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Creating experiences for your customers that they will remember can strengthen the bond they feel with your restaurant and brand. According to ATN Event Staffing, “Seventy-seven percent of marketers use experiential marketing as a vital part of a brand’s advertising strategies.”

Experiential marketing can lead to an increase in customer loyalty and help you better understand who your customers are and how they behave.

In this post, we’ll explore what experiential marketing is, and share 4 ideas you can use to get started.

What is experiential marketing?

According to Hubspot, experiential marketing, or “engagement marketing” is, “a marketing strategy that invites an audience to interact with a business in a real-world situation. Using participatory, hands-on, and tangible branding material, the business can show its customers not just what the company offers, but what it stands for.”

Restaurants are in a unique position to create experiential marketing campaigns because they can utilize smell, taste, sight, and other senses to create memorable customer experiences.

The more personalized the experience is, the more emotionally attached a customer may feel toward your business and the more you can learn about them. Listening to customer feedback is very important when it comes to developing effective experiential marketing campaigns.

Use data to understand who your customers are and how they feel about your restaurant

Before launching any experiential marketing campaigns, it’s important to research who your customers are, what they care about the most, and how they feel about your business. Using a customer engagement platform like Thanx can help you capture data that reveals who your VIP customers are (those who spend and visit the most) and which menu items they love the most.

You can also collect feedback and respond in real-time — this helps you develop a personalized relationship with your customers and understand what their needs are.

You can also scan reviews on third-party sites like Yelp or Google reviews to gain insights on how your restaurant is perceived by your customers. Once you have a full picture of who you are as a brand, you can begin developing memorable experiences for your customers, driven by data.

Organize engaging events

Creating unique experiences that engage your customer-base will help build personal relationships and promote your brand in an authentic and memorable way. Events are a great way to meet with and engage your customers — and they can take on many forms.

Here are some examples of events you could organize at your restaurant:

  1. Food sampling
  2. Cooking classes
  3. Outdoor dinners
  4. Musical performances
  5. Wine tasting
  6. Summer festivals
  7. Fitness classes

Below is an example of a Yoga & Brunch event that True Food Kitchen hosted. They also included a 15% offer for brunch to incentivize their customers to attend.

True Food Kitchen yoga email

You could also partner with other local businesses and charities to throw larger events. Take a look at the events they held at Milk Market in Denver this Summer. They threw a one-year anniversary brunch, sugar school classes, and an impactful blood drive.

milk market email

Another great event idea is to make your events exclusive. Partner with a local event and open a pop-up restaurant at the location to provide a unique experience for attendees. The more exclusive the event, the more desirable it will be. Pop-ups are also a great way to grow your customer base and promote your brand.

Use social media to interact with your customers

Social media is an excellent way to engage with your community when they aren’t at your restaurant. Once you launch events and unique experiences, you can ask your customers to upload photos around the event on social media and tag your business.

You can also launch ideas that don’t center around a certain event. For example, you can release a recipe of your most popular pasta dish and ask your customers to upload photos of the meal after they’ve cooked it. Engaging your online community will help you develop brand advocates who will vouch for you and spread the word about your restaurant and brand.

Send personalized experiential rewards to your best customers

Once you identify who your best customers are by capturing data like visit frequency and average spend, you can create personalized experiential campaigns to engage your best customers. For example, you can invite your VIP customers to special events, get early access to new menu items, a cooking class, or more. These efforts go a long way and help reward your most loyal diners.

Personalize communication by sending timely, specific messages to customers based on their buying behavior and personal preferences.

Wrap up

Creating memorable experiences help increase customer loyalty and engagement. Host events, partner with local businesses, use social media and choose the right tool that will help you understand who your customers are. Use an engagement platform like Thanx to capture the data you need and send personalized rewards to your best customers.