With this being my first week at Applebee’s, I spent three days at a local restaurant learning how things work and the challenges and obstacles the staff faces on a daily basis. It was an eye-opening expereince for someone new to the restaurant business. I was amazed at the level of dedication and hard work put forth by the staff and management on daily basis. I only worked the lunch rush but the level of committment and teamwork was truly insipiring.
In my time talking with the management staff at the restaurant, I obviously queried about marketing practices and how each restaurant uses different promotions and hooks to keep driving traffic. Since my role here at Applebee’s will be to use social media and digital to help them, there were many things I needed to learn and listen to in order to gain a great understanding of the business, what works and what doesn’t work.
One theme kept emerging that I could not overlook. It’s what many in the social space, when marketing products or services that do have a physical presence,Â often forget.Â That is social must motivate and engage customers in the real world too. An online campaign is great if people engage and become excited about it, but they must also want to engage offline as well.
When I was at TurboTax, this wasn’t as important. We did have great events that did engage influencers and customers but TurboTax is an amazing online product. Here at Applebee’s, we pride ourselves on an amazing guest expereince in one of our 2,000 restaurants. That means anything we do in social and online marketing has to translate and drive folks to their neighborhood restaurant.
The restaurant managers knew about social media and recognized how it and even CRM can help drive more traffic for them. But they over and over emphasized how a great online campaign certainly helps the brand but it must get people in the door for them to consider it helpful. Something I knew already, but perhaps a concept still in need of work for most large brands with a physical presence.
While not every business has to drive physical traffic, thinking about how we link social interactions and digital marketing with real-life experience is something important often overlooked. True, cost can beÂ a limiting factor,Â but it’s something online marketers and social media marketers must always consider. Bridging the gap between virtual engagement and offline engagement can yield even better business results, happier customers and brand loyalists.