Can you remember the last time you traveled, the last time you went to a restaurant or the last time you went to a cinema? Did you really make your choices on your own? Or were you secretly influenced?
Maybe, Marketing influences our decisions more than we think — or at least: more than I think.
Last Sunday I was guiding some friends around in Amsterdam (even though I knew very little about the city myself). After that tour, we were looking for a place to eat. We didn’t know what we wanted to eat yet, so we sat in the park and started brainstorming.
In the end, we enjoyed our dinner. The place we went to had many little food stands. We could choose between the Vietnamese, Dutch, Italian, Japanese and Surinamese cuisine. So we got a bit of everything. We’ve made the right choice.
But when looking back, I realize that many of the decisions we made were the result of information we collected from friends, family, Social Media, influencers, and Google. Maybe we have to thank Marketing and Word-of-Mouth for our nice evening.
How we made our decision
So we decided we were hungry. We wanted to find a nice restaurant in the city centre, but we didn’t exactly know what we wanted to eat at first.
Our initial idea was to try out something Dutch. It’s because both friends were coming over from Italy and “Hey, why not try out Dutch cuisine?” I can tell you a lot about the good, bad and ugly of Dutch food, but we decided that trying out Dutch pancakes would be the best idea.
Option 1: The pancake place
So we grabbed for our phones, and one friend suggested a nice pancake place in Amsterdam. The fun thing: She was from Italy and it was her first day in Amsterdam. How did she knew about that place?
This is why: One of her favourite Instagram travel influencers recommended that place in one of her earlier posts. So we went to Instagram, looked at all the pictures of the food that was served, and we decided that it would be nice to go to that place.
We then opened Google Maps and the website of the pancake restaurant. Unfortunately, we encountered two problems:
- The website didn’t show whether reservations were mandatory or not, and there were no reservations open for today anymore
- The restaurant closed quite early, so we would have to rush if we wanted to have dinner there.
With the information we had (the restaurant closed early) and didn’t have (are reservations mandatory or not?), we decided it would be smarter to go to another place.
Option 2: Well-known food concept
So we continued brainstorming. We opened Google Maps. The other friend, who has already been in the Netherlands for a couple of months, told me she heard about a place where you could order food from many little food stands. You could just sit anywhere and then order food from every stand. There was a shop offering Dutch snacks, there was a Japanese sushi restaurant, a Vietnamese food stand, and so forth.
She told me the name and I recognized it immediately: This brand, called ‘Foodhallen’, has multiple locations spread across The Netherlands. I hadn’t been to one of them myself, but I knew about the concept, because:
- My sister went there, and she recommended the place to my family
- My family and I were going to this place soon
So I checked out Google Maps, and I saw that this brand had a location in Amsterdam too. We then checked some reviews on Google and concluded that most people were overwhelmingly positive about the place. So then we decided to go there.
Looking back at our influenced choices.
When reading through this blog, you might’ve noticed a pattern:
- Influencer recommendation
- Google Maps
- Google Search
- Recalling the name of a brand
- Word of mouth
- Earlier experiences
What do all of these things have in common? They are all part of Marketing, or the result of Marketing efforts
Marketing influences our decisions:
If you look back at every travel decision you’ve made, chances are high you make a lot of your decisions after Googling, seeing a recommendation on Social media, seeing an advertisement, or because of friends and family who recommended you something.
And that’s the power of Marketing. Marketing is there to help us out when we have problems, questions or when we are looking for something. When making decisions on the spot, we use the knowledge, experience, values and beliefs we already have. And when we are unsure of our own experiences, we retrieve more information from websites, influencers, Google, Social media, friends and family.
An Advice for Marketers
You must make sure to have your website, social media and your information on Google up-to-date, so that you can help your customers with making the right decisions. But your website and social media aren’t your only Marketing efforts that help you attract consumers.
Customer Experience, word-of-mouth, and User-Generated Content are just as important:
My friend knew about the pancake place because of the influencer she followed. That influencer showed a picture of a visually appealing pancake and she was positive about the restaurant.
And we went to the ‘Foodhallen’ place, because my sister told my family how good the food was, because I was already planning to go there in the future, and because there were many positive reviews on Google.
Do you want to improve your Marketing Strategy and improve the Customer Experience? Try to remember a time when you made a product decision yourself:
- Why did you go to a specific restaurant? Was it because you Googled for ‘the best restaurants nearby’? Did your friends recommend the restaurant to you?
- Recall your favourite restaurant and ask yourself why you like that restaurant. Is it the taste or presentation of the food? Is it the service? Is it the atmosphere?
- What is your most favourite food brand on Social Media and why?
One last takeaway
Marketing is complex. You have to make sure that everything runs smoothly: your website, your social media, your product and service, and your customer service. But you can learn Marketing from the best. Recall the best customer experience you’ve ever had, and try to find out why you bought specific products from a specific company. And ask your friends, family and potential customers too
My Italian friends sent me an enormous list of things I should do when I’m in Italy next month. I’m pretty sure that I’ll use a lot of their suggestions during my trip abroad.