One of the main goals of most restaurants is to retain customers. Over time, loyalty recipes have changed. Offering advantages, improving service, offering more personalized attention to customers, knowing customers’ tastes, understanding their needs and meeting them are among the most frequent actions. But is it possible to go further? The answer is yes ! And this is the case with the strategy we are presenting to you today:
What is it about ?
It is a technique that consists of telling lifelong stories, and which is used as a strategic tool to trigger an emotional and deep impact in customers . The idea is to capture the customer’s attention, to provoke strong emotions (joy, pleasure, astonishment) in them, and ultimately to forge closer relationships to succeed in retaining them. Put simply, your job is to woo your customers through the stories you tell them about your establishment.
Let’s start with an example
Nando’s has linked the ancestral history of the emblematic sauce of its gastronomic offer to the history of the creation of its chain of restaurants , resulting in a Storytelling playing strongly on the emotions. His story explains how Portuguese explorers landed in South Africa and discovered a chili pepper, called Peri-Peri, which they used to make a sauce that would later become an iconic part of South African culture. Then, still according to the story, in the 1980s, two entrepreneurs decided to collaborate to spread this sauce around the world thanks to Nando’s dishes. Here is a story that has all the necessary ingredients to seduce customers, with a script worthy of the big screen!
This story is omnipresent in all of Nando’s communication . On the web , for example, Nando’s details its origins, but also explains the legend behind the rooster that constitutes its logo, the source and the creative process of the typography and the meaning of the icons in its image, through texts repeating terms such as roots, family, heart, soul.
This positive corporate culture is also found on physical media: restaurant walls, promotional documents and even napkins contain emotional texts that recall this identity.
What does Nando’s get with this storytelling?
- It causes a feeling of fascination in the customers.
- He forms emotional bonds.
- It creates a community in which the restaurant and the customers actively participate.
- And of course, this results in unfailing customer loyalty.
The science behind storytelling
The human brain is made up of two hemispheres. The left hemisphere is rational, logical and feeds on material information. We can say that it is the side of the brain that will, for example, attach the most importance to the price of the gastronomic offer. Its opposite, the right hemisphere, feeds on sensory experiences. He ignores the notion of time, because he focuses on pleasure, play and the intangible. It is this side of the brain that will give priority to the creative and emotional aspect of the gastronomic offer.
One of the fundamental factors is that society is changing. We are living a transition between an industrial era founded on the values of the left hemisphere (reason and logic) and an era where the values of the right hemisphere (intuition and emotion) prevail, in particular in terms of habits of consumption. We are seeing this trend appear in the restaurant industry, where authenticity, proximity and creativity are the aspects that now attract customers the most .
This is why storytelling is a perfect technique to seduce your guests, thanks to stories that deeply stimulate this side of the brain that dominates today.
How to put storytelling into practice for customer loyalty purposes?
As a rule, we are constantly telling, listening to and participating in stories. If you offer a quality story about your establishment, it’s a safe bet that customers will become attached to it and want to be part of it.
To get started, follow these three steps:
1 – get to know your customers
Although the storytelling is based on the stories of the restaurant, the heroes of those stories are actually the customers . To define your story, it is therefore essential to know the motivations of your potential customers, who are not looking for restaurants solely for their gastronomic offer. They are indeed looking for something more, which they cannot create in their own homes.
When that “something” coincides with your story, it’s won! The result is perfect customer loyalty.
To find out what your prospects are looking for, you can monitor the opinions and comments they leave on social media and portals like TripAdvisor and TheFork , for example. You can also save your customers’ preferences when they visit your establishment. Before crafting your story, it’s essential to actively listen to your prospects’ opinions and preferences when they search for a restaurant.
Click here to save your clients’ preferences to TheFork Manager.
Imagine that your establishment is targeting millennial customers, that is, young people between the ages of 20 and 35. You probably already know that in addition to food, for example, they need a fast WiFi connection. These are two elements that they can find in other spaces of their daily life. In this case, what added value can a restaurant offer them? Original drinks, intense flavors, healthy recipes, creative events? Your storytelling should include all of these qualities so that your millennials feel like they’re part of your restaurant’s story and share it across their networks. It is only then that the retention of these customers over the long term becomes possible.
2 – define your story
Your restaurant story should of course answer the following questions:
How was it created? What are the motivations that led to its creation? Who are the creators of the restaurant, what is their personality? What are the most unusual, the most epic anecdotes?
Remember, however, that your story should also match the motivations of your prospects. It must therefore reflect both your real identity, but also include that particular “something” that customers expect from your restaurant.
Say your establishment is in a tourist district, but your prospects are not tourists, but locals. After investigating, you realize that they complain about the excessive commercial exploitation of their neighborhood and that they prefer restaurants capable of preserving the authentic spirit.
Now imagine that you offer an international gastronomic offer in a contemporary setting. How to convince your prospects through your storytelling? Answer: by relating your story to that of the neighborhood. Find common ground between traditional and indigenous aspects of the neighborhood and the stories of your establishment, and build on this customer need.
The good news is that your restaurant’s stories are always being created. They never end! Each of your dishes, the arrival of a new chef, the organization of a new event… everything is a matter of building fascinating stories just waiting to be told to customers all ready to be seduced.
Once you’ve defined the elements of your story, it’s time to take action!
3 – Tell your story
In your establishment :
- Place atmospheric and decorative elements that embody your story. For example, use slogans that evoke your entrepreneurial spirit, icons, etc.
- Give your dishes names that also illustrate the same concept. For example, a hamburger restaurant can give first names to its burgers, which will allow its customers to better identify with them.
- Integrate your concept into the presentation of your gastronomic offer.
- When you organize events , make sure that all the elements (dishes, decoration, promotional materials) are in line with your storytelling.
The waiters and the staff deserve a special mention , because they are the ones who must be the first to tell the story and the philosophy of your establishment at the various points of the service. Why do the recipes include these ingredients? Where did the idea for this or that dish come from? What was your experience the first time you tasted this other dish? What’s special about this drink and why is it your favorite drink? <strong> If the servers take ownership of your story </strong> , then they inspire customers to take action. They can thus systematically make them want to come back to try these dishes that they did not choose, but that the waiters described to them with so much passion.
On your digital networks
And by that term, we don’t just mean the “About” section on your website. Tell your story on all your digital channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter profiles, on your blog and in your newsletter. Even if the actions and publications are different on these channels, the secret of storytelling is the presence of a common thread , a common story on all.
- An effective marketing tip is to create slogans and phrases that represent your story that you can use on all of your communications.
- You can also use graphic elements that reinforce your concept and which, in addition to their physical integration into your establishment, also appear in your digital publications.
- Live social media videos are great for telling your establishment’s stories. Tools like Instagram Stories , created specifically to develop user and brand storytelling, will come in handy.
Another idea is to interconnect all of your channels in a single marketing campaign to help your subscribed customers learn about and participate in your story. This is what the Italian restaurant La Tagliatella did .
For his Storytelling strategy, he created a quiz contest on the history of the restaurant . Customers with the most correct answers won all kinds of prizes, from Italian gourmet products to trips with meals included in their establishments. La Tagliatella posted this action on their Facebook profile, Instagram, in their newsletter and on their website.
Remember, the idea is this: tell your establishment’s most emotional stories across all your digital channels, through your image and marketing actions.
The goal is that customers …
- Identify with your story,
- Participate in your story,
- Renew the experience (loyalty)
- Talk about your story (become ambassadors for your establishment).
All restaurants have a story… Are you ready to tell yours?