COVID-19 presents challenges on every level, including how restaurants can communicate with customers without sounding like you’re selling or upselling. Customers are at once inundated with news, marketing, and advice — both genuine and bogus. How best to cut through the clutter with effective messaging? Saleem S. Khatri, CEO of Lavu and MenuDrive, shares some key components to an effective communications strategy.
- Be Consistent. There are various communication channels you’re likely communicating your brand through, including email, social media, texts and even signage on your building. Regardless of the method, make sure your branding remains the same. Changing your branding during this time can hinder your continued success.
- Use Email. Consumers’ inboxes are being flooded, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t email. It just means you need to pay attention to your subject lines in order to cut through. When emailing customers, try to avoid the much-overused “COVID-19 Update” subject line that will likely get ignored. Instead, rephrase it to something like, “Yes, We’re Open,” or, “How to Support Local Restaurant Workers.” Make sure your emails reflect you are taking the pandemic seriously. Communicate in specific, clear terms by keeping the body of the email focused on the subject with a quick open and a few supporting sentences. Try closing with an expression of gratitude, share a local resource for your customers, or link to the guidelines from the government being followed.
- Continue Sharing on Social Media. Keep posts rolling on your accounts, but make adjustments to reflect the changes in policies. Share specials that customers can order online or offer to-go deals. Link to your online ordering or your menu so they know they can still order their favorites. If you lack a social media presence, now would be a great time to get started to show your restaurant is still in action. It is important to keep an eye out for questions from customers that come through social media as well.
- Talk to Your Loyalty Members. If you have a loyalty program, there are opportunities to communicate directly with members. Send regular communication to them and share ways they can support your businesses. Ask these customers for feedback on how you can best serve them. You can also share exclusive offers for loyalty members.
- Update, Update, Update. The number-one question customers will have if you are still open is, “What are your hours?” You have to communicate this beyond just a paper sign taped to your door. Ensure your website and social media profiles are up-to-date with your new hours. And don’t forget to check your Yelp and Google pages as well.