Your restaurant is more than just a business — it’s your pride and joy and you’re sure people will love it. However, bringing customers in can be challenging in the beginning.
A whopping 90% of guests will research a restaurant online before visiting. What they see about yours when they do needs to be top-notch. Whether it’s your website, social media channels, or business directory listings, all they need is a few seconds to make a decision.
This is why you need a well-planned marketing strategy to help attract more customers, retain your existing ones, and make your restaurant the most recommended eatery in your city.
Keep reading to learn how to do great restaurant marketing to attract more guests and take your business to the next level.
What Is Restaurant Marketing?
Restaurant marketing is a set of activities intended to promote your business to potential customers. This can be online, offline, or in person, through paid advertising or organic promotion. The goal is to build a well-known restaurant brand people will love and will keep coming back to.
In the restaurant industry, competition is fierce, so restaurants need to constantly find new ways to attract guests and more importantly, retain them. Whether it’s through innovative dishes, specializing in a single cuisine, or offering something exclusive, being unique can take your restaurant to the next level.
It doesn’t matter if you have a high-end restaurant or a family diner. Knowing who your customers are, what they need and are looking for is the most important. Finally, restaurant marketing is not a single action but rather a sequence of marketing efforts that bring results together.
In this post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about restaurant marketing and how to do it right in order to grow your business and brand.
Why Is Restaurant Marketing Necessary for Your Business?
Marketing is a must for any modern business that wants to not only succeed but also stay profitable and thriving for decades to come. It’s a well-known fact that around 60% of new restaurants fail within the first year of business. No matter the reason, this industry is for those who can persevere no matter the circumstances.
A key factor in your restaurant’s success is marketing and promotion. This means spreading the word constantly, not just in the beginning. The more you promote your restaurant, the more guests you’ll attract. The more guests, the more word of mouth and recommendations.
Marketing is not something you should do if and when you have time. It’s the first and most important thing to do. This is especially true if you’re just starting out.
Don’t want to take any chances with your marketing? Let’s chat today and figure out the best marketing strategy for your restaurant.
Define Your Ideal Customer
Your restaurant has a specific niche or type of cuisine you specialize in. Based on that, you can define your ideal customer or buyer persona. For example, if your focus is high-end cuisine and your aim is 5 Michelin stars, your ideal customer will be a wealthy individual with a refined taste in food and high income.
If your focus is on healthy vegan food, your customers will be vegans, vegetarians, and people who are trying to eat healthier. You can also attract more than one buyer persona if you offer comfort, traditional, or fast food.
Once you define your ideal customer, analyze their demographics. This includes their age, gender, location, job title, food favorites, lifestyle, and favorite restaurants. The last step is to figure out exactly what they expect from a restaurant like yours. This way, you can offer them a dining experience they’ll never forget.
Create a Marketing Plan
For your business to move in the right direction, you need a solid restaurant marketing plan. Here, you’ll outline the marketing activities, tactics, budgets, and timelines for your restaurant promotion.
A marketing plan is more than just an outline. You can measure your results and set marketing goals. You can also decide on your next steps, and figure out what type of marketing works best for your restaurant.
Below are some of the most important sections of a restaurant marketing plan:
KPIs are Key Performance Indicators. In other words, they measure whether your marketing campaign is successful and what works. For example, profit and revenue, loyalty program signups, website leads and conversions, social media campaign success, number of followers, and more.
Your target audience is essential for the success of your marketing campaigns. If you know the customer well, you’ll know exactly how to sell to them. Spend some time developing your buyer personas in detail. This will be incredibly helpful in planning your marketing campaigns and choosing the right audience for them.
Budget and Ad Spend
Your marketing plan lists all the marketing campaigns you’re running as well as the total money you’ll spend on them. This can be an amount for a single campaign or for all active campaigns. How much you spend is one thing but the return on that investment is another, so measure your ROIs as well.
For example, if you spend $1000 on a social media ad but only a few people visited your restaurant as a result, you may not have a good ROI or make a profit.
Active Campaign Goals and Duration
If you have an active marketing campaign, how long will it run and what does it aim to accomplish? Every marketing step you take needs to have a clear purpose. This can be attracting more foot traffic by handing out flyers outside, running social media ads to attract more followers, or offering special coupons to increase the number of reservations.
What are the marketing channels you’re using to promote your restaurant? These include radio and TV, newspapers and magazines, billboards, print flyers and brochures, social media channels and paid ads, influencer marketing, and promotion sites.
Define Your Restaurant Branding
Restaurant branding is a surefire way to increase brand visibility and attract the right customers. Aside from a quality logo, you also need brand elements like fonts, images, color palette, website, social media presence, and marketing materials.
Each of these brand elements plays a huge role in your restaurant’s brand recognition. One example is choosing the colors that’ll define your restaurant’s interior design, menus, website design, and flyers. Choose two to three main colors that go well together and match your restaurant style.
If you own a high-end restaurant, the most common colors include black, navy, gold, silver, white, and neutrals. Bright colors like orange, red, green, or pink should only be used as pops of color, not as the main colors. On the other hand, you’ll notice these colors are dominant in restaurants like Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Burger King to trigger hunger and appetite.
Claim Your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is an online business directory where you can enter important business information such as your address, phone number, website, menu, hours, and map directions. For restaurants, this is essential for local searches and reviews because it helps people make a decision to visit your restaurant.
When people search for a restaurant near them, a complete listing will show up higher in the search results. You can also add photos so people know what to expect if they’ve never been to your restaurant.
Ask Customers For Reviews
Good customer reviews are one of the best restaurant campaigns that don’t cost a dime. If you have loyal customers who love your restaurant and keep coming back, ask them to leave a review for you online. They can do this on social media, Google My Business, review websites like Yelp, or your own website.
The more positive reviews you can collect, the more credibility you’re building. Don’t forget about word of mouth, too. This is another powerful marketing tactic that can bring tons of foot traffic to your restaurant without you spending money on advertising.
If your restaurant has a negative review, try and resolve it in a friendly, positive way. Offer to solve or make up for the problem so others can see how you solve customer complaints. Never argue with customers online and always reply with respect to both the positive and negative reviews.
Use Social Media to Promote Your Restaurant
Social media is a must for restaurant promotions, whether through social media strategy or paid ads. In fact, paid ads are so powerful, that 75% of Instagram users take action after seeing one, which is an easy, affordable way to achieve your marketing goal.
Even if you don’t want to do paid ads, you can still build an audience and grow your restaurant business through organic followers. This is a great way to build strong relationships with your customers and let them experience your brand in a different light.
You can share new things about your restaurants, introduce new dishes, behind the scenes, introduce your employees and chefs, and even organize giveaways. The possibilities are truly endless and don’t have to cost a thing.
Create An App For Your Restaurant
If you have a budget for it, creating an app for your restaurant can boost sales, increase foot traffic, and attract more take-out customers. Customers can browse the menu, use coupons, order food online, and leave reviews for your restaurant.
You can also create special offers for app users, as well as offer hidden menu items and discounts for customers bringing new referrals to your restaurant. This gamification experience is an affordable and convenient way for marketing your restaurant directly to the customer.
Launch a Business Blog
A business blog on your restaurant website is one of the best ways to attract a wide audience and turn them into customers. This is one of the best restaurant marketing techniques for building brand awareness, especially if you have plans to expand in the future.
Blogging is also great for local SEO and through well-optimized blog posts, you can attract customers in your area who may not know about your restaurant.
You can write about the new dishes at your restaurant, highlight your chefs, and talk about your employees and their devotion to their job. You can also share fun recipes, kitchen and cooking tips, and food trends. Whatever your target audience is currently reading elsewhere, aim to do it better.
Research your customers’ favorite restaurant and food-related blogs and see the types of topics these websites are publishing. Then, analyze how you can make each piece of content more interesting, informative, or entertaining.
Customer Loyalty and Rewards Program
In the restaurant business, repeat customers make up for the majority of your profits. This is why it’s essential to keep them coming back and more importantly, to have them spread the word about your restaurant to their friends and family. Focusing on these customers and keeping them happy will bring you more profit in the long run than trying to attract new ones.
For starters, you can offer a free meal after 10 visits, special discounts for regular customers, a free meal for customers’ birthdays and anniversaries, or credit-card-related loyalty programs.
Use These Restaurant Marketing Tips To Make Your Restaurant the Hottest Spot in Town
Whether you’re new in the restaurant business or have years of experience, these tips will help you put your restaurant’s name out there and get the recognition it deserves.
From organic online marketing to building a customer loyalty program, marketing and promotion are two of the most important aspects of your restaurant’s success.
Not sure how to approach your restaurant marketing strategy? Let us help! Contact us today to learn more about our marketing packages and someone from our team will get back to you soon.