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How to build sales through competition-based marketing

People are naturally competitive. You can use this to your advantage in your restaurants.

As I have noted before, setting goals leads to success. This is just the innate nature of goals: When people have something to shoot for, they will work to do their best. In previous blog entries, I talked about establishing metrics of success with your teams and watching them improve as they got closer to the goal. Now, I have some suggestions about how you can use that same structure to increase sales in your restaurant.

You can find examples of businesses using competition incentives everywhere. For example, when I’m out on the road for training events or live presentations, I often stay at Marriott hotels. Each time I check in using my Marriott rewards number, I can see that, for example, I only have to stay seven more nights to move from “Silver” status to “Gold” status. I instantly start thinking about how soon I can get to Gold status. Or, as another example, I get offers from the credit cards I have for retail stores all the time. Offers like “Spend $500 on your credit card in the month of April and get double reward points.” (My wife typically takes responsibility for accomplishing those goals.)

The key to establishing an effective competition-based campaign is having a clearly defined metric of success. In other words, everyone needs to be able to see the finish line.  I work with many companies to help them build compensation plans for their employees and I always recommend that they focus on incentivizing the behavior that they want.  That’s what you should think about when you build a contest.

For example, let’s say that you’re launching a new summer menu that has 15 new items. So, the “behavior that you want” is for people to try as many items as possible. Next, establish a clear metric for success. You could run a contest like: “Try five of our new menu items between now and June 15th and get a $20 gift card for your next trip to the restaurant.” You can even give them a punch card that gets marked off when they try one of the items. If you have an app, even better. Maybe even post pictures of people who go the extra mile and try all 15 new items. You will be amazed at the activity that develops from this kind of friendly competition.

You could also get creative and leverage social networking. For example, launch a campaign on Twitter asking your guests to vote for which new menu item they like better (#limechicken or #summersteak). Then, at the end of the campaign, give voters a coupon to try the winning dish. This is a great example of using the online to generate traffic to the offline, meaning foot traffic.

Whatever you decide, remember that when you build a competition-based marketing campaign, it needs to have both a clearly defined metric of success and also incentivize the behavior that you want. You will find that the increased activity and increased numbers of people participating will earn you even more money.

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