With people getting more active than ever, restaurant marketing has become much more complex over the last few years. Restaurant owners and marketers who are responsible for promotions and generating sales are facing tough challenges. Why? Because people looking for places to fill their stomachs now have multiple options to choose from. Hence, restaurants must stand apart for maximum customer attention and guaranteed business.
To guide you through the competition, we have put together this list of ten proven restaurant marketing strategies and tactics.
1. Visuals are everything!
Even if not for business purposes, you must have opened Instagram at least once only to find that #foodie is still in trend. And why not! One of the best ways to market your restaurant online is to share high-quality, vibrant photos of mouthwatering dishes. Visual content is always high in demand on social platforms. Having inviting photos on your website and across various social accounts can help you draw in all those hungry eyes to your restaurant.
Remember that taking drool-inducing food photos can be tougher than it seems, as lighting and presentation are often the key factors. If you’re not good at photography, you can hire a pro. Furthermore, if you want to save the cost of hiring a professional, consider using smart restaurant marketing such as Practina. It will offer you dual benefits – the best quality photos of scrumptious foods accompanied by customized content made just for your business! The tool will also add trending hashtags to your post in the food industry to keep you on top of the competition.
2. Show off your menu!
‘Instagrammable dessert’ is likely a new slang term in the world of restaurant marketing. The idea is that the presentation of a dish encourages people to click photos and share them online – especially on Instagram. The reason Instagram is most used for this purpose is people use hashtags like #foodie on millions of food pictures on this platform.
If you have desserts on your menu, posting Instagrammable pictures is a super powerful restaurant marketing strategy. It will help you leverage user-generated content to spread the word about your menu rather than spending hundreds of dollars on paid promotions. If you have a specialty dish, this is the best way to tell people about it. Do it right, and you may enjoy a viral effect online for your restaurant!
The menu is the first thing that people will check on your website. Make it a part of your restaurant marketing strategy to boost engagement and leads. Keep your menu easy-to-read and well-designed to motivate people to make a reservation or walk in.
A few useful tips to make your online menu stand apart:
- Keep your menu visible on the website.
- Put your menu on your home page.
- Ensure it’s mobile-optimized.
- Use a font that people can easily read.
- Highlight your specialties and most popular dishes.
- Include photos of dishes wherever possible.
3. People love discounts!
Coupon offers and discounts are always great for getting people through the door. You don’t have to bear a loss to keep your customers happy. Start with free welcome drinks, 10-20% discounts, or the ultimate of all restaurant marketing tactics – the BOGO (buy one, get one) offer.
BOGO offers usually perform the best, since offering something for free inspires people to order more than offering a certain percent discount.
Upscale restaurants may avoid giving heavy discounts as it may lower the tone of their brands. New or small-scale restaurants can win a significant number of customers by promoting seasonal or special offers.
Besides discounts, organizing contests is a good way to promote your restaurant both online and offline. Start with a contest in your restaurant (physical location) and let the participants share their experiences online. You can also put contest details on your social accounts to invite more people to your restaurant.
Imagine a customer with a huge social media following sharing a post of your restaurant! It could turn into a reality if you play smart with discounts and contests.
4. Try local ads.
90% of guests investigate a restaurant online before dining, which is much more than other businesses.
Online ad platforms allow you to ‘geo-target’ your audience. You just need to enter your city or zip code and tell the respective ad system/platform to target people near the entered location only.
For most restaurants, geo-targeted online ads are the initial part of their advertising campaigns. You can get started on any major platform – Facebook Ads, Google Smart Ads, Snapchat Ads, and more. Make sure it’s active if you are already running ads online.
Here are a few things to consider while geo-targeting your audience:
- Maintain an updated Google Business profile.
- Keep NAP info accurate on your website (Name, Address, Phone Number).
- Check and respond to reviews on Google.
- Add location-based keywords in your website URL structure.
- Optimize your website for SEO.
5. Go social!
While offline restaurant marketing strategies do have importance, social media marketing is crucial for any business today. It can help showcase your restaurant in front of hundreds of thousands of potential customers without actually being there to address each of them. Social media marketing for restaurants is more than brand awareness. It further helps you gain insight into your target audience and implement those strategies into your existing marketing plan. When done right, it can even offer opportunities for feedback from existing customers.
Keep your social profiles interesting and industry-specific, so people know what to expect from you. Promote your menu, restaurant offers, staff, ambiance, recipes, and more selling factors online to keep people engaged. Interact with your audience, post regularly, and ensure you network with food bloggers and influencers to build a more credible brand identity.
To get the best output from social media marketing for restaurants, you can use an intelligent tool that will not only create customized posts for your business but also ensure the best-quality food images.
6. Redesign/Create your website.
Having an official business website for your restaurant is like owning a franchise in every part of the world! If you want your business to expand significantly, you need an exciting, well-designed website. A website helps target a larger audience base, promote your offerings effectively, and offer customers a way to know and reach you. It may cost a bit to design a website or upgrade your existing one, but the reward is a lot more than the expense.
Make sure the menu, location, opening hours, and phone number are visible on your home page as these are the main pieces of information that customers search for first on restaurant websites.
If you already have a website, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are important details visible and easily accessible?
- Can customers access your website from their phones?
- Is it user-friendly?
- Does it have enough images to grab a customer’s attention?
- Can it be designed better?
- Is it SEO-friendly?
After you’ve got these questions addressed, consider simplifying the online booking procedure. Keep the call or reservations button clear and easy to find. High-end restaurants can even consider keeping a live chat or customer support option for a better user experience.
Among all the factors, your website should represent your brand well and give users an experience of your restaurant even before they decide to dine in. You can do this by posting enough content about your business, staff service, customer experiences, special offers, and more.
7. Use email marketing to your advantage!
Email marketing is another great strategy for effective restaurant marketing. You can grow your email list in two ways:
- By motivating your customers to fill out forms in person.
- By offering online forms.
Having your customers fill out the forms online is the smarter approach since the world has gone digital lately! Once you have their details, email marketing can help you “bait” your customers and keep them coming back for repeated business. Use it to showcase new dishes in your menu list and any special offers you may be offering.
Wondering how you will set your business apart from its competitors? Try sending a personalized email to the recipients based on their history with your restaurant.
What you send to a person visiting only once in the past 3 months should be different from what you send to someone who comes in once every week. By leveraging customer data for email marketing, you can create a restaurant marketing strategy that connects with your customers better.
Remember that email marketing can be tricky if you don’t execute it properly. If you need help, you can always search online for tips on email marketing for restaurants or hire an expert to do the job for you.
8. Reviews are important
No matter the industry, reviews can change the game if you manage to win your customers’ trust and meet their expectations. For restaurants, online reviews are one of the most important things people consider while choosing a place to dine in or order online. Make sure you have enough positive reviews online, on social accounts, and on your website. It will make it easy for potential customers searching for restaurants to pick your place over other options. They will find multiple people vouching for your food, service, experience, or anything else they loved about you.
Not sure how to gather good reviews? Start by simply asking your customers to share their feedback, ask if they have had a good experience, and what they liked best. You can take a step further by incentivizing customers for sharing their reviews.
Did you know, only 23% of restaurants reach out to customers who leave negative reviews online!
Receive a negative review lately? Handle it with courtesy! First, thank the reviewer for the feedback, apologize for the bad experience, and promise improvement in the future. Depending on the bad experience they had, you may even offer some sort of coupon, rebate, or a gift card hoping to win their trust and a second chance.
Need help with gathering reviews or using them for marketing your restaurant? Use special review templates in Practina to show off your raving reviews as customized social media posts!
9. Loyalty program
Looking for a restaurant marketing strategy that works great without costing too much? Keep an eye on your loyal customers! It costs the least out of all marketing tactics to get them coming back to your place. Also, they are more likely to refer you to their circles – great for word-of-mouth marketing!
You can win customer loyalty by offering them an incredible dining experience. Make sure your food tastes great, the interior is warm & cozy, and other perceptions of value according to a customer. Other than that, boost loyalty through reward schemes and loyalty programs for repeat or first-time customers.
Fancy restaurants can offer free upgrades to the dining experience (free champagne, dessert, welcome drink). Casual or new restaurants might consider offering a discount to keep their loyal guests happy.
You may even partner with online food delivery apps or offer catering services as a crucial part of your restaurant marketing strategy. Doing so motivates people to explore your restaurant through customer loyalty programs and gamification.
10. Stay active
As social media is growing in usage and popularity, your restaurant also needs to be active on all the major platforms. Keep your social profiles updated by sharing stills from your restaurant, any event you organized, live customer reviews, behind-the-scenes from the kitchen, and more.
Interact with your followers, respond to comments, and make sure to offer value by posting engaging content. You could do it manually or use a social media marketing tool for restaurants that can publish industry-specific posts on your behalf.
The Final Note
So now you know the ten effective ways for marketing your restaurant both online and offline. We hope you use them wisely to take your restaurant business to the next level. The online success of your restaurant depends highly on your offline performance. Get your offline activities right, take help for promoting your business online, and you’ll soon be on your way to success!
Don’t forget that execution in marketing, and presentation in dining is everything!