Restaurant Marketing Strategies
Learn how to get new customers at the lowest cost per acquisition through these great online marketing strategies.
Marketing restaurants have changed dramatically over the years. What worked 10 years ago, or even in the last couple of years, doesn’t usually work anymore. It can be a struggle to find new customers for your restaurant with more competition than ever before. However, social media, new technologies, and other digital media will work in your favor to acquire customers at a lower cost than ever before.
What’s more important, very few restaurant owners have figured these new tactics out, so getting in the digital game early will pay off big for new adopters.
Here is a quick list of ideas that we put together that every restaurant, big or small, should be doing to attract more customers.
1. TAKE MANY FOOD PHOTOS AND A PHOTO CLASS
Your food is what brings people to your restaurant right? After all, they’re there to eat. So, shouldn’t you have really, good-looking photos of your restaurant’s food? Invest in a decent camera and start practicing your photography skills. If you can, hire a professional food photographer to take photos of your staple menu items. If not, take a photography class or even read up on it. Taking good photos for marketing purposes requires a bit of knowledge – angles, size, lighting. If you’re used to only taking family pics, then a photography course might come in very handy. Use these images all over your website, social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, as well as your online Google profile and Yelp!), and in other advertisements to get people craving what you offer. Photos are shared around most often online and will attract new customers to your restaurant.
Instagram-worthy tableware and table linens will help your photos and your customers’ photos look even better. Photos of food should be taken up-close and from a side angle. Be sure to have good lighting and enhance color brightness with a photo editing software if needed.
2. OFFER FREE WIFI - Wifi is very important and in some cases a necessity for a lot of restaurant customers.
Many people decide on where they are going to eat based on whether a restaurant has Wifi. Your customers want to socialize online or even get caught up on work while at your establishment so it’s important to give them that incentive to come in. Offering Wifi does not only provide a great benefit to customers, but it also provides restaurant owners an opportunity to acquire email addresses and even recognize Facebook profiles of their customers which can be used at a later point to re-market. Want to learn more about Wifi as a digital marketing strategy?
KEEP A SMARTPHONE IN THE KITCHEN Having a good smartphone in your kitchen always is worthy of your investment. Have your chefs and staff upload pictures in real-time to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms easily and quickly. Customers want to see what’s happening right now, and they want to see pictures. Pictures are an easy source of content to post online to find new customers and get them engaged with your restaurant. A smartphone dedicated to the restaurant will allow your employees to post online easily using the restaurant’s profile and not their own personal profile.
4. BE ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools for restaurant owners as it’s where your customers are spending much of their time.
Your restaurant needs to be on your customer’s minds when they are thinking about where to eat. Social media allows you to engage with your customers to keep you on their minds and bring them into your restaurant.
However, social media channels like Facebook and Instagram are pay-to-play media. No matter what you think, posting organically on Facebook will not do the trick to get your name out there. You’ll have to buy ads on Facebook and Instagram. And boosting posts is not a good idea either.
So, remember that channels like Facebook are real advertising channels and are complex to operate on as marketing tools. Learn how to do it yourself or hire someone that has the expertise to advertise on this media (and no, your young niece does not count as an expert just because she uses Facebook, Instagram). Here's a related post about Facebook Ads For Restaurants.
5. OFFER LIVE MUSIC Everyone loves a little dinner entertainment. Scheduling live music consistently at your restaurant brings people in the door as it gives you events to promote and makes your restaurant look like the place to be. Live music events also provide you an opportunity to post online, even“live” in your news feed. If you’re having a great ambiance, and are posting a live feed on Facebook or Instagram, for example, your content will be seen more frequently than if you’re just posting a picture or a promotion online.
6. OFFER BIRTHDAY CERTIFICATES - With regards to email marketing, capture your customer’s birthdays when they opt-in to your newsletter and let them know that they will be receiving a special gift on their birthday. When it comes time, email your customers on their birthday with a special coupon for a free appetizer or dessert. Most people celebrate their birthday with a big group at dinner. Giving them an incentive to choose your restaurant on their special day can both increase your sales and introduce new people to your restaurant. Birthday offers can also be promoted on Facebook because on Facebook you can target people who are within 30 days of their birthdays (and their friends!) so you can have birthday related offers shown to people that are about to have a birthday AND who live within a few miles of your restaurant!
7. HOST WINE TASTINGS Chances are you serve wine, or at least you should be. Hosting a wine tasting event brings people together inside your restaurant for a new experience. They’ll be able to taste different wines that you serve, learn how to properly drink wine, and develop a new appreciation for it. By hosting this in your restaurant you’ll also be giving people who otherwise wouldn’t be there a glimpse of what you have to offer. Wine tastings are also a way to capture an audience online. On Facebook, for example, you’re able to target wine enthusiasts with ads so you can advertise your event to a very specific audience around your geographic area. In addition, when you bring in a group of enthusiasts, they’ll be more likely to post about your event and share it with friends. Bring props to your event to encourage even more content produced and shared.
8. START COOKING CLASSES
Let’s face it, people don’t eat out every night. But when they’re cooking your recipes that you taught them at home they will be reminded of how great your food truly is. Keeping your restaurant in your customer’s mind is key to creating a loyal customer that comes back time and time again. Cooking classes are also extremely fruitful content to publish on social media. Foodies are constantly posting and sharing their experiences online. A class is also an opportunity to post a live event on Facebook. These live events can be stored as recordings for people to view at a later time.
9. SPONSOR LOCAL EVENTS - Team up with realtors, new business opening, events at the chamber of commerce, or any other social networking event in where food can be displayed as part of the event. This is a great idea, because not only will you get free exposure, but the opportunity to have other businesses and potential customers, trying your food, starting a conversation about it, and sharing with their friends. Make sure that you set up, and perhaps offer an incentive on their future visit.
10. SHOW SPORTING EVENTS
A lot of people want to go out somewhere to watch the big local game. Why not be the place to be to watch it?
Use big sporting events as another event to host at your restaurant. It doesn’t take, much to promote and you’ll bring in large groups of people looking for a place to stay, eat and drink for several hours. Props at these events are great to encourage people to post online about their experience. To make it even more fun for your guests, buy some props and people will be more than happy to post pictures of themselves and their friends having a great time at your restaurant! Here are some ideas from www.fathead.com.
11. HOST HOLIDAY PARTIES
Holidays are an essential time for restaurants that you must take advantage of. Almost everyone is looking for a place to have a holiday dinner with family or friends, host an office party, or just a get-together. Make sure people know that you accept reservations for holiday bookings by posting them on your website, social media sites, and in your email newsletter.The power of social media and digital marketing, in general, is that your content will stay alive on the internet for months or even longer. So, take advantage of it and extend the life of every marketing effort you put forth. Companies like www.windycitynovelties.com provide products that will make your party guests want to share online.
12. USE EMAIL MARKETING & MARKETING AUTOMATION
You need to start email marketing if you’re serious about getting customers in the door. Use email to promote new menu items, upcoming events, and specials. An email once a week to once a month will benefit your restaurant and your customers. Email has one of the highest rates of return out of any marketing tactics.
13. OPTIMIZE YOUR BUSINES LISTING FOR LOCAL SEARCHES
Everyone now uses the internet to search for where to eat out or order online from, and there are a lot of options to choose from. You need to update/create your restaurant’s listing for local directories, otherwise, your restaurant’s website will be buried in the never-ending list of competitors. Learn how in the article here: SEO For Restaurants
14. GET ONLINE REVIEWS
Online reviews are crucial for your restaurant, not only look good to potential customers but to be found at all on Google, Bing, Yelp, etc. This is important because people trust reviews, and choosing a restaurant you’ve never been to before for a special occasion is taking a big chance. The more reviews you have, the more likely people will trust that they’re making a good decision by dining at your establishment, assuming you have mostly good reviews that is. How To Respond To Negative Reviews Online
Being a strong player through online marketing strategies will pay off for your restaurant. More importantly, ensuring all your promotional efforts are also taking advantage of digital media will allow those efforts to prevail longer than the night of the event, or the mailer you sent out. When you post and promote online, you create evergreen content for your restaurant and creates an online footprint that will be difficult for others to follow.