Marketing is essential to keep customers coming through your doors but how do you reach a cross-generational demographic? Clea Sherman reports
Despite being based in a town with a population of only 900, Barry Iddles’ restaurant 360Q regularly serves crowds of over 120 at lunch and dinner. Part of the reason for the success of the Queenscliff, Victoria establishment is its ability to appeal to patrons of all ages.
“Queenscliff is a short ferry ride from the Mornington Peninsula,” explains hospitality veteran Iddles. “It’s a wonderful day trip and we attract the older market by offering a $22 lunch special.”
With a $5 glass of wine and $10 dessert as optional extras, the seniors deal means 360Q is packed with happy patrons on weekdays. Iddles and his team make sure the menu is appealing but cost-effective so the venue still makes a profit.
“Every area has a tennis club, bowling club or seniors group looking for things to do.”
Barry Iddles, owner, 360Q
Unless your restaurant or cafe is located in an area with a very specific target market, cross-generational appeal is essential. By marketing to both an older and a younger market, you’ll boost your numbers throughout the week.
Marketing to oldies
While digital trends seem to dominate nowadays, Iddles reminds venue owners not to forget traditional marketing avenues. One way he has created a steady flow of daytime diners is to reach out to local Probus retiree clubs. “These clubs organise regular outings,” explains Iddles. “Send a letter or an email inviting them to enjoy a lunch special at your venue. You could also place an ad in their magazine.”
Local directories are another helpful resource when it comes to reaching the 60+ market. “Every area has a tennis club, bowling club or seniors group looking for things to do.”
To keep your older patrons coming back beyond their initial experience, Iddles says it is all about making their visit memorable. “I remind my staff that it is the customers who pay their wages, not me,” he says. “They need to bring the pizazz and excitement, even at lunchtime.”
Cathy Anderson from digital content agency Ginger Brown takes care of 360Q’s online marketing and social media, which helps attract younger patrons. “We focus on the aspirational side of things when promoting this venue to younger customers,” says Anderson. “This means posting beautiful images of the food and views.”
“We focus on the aspirational side of things when promoting this venue to younger customers. This means posting beautiful images of the food and views.”
Cathy Anderson, online and social media marketing, Ginger Brown
360Q’s waterside location and delicious dishes appeal to a younger, Instagram-obsessed audience. The use of popular local hashtags such as #GeelongEats and #bellarinepeninsula encourages more diners to discover the restaurant. “We also leveraged local food influencers by inviting them to 360Q for events and functions in the early days,” Anderson shares.
Sundays are a popular day for the millennial crowd to visit Queenscliff so 360Q highlights ‘Sunday Sippers’ on Instagram. A young bartender from the team is happy to take shots of her martinis and other cocktail creations.
Communication with patrons continues online, especially when it comes to anybody aged 30 and under. Interacting via Facebook and Instagram and creating a sense of community can be a good strategy for staying top of mind. “Younger people like to spread the word and look like experts. By feeding them content and updates, you make them feel like they are in the know,” says Anderson.
Across generations, email updates can provide marketing wins. Almost every age group has email and checks it regularly. The more updates and offers you send (without going overboard), the more people will accept your offers.
Iddles has figured out how to appeal to different generations and kill two birds with one stone after a client cheekily claimed his Senior’s Lunch Special was ‘ageist’. “I created another version called Express Lunch! This offers the exact same deal to people who don’t have a senior’s card.”
Unravelling the mystery of marketing
“Marketing lives in a grey area,” says Brad Cooke, general manager at business and marketing consultancy Foodie Coaches. “While there are principles which work well, there is no right, wrong or magic formula.”
Cooke’s tip for reaching a cross-generational demographic is to be visible within the community. “Show up to sporting and community events and be prepared to share a good offer to get new customers through the door. Bring the charm and you’ll take the first steps to growing a loyal customer base.” The older generation tends to value relationships, so Cooke recommends taking the time to get to know this demographic of customers on a more personal level when they do visit.
When it comes to younger people, “a cool wall display is perfect for social media selfies”, says Cooke. “You could also investigate sending messages via WhatsApp, text or Facebook which have strong open rates. Keep in mind that colleagues send emails, but friends send messages.”