Mobile technology has transformed the world of restaurant and bar marketing, taking it to new heights of precision and effectiveness that go beyond anything seen before.
Whereas once upon a time, your restaurant might have relied solely on word-of-mouth, positive reviews, creative marketing and a rock-solid reputation built upon years of serving delicious food (all of which still, without a shadow of a doubt, provide a solid bedrock for success), the fact that almost everyone nowadays carries a smartphone in their pocket has changed the marketing landscape beyond recognition.
In fact, with almost 6.5 billion smartphone users worldwide, there’s simply never been a better time to look into location-based marketing and advertising techniques, which make full use of the opportunities that smartphones allow.
Right up there at the top of the list of location-based advertising approaches is proximity marketing. This tactic has been proven hugely effective for a wide array of businesses and industries, and is especially well-suited for drawing in punters to your restaurant, cafe or bar.
After all, who hasn’t found themselves wandering around a town or city, feeling their tummy rumbling and on the hunt for somewhere great to grab a bite to eat or a refreshing drink? Proximity marketing hones in on potential customers in your area, and lets them know what you do best.
In this brief guide, we’re going to take a closer look at proximity marketing. We’ll be diving into what it is, how it works, and who benefits from this innovative and precise approach to getting your message into the mobile devices of customers in your area.
Sounds good? Of course it does. Let’s read on and find out more!
Understanding Proximity Marketing
So what exactly is proximity marketing? It’s certainly a buzzword that’s becoming increasingly common to hear within advertising circles, and with the way that technology is moving forwards, it’s looking increasingly likely that proximity marketing is set to become part of the ‘new normal’ for restaurant bar promotion.
Essentially, proximity marketing is all about making use of your customers’ and potential customers’ location in order to market your business. This generally happens via mobile location tech, which is integrated into modern smartphones; think GSP technology, location services, and triangulation.
This, combined with Bluetooth and cloud-based WiFi technology, allow businesses just like yours to take advantage of the possibilities brought forward by proximity marketing.
At its core, proximity-based marketing is part of the rising trend for hyper local marketing - both the oldest and newest form of marketing there is. Targeted, precise, and fully customisable, proximity marketing opens the floodgates for showcasing promotional material to consumers within a specified local area. For example, if your restaurant is within a shopping mall or on a promenade, or in a defined corner of the city or a particular block, you’ll be able to target your desired clientele within that specific space.
Why Should Restaurant Businesses Use Proximity Advertising?
The benefits of this approach are abundantly clear, and many businesses of many types are leaping on board the proximity marketing bandwagon. You’ve probably already experienced it, yourself. Ever seen a discount coupon pop up on your phone or socials, right after walking past the store or restaurant it pertains to? That’s proximity marketing in action.
It’s pretty clear to see why this would work a treat for restaurants, too. Well-timed advertising delivered in this manner (for example, during or just before working lunch hours or peak dining times) will deal out promotional material to would-be punters in the area, tempting them in with the promise of delicious food being only a few steps away.
This approach is also great for boosting engagement levels with existing customers. Nothing tempts diners back to a restaurant they’ve already enjoyed like the promise of a discount, free appetiser, or loyalty program, and proximity marketing techniques will achieve that swiftly, efficiently and with all the power that hyper local advertising can achieve.
Understanding Different Types of Proximity Marketing
As is so often the case with contemporary marketing methods, proximity advertising comes in several different forms, each with their own advantages which may suit your business better.
Here are the most common proximity marketing approaches you can integrate into your business, with a little technical know-how and a willingness to gain that all-important competitive edge.
Making Use of WiFi for Proximity Marketing
You already know how important free WiFi is as a marketing tool. In the age of remote working, 24/7 connectivity, and… well, everything else about the world we live in, free WiFi is right up there with the biggest draws for customers today.
If you offer free WiFi as part of your restaurant, bar or cafe, then WiFi proximity marketing is well within reach.
When your customers connect to your WiFi, or their devices automatically connect if they’ve visited before, you can present their smart devices with offers that could help to keep them engaged, spend more time and money in your establishment, or encourage them to return after they’ve left.
First-time visitors can be urged to offer their email address and phone number too, providing opportunities for email and SMS marketing campaigns.
If your restaurant or business is within a mall or similarly specific location, then beacon marketing (also sometimes called Bluetooth Proximity Marketing) is a tried-and-tested approach that brings about a solid return.
Beacon marketing relies on proximity marketing beacons - usually remote battery-operated devices placed in strategic locations - sending short-range mobile signals to smartphones via Bluetooth. When people walk within the range of these beacons, their devices will start lighting up with your selected promotional material.
Proximity Marketing with GPS
Proximity advertising which uses GPS is all part of the ongoing trend for geo-marketing and geo-targeting. By utilising location data, businesses can efficiently hone in on customers moving through a specific place at a specific time.
If you’re a restaurant with a close tie to a specific place - for example, a hotel, resort, or retail park - making use of GPS will help you define areas where promotions can be effectively run.
RFID - The Cutting Edge of Proximity Marketing
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) has become integrated into smartphones throughout the past couple of years, and it’s a rather elegant way to allow businesses to reach more customers without the need for WiFi connections.
However, to really make the most of RFID proximity marketing, you’ll require RFID or NFC (Near Field Communication) transmitters, which don’t particularly lend themselves to the hospitality industries.
Some industries - such as retail - have begun experimenting with building tiny transmitters into barcodes on products, and it’s not such a huge leap of the imagination to envision how they might be used on menus or other products more commonly found in restaurants and bars.
The customers’ smartphone will pick up information from these transmitters, simply by being within close proximity to them. Once that proximity is reached, wireless information will be transmitted between the item and the mobile device, allowing for a seamless data transfer which doesn’t require any active internet connection.
Perhaps even more excitingly, RFID technology can allow marketers to gain insight into customer behaviour and movement, helping them fine-tune their marketing efforts even more precisely.
Who Can Be Targeted with Proximity Marketing?
One of the beautiful things about wireless proximity marketing is that, in 2022, almost everybody is a potential customer. Due to the widespread use of smartphones, the fact that almost all of us are online in some way or another all day long, and rely on our mobile devices for seeking out and booking opportunities in the hospitality sector, the marketing pool is wider than ever before.
As with most digital marketing efforts, proximity advertising is a numbers game. Not everybody who receives a push notification, email, or alert of some kind from your business is going to become a customer.
However, a certain percentage of individuals within your target area will either have their awareness of your restaurant raised, or will go ahead and take full advantage of your promotion. By increasing your potential traffic in this way, proximity marketing techniques generally bring about a strong ROI that cannot be overlooked.
With plenty of savvy planning, a keen knowledge of your customer base and their various needs and desires, and a bit of modern technical wizardry, proximity marketing for restaurants can boost your bottom line. No wonder, therefore, it’s considered a trend likely to continue growing for the foreseeable future.