Perhaps you’ve grown your restaurant from a simple idea into a booming reality. Perhaps you’ve inherited your restaurant from your hardworking family. Either way, you have a living, breathing business in your hands. And the right marketing strategy can help to keep that business alive and thriving. That’s why we wanted to talk to you today about the latest restaurant marketing tactics and whether they’d be a good fit for your restaurant.
Creating a Restaurant Strategy That Works
I would love to sit here and tell you the perfect formula of restaurant marketing tactics for guaranteed success — but, sadly, that doesn’t exist.
Every restaurant is unique. From their cuisine to their atmosphere to their customers, there are hundreds of factors that determine a restaurant’s marketing strategy.
It’s up to you
And this isn’t something you want to leave up to chance.
An effective strategy has the power to expose new customers to your restaurant, create buzz about what you’re doing, and bring in new and returning customers.
Let’s look at 10 powerful restaurant marketing tactics that you should seriously consider for your own restaurant.
10 Restaurant Marketing Tactics That Can Work for Your Business
1. Optimize Your Google My Business
Google My Business might just be the first place where your customers see you. And the fact is, it’s a free tool with many great features to help your restaurant to stand out.
Are you using all of these great features?
Let’s consider a few supplementary features that you should take advantage of on your Google My Business profile.
First, write a description of your restaurant. This is a space where you can tell people what makes your restaurant special. Include details about your cuisine and the overall atmosphere of your restaurant — perhaps it’s fun and laid back, elegant and romantic, or something in between.
Next, use the reservation feature to include a booking link right from your GMB profile. Many online reservation systems integrate easily with Google. Check your system to see if it will integrate as well.
Other great features include the ability to upload photos, videos, and your menu right to Google. This gives your audience more details about your restaurant so that they can get a real feel for what to expect.
2. Make Good Use of SEO
SEO, aka search engine optimization, is the process of making your website more discoverable on such search engines as Google or Bing.
This is very important, considering how many people use search engines to get suggestions on where to eat. Think about how many times you yourself have searched for “Chinese restaurants near me”. No doubt, many. And if your restaurant can appear in the top results, you’ll be a top choice among customers.
So what can you do to optimize your website?
For starters, make sure that you…
- Claim your restaurant on Google My Business.
- Include your location information on your website.
- Use location information in your website’s URL – i.e., yourpizzerianyc.com, yourrestaurantboston.com, etc.
- Use SEO best practices on your website, using quality content and keywords.
3. Leverage Personalization in Your Email Strategy
Email is a great marketing channel if you use it right.
To really stand out in your email strategy, make your emails as personal as possible. This means much more than simply using their name, although that is a great start.
Really look at your customer’s data. Try segmenting your email lists so that every email fits each segment or group. For example, if a customer visits your restaurant once a week, your emails should be different from those who haven’t been to your restaurant in 6 months or more. Segment your email list to reflect such differences.
With this extra step, your emails will feel more personal to your recipients and boost engagement, leading to an overall more effective strategy.
4. Make Your Dishes Instagrammable
When customers post on Instagram about your restaurant and menu, it’s free advertising. Who doesn’t love that?
Take advantage of people’s love for Instagram by making your dishes more Instagram-friendly.
Here are a few key ways to accomplish this…
- Create dishes with vibrant colors.
- Use lighting that flatters your food.
- Prioritize food presentation / plating.
- Add elements to your dishes and tables that delight your customers.
- Make sure your dishes are as clean as possible.
5. Create a Loyalty Program
Loyal customers are the most valuable asset you have. After all, a loyal customer will return again and again without you needing to market to them.
While a great dining experience in and of itself can inspire loyalty, we’re going to talk about another strategy that can also help: loyalty or reward programs.
Such programs reward your loyal customers and make them feel appreciated. It can also be an extra motivating factor for customers to decide to dine with you rather than another restaurant.
You can manage this in-house or with the help of one of many apps specifically designed for this purpose.
And your rewards don’t have to cost you a lot to be meaningful to your customers. It could be a free dessert, appetizer, or bottle of champagne. It could also be a discount on their next meal. Whatever you decide, it should make your customer feel valued.
6. Create an Online Menu
Many people search for restaurants just to view the menu before their visit. So make sure that they can easily access and view your menu online.
Since many people use their smartphones to do restaurant searches, make sure your menu is easy to read on mobile devices. And make it a font that is easily legible — avoid cursive, if possible!
Also, consider including it right on your homepage to make it as easy as possible for customers to find.
7. Leverage Online Ordering
Online ordering is the latest trend to blow up over the past few years — and the pandemic has admittedly sped up its popularity.
But no matter the reason, online ordering is an important strategy to have in your tool kit.
Take DevourNow as an example. With zero fees and commissions, DevourNow works with local restaurants to provide all the support they need for online ordering. From a free online ordering button on their restaurant to an online menu and driving partners for order delivery, DevourNow offers a host of services to fit whatever your restaurant might need.
When you partner with a service like DevourNow, which has the tools and experience already in place, online ordering really can be a much simpler process than you may have thought.
8. Post Social Media Stories
Instagram and Facebook are the most common examples, but most social media networks have some form of stories. Stories are social media posts that only appear for 24 hours.
Why would you want a post that only appears for 24 hours?
Quite simply, it captures your audience’s attention. And these stories are perfect for short-term announcements and deals that you want to quickly build excitement around.
There’s a fair number of people who regularly watch Instagram stories as part of their social media routine — for example, one report estimated that about 85 million people in the United States alone regularly watch stories on Instagram.
What can you post to promote your restaurant on Stories? Here are a few ideas that might fit your strategy:
- Deals / Promotions
- Daily / Weekly specials
- Seasonal cocktails
- Upcoming special events
There is endless potential for this tool in the restaurant industry. Use your imagination to create new and exciting social media stories for your restaurant.
9. Respond to Online Reviews
Online reviews are one of the biggest driving factors in a modern restaurant’s success. After all, 94% of diners admit that they will check online reviews before visiting a restaurant.
Unfortunately, bad reviews are inevitable. It’s just part of doing business. While many restaurant owners dread bad reviews, learning how to deal with them effectively can mean a big win for a restaurant.
Most of all, don’t ignore the bad reviews. As powerful as a bad review can be, how your response can be just as powerful.
When people see no response to a bad review, they’ll assume that the review was justified — or even that the restaurant didn’t care enough to respond.
Responding calmly and reasonably — not with a clearly copied and pasted response — will endear your restaurant to people in your local community. It might even lead new people to try your restaurant who otherwise might never have known about it.
Respond kindly and patiently. If you’re on social media, invite the person to direct message you about the details so that you can suitably resolve the issue.
10. Update Your Website
Your website is a tool for your restaurant. It is where customers go to check out your menu, learn more about your cuisine, and make the ultimate decision whether or not to visit you in person. One study found that 77% of diners check out a restaurant’s website before they decide to visit in person.
An outdated, slow restaurant website can be a major detractor for potential customers.
What can you do?
First, make sure that your customers can easily find all your necessary information — this includes your menu, details about your cuisine, and your address and phone number.
Next, take advantage of modern tools on your website. This includes an online ordering button and a way for people to make a reservation right on your website.
And, finally, make sure that your website represents your brand. Whether you are a local pub or a fancy restaurant, make sure that your website reflects that.
Concluding Thoughts on Restaurant Marketing
Don’t ignore the power of marketing. It might just be the impetus your restaurant needs to reach new customers and create excitement around your entire brand.
As I mentioned at the outset, there is no magic formula that will ensure your restaurant’s marketing success. it’s up to you to start diving into restaurant marketing tactics, make adjustments, and see what works for your brand.
Whatever restaurant marketing tactics you decide to implement for your own restaurant, we hope this post inspires you and leads you to a successful strategy of your own.
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