14 Important Steps to Promoting Your Restaurant
When it comes to promotions for your restaurants, you may hear information and ideas that are both confusing and contradictory. However, the process of growing your business is very organic. As you get started, you will want to make sure that you avoid any ideas that could potentially devalue your establishment. You are looking to build a solid foundation for your business, so you don’t want to create unjustifiable expectations from your customers.
With that being said, below is a 14-step plan that you can use to promote your restaurant establishment in an effective way that will attract patrons and build a solid customer base in today’s technology-driven world.
1. Use Signage to Your Advantage.
You wouldn’t believe the amount of business that signs can generate. If you are not using signage for your restaurant, then it is imperative that you begin using in-house and outdoor signs, advertising on receipts and carryout containers, menu boards, and more. You should also make copies of your eatery’s menus so that you can post them online and in the storefront window in addition to giving them to customers to take home.
2. Get a Well-Designed Website.
If you want marketing to be successful for your restaurant, then it is imperative that you have a full-functional and well-designed website. This needs to be at the top of your to-do list because the majority of marketing ideas are going to heavily rely on a website. You want to ensure that your website is mentioned on all of your promotional and advertising materials as well as your stationary because, in today’s digital world, your website address is just as important – if not more so – than the establishment’s physical address.
3. Determine Your Target Audience and How to Reach Them.
To ensure that you aren’t spending unnecessary advertising dollars, you need to figure out who your target audience is. Who is your ideal customer? Once you have determined your target audience, you can start creating a plan on how you will reach them. One of the most efficient and effective ways to reach out to your target audience is through social media, as you can target specific groups of consumers, especially on Facebook.
4. Use All Promotional and Advertising Channels at Your Disposal.
To market your business successfully, you need to determine how you will achieve your goals – both short- and long-term goals. You won’t be able to do this unless you test the waters with the various marketing channels that are available. You must do this to see which ones are the most effective for your business. For new restaurants, you should start by allocating roughly 80 percent of your marketing budget for online marketing. The other 20 percent should go to traditional advertising, such as radio, newspaper, television, directory and billboard advertisements. To capitalize on cross-promotional benefits, make sure that you are always referring back to your website.
5. Optimize Your Digital Presence.
In today’s day and age, customers are not only making reservations online, but many are actually placing orders online and even from their smartphones, so it is crucial that your restaurant as well as your menu can be located easily online. To ensure this can be done, you will want to join your local chamber of commerce as well as any local business organizations. Claim your business listings in online directories and restaurant review websites. Once open for business, send out press releases to newspapers, magazines, etc. in the local vicinity. Make sure your menu is on your website for customers who would like to peruse it before entering the establishment.
6. Get Involved on Social Media.
Are you currently active on social media? If not, then you are losing out on a lot of business! Make sure that you are using all the different social media platforms that are available to you. Determine which ones are most effective for your restaurant based on your customer base, cuisine and overall concept. As you post on social media, use keywords that are directly related to your cuisine, menu and/or concept. Make sure to post some photos of your restaurant and consider posting educational information related to culinary topics. You can even throw in some promotional offers.
7. Start Making Use of Cinemagraphs.
People spend a lot of their time scrolling through their social media feeds. For that reason, you want your posts to be visually-appealing – so much so that it will cause the user to stop their feed and look at your post. Cinemagraphs can be considered sophisticated GIFs. At first glance, they look similar to a high-definition photograph. However, when you get a closer look, you will see that one particular element in the photo is fluidly and continuously moving. Cinemagraphs are a great way to catch the attention of social media scrollers and how them that you mean business in this tech-driven world.
8. Interact and Engage with Your Customers.
Thanks to all of today’s modern technology, you have the ability to directly communicate with your current and prospective customers. In fact, it is important that you take the time to communicate and interact with your customers on social media. If customers have concerns or complaints, make sure to take the time to respond to them and show that you care how they feel. If they want to sing praise to them, interact with them for that, too. You should also encourage your customers to post photos, share their restaurant experience online, and write reviews.
Since you want to engage your audience and attract interest from users on social media, you need to make posts that will lure them in and get them to share your content. For example, you can host scavenger hunts, contests and special events. You could also consider posting a short video of how you prepare from the moment it comes to the restaurant until it is placed on a customer’s plate.
9. Monitor Your Online Reputation.
Just like word of mouth can ruin your business in the real world, online gossip can also do you harm. There are monitoring apps that you can utilize and/or you can set up Google alerts that can notify you when your restaurant, chef, cuisine or even competitors have been mentioned. Sometimes it is important to stay on top of good news, as it can lead to an increase in business, and if you aren’t ready to handle it, this can result in a negative outcome. The best thing that you can do for your business is to keep track of what’s going on online to keep any surprises from occurring, while also being able to capitalize on any marketing-related opportunities that may present themselves.
10. Offer Delivery Options.
Sometimes you have to go above and beyond traditional methods of marketing and advertising to further promote your restaurant. One way to do this, while also giving your customers a convenience factor, is to offer delivery options. It is the perfect way to get your brand and message out there into the community so that you can grow your brand.
11. Use Any Incentives Wisely.
If you plan on advertising some type of an incentive to try to get customers to come into your restaurant, it is important that you use an incentive that will add value to your restaurant and its food rather than devaluing them by excessively discounting it. For instance, offering a free appetizer or a free dessert would be an excellent incentive; however, a risky incentive would be to offer half-off meals. Think about it this way: would a customer be interested in paying full price for a meal when they got that same meal for half the price last time they were at your restaurant? It’s highly unlikely. Now, a buy-one-get-one free (BOGO) promotion may be a good way to lure customers in, especially those who would normally dine alone.
12. Set Your Restaurant Apart from the Rest.
If you were to look at restaurants based on the ingredients that come from the loading docks, they would all look very similar. Most restaurants are going to bring in very similar ingredients, including sugar, flour, spices, eggs, potatoes, canned goods, pasta, tea, coffee, meats, produce, paper goods, and cleaning supplies. To set your restaurant apart from your competition, it takes a bit of a science and an art. It is how you use those ingredients and turn them into signature dishes. Going beyond that, though, you need to tell a story with those dishes that will appeal to your customers, and it is the point-of-view that really matters, as it needs to reflect your restaurant theme.
13. Share Your Story.
There are many restaurants that choose to share their processes and stories for promotional gain. For example, you could have an open kitchen at your restaurant where patrons can sit and watch chefs cook their food. You could also go to social media and share special events and company milestones, then you could share staff biographies (in addition to the aforementioned) in e-mails and newsletters. Another fantastic idea is to share some behind-the-scenes photos and stories that show diners what goes on in a busy restaurant without revealing every single detail. The key here is keeping your customers informed and engaged.
14. Promote Your Restaurant Brand.
Your brand essentially consists of everything that occurs with your restaurant, from your concept and mission statement to your social involvement and seasonal menus. The restaurant business is about a lot more than simply serving food to hungry patrons, as it is also about providing excellent service. You want to be able to convey your brand message through every single online and traditional platform available to you; however, while doing so, you must make sure that you are always delivering a consistent message.
What is a consistent message? It is when your message always contains the same thing – your restaurant’s logo, color scheme, words appropriate for the audience, etc. Remember, while some individuals will come to your restaurant because it is the one that they pass by and they’re hungry, others will actually take the time to read your signage before deciding to come inside.
Advertising is everything in the restaurant business, and it is important that you take it seriously in order to promote your brand and build your business successfully. The above 14 steps will help you maintain a profitable restaurant while gradually growing your business for the most effective long-term benefits.