The unprecedented challenges the food service industry has ensured for the past year are all the more reason these low friction restaurant marketing strategies should be explored.
Thanks to the internet, and social media, you no longer need a marketing degree to put your business on the map.
Modern tools like instagram, facebook and even yelp have made it easy to spread the word and feature your restaurant on popular platforms at a fraction of the cost of other traditional media outlets.
Yet, in the overcrowded market, and with a lot of competition, you need a unique strategy to stand out. A strategy that is creative and inexpensive.
Enter these 7 restaurant marketing strategies that will help you get the attention of your customers, and increase volume, and recognition your store!
1 - Have a budget for traditional media.
If you choose to take the traditional media route, you have to be strategic.
One of the first rules of a restaurant marketing plan is to establish a marketing budget.
A budget will help you pace your marketing campaigns so that you don’t run out of funds and miss out on peak seasons. It will also help you decide on the media outlets you wish to target, and what can wait until next quarter.
No matter how big or small your budget is, setting aside resources for marketing your restaurant is always a great idea to start your advertising adventure - but don't blow it all on traditional ads, there is more to explore.
2 - Attract customers with a hook.
One of drivers to a customers' curiosity is your unique message, offering, and voice. From a catchy slogan, to a mascot or even a secret dish foodies must try - your message should be identifiable, easy to recognize, and have a common theme.
Try and imagine yourself as a publicist - how would you share your story with the public? What makes you stand out?
Consider this, and be consistent with that message.
That way, whenever and wherever customers and potential clients see your business featured, they will associate it with you!
It’s also a good idea to respond to online reviews to show that you care about your customers - and that their opinion matters. Be sure to do so using that same voice you discovered earlier.
3 - Consider a unique ordering experience.
Stand out from the crowd and try a restaurant marketing strategy that gives fresh breath to the ordering process. In this day and age, interactivity is desirable and unique. Not just on your website but on the online menus.
Give your customers an experience where they get to click around and see what each menu item contains, what makes it special. In other words - make your online ordering experience really fun.
Did you know the iconic Domino's "Pizza Builder" was featured as an online trend? What can you do to drive business in a way that customers will have fun with?
Also, consider online ordering. It opens the market for a wider audience and brings more business than in-house service. During this day and age online ordering, and partnering with a third party food delivery service has never been more lucrative.
4 - Explore the option of loyalty programs.
When you give, you get. During these tough times, regular customers have been so valuable to restaurants - they should be rewarded, and why shouldn't these rewards incentivize them to return? It's a win win.
Offering returning customers coupons and discounts is another way of thanking them and also making sure they stay loyal. You can also get creative by exploring some of the best loyalty programs, and duplicating their success.
On that note, consider sending out newsletters and emails about major events, special occasions, promotions, and discounts. Customers need reminders that they haven’t been to your restaurant for some time, plus building a sense of community is something that everyone truly craves. Food is about coming together - and even if that has been a challenge this year, digitally doing so doesn't have to be.
5 -Understand the power of connection.
It's not traditionally what you think of when you think "restaurant marketing" - but it is a powerful way to build your business and client base.
Learning about your customers is the best way to offer them a unique experience and make sure they’re satisfied with the food and the service.
What they order, where they prefer to sit, how they like their drink, and how long they like to stay. These are all valuable pieces of information that you can use to give each customer that personal touch that makes them feel valued and special. It's free, it's easy, and it's impactful.
6 - Explore blogger outreach opportunities.
Blogging is one of the best and most affordable ways to reach new customers.
Foodie blogs are platforms that can be read from anywhere; especially if people read blogs on their phones (which explains their popularity). Because bloggers talk about their personal experiences, it makes their word real, unbiased (usually) and more trustworthy than ads.
A blog entry talking about what a fabulous time the blogger had at your restaurant will go a long way bringing new clients to your doorstep, or delivery. But how?
Consider building a blogger outreach marketing plan for your restaurant. You can do this by creating a list of bloggers you would like to visit your store - and try cold e-mailing them, with a special offer to dine for free, in exchange for a written review on their blog.
With consistency, and a friendly approach, and a pinch of sweat equity, you are sure to build some great press for your business.
7 - Entice guests to spread the word.
Much like blogging, word of mouth is a lot more convincing than the most lavish advertising campaigns.
Social media will work to your advantage to provide an honest and unbiased platform - but how can you maximize the benefit?
Let's put our restaurant marketing hats on. Sure, some clients may not need an invitation and will snap selfies on their own to post on their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, but you could also entice them in creative ways.
Consider setting up selfie station in your store, creating a unique food item that is very instagram-able, coming up with a fun hashtag, and even asking them directly if they wouldn't mind throwing a like or review!
The happier your customers are at your restaurant the more positive the messages they send on the internet. It’s free publicity and works like a charm.
Restaurant marketing is not as complex of a process as you may think - it's all about showing the world who you are, how great your food is, and why people should try it!