When it comes to Marketing Your Restaurant there are a number of things you can do. Obviously, you can utilize social media and run promotional ad campaigns, but there are additional solutions as well as things you can do within the restaurant itself. In this article, we’ll share some tips that can help. Do you have slow times of the day on certain days of the week? We address that too.
Why Marketing Your Restaurant Is Important
In today’s modern world, it is essential to market your restaurant. The old adage of “build it and they will come” no longer applies. Business and competition are fierce, and with so many dining options customers are more fickle and apt to change their minds at the last moment. There are various reasons why marketing your restaurant is important. First and foremost, Certainly, if you do not do some form of marketing, potential customers will not be aware of your existence. Simply placing a blackboard out front — with today’s specials — will never be seen by potential customers who are not walking past your establishment. This means that there are large numbers of potential customers on the next street over completely unaware that you are there, and what your special of the day is. Furthermore, even if customers are aware of your restaurant, they may not choose to patronize your establishment if they do not know enough about what you have to offer.
So to better compete and build a loyal following, you need to be visible, clear, and concise about who you are, what your serve, and the experience the customer can expect.
Marketing can be confusing to new adopters, but this quote simplifies it well:
Marketing is simply telling a story. Websites, social media, ads, flyers, and 3rd party platforms — such as newsletters and offers management — are just the tools to accomplish that.
Marketing allows you to reach a larger audience, whether they are in close proximity or not. With the help of marketing tools such as social media and print advertisements, you can significantly increase the number of people who are exposed to your brand and be continually updated on whatever is new at the restaurant. This essentially means that the more people that know about your restaurant the more people will patronize it. Getting them to return requires yet another strategy that we will touch upon.
Before we delve into the inside tips, note that a good marketing campaign requires a well-thought-out marketing strategy and plan. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, defining what will be the consistent messaging, the unique value proposition, the competitors, the target audience, and budgets.
Marketing Your Restaurant: Tips to Bring in More Customers
No matter what type of restaurant you have, as in real estate we’ve all heard that it’s about location, location, location. It is a defining factor: the restaurant concept has to match the demographics of the location. The right location can help you attract customers, while the wrong one can quickly turn them away. However, while a restaurant on the main street would naturally be initially a better option than one at the end of an alley, the latter could be better for a certain type of venue, for example, a speakeasy. So it’s not just about the best location, but rather it is about the best location for the concept you want to present and the target audience you want to attract.
Tips to consider when choosing a location for your restaurant
- Target market. Who are you trying to attract to your restaurant? Families? Business professionals? College students? Party-goes? Knowing your target market will help you narrow down the ideal location for your restaurant.
- Think about foot traffic. Is the location you’re considering in a high-traffic area? If not, you’ll need to rely almost solely on marketing combined with either a fabulous experience or amazing value for the money, or both.
- Competition. Is there another restaurant nearby that offers similar menu items? If so, you’ll need to be strategic in choosing a location that will help you stand out from the competition.
If you’re in the restaurant business, you know that a great menu is essential to your success. But did you know that your menu can be a powerful marketing tool?
Here are some tips for creating a menu that will help market your restaurant:
- Use descriptive language. Instead of simply listing the title of any item, such as TACOS, or the generic ingredient language of each dish, use language that will make your customer’s mouth water. Describe the flavor, texture, and presentation of each dish in detail.
- Organize your menu logically. Group similar items together, so customers can easily find what they’re looking for. For example, appetizers (or Starters), entrées, and desserts.
- Use attractive visuals. Include photos or illustrations of your dishes on your menu. This will not give customers a better idea of what they’re ordering, but it can prompt them to try something new because they can see it, plus you can use imagery, color, and text to capture the essence of the venue. (click for examples here or here).
Creating a positive customer experience can help you stand out from the competition and build a loyal clientele. Any bar owner, restaurateur, and/or host/hostess with their salt will remember diners previously at the establishment and welcome them back as friends:
“Tony, great to see you again, how many in your party? Let me arrange a table for you.”
Here are a few tips for providing excellent customer service at your restaurant:
- Train your staff to be friendly and accommodating. Your waitstaff should be attentive and responsive to customers’ needs, and your cooks should prepare meals promptly. Teach them to scan the room with their eyes when entering or leaving the dining area.
- Make sure your restaurant is clean and well-organized. No one likes to see a side table stacked with dirty dishes. Customers will appreciate dining in a pleasant environment that’s free of clutter and grime.
- Offer quality food and drinks at reasonable prices. Indeed, you want the best quality you can provide, but also it has to be in line with the pricing. If you can find the right balance that is how you can get great press coverage, as Sushi Dojo did when the menu items are delicious and reasonably priced, customers are likely to return and recommend your establishment to others.
By following these tips, you can create a customer experience that will keep diners coming back for more!
Advertising your restaurant can be daunting, but with the right approach, you can reach your target market and successfully market your business. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be on your way to success.
First, identify your target market. Who are you trying to reach with your advertising? What are their needs and wants? Once you know this, you can create ads that speak directly to them with text and imagery. Be sure with online ads to geofence the ad to a narrow target audience in a narrow geographical area — if you’re a New York-based restaurant and post an ad on Facebook, for example, you don’t need to promote it in California.
Second, decide where to advertise. There are many options available, so it’s important to choose the one that will reach your target market most effectively. Traditional media like newspapers and television can be effective but are expensive. Radio is another option that many overlook. The most common are flyers and ad placement in localized newspapers. But don’t forget about online options like social media and Google Ads, as you always want to drive people to your website, as the more traffic the better your website will rank in search engines — when people search for “best X” you want your website to appear at the top of that list. Moreover, when on your website they can signup for your newsletter to stay informed about new specials and promotions. All of the above should be carefully defined in your marketing plan (need help, ask us, and we’ll assist in developing the plan.)
Finally, make sure your ads are creative and attention-grabbing. This is accomplished with clever messaging, and eye-catching imagery. Your goal is to stand out from the competition and get potential customers interested in what you have to offer. For example, just to show how you can take something basic and create an ad that people will remember — do you recall the ad “Got Milk?” They changed people’s perceptions.
Social Media Marketing
As a restaurant owner, you may be wondering if social media is worth your time. The answer is yes! Social media is a great way to reach new customers and grow your business. However, you need to do more than just create a page — like the restaurant, if you don’t invest the time and money to promote it, it might as well be in a basement with no sign out front.
Here are some tips for using social media to market your restaurant:
- What social media platforms? Facebook and Instagram are no-brainers: any restaurant should be listed on these. Make sure that Instagram is integrated into your website so that those images populate your website photo gallery. But also, consider other social media platforms that fit your restaurant services and goals. For example, if your chef spends time and attention on presentation, consider a Pinterest account. If you cater to the business crowd, Linkedin might be right, and if you have fast-disappearing specials, perhaps Snapchat. And lastly, to get ahead of the competition, invest in short video clips and promote them on your YouTube channel.
- Images. Post to social media mouth-watering photos of your food to tempt potential customers.
- Promotions & Giveaways. Use social media to run promotions and giveaways. Not only to bring customers into the restaurant for a given promotion but also to let people know to keep checking your website and social pages because you do offer promotions and giveaways. This is a great way to generate buzz about your restaurant.
- Use hashtags to reach a wider audience on social media focused on the topic of the #hashtag.
- New content. Regularly update your content to keep people engaged with your brand. It should be a mix of informative — such as press coverage, new food items, did you know today is Nation X day?” etc. — entertaining, even humorous, and promotional. You only want to post promos perhaps 1 on 7 posts.
- Respond quickly to any negative reviews or comments on social media, whether it is an apology for dropping the ball or an acknowledgment of the problem and your intended plan to fix it moving forward. This shows that you care about customer service,
Measuring the Success of Your Restaurant Marketing Efforts
A lot of restaurant owners see that they are really busy a few nights a week. So much so that they completely disregard the slow days or nights as a cost of doing business. Many simply don’t address the problem because (A) they don’t have the marketing experience to address the issue, (B) don’t have the technical skills to promote online, and/or (C) don’t have the time to focus on the problem.
There are a few key factors to measure when determining the success of any restaurant marketing efforts. These include customer acquisition, customer retention, and brand awareness.
But let’s get back to those slow nights. Imagine if you brought in just a bit more traffic on those days so that it turned a profit — instead of being a loss leader. You might want to consider some of the in-venue entertainment promotions (above and to follow).
But Dinevite, a new promotional platform, (click here for a more detailed explanation) you can also now push promotional offers to the public but unlike the platforms that require you to run those promotions for a set period of time, it provides you the control to turn it on or off minute-by-minute depending on how busy you are at any moment. It also allows you to turn on a unique one-of-a-kind “V.I.P. Offer Request” so that individual customers can get an offer from you that no one sees but them will see. This tool was designed specifically to use during your slow times.
All of these platforms — ads, social media, Dinevite — provide dashboards with stats. Reviewing stats is important to understand your customer behavior. to see what works and what doesn’t. So you test and adjust, and when you get it right you’ll see that customer traction and retention increase.
Brand awareness is intertwined with marketing, but is specifically related to how well-known you are and how recognizable your brand is. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to traction or retention. Think of it as the online version of word-a-mouth.
A few more marketing ideas
We discussed uniqueness and/or compelling concepts that will draw in customers and keep them coming back. In an article entitled “Top 3entertainment tips for restaurants, bars, and their patrons” it is noted that coin-operated machines, from games to ATMs to jukeboxes and photo booths can generate revenue and return the business to venues. (we recommend Emerson Amusements which has been serving New York City with cion-operated machines since 1937.
Contests and group games, such as Trivia Nights many patrons look forward to each week. Another idea would be to run a casino night or themed costume night. Be creative and think outside the box.
There are many different ways to market your restaurant, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Our recommendation is that step one should be defining an overall marketing plan. Step two determines how much time and ability you have to focus on it. You can hire a team to manage the marketing for you, or you can attempt to do it yourself with these marketing tools. Be sure to think about what makes your restaurant unique for the neighborhood where you’re located, and then target your advertising to the right audience. Be sure to
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