Restaurants in 2017 are getting creative, have you noticed? The focus is no longer on serving delicious food; it’s about providing new and unique experiences. A major reason for this is food ordering apps. With food ordering services such as Zomato, Swiggy, FoodPanda gaining t numbers, getting food delivered is no longer a hassle. Restaurants are now organising activities such as live music, karaoke nights, book club meetings, business networking sessions, and so on, to attract customers. This is just one way, though. There are numerous other restaurant marketing strategies that are gaining traction. And if you are a restaurant owner, you need to join the party now or forever be hungry for more customers.
Restaurant Marketing Strategies:
While good food is important for customers, it isn’t the best way to market your restaurant anymore. Consider yourself as a restaurant goer. How do you find out about new restaurants? I discover them when a friend posts a picture or a status on Facebook/Instagram. Or I read about them when there is an interesting event going on in the restaurant. Next, how do you decide which restaurant to go to? Let’s say your friend suggests a new restaurant. What are the factors you consider before you decide to go there? Personally, I first go to Google and then check Zomato. I check photos, ratings, and reviews.
All of this becomes a part of your restaurant’s marketing strategy. Running a restaurant is like running a brand. You can’t just focus on your product, you have to focus on marketing, customer experience, and other elements too.
Let’s look at a few restaurant marketing strategies that will help you get more customers and increase revenue and sales.
1. Cook up a website
For starters, does your restaurant even need a website? Well, we can’t help you with that. But here are a few reasons why a website will add value to your business:
- A website is your online address. It provides your customers with all the information they might need such as exact address, reviews, best dishes on the menu, and so on.
- A website helps in building a brand value for your restaurant. It gives you a bit more credibility than your competition and is an excellent way to showcase your brand.
Mumbai and Delhi’s favorite pub Social has a website which contains its menu, addresses of all its locations, and also talks about the brand (check the website here).
Your website should be…
Ensure that your website is clean and simple so that customers don’t get lost in the Jumanji world of your website. When a person is visiting your website, they might just want to check out the address or the menu. A simple website makes it easier for them to find things. You can also start a blog for your restaurant where you write about the latest food trends. This will not only keep your customers informed but it will establish you as the authority in the industry. Through your website and blog, you can start offering coupon codes and discounts too. The Little Black Book created an entire business based on this.
If you don’t have a website yet, use this easy WordPress for small businesses guide to setup a basic website. Or alternatively, you can hire a freelancer to help you with it. Before you create a website, be clear about how it will add value to your customers.
2. Build your presence on food portals
There are 2 types of food portals out there:
1. Portals where people can order food such as Zomato, UberEats, FoodPanda, Swiggy, etc. and,
2. Portal where people can read details about restaurants such as Zomato, Yelp, Google, etc.
It is important to be listed on all such platforms. The more you are visible on maximum portals, the more chances of people being aware of your restaurant. Often different platforms have different offers and discounts that lures people into ordering food or booking a table. Apart from customer attraction, using these portals to understand customer psychology is also extremely important.
Start connecting with customers on these sites to close the feedback loop and make them feel special. Look into customers who had a poor experience and make them feel valued. Customers need to know that their experience matters and that you take it seriously.
3. Encourage customers to leave reviews
2 types of people write reviews online: people who ABSOLUTELY love your restaurant or people who ABSOLUTELY hate it. Writing a review online is a tedious and thankless task and most people hate it. But remember, your restaurant needs reviews. So you will have to encourage your customers to write reviews. They are giving you 30-80 seconds of their time by reviewing and rating your restaurant, so give them incentives that will make them go on. You can offer a discount code or a free dessert. Or you can just ask politely. One important tip here: remember to ask and not tell. Instead of “Please give us a review,” ask politely “Would you like to give us a review.”
Every person who has tried your food will have something to say – good or bad or both. When a customer asks for a bill encourage them to leave a review on an online platform. For the same, you can hire a designer to create a flyer that goes with each bill. The flyer can contain details about delivery options and other perks/facts about your restaurant.
4. Manage your online reputation
Do not underestimate the power of a single good or bad rating; ratings matter. Be it a review on a food portal or a comment on your Facebook page, you should respond and resolve each query. Managing your brand’s reputation online is crucial especially on the online portals as that is what determines your overall score. Many food portals have an option to sort restaurants according to ratings and you would want to be first, trust us.
Responding to positive reviews is as crucial as replying to negative ones. It helps customers realise that their feedback is valued. Check out this sweet review and the reply.
Of course, not all reviews and comments you receive will be positive. In case of a negative feedback, listen to the complain carefully and apologise to your customers. Offering the customer a discount coupon for the next time they visit is the most commonly used strategy. This will not only help in calming the unhappy customer, but it will also show other users how much you value your customers. You can check out this guide on how to respond to negative reviews.
5. Use the Instagram hashtag trend to its full potential
People love posting pictures of their food on Instagram. Food-based hashtags are very popular. #FoodPorn is the latest craze among young teenagers who are obsessed with taking drool-worthy food pictures. While your brand should be present on all social media channels, Instagram is one place where you can really connect with your audience and gain popularity. You should leverage all the food-related hashtags and start an Instagram campaign or a contest that lets people be creative with food.
When Taco Bell replaced their old slogan with a new one called “Live más,” which means “live more.” they ran a contest to encourage people to get out and live. They were asked to do the craziest, most absurd and exciting things with their new Doritos Locos Tacos. If you look through the hashtag #LiveMasContest and #TacoBell, you’ll see people doing the most unimaginable things with a Taco in their hands.
6. Make friends with influencers
Every industry has a set of people ruling the kingdom. They are called influencers and they have a huge influence on the target segment of the industry. Your job is to find them, befriend them, and get them to talk about your brand. People are always more likely to take suggestions from people they admire be it Shahrukh Khan or even Kamaal R Khan.
Websites like Influence.co, BuzzSumo, or Klout make your job easier by providing you with profiles that are most influential on social media sites. This specific strategy comes with a warning sign, though. Judging a person based on just followers could be misleading. An easy way out of this is by checking the engagement these influencers receive on their posts. If an influencer has 10K followers but only ten comments on all of their posts, you should hear a danger bell ringing in the distance.
7. Use google features to rank higher
Google always uses the information it has under its umbrella before moving to other websites. Hence, it is important to create a presence on Google. Start by making a Google+ account. Then go on to build your Google – My Business Profile. This is extremely crucial for restaurant owners since this displays your location, category, hours, contact information, menu, reviews, popular times, and images during every search.
Next on the list is using Facebook to get to Google (almost sounds like a conspiracy theory). Facebook is a valuable signal to Google, with each restaurant’s Facebook page appearing on the first page of its respective Google Search Engine results page. So don’t underestimate the power of Facebook. Keep posting fresh content every day to keep showing up on Google.
Apart from these restaurant marketing strategies, you can also do offline marketing which can help you gain some online traction. Displaying handwritten signs in your restaurant can very well make you the talk of the town.
Check out some of the cool restaurant signs here:
One similar off-track and unspoken restaurant marketing strategy is to create a booth in your restaurant where people can take pictures & selfies. Or improve the lightings on each table to make it more photogenic. The more pictures people click, the more brand value they build for you online. This will help with social media marketing, too. Most people like to share an experience with their friends and families rather than just a meal.
Marketing your restaurant is only going to get tougher in 2018. My advice would be to start building a brand value and brand presence as soon as possible. Or you would forever be chasing your competition. Our restaurant marketing strategies will help you both create brand value and increase revenue.
Got any other tips? Share your strategies in the comments below. And if you want to hire expert freelancer visit our website.