The restaurant industry is a competitive space. Many eateries compete for the same disposable dollars. Once you’re made sure your restaurant is inviting and the food top notch, strong restaurant marketing tactics need to carry a lot of the ball in getting customers into your place.
But what are the best marketing techniques for restaurants? Here are seven:
1. Determine Your Goals
The overall goals and plan for your restaurant need to define everything else about it, from décor to cuisine. The marketing plan is no different. If your goal is to run a casual family restaurant, you need to advertise where families congregate. If your business is a more sophisticated farm-to-table enterprise, you need to market where people concerned about fresh food and sustainable farming are.
The first marketing plan might involve flyers at local amusement parks. The second might involve your chef giving a talk at the biggest local farmers market. Goals determine where, when and how you market, and to whom.
2. Build a Website
It’s tremendously important to have a nicely-designed restaurant website. First, it provides basic information to potential customers about where you are and when you’re open. It gives them a phone number for reservations. A website is also a way to show off the interior of your website to the best advantage.
Second, though, it provides a base for other marketing tactics. One example? Many businesses provide a coupon for, say, 10 percent off a lunch meal on their website. The coupon might prove a great way to drive business. It’s also trackable, because a coupon bar code can tell you how much business is being driven from the site. A website, in short, both is a key marketing tool and can be the foundation for other campaigns.
3. Use Social Media
Social media sites like Facebook can be enormously influential in driving customers to your business. Many people use Facebook as their main news and keeping up with friends source. Your website can tell people of other social media channels. In turn, your social media channels can highlight specific events and promotions, like a seasonal menu or holiday coffee.
Think wide when you think social media. Facebook is a central site, but many other channels work well for restaurants. Instagram, for example, is very visually oriented. Does your cuisine look beautiful? Advertise it there. Snapchat appeals to teenagers. A youth-oriented hang will get good business from there.
4. Utilize Online Directories
The online world is full of consumer-driven directories that review businesses. Consumers are particularly active in reviewing restaurants on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Chowhound and more. It’s a good idea to pay attention to these sites. Why? Well, a good review can provide valuable information about what customers liked. It serves as free positive publicity. A bad review, frankly, can also provide valuable information about changes that need to be made.
Monitor these sites regularly. Engage with readers there. If a negative comment is untrue or circumstances have changed, post a response. Don’t allow unfounded comments to potentially damage your business.
5. Get a Mix of Marketing Channels
While online sites are crucially important, don’t neglect other areas of marketing. A good rule of thumb is to spend 80 percent of your marketing budget on digital methods and 20 percent on others. Local newspapers, brochures, flyers and more can be valuable print sites where you offer promotions and specials.
Don’t neglect live opportunities either, of course. If your area sponsors a food fair or restaurant week, participate! Foodies congregate here, and good word-of-mouth can really help your business. It’s also good to know local food movers and shakers. If your restaurant can make on-the-go food for local events, all the better.
6. Create Signs and Give-Away Menus
Don’t neglect the most basic parts of your business in your marketing plans. People have to know where you are. A lot of restaurant business can be generated by walk-by traffic. In order to maximize your location, make sure that vibrant signs advertise where you are. If you’re near a large office building or in a mall, position signs so that lunch hour and happy hour traffic will see it and think of you.
They also have to know what you offer and the price! Place menus in windows. Put your menu in local Yellow Pages directories. Drop menus in business lobbies. If you live near apartment complexes, leave some in lobbies. Both can be great sources of businesses for workers/residents looking for lunch and dinner.
7. Consider a Delivery Business
Delivery business can really augment the amount of business you do in a restaurant. Some of this will depend on the type of food you serve and the amount of delivery business you are likely to get. But if you live in an area with singles and two-earner families, a delivery business is likely to thrive. Neither group has a lot of free time to shop and prepare food. And everybody needs to eat.
Combine your delivery business with a specific marketing campaign. If you are targeting two-earner families and singles, for example, advertise the availability of delivery in targeted publications and stress how convenient it is to have food come direct to your door. Offer a discount for the first order. If you offer an unusual cuisine, tell customers they will love it once they’ve tried it!
The restaurant marketing business is highly competitive. These seven tactics will give you a strong foundation for making your business known and attracting customers.