This post is all about simple steps to restaurant marketing success. This is a longer post and I suggest you read this 2-3 times. These are all ways you can boost sales, create customer loyalty, fill slower times, get more PR, find and book more private parties and much more. I am an avid restaurant goer, and this is why I wrote this blog. I am passionate about filling your seats, and this post will give you a list of activities you can easily do right now, learn more from the best expert affiliate managers.
1. Ensure accessibility on mobile phones.
Make sure your website has a mobile version, or uses responsive design. This means when someone pulls up your website, they don’t need to pinch and zoom. If they do, you need to make a change immediately and make the investment into mobile. Here’s why:
- 61% of your customers will leave your website if it is not mobile-friendly.
- 61% of consumers also say that the ability to easily call a business is critical to the decision to make a purchase.
- 47% of people say they will get frustrated if they cannot call a business directly from a phone and will go elsewhere. Source: Google.
If your customers want it, do it! Think about what they may be thinking for a second. “I want to eat at Restaurant X, but it’s not easy to order food. It’s easy to order from Restaurant Y, though.” Data tells us Restaurant Y wins this scenario three out of five times. These numbers are staggering. If you’re not already figuring out how to get this done, hint hint – YOU SHOULD. The world finds restaurants for their next meal online or on apps. Don’t fight change. Adapt to it. Your business, family and employees will benefit. Mobile responsive websites make it easy to contact with features such as click-to-call, Yelp review integrations, and coupons or specials to prompt faster purchases, drive impulsive actions and grow your sales. This gives customers a very easy way to buy from you, which is the whole point of having a business. There are several options to getting a mobile-friendly website. If your website is built on WordPress, it may already be responsive. If it is not, you can install the WP Touch plugin for free. Difficulty Level: Low to Medium ROI: High If you don’t know how to do this, hire a professional to do it properly. Be careful if you do it yourself – don’t break anything or make a mess of your website. I suggest you test this on a backup server in case you run into issues.
2. Start an email club & build a list of GOLD!
Email marketing is not just for big chains. More and more local restaurants now have an email club. Do you know why? So they can upsell, cross sell, promote special occasions and more – to MAKE MONEY. Let your guests know you are there; you can accommodate them for all occasions you offer. You have to constantly remind your customers by staying on top of their mind. They have a lot of other options, from low cost fast food to premium steakhouses and seafood establishments. Make sure they think of you. It is effective and can do wonders for your business. Here are a few ways to get subscribers:
- When you give your customers the bill create a short paper form that will ask them simply for the first, last name and email. If you want more customer data, you can ask them for it, but remember: more info demanded = less likely to join.
- Encourage them with incentives to sign up – for example: “I’d like to ask you to join our email club. You’ll receive special offers & promotions, and get info on special members-only events. It is a simple way to get free things from us!” They may be more likely to fill this in.
- If you are a fast casual or fast food restaurant, ask them at the cash register. If there’s a long line, ask them to fill it in and come to the front. You still have the chance when you give them their to-go meal or in-store meal. Don’t be annoying, however. You have to do it with a smile and not like a bank trying to sell you a new bank account.
- Have a business card fish bowl. Here you want to still ask customers, but you probably will want to give them an IMMEDIATE discount for dropping their card off or a chance to WIN something – at your restaurant, of course. Think of a possible monthly winner and tie this into a social media campaign as well (more on social media below). If you need more help about building your followers and list, contact me for an appointment – just be in front of a computer.
Email marketing isn’t as hard as you may think. It’s easy with email programs like MailChimp or Constant Contact. (Note – you may need a web master to integrate on your website.)
3. Get more reviews!
Make sure you have outlets to review sites on your website such as Yelp, Google Plus, UrbanSpoon, or whatever review sites you belong to. There are so many people who decide whether to come to your restaurant or not based on reviews.
- 90% of buyers said they made the decision to try a product or service as a result of reviews. Source: Dimensional Thinking
Ask your happy customers if they can review you on your website. Email your new customers if you follow my tip on email. It’s quick, easy and customers would love to review you, plus it’s a chance to develop a relationship with your client. Here’s what you can say: Hi John, Thank you for coming in the other day, it was great to see you again. I wanted to ask you if you have 2 minutes today or sometime in the future to write a review about your experience at our restaurant. If you use Yelp, here is our page: [web address goes here] Or one of our other popular sites: Google Plus [web address goes here] Facebook [web address goes here] Thanks, Chef Rahul Alim Just make sure you share the link to the review page of your business profile on whatever sites you choose to share. Make it really easy for your customers. Chances are they will also follow you on social and may engage a little more on your social media sites.
Owning a local restaurant is a great way to get involved in your community, make new friends and create memories. But just because you build it (your restaurant) doesn’t mean they (local customers) will come, and in the middle of the current pandemic, it’s important to adopt new procedures and policies to keep your team and your customers safe.
Let’s look at how you can actively promote your business and adapt to these new circumstances.
13 ways to promote your restaurant business
Here are 13 effective ways to market your restaurant to your local customers during these exceptional circumstances.
- Build a website.
- Create a regular email.
- Update the menu on a regular basis.
- Create a customer loyalty program.
- Come up with new ideas.
- Have a social media presence.
- Run contests and games.
- Leverage local media.
- Use effective SEO keywords.
- Partner with delivery services.
- Offer coupons and discounts.
- Team up with local vendors.
- Join the chamber of commerce.
Ready to attract more local diners? Let’s explore these tips in more detail.
1. Build a website
Your website is the heart of your restaurant’s brand, and it’s even more important now that people will be ordering online. It should be eye-catching, yet easy to navigate. Make sure it contains these items:
- An easy-to-ready menu
- Featured food items, including a description and nutrition information
- Newsletter sign-up box
- Order online button for pickup orders
- Reservation button (which may not be relevant currently, but will be important in the future)
- Social media icons that link to your social pages
- Gift cards
Editor’s note: Still in need of a site? Consider GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing. You can create an online presence in less than an hour.
2. Create a regular email
One successful way to promote your restaurant business to a local market is to ask customers to sign up for a regular email through your website and when they dine with you.
Use the email to showcase employees, new food items, discounts and other company-related news to keep your restaurant in front of your customers.
Keep customers up-to-date with your latest policies and procedures, and let them know how they can support you.
3. Update the menu on a regular basis
Keep your customers coming back for more by keeping your menu fresh with an updated look and feel and adding new products (including those created with delivery in mind).
If you don’t have an in-house graphic designer, consider using a freelance platform like Upwork to find one.
4. Create a customer loyalty program
Customer loyalty is more important than ever in these trying times. If you don’t already have a loyalty program, now is the time to start.
Establish how many points guests will earn per dollar spent, and come up with a wide range of compelling reward offerings, such as freebies, discounts or specialty promos.
5. Come up with new ideas
Restaurants and businesses all over your city likely are scrambling to adapt to new requirements and safety procedures. This is the perfect opportunity to stand out with a novel, creative idea.
Are there unique products and services you can offer? Special promotions that can create buzz among your customers? Think outside the box here.
6. Have a social media presence
Creating Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages are an essential way to promote your restaurant business to a local market. Use these platforms to spread the word about food specials, new food items, recent news and positive reviews — and of course, to interact with your loyal customers!
Make sure your food photos are bright and full of color so they stand out on social media and represent your offerings in the best possible way.
Using hashtags such as #[Restaurantname]HappyHour, #TBT or #MouthWateringWednesdays will also help you gain more followers.
Social media is also a great way to keep customers updated on the latest developments in your business, such as new hours of operation, new company policies, or new products and services.
When posting, the timing should be strategic. For example, feature a savory food item or special a couple of hours before lunchtime so customers have time to plan their order.
Having a Yelp account encourages customers to write reviews, and because these accounts can exist even if you don’t create one, it’s important to have an official Yelp account. Whether the reviews are negative or positive, always handle the feedback in a kind, professional manner.
Lastly, don’t forget to monitor your social media success by using measurement tools such as Google Analytics and Hootsuite.
7. Run contests and games
Engage customers while they’re stuck at home by running new contests and online games. For example, they could help name a new menu item, post personal photos related to your business in some way, or enter a drawing for a free meal.
8. Leverage local media
Send out a press release when you have news to share about your restaurant. Make sure you also share the positive press on your website and social media pages to promote your restaurant business to local customers.
9. Use effective SEO keywords
When thinking about keywords for your restaurant, try inputting queries you think would be used to find a restaurant in your category and region, such as “[your city] restaurants,” “[your food category] [your city]” and “restaurants in [your city].”
Now that more people are searching for takeout restaurants and ordering online, SEO is more important than ever.
10. Partner with delivery services
Today’s customers expect to be able to order from most local restaurants through delivery services. You may also be able to provide your own delivery services to accommodate these needs.
11. Offer coupons and discounts
What better way to promote your restaurant business than by offering savings? Join a local ecommerce savings site, such as Groupon, to offer discounts where customers are already looking for local deals.
12. Team up with local vendors
If your budget allows, team up with a local vendor who specializes in fresh produce or ingredients so you can both cross-promote your brands.
And during the pandemic, community support is more important than ever.
13. Join the chamber of commerce
Joining your local chamber of commerce gives you valuable access to the local community and the opportunity to host events and parties for members.
You will also receive a link on its website, which can help with search engine rankings. This can also help you connect with mentors, advisers and other professionals to guide you as you try to reconstruct and redefine your business.