A Recipe for Success: Restaurant Marketing
Owning your own restaurant can be both rewarding and challenging. With brand new eateries constantly popping up, as well as consumer preferences always shifting, it is crucial to implement effective marketing in order to stand out from–and ultimately rise above–the crowd. In this article we will discuss some key strategies to ensure your restaurant marketing plan is a success.
Your Brand is the Main Course
Prior to shifting your focus to marketing strategies, do a deep dive on your own brand. What is your unique selling proposition? What do you offer that stands out from the competition? Why should someone choose to eat at your restaurant over the plethora of competitors? Do you offer unique cuisine? Do you offer the best food or the best price for the food? Does your atmosphere stand out? How about your service and speed? Is it some combination of various items in which you excel? Figure out what unique position you occupy in the industry and come up with an elevator pitch to describe it. This will form the basis of your marketing approach.
Garnish Your Website
A high-quality website is vital for all business categories these days, but for a restaurant it is particularly important. Essential information such as menus, phone number, and location must be easily accessible and user-friendly. High-quality color photos of your food and drinks should whet the appetite of any potential visitor. Timeliness is important as well, which means keeping specials and promotions up to date. Obviously a very secure site or plugin is needed if order payments are being collected online. Your website must be mobile friendly and SEO optimized in order to be both visible and appealing to customers.
Serve up Social
Social media these days is filled with people quickly scrolling along looking for something that appeals to their senses–this kind of environment is perfect for showcasing your restaurant! Do you offer delivery? Reach your customers when they are on social media (which is almost constantly) and wherever they are (at work or home or on the go). Are you running any specials, promotions, or activities? Let your audience know! Offering a new menu item? Rolling out a rewards card? Won a foodie award? Tell everyone about it! The opportunities go on and on. You can get really creative with the copy and the images. Good food is one thing everyone supports, so take advantage of the true mass appeal inherent in social marketing for restaurants.
One word of warning–if any customer has had a bad experience (hey, you can’t please everyone), social media is one place they are likely to reach out. Sometimes, too, comments can even go viral. Have a plan in place to vigilantly watch and respond to any potentially negative comments. While every situation is unique, here is a good general formula to follow for your responses: Show empathy (so long as the complaint is reasonable); clarify that you have high standards and this is not a typical experience; take it offline by providing a manager’s contact info (phone and email) and ask them to please reach out so you can rectify the situation. DO NOT go back and forth publicly, but direct them offline via phone or email.
Review Sites are Like a Full-Course Meal
You can’t just nail the main course and then neglect the appetizers and dessert! While Google reigns supreme for online reviews, the restaurant world is uniquely positioned with many other relevant review sites, some even solely dedicated to food reviews. UpMenu, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Maps, OpenTable, Zomato, and Foursquare, among others, are key review sites. Be sure to provide your restaurant’s contact information, respond to reviews, and encourage happy customers to leave reviews. Most people are deciding whether or not they will consider your restaurant based on reviews long before they ever reach your website.
Order Off the Entire Marketing Menu
There are many traditional as well as unique opportunities to promote your restaurant. Email marketing is a great way to engage your customers throughout the year and can easily be leveraged through various in-house or third-party loyalty programs. Also consider SMS (text messaging) campaigns, but be sure to secure a double opt-in and adhere to local communication laws (penalties for rule-breakers are severe). Consider hosting events and promotions, rather it be trivia night, family night, veteran night, etc. Themed nights can create a palpable buzz around your restaurant. Even basic promotions such as seasonal menu items can attract new interest from old customers. Also consider collaborating with influencers to further promote your restaurant. Partner with a local social media influencer or blogger to help get your brand in front of their audience. Authentic celebrity endorsements can skyrocket your visibility. Do not overlook community engagement either. Participation, collaboration, or sponsorship of local charities, fundraisers, or youth sports can enhance your reputation and foster goodwill with the community.
Successfully marketing a restaurant requires a mixing bowl full of creativity, consistency, and customer-focused strategies. By establishing your brand, building a strong online presence, and engaging your customer base, you will stand out in the competitive restaurant industry. Marketing is an ongoing process, so stay on top of trends and adjust your approach to keep your restaurant thriving. If you are looking to cook up a gourmet-level restaurant marketing plan, then contact our team at Ciniva. The restaurant industry is one of our areas of specialty and we’ve been serving sizzling results to our restaurant clients for more than 25 years!