“With a 60% restaurant failure rate, it is not enough to cook right; your marketing strategy needs to be top-notch.” - Brandon Q, Co-Founder EatUp
Recently, competition in the restaurant business has become stiffer, complicating restaurant marketing. If you are in charge of your restaurant's marketing team, you will undoubtedly face interesting and tough challenges as you try to generate new business for the establishment.
Customers who used to frequent restaurants are now bombarded with several options, including Michelin stars, dive bars, steakhouses, fast food dens, and the list can go on.
The competition in the restaurant industry is so fierce that you need to have a bullet-proof marketing plan to stay relevant and continue attracting new customers. With a 60% restaurant failure rate, it is not enough to cook right; your marketing strategy needs to be top-notch. The success of any restaurant is largely dependent on the effectiveness of its marketing strategy.
This article provides you with a complete restaurant marketing plan to help you be creative, competitive, and strategic in attracting, gratifying, and maintaining your customers.
How to Market Your Restaurant
Though there is no single magic formula to market your restaurant, you can follow these important steps to build a food-friendly zone.
1. Build your Establishment’s Brand Identity
Brand identity is not just the logo and colors; it is what your restaurant stands for. It includes your content’s tone, business personality, and the emotion it inspires in your clients. Popular brands combine humor and wit, health and freshness, indulgence and extravagance, or family and comfort to build their restaurant identity. Customers need more than being “Happy.”
To succeed in building brand identity, conduct research to understand your target audience. You could also narrow it down to individual buyer personas interested in what you offer. This knowledge will help you establish a feel and theme that resonates with your buyer personas. Ensure you express this theme in all your content and actions. Your customers will recognize your brand based on what you build it on.
You can also build your brand identity by establishing a clear mission statement. The statement should indicate what you offer, where you operate, whom you serve, why you do it, and how.
2. Get a Website
We cannot overemphasize the need for a website; it is a must-have for any serious restaurant that wants to survive on this fierce battlefield. If your budget is limited, at least have a simple website with a homepage, contact page, about us, and menu. In an ideal situation, you want a well-established website with quality content such as a review page, blog, photo gallery, and FAQ page that can generate traffic and lead visitors to your restaurant.
Having a website is like having your dishes in every part of the world. A professional website allows you to access a larger market since potential customers can easily find you wherever they are. Though some restaurants shy away from the cost of building a website, the results are worth it. In this digital world where content rules, you need a website to succeed.
3. Get Social
Besides building a website, you want to create an online presence on various social media platforms. Potential customers spend an average of 147 minutes per day on social media, meaning if you channel your restaurant's marketing strategy on these platforms, you will reap huge benefits.
Social media platforms are rich with several mouth-watering food pictures that make even the thriftiest customers spend unbelievable money on food. Therefore, if you want to keep orders rolling in your restaurant, you should invest in social media marketing to promote your restaurant. Though there are many social media platforms, restaurants thrive well on Instagram and Facebook. Other platforms can act as supplements. You want to invest in a high-quality camera or hire a social media marketing agency to help with posting top-notch food photos and videos
4. Create and Update your Google Business Profile
Did you know that 89% of your restaurant customers research your establishment online before dining? Creating a Google Business Profile allows your restaurant to appear in local search results and Google Maps for easy discovery. Nevertheless, you should do more than setting up a business profile; you want to optimize it to improve your chances of appearing in the Local 3-pack, ranking higher on Google maps, and attracting new customers.
Google listing offers a vast amount of information, including:
Your restaurant’s contact information
Questions and answers
Ensure your Google details like phone numbers, address, current menu, and operational hours are up to date. This way, you attract the right customers to your website.
5. Create a Stylish and Functional Online Menu
Online presence in the future, if any business, and building a website is the first step to enhancing visibility. The next thing should be to post a high-quality and updated, easy-to-read menu to help potential customers with decision-making. If you don’t know how to make a suitable online menu, you could use EatUp to help you get a stylish and sleek menu template. After designing a suitable menu, ensure you upload it to your website so that potential customers can see it.
If your restaurant does not have an excellent online menu, your other marketing strategies will not accomplish their purpose. The current consumer consumes digital content more than ever before, underscoring the need for an online menu to attract and keep them.
Practical Restaurant Marketing Strategies
What practical restaurant marketing strategies can enable you to attract and keep your customers hooked to your brand? Consider some of these strategies.
6. Ask for Reviews
Did you know that your happy customers can help spread the word about your services through their online reviews? Online reviews are a powerful tool that your restaurant can use to market your services. One of your restaurant marketing strategies should be asking for reviews. But, how can you do that? Consider some ways:
Ask your customers in person after they are done eating
Include a framed or artistic sign with an easy-to-remember QR code or link.
Request your customers to do a social post.
When your customers do a review for your restaurant, you do well to respond to their reviews by publishing them on your site and thanking them. If you receive a negative review, be sure to swiftly respond to them professionally, publicly, and politely, resolving to take action to address the complaints.
7. SMS and Email Marketing
SMS and Email are among the best marketing strategies to help reach your existing customers with news about upcoming events, new ads on the menu, customer stories, coupons, and more. However, you could build an email list or collect contact details before utilizing this marketing strategy.
SMS marketing strategies are personal with a high opening rate, while emails give you the freedom to incorporate text and images to make them more engaging. Email marketing will help you nurture your customers.
Remember to include a clear call-to-action in your SMS or Email copy, like Order Now! You could also embed the link to your phone number or Online Ordering. Email marketing also allows you to send out newsletters highlighting monthly events. However, do not abuse it; sending too many emails or SMSs could backfire. No one loves getting spammed!
8. Convert your Facebook Business Into a Community
Social media presence is a must to succeed in the restaurant business. If you have a strong social media presence, you can leverage this power to promote your restaurant. Here is how you can leverage your social media numbers:
Consider your page as a contact listing. The Facebook page is your business directory!
Ensure you post regularly, including upcoming events, customer photos, hours updates, and special offers.
Keep your followers engaged by inspiring discussions, following your customers, and responding to their comments.
Ensure you change your cover photo to suit different seasons.
9. Use Paid Ads
Paid ads are also another marketing strategy you can employ to market your restaurant. You can use various platforms like Google and Facebook to enhance your restaurant’s visibility.
Other paid ads include:
Pamphlets and flyers- where you can advertise upcoming events organized by your restaurant or any changes in your menu. You can distribute these to passers-by new to your restaurant or hand them over to happy customers who look forward to returning to your restaurant.
Broadcast Advertisement- You can also use mass advertisement to promote your brand, especially if you have a chain of restaurants offering discounts or introducing new items on the menu. You can use local television or radio stations for advertising your event.
Signage and display boards- You can use classic menu boards to promote daily specials. You can use them outside your restaurant to promote a special event or menu.
10. Start a Blog
Blogging provides an ideal opportunity to engage with your customer and build a community with your audience. You can share your struggles, success, recipes, funny stories, and any relevant news that would interest your customers.
The secret to blogging is keeping it simple as you grow to complexity. Your blogs will likely attract more customers if you maintain regularity in posting informative and optimized articles. The articles could include news or announcements you want the world to hear. Your regular readers will likely convert to regular customers, but first, you want to ensure you produce quality content.
11. Offer Discounts and Coupons
Discounts and coupons are an ideal restaurant marketing strategy that will keep customers coming to your establishment. You can offer your subscribers and potential customers a substantial discount on certain plates through your email newsletter.
Pizza Inn is known for these discounts by offering terrific Tuesday pizza, allowing you to get two pizzas with the same amount of money. You could also implement a similar tactic by offering free drinks for certain premium dishes.
12. Use Online Reservation Platforms
Almost all fine dining restaurants use online booking platforms as a marketing strategy. These platforms enable you to access many diners who are searching for restaurants to eat at monthly.
Online platforms also allow your customers to book or order dishes online. Customers also love online platforms that allow them to erase reservations if they cannot make it to your restaurant.
13. Loyalty Programs
Customer retention is one of the main objectives of restaurant marketing. You could partner with online apps to encourage potential customers to visit your restaurant through customer loyalty programs and gamification. The programs reward frequent customers with a discount or free purchase.
Loyal customers can easily be convinced to come back and are likely to become your ambassadors by telling others about your delicacies. You can promote customer loyalty by serving high-quality food, being friendly to your customers, and ensuring enjoyable interiors. You could also team up with app providers like Belly, Perka, and LevelUp, which offer unique deals for loyal customers. Additionally, you can offer discounts to loyal customers or upgraded dining experiences such as free desserts or champagne.
14. Local SEO
Though Google can identify your location by looking at your online information and search location based on your IP address, it does not mean you appear top in the local results for relevant searches. Your restaurant needs local SEO to rank high on relevant local searches. Here is how you get your local SEO:
Attach Google Map to your location on the contact page
Ensure you are listed on one of the top local listing sites
Regularly publish articles that specifically address your location
Ensure you publish the same information across all your online platforms
Get online reviews.
15. Organize Social Media Contests
Humans love to win free things on various platforms, and your restaurant can organize Instagram or Facebook giveaways. If you want to succeed with this marketing strategy, ensure you do something exciting and specific.
No one wants to participate in some boring gift card. You can offer specific gifts like extra pizza, free side dishes, free home delivery for one month, swag, or dinner for two. Request participants to enter by tagging your restaurant or posting about it using relevant hashtags on Instagram. Exciting campaigns will likely improve your following and attract local audiences.
The Bottom Line
Now that you have practical restaurant marketing strategies to boost your business and take your operation to the next level, here are a few things you want to remember:
Your online marketing strategy is highly pegged on your performance offline; therefore, you should get your offline actions right.
Hire a marketing expert if you have little or no knowledge about marketing; do not fall into the trap of DIY restaurant marketing.
Work hard at implementing uncomfortable but productive strategies; execution is everything.
Here is a quick checklist to get you started with your restaurant marketing. Remember imperfect action beats inaction, get started and keep publishing.
Research your target audience and create buyer personas.
Establish a theme that resonates with your buyer personas.
Create a clear mission statement reflecting your offerings, location, target customers, purpose, and methods.
Reflect your theme consistently in all content and actions.
Ensure the website includes a homepage, contact page, about us, and menu at minimum.
Invest in quality content such as a review page, blog, photo gallery, and FAQ page.
Keep your website updated regularly to ensure it remains relevant and engaging.
Choose the platforms where your target customers are most active, typically Instagram and Facebook for restaurants.
Post high-quality food photos and videos regularly.
Engage with followers by responding to comments, promoting discussions, and regularly updating content.
Ensure your Google listing details, such as phone numbers, address, current menu, and operational hours, are up to date.
Encourage customers to leave reviews to boost your local ranking.
Ensure your menu is easy to read and visually appealing.
Keep your menu updated and easily accessible on your website.
Encourage customers to leave reviews, either in person, through social media, or by using QR codes or links.
Respond to all reviews professionally and promptly, showing appreciation for positive reviews and addressing negative ones.
Collect contact details for SMS and email campaigns.
Regularly send out news, promotions, and events to your customer base.
Always include clear call-to-action in your messages.
Post regularly about upcoming events, customer photos, hours updates, and special offers.
Engage with followers through discussions, and respond to their comments.
Update your cover photo to match the season or upcoming events.
Utilize platforms like Google and Facebook for online ads.
Consider traditional marketing methods such as pamphlets, flyers, signage, and broadcast advertisements.
Regularly post informative, optimized articles about your restaurant, its offerings, and industry news.
Engage with readers through comments and discussions.
Regularly offer promotions to subscribers and potential customers through your email newsletter or social media channels.
Enable customers to book or order dishes online.
Partner with popular online booking platforms to increase your visibility.
Reward frequent customers with discounts or free purchases.
Consider partnering with apps that offer unique deals for loyal customers.
Ensure consistent information across all your online platforms.
Regularly publish articles that specifically address your location.
Encourage online reviews and attach a Google Map to your location on the contact page.
Regularly host exciting giveaways or contests on your social media platforms.
Encourage participation through specific, enticing prizes related to your restaurant.
Remember, while digital strategies are vital, your offline performance is also crucial for your restaurant's success. If necessary, hire a marketing expert to aid in implementing these strategies effectively.