Guest author, Andy Hill, CEO of Startle, a technology company dedicated to helping retail and hospitality brands provide exceptional digital venue experiences, discusses how operators can cut through all the noise to reach the customer.
According to Canadian research conducted by Microsoft, in today’s digital age, our attention span has dropped to a mere eight seconds – a full second less than that of a goldfish!
We live in a world where we have access to anything on demand. We have become accustom to receiving everything instantaneously and as consumers, we are inundated with choice. But as a result, our eight-second attention span is being fought for by marketers, bombarding us with thousands of propositions every day.
This is particularly prevalent in hospitality venues such as pubs, bars and restaurants. Operators attempt to entice consumers through the doors and encourage them to spend once inside. We’re faced with external banners, corex boards, table talkers, posters, TV, sport, music, digital communications and entertainment – the list goes on. When these platforms are used to communicate numerous different messages or aren’t aligned well, the effect can become overwhelming to the consumer. With too much choice, these efforts can deter, rather than encourage customers to buy into an offer.
Separate research shows that when bombarded with information our brains fail to function properly, meaning we block out the messages all together, and making the effort put into creating the messages redundant.
So how can hospitality businesses manage the volume and noise of multiple communication platforms in one venue to ensure these are effective?
There are three main considerations to bear in mind to successfully grab the attention of consumers and therefore create cut-through:
Knowing your audience’s desires
Data collection is a great way for operators to fully understand who their customers are and what they want. As a result, they can then tailor marketing and promotional offers accordingly. For example, different demographics will respond in varying ways, so it’s key for operators to have a strong grasp on who they are targeting and the format that is most suitable for the audience and purpose. Additionally, gaining further insight into consumer needs and desires by asking questions such as ‘What are your expectations when visiting our bar?’ will allow operators to further investigate their marketing strategies and learn what messages would encourage consumers to connect emotionally.
When tailored marketing is achieved, the consumer is more likely to engage with the message and the brand – not only increasing interest, but building a sense of trust.
What’s more is that by using fully integrated data capturing tools, operators are able to reach out to the customer before they have even stepped over the threshold, giving reasons for them to visit through promotions and events.
Combating information fatigue
While sending bespoke offers to the consumer in an effort to encourage visits is a great starting point, communicating with the customers in a targeted manner doesn’t stop once they are through the door. Once on-site, it’s important to continue the conversation and encourage spend, but it’s vital that this information is clear, and presented in a way that will attract the right kind of attention.
While bigger, bolder, brighter might at first be eye-catching, to what extent is the information really resonating with the intended audience? Too much information and customers tend to shut off, so operators should adopt the less is more approach and focus on quality content that reflects their branding and resonates with their audience.
As a platform that naturally attracts attention with its dynamic content, digital signage provides an easy way to reach all age groups, while particularly tapping into the digital interest of today’s millennials. It allows operators to tailor information to their target audience, minimising the number of directions the consumer’s attention is being pulled by focussing on this one effective channel.
Additionally, digital signage can integrate multiple services including music, TV and advertising into one digital screen, which decreases hardware and maintenance costs. By streamlining and integrating these processes, hospitality venues can provide high-quality communication and marketing that will earn and hold consumer attention – not overwhelm them.
Managing Day Parts
The third and final consideration is communicating appropriate messages for certain times of day. Factors such as the audience demographics can be crucial – for example, are you considering times of day where families with young children may be present, or should you be adjusting your message to suit couples on a special evening out? Managing a site’s atmosphere for different times and occasions is, in my opinion, one of the most vital considerations and something I always advise operators to consider carefully.
Music relevant to each daypart is one obvious way to create a desired atmosphere. You will most likely want relaxed, easy-going songs during breakfast, and higher-tempo soundtracks when creating a more lively and energetic scene. Whether we realise it or not, background music has a huge impact on our behaviour and it’s essential to carefully plan what will be playing in your venue, and how this will affect your business.
Dr.Julia Jones is the CEO of ‘Found in Music’ – a business dedicated to creating campaigns and projects to aid companies with popular music. She believes music is an immensely flexible marketing tool that has the power to segment audiences whilst at the same time, being able to connect with broad demographic groups through a simple choice of repertoire. As such, the appropriate use of music in a business environment can be transformational.
Implementing an additional communication stream with promotions can also work, as long as the customer is not overloaded and the offers are relevant to the time of day. For example, advertising offers on coffee in the morning and wine deals when purchasing lunch or dinner later on is likely to provide helpful and timely information to consumers – exactly what you should be aiming for. In order to ensure that these sorts of advertising are of a high-standard and will not disturb the environment, it’s important to make sure they the desires of consumers are understood and considered. To implement a combination of digital solutions such as music and signage, as well and incorporating quality advertising, I’d always advise operators to seek the help of a professional provider who will be able to advise on best practices depending on the business.
An integrated marketing approach and a well thought-out digital strategy is highly valuable in hospitality businesses in this modern age. If all three of the above points are carefully considered and operators thoughtfully manage the way in which they communicate to customers, they will have great control and will stand a good chance of avoiding visual and audio conflict that overwhelms and confuses the consumer. Not only this, but they will be in a better position to encourage increased dwell-time, spend and loyalty.
Follow Startle on Twitter @StartleInt