Marketing your restaurant is the one of the most important factors ensuring it takes off and takes root.
In fact, not properly marketing your business is one of the common restaurant mistakes we outlined in a previous post.
There’s no doubt among the seemingly hundreds of other tasks crowding your day, marketing your restaurant is hard to fit in.
Our suggestion? Find a dedicated person on your team who is marketing-savvy to handle each aspect of your marketing. This gives your staff a chance to shine, takes the burden off you, and draws attention to your restaurant.
So once you have staff members dedicated to your restaurant marketing, how do you know what strategies, channels and tactics to use?
Here’s a breakdown of three sure-fire marketing secrets that will get your restaurant noticed.
Having a crappy site that isn’t mobile is like serving a filet mignon on a paper plate.
The first interaction many people will have with your restaurant will be through its website, so make that experience count. When people visit your website, it should create an impression right away. Your site should be an extension of the atmosphere and personality of your restaurant.
Most people are coming to your site on a mobile device, so make sure whatever platform you’re using to publish your website can be adjusted to display well on a smaller screen. Stay away from clunky PDF menus that don’t display well or at all on mobile devices and please, please, please stay away from adding music files.
Use high-quality photographs. Invest in a professional photographer to visit your brick-and-mortar location and take shots of your establishment. Prepare your most famous dishes and get photos of those at the same time. Grab some takes of your chef, line cooks, bartenders and servers in action.
The content on your website should at the very least include your logo, the name of your restaurant, the type of restaurant you are (e.g. French bistro, pub, Asian-fusion), and your contact and location information.
Additionally, website visitors will find it helpful if they can browse your menu items, see customer reviews from Yelp, connect with you on your social media sites, and make reservations.
The words and descriptions you use are important, but keep copy short and simple. Most people today use their smartphones to browse websites, and yours won’t be any exception. That means keeping the amount of your words succinct and to the point is integral to your website’s success.
As you write your copy, think about the words people might use to look for your restaurant in a search engine. Consider the type of restaurant you are, where you’re located, and superlative modifiers to include, e.g. “best Italian restaurant in Baltimore.”
Creating a high-quality website opens the door to more digital opportunitiesfor people to find your restaurant. For example, you’ll be able to start targeting people who visit your website with ads on Google, Facebook and Twitter.
You can also create new audiences with search ads and send new potential customers to your restaurant based on their interests. And with a website, you can set up a Google+ business account so more people can find you when they are doing a location search.
There’s no reason to break the bank on a modern website. There are dozens of good platforms you can use such as HappyTables or Squarespace that are mobile ready and simple for a non-techie to use.
2: Get Social
Once you have a website, the next best way to market your restaurant is to create a dedicated presence on social media.
Posting on social media channels allows you to connect with your community, whether it be local New Yorkers or people who love tex-mex food across the country. You can engage with people who are already customers, and make customers out of people who didn’t know you existed.
Although there’s no set-in-stone rule about which social channels restaurants do the best on, there’s no doubt that if you can post stunning photos of food, then Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are going to be where you shine.
However, don’t rule out Twitter, since tweets containing photos tend to stir up more notice than those without. Note: No shoddy pics that are underlit or otherwise less-than-excellent. Those images will only serve to make your food look unappetizing.
At a minimum, pick one or two outlets you’re comfortable with and post consistently.
There are many more ways you can use social media to market your restaurant:
- Be an Insta-ham. That’s right, post pictures of your food that are so drool-worthy that foodies can’t help but follow you - and visit you - to get more.
- Tell people what’s on your menu, where you’re getting your fresh ingredients from, or any specials you’re offering.
- Pay attention to user-generated content. Give props to your followers by sharing what they’ve posted about you. Respond to customers and fans when they post good or bad comments about you on social media.
- Tell your story by showcasing your chefs and staff. Who are they? Why do they make your restaurant so special?
Last but not least, social media is a way to get the attention of local food bloggers and media beat writers who are looking for hot stories about restaurants.
By keeping up a top-notch social media presence, you’ll actually be doing some undercover PR for your restaurant, inspiring those in the media to give attention to your business.
3: Make Email Marketing Your BFF
Did you know 77 percent of consumers prefer to receive marketing messages from businesses via email? And for every dollar spent on email, $44.25 is the average return on investment.
Many companies wrongly assume people hate marketing emails, but the stats prove the opposite is actually true. That should be incentive enough to get your restaurant’s email program up and running, and it’s not as hard as it may seem.
First you must start by collecting emails for your list:
- Collect emails via your reservation system.
- Ask patrons for their emails via your brick and mortar location.
- Create a subscription form on your website and promote it on your social channels.
- Special deals and promotions
- Links to content about the local food and restaurant community
- Links to your social media sites
If you’re just getting started with email marketing, your best bet is to use a free, user-friendly email marketing service such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact.
These sites walk you step-by-step through how to put together and send an email, from already-made templates to adding first-name and other personalization elements.
If you want to get more advanced, services like Fishbowl will provide restaurant templates and even manage email campaigns for a monthly fee.
Get Noticed by Investing in MarketingThe independent restaurant industry is booming, and because of that you have to think about how you’re going to get noticed in such a crowded market.
Figure out what makes you unique from competitors and other independents, and then tailor your marketing with those differentiators in mind. The good news is most of the tips below are relatively inexpensive or even free, so you just need to invest a little time.
Start small and expand as you can and give your employees a shot at helping out with social media or email marketing.
For the cost of a few extra hours of labor you can start building the tools to help you grow today.