2019 – The Year of ‘Ad-tribution’The restaurant industry continues to be challenged. Traffic remains weak, quality labor is hard to find (and expensive) and food costs are rising for all brands, from QSRs to fine dining. And based on 2019 projections, it will be a battle for share. The struggle is real and to win the battle, you must ensure your marketing campaigns are strategic, consumer-centric and measurable.

While ad agencies and media partners cannot control the cost of labor and food, they hang their proverbial hats on the ability to activate consumers and drive traffic. Whether it is through humor or emotions, deals or promotions, today’s media is centered on the consumer and meant to inspire action.

Finding the right media mix that consistently drives traffic is essential. Many franchisees think they’ll save their way to profitability by not marketing; relying simply on the national corporate messaging and assuming customers will visit. Unfortunately, that method alone will not lead to long-term success. All business owners, especially with small businesses, need strategic local media in order to succeed. Understanding what’s luring customers is a great first step. Through all of the many data and privacy concerns, there is a positive to collecting sales and customer data, and it can be summed up in three words: know what works.

You know how long it takes to cook the fries. You know the perfect mix for the beverages and you know your best-selling menu items. But do you know which of your advertising tactics is most effective? Did your recent Facebook ad drive sales? Was the latest TV spot a success, or did your direct mail campaign entice new customers? If you do not know these answers, that’s OK; most of your fellow franchise owners don’t know either.

So my advice for 2019 is to measure everything. There is a common belief that you can’t improve what you don’t measure; learn from the data and then optimize your local media strategies. All of your media partners must add value and generate results. Seek their assistance with data measurement. Challenge them to prove they are working for you. Consistent local marketing strategies are becoming critical because of the ability for greater relevancy within your market and improved personalization for your customers. Before all campaigns are launched, establish agreed upon performance strategies and metrics that support your key initiatives. During the campaign, most digital media can be re-targeted based on activity, and after the promotion ends, the data can be analyzed and applied to all local media before the next campaign.

A recent McKinsey business survey found that businesses extensively using customer analytics are more likely to report outperforming their competitors on key performance metrics, whether profit, sales, sales growth, or return on investment. Whether it’s making payroll or making pizzas, as a small business owner you do not have the time, or the money, to depend on media that may not be working. Find local media that compliments your national branding strategy and drives traffic to your store. Equally important, find media partners that can prove their value.

It’s your business and this industry is a fist fight. Your marketing is too important to be left to assumptions.