This is the third installment in my series on what it means to be a marketing services provider (MSP). If you haven’t read the first two—and if you don’t still have your copies of the September and October issues around—you can find the first two columns in the article archives at either www.quickprinting.com or www.davefellman.com.
Okay, back to the scenario I’ve been using as an example of marketing imagination and creativity. The customer is a restaurateur who owns four restaurants, each with a different menu and each in a different part of town. So far, we’ve discussed Phase 1, a program using postcards and PURLs to take people to a landing page where they’ll see the menu for the restaurant closest to them, and the beginnings of Phase 2, which is data collection to be used in later stages. The thought I left you with last month was that I want to know their ages, so I’m going to ask them for their birth dates.
Why not just ask “How old are you?” or set up a few check boxes to indicate age range? Because birthdays provide specific promotional opportunities for restaurants. I’m not just talking about a “free dessert on your birthday” promotion—although that might be the most appropriate marketing strategy for some restaurants. I’m really asking you to use imagination and creativity and think about what could be a winner for your customer or prospect.
My first career was in restaurants, and I can tell you from experience that the “birthday boy” is often not the driving force in planning a birthday dinner. What if you had two pieces of data: the birthday boy’s birthday and his wife/significant other’s email address? On one hand, you could send the birthday boy a personalized offer involving a free something-or-other, which would certainly provide an incentive to come spend some money at your customer’s restaurant. On the other hand, you could communicate with the wife/significant other in an entirely different way: “Hi Jane, it’s going to be John’s birthday in a couple of weeks. Have you thought about a special dinner, especially considering that this one is the big 5-0? (Note: You could know that if your data collection process asks for month, day, and year.) Please give me a call, and I’ll be happy to help you with a reservation and whatever ‘special attention’ you’d like to arrange.”
Now, you might not take this approach with a casual family restaurant, but it could be a winner for an elegant and expensive operation.
I hope you see that data is really the foundation of effective marketing. Using 20th century terminology, data is the difference between shotgun marketing and rifle-shot marketing. I wrote in the first installment that the greatest value an MSP can provide is to put data to use, but I hope you’ll recognize that you also have a role—and an opportunity!—in the strategic collection of data. In other words, you can help your customers to see potential and then to collect data to support that potential.
Let’s consider some more of what age data can do for you, alone and in combination with other data, like income range, favorite meals, and favorite other things. Let’s say that one of your customer’s four restaurants features a lounge with live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Friday is “rock night” and Saturday is “jazz night.” Do you see how age alone could be an indicator of the most likely target market? Do you see how jazz fans might be turned off by the atmosphere if they wandered in on “rock night”—maybe never to return? Do you also see how that “favorite other things” data might help you to identify the rock fans among the older clientele?