Winning The Walk-Ins – A Lesson In Marketing and Attracting Customers

We were on holiday in Newquay and wanted to celebrate with a restaurant meal for our wedding anniversary.
Image Copyright - Mary Williams - Wedding anniversary photo meal - Marketing and attracting customers
Written by Mary Williams – Writer, Content Creator, Website Designer and Business Owner in Bristol & Bath.

Nail the first impression.

This is a true tale of how effective marketing can captivate and attract customers. The first impression of your business projects can significantly influence potential customers. The deciding moment – when they choose to engage with your services or not – often occurs within mere seconds of their initial encounter.

It’s make. Or break.

And you only get one chance to make that first impression.

We were on holiday.

My husband and I were on holiday close to Newquay this July, looking for somewhere good to eat. We wanted something simple, nothing too grandiose or pricey. We were hunting down a cosy nook with fresh homemade fare. 

After all, it was our wedding anniversary and our beloved yet demanding older teenagers were away for the night.

We’d already been busy exploring the Cornish Coastlines, and our weary legs felt somewhat heavy.

I did an internet search for local restaurants.

Venturing online using the unreliable internet connection in our holiday apartment due to its location – I had a quick gander at Google to find potential dining spots within walking distance—no driving for me.

I felt overwhelmed and unclear by the search results. Many websites were similar and uninspiring. They needed to have further information on their websites for me to decide which eatery we wanted to pick – and then to check exactly where they were located.

And I was seeking recent honest human reviews to determine what might suit us. So I gave up.

So we decided to roll the dice, setting the course to the main high street that hugs the Cornish coastline and beaches.

A wide choice of restaurants and pubs.

At first glance, some establishments proudly displayed their menus in plain sight, but they didn’t ignite our culinary curiosity. It’s not their fault as we didn’t fancy what they had to offer (as we are only human too). So we walked on by.

In others, the atmosphere inside was more worn-out than well-loved, lacking the vibrant hum we craved. They looked barely alive with an uninviting aura.

The Wetherspoons pub was buzzing in contrast with their well-known offer of reasonable cost and the predictable menu of “something for everyone”. This is tried and tested, and we love the convenience of the fast service. I also enjoy ordering via the app to my table.

However, as we had already eaten there that week (as it is the perfect place to take ravenous daughters) – we were craving a little unpredictability.

A pub restaurant was nearby where the patio overlooked the road traffic – yet we were almost on the brink of surrendering to our tired feet. However, a glimpse of them serving their uninspiring dishes set us back on our journey. Nah. Not for us.

We kept walking.

Our determination renewed, and we found the energy to explore the upper part of the main street, closer to the harbour, where the vibe seemed a bit more upmarket. The hustle and bustle and energy started to build.

The Fish and Chip shop had a lengthy queue outside snaking up the side of the street full of what appeared to be local people. We made a mental note that we’d consider using it for a takeaway as it was popular.

We breezed by a collection of places where our snap judgments came into play. Pubs crammed with patrons much younger than us or others too focused on drinking rather than dining – this didn’t fit our bill.

Our mission? To find a place that fitted us and our desires like a glove.

Some eateries seemed almost promising – their wall-mounted food portraits luring us to side alleys off the main thoroughfare. Yet, then when we were confronted with an almost empty restaurant (on a balmy summer evening), we kept walking – raising our brows in suspicion.

Perhaps we and others would have given them a chance if they’d only rolled out the welcome mat a little more and looked more inviting and loved. Maybe they should post a friendly greeter on the door with a human touch.

Then, like a plot twist in a novel, we stumbled upon “the” place.

It stood out with its roadside fairy-lit gazebos, the menus as clear as a bell. Cosy tables ensconced in snug booths, heaters, and cushions all faced the sea while the place buzzed with life and delicious-looking food. Satisfied customers and smiling staff filled the scene.

Clean, tidy, and with uniformed staff in their stripy tops, we even chose to ignore the aerial threat of seaside seagulls. The bustling pub within had a fast-moving queue at the bar, assuring us of speedy service.

With every step closer, we felt like we had hit the jackpot. We knew we’d found what we sought – even if we hadn’t known exactly what that was at the start of this journey to find the perfect restaurant for our anniversary.

Despite the busy rush of customers, the food was served swiftly, and we savoured a wonderful evening – just the two of us overlooking the sunset-kissed sea.

Ultimately, we found more than a pub restaurant that met our needs. We discovered a place that made us feel right at home and suited our needs.

Revisiting the business.

We returned again for repeat business on the last night of our holiday to the same pub restaurant overlooking the sea. As we strolled confidently into the pub, we then happily recommended it to passers-by who were pondering their next move at the entrance.

This time was with our darling daughters in teenage tow. Funnily, they didn’t watch out for the seagulls, and we had a giggle when the gulls knocked a drink over in pursuit of a tasty piece of garlic bread. Lesson learned.

(BTW, If you ever end up in Newquay, it was called the “Fort Inn”. It is both family and dog friendly, with a small soft play area indoors- I highly recommend it. They have no idea I was writing this article.)

The takeaway from this tale? 

For any business to thrive, it must create a welcoming atmosphere where people feel safe and cater to their target clientele. Like the Fort Inn did.

It must inspire trust and loyalty by being great at what it does, becoming popular as a result, having genuine reviews, and it must showcase its successes.

And if I were to wave my marketing magic wand over those uninviting places and businesses? 

I’d suggest throwing open their doors, sprucing up their image with a lick of paint and looking at their image. Would you enjoy eating there?

To grow your good reputation, host tasting events for locals and tourists and have a friendly greeter to charm people as they arrive.

Cook fantastic food that people talk about – and give exceptional customer service. Make your customers become your biggest fans, and they will tell others. Like me.

And on the more tech digital marketing front, you need to be easily found online.

So set up a unique user-friendly website that isn’t a carbon copy of everyone else’s to inspire potential customers, utilise Google My Business, and solicit heaps of online reviews from satisfied customers as they polish off their meals.

Then a once-ignored restaurant can become a bustling money-making hub – thriving on its popularity. 

This formula for marketing and attracting customers works wonders for any type of business.

Give it a whirl.

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