Restaurant marketing ideas today is a jungle of social media platforms, promotion, and non-stop posting. An increasing amount of marketing choices in the world today can leave a small business owner overwhelmed when considering how to launch or relaunch a marketing campaign.
Marketing has and always will be important, but the game has significantly changed over the years. While paying for radio and newspaper advertisements is not as common it used to be, marketing a business effectively via social media can cost just as much of your time.
Using time and resources efficiently to increase sales is essential to the success of any business’ marketing campaign. You should be constantly evaluating your old practices while also looking for new avenues and markets of growth to keep customers coming in your door— or having food delivered to their door.
Social media madness
Today’s social media platforms are flooded with businesses trying to get their products to be seen by potential customers’ eyes. Where should you start? How can you differentiate yourself from your competitors? Am I allocating my marketing budget— and time— effectively? Paying a marketing company to do a professional job has its advantages, but for the small business owner, it’s probably not going to pass the cost-benefit test.
You can start your own marketing via numerous apps, websites, and other marketing strategies that are free with paid options. We should also note here that quality rules all in the restaurant business. If your restaurant isn’t running like a well-oiled and tasty-food-producing machine, it doesn’t make sense to invest a significant amount of time and possibly money into marketing.
Your online presence
Upload clear photos
Producing quality pictures of your restaurant and food is a good place to start. Try to use a quality camera and a well-lit subject. If you know someone with a professional camera or experience in photography, it can be a huge boost to your marketing plan. Using grainy, blurry, or poorly cropped photos can make your business look unprofessional and cause customers to worry.
Show more than just the food
Try to tell a story with your photos. One you’d like your customers to know about your restaurant. Capturing experiences, employees, action shots, and fun can show viewers that you have more to offer than just good food. Most restaurant-goers are looking to create memories and share time with friends and family; show them that this is possible at your establishment.
The right accessories can go a long way in making your food and drinks look attractive to Instagram or Facebook followers. Keep in mind the color balance and use of effects to ensure that your products are pleasing to the eye. Don’t skimp on garnishes and other supplemental items that can add that extra bit of beauty. Assure viewers that the food they will order is attractive and leaves a lasting image in their minds.
Strategically timed posts
You know that big event you’d like to celebrate this weekend? Well, it doesn’t help to see a beautiful place to hold that celebration the Monday after it’s happened. Whoever your target audience is, it’s important to remind them of your business during their decision-making process. That means, leading up to holidays and weekends are great times to remind potential customers of your restaurant.
Fielding questions on Instagram or Facebook and interacting with various pages and customers can be time-consuming, but it can also pay dividends for your restaurant. Try to be welcoming and available to people who want to reach out to your business. Nobody wants their question left unanswered and a little care can go a long way in cultivating a loyal following.
With interaction comes inevitable complaints, whether they’re founded or unfounded is another issue. Complaints don’t have to be the end of the world for your business. Acting in a polite, understanding, and respectful manner can bolster your reputation.
If other customers see a restaurant lashing out at a customer online, it will often scare them away much faster than a bad review. Reviews can be uncomfortable but can also be a chance to get feedback and to sympathize with customers. Besides, no customer should expect perfect performance 100% of the time.
Give your followers updates and news on new business developments, menu changes, and other improvements to your restaurant. You must be careful to do this in the right amount as an overflow of posts will often cause people to unfollow you. About one post per 1-3 days is an appropriate amount of content to keep your fans interested while not annoying them.
Reach out to local bloggers and influencers
Online writers and personalities are often looking for content to discuss or promote via their platform. In the case of influencers, it may not be free to have your restaurant promoted through their channel, but it could be worth the investment depending on your target market and the reach of the influencer.
For example, a one-time investment in this area ahead of your restaurant’s grand opening might be worth the cost. Bloggers may be more likely to discuss your restaurant pro bono or give you a shoutout for being a new local entrepreneur.
Use Geo-Targeted Ads
This is the most complicated and potentially costly solution discussed in this section but if it’s right for your business, then it could be worth investing in. Companies like Facebook and Google sell advertising space that can only be seen by people in a specific geographical location. Sounds great, right?
Facebook, however, sells this advertising space auction style which means if you are in a densely populated area, there are likely other businesses competing for that advertising space and driving up the price. Depending on your marketing budget and target base, this option may or may not be right for your restaurant.
Checklist for restaurant marketing
When setting up or reevaluating your current online reach, it’s important to assess whether your marketing plan works, or will work, for you. Here is a good time to mention that you should always be closely monitoring your social interactions and which platforms are receiving the most attention, feedback (both positive and negative), and reviews.
Analyzing this data can give you key insights into your market and if any adjustments are needed. Below are some restaurant marketing ideas and essentials for setting up and maintaining a robust online presence:
▢ Maintain an easy-to-use website that has all the necessary info quickly accessible.
▢ Include an online table reservation platform.
▢ Start and honor loyalty programs for your restaurant.
▢ Use delivery services to reach more customers and make your restaurant easier to find online.
▢ Always make sure your online menu is easy to find and up-to-date.
▢ Email promotions and newsletters can be a great tool but don’t get carried away.
▢ Configure your social media so that posts are shared across all platforms thus saving time.
▢ Reach out to local businesses in other industries about cross-promotional agreements.
▢ Don’t be afraid to adjust or shut down a marketing strategy if you determine the resources being dedicated do not match its return.
▢ Promote the local ingredients that you use in your food and drinks.
▢ Show behind the scenes of your food preparation.
▢ Customers will feel a stronger connection to independently owned restaurants rather than large chains.
▢ Post about your restaurant’s community interactions and any other local entrepreneurs that you support.
▢ Tell the story of your restaurant and capture its character.