Pubs need to specialise rather than just offer food and drink like everybody else.
As part of his presentation Developing a vision for your business, Owen explained that in terms of customer profile, suburban pubs are faced with the challenge of an ageing customer base.
So, in trying to attract younger customers, one has to examine the age group most desired for your type of pub, the likely marital status of that age group and whether or not they’re likely to have children, drive cars etc.
It’s important, he said, to focus on a specific customer set rather than target all of them.
Don’t spread yourself too thinly, he advised, warning, “Focus on ‘anyone’ and you’ll get ‘no-one’”.
He added that the good news is that people today are more discerning and will travel to get to a pub they like.
Relationship between you and your customer
Owen urged a re-examination of the relationship between you and your customers. Start with the business itself, he advised.
“What values sum up your business? What are the core attributes that sum you up?
“Then do this exercise with your competitor’s name at the top of that page,” he suggested.
It would also be a useful exercise to have your purpose and goals projected forward five to 10 years so that you can equip well for the journey ahead.
This relationship should be developed: “Promote a two-way conversation – this can be especially successful on websites/facebook and it gives customers a sense of ‘ownership’.”
Your pub can also become a ‘resource’, he added, citing one case history involving McLoughlins the butchers with outlets in Ballyfermot and Clondalkin who use the top panel of their website to help promote their suppliers. This in turn helps promote interest from the consumer.
Interestingly enough, Owen observed that the most-used part of the website is the ‘Ask your butcher’ button.
Customer loyalty and the Loyalty Ladder
It’s important to ask what the ‘competition’ is doing to attract customers and to check out their offers.
This competition is not limited to other pubs but can range from Woodies to Sky Sports.
Owen divides consumers into ‘suspects’ who don’t know about your offers or your pub, graduating onto ‘prospects’ for your pub who may go on to become ‘trialists’ and thence to ‘regulars’.
“But there’s one more level,” he stated, “Making them an ‘advocate’ for your business which, in turn, provides your pub with more ‘credibility’.
Keep and mobilise your loyal customers in promoting your premises
“Businesses tend to concentrate on suspects where advocates would be much more successful in spreading the word.”
It’s important to ask for their help with your marketing strategy, he explained.