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CRM: The answer to survival is right under your nose

Your CRM is an incredible machine, but like all machines, its output depends entirely on what you put in.



I was too busy propping the bar up in the name of operational excellence to have watched Friends during its 90’s and noughties heyday, but even I’m aware of the emotional rollercoaster underpinning each character’s quest to find the perfect partner.

And nearly 20 years after its finale I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by remembering that the answer was right under the nose of at least 60% of the gang – Monica fell for Chandler and Rachel fell for Ross.
And this got me thinking about how we approach marketing in our industry. Turning to a never-ending stream of shiny new technologies in the hope of discovering an unlimited supply of silver bullets, when the answer to truly effective marketing with a provable ROI has been right under our noses all along – our customer database.

At this point there’s a good chance you’re settling in for a pleasant read, safe in the knowledge that you’ve done the work – you’ve got yourself a gleaming CRM and have been chucking names and email addresses into it with happy abandon for months or even years. It’s only a matter of time before that bad boy starts making you an absolute ton of money right?


Your CRM is not a 3D printer, churning out hungry & thirsty people clutching fist fulls of £20 notes whenever you need them. Your CRM is an incredible machine, (especially if you’ve signed up with Airship!) but like all machines, its output depends entirely on what you put in.


If fuel powers an actual machine, it’s data which powers your CRM – specifically Proof of Presence data. We want data which proves someone was in your building or have bought something on your website. Social and other ‘vanity’ data might give everyone at HQ a warm fuzzy glow but it’s not going to help you here.

So what makes good data other than proving presence? We live in the era of personalisation so anything that can help us tailor our messaging is worth capturing and holding onto. You’ll need a good spread of demo and geographic (name, age, gender, location), behavioural (recency, frequency, visit times, product preferences, spending habits) and psychographic (the data which captures the ‘why’ behind the behaviour such as identity, mindset, environmental consciousness etc etc) – and for as many people as possible.


If a machine needs materials to work with, your CRM needs content. And we’re not talking the content you feel very pleased with, which beautifully articulates how great your brand is and why someone should choose YOU. We’re looking for the kind of content which takes your overarching messaging and transforms it into something more relevant for the recipient.

So let’s say your overarching messaging is around your new menu. We want content which not only enables us to deliver the parts of the new menu messaging most relevant to the reader (for e.g. highlighting the vegan dishes to those who have bought vegan products before), but really drill down to the reason behind that behaviour (care around the environment, animal welfare or even health or allergies).


As a regular viewer of BBC’s ‘Inside the Factory’ I can attest to each machine knowing exactly what it’s there to make – and your CRM is no different. Sending an untargeted, un-personalised email out with the hope that it will ‘drive some significant sales’ is a bit like studying for 20 minutes and expecting a first – it happens to the gifted, but even then, not very often.

You need to know how your database is made up (in terms of your key groups and their value) for you to know the action you are trying to drive. 30% of your base lapsed? That’s going to lead to a different approach and expectation of result to an email you send out to the group who were in for lunch yesterday. Segmenting your base and being realistic about the actions you hope to drive enables you to build a strategy and see the results of your efforts far more clearly.


In every episode of ‘Inside the Factory’, we see that even the smartest of machines have a manual operator who maintains the quality and consistency of output, feeds in the appropriate materials or fuel and quickly makes tweaks when production starts to go a bit awry – your CRM is no different.

Effective email marketing is almost a full-time job when done right – but the return should speak for itself.

So, as the impact of recession looms ever closer, the key to survival (and even prosperity) for most hospitality businesses will be found in your database. It’s time to shore up your relationship with your key groups and give them compelling reasons to stay right by your side as they become increasingly careful about where they spend their cash.

Whether in matters of love or liquidity, the answer is often to be found right under your nose.

Drop us a line to find out about our segmented and personalised managed CRM service.

Like what you read?

Get in touch with Vic and the team to see what we can do for you.


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