and frequency and may be a challenge to achieve.

Why Mobile Does not Matter

Like broadcast, direct mail, email and loyalty programs, or social media, mobile is a tool or vehicle to reach and engage your customers. Too often, mobile can become an executional “tech” end in itself, divorced from a smartly integrated marketing program which reinforces the brand and builds relationships. My advice is to make sure those with their hands on the executional mobile steering wheel are fully connected to the brand and company culture because they will become your voice.

While some may argue the reach and frequency “media rules” of the past have shifted to relevance and value, the fact is that relevance and value have always provided important connections to the customer.

Mobile Relevance

Our customers’ needs for relevance and value have always been primary, and the best strategies and communications, whether “outbound” or “inbound,” have always recognized this. First work to understand your customers better and learn how to can make their lives better. Then a mobile platform can to be built on a meaningful and lasting foundation.

About Jim Fisher

Jim Fisher has been successfully developing marketing programs for some of the country’s premier national and regional restaurants, franchises, and packaged goods organizations for more than 30 years. His observations are based on “what works” from that significant experience. He collaborates with investors and CEOs and their teams to profitably expand the customer base and build sustainable sales increases. His integrated marketing programs connect the business strategy to the brand and culture to drive effective execution through an emphasis on building customer relationships, brand loyalty, and the Total  Customer  Experience SM.