When you’re running a business that is all about food, it might seem like you cannot run out of creative and exciting options to market it. But sustaining a restaurant business is not a simple task: you need to keep up with the industry, know what your customers want, compete with several other restaurants, and you have to think out of the box. There is always a need to stand out and make a good impression. That’s where you need to identify smart marketing ideas that can help you boost your restaurant’s growth.
1. Get Your Restaurant Listed
If there’s one task that needs to be the top priority on your list, it is making sure that your restaurant has an online presence that is alive and kicking. Take it from the location intelligence experts, getting your business listed on every relevant directory out there is absolutely important if you want to increase the number of people who are aware of your restaurant’s presence. This includes sites like Zomato, Yellow Pages, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. By creating these listings, you can ensure that your restaurant appears on searches that customers make on their mobile phones and computers when they want to head out for food. The most important aspect of these listings is to make sure that your listings have consistent and accurate information across all platforms. Without this, the cause is defeated. Here is a list of directories that are niche-specific to restaurants that you can list your business on. In addition to all your list of directories, make sure that you add your business to the local Chamber of Commerce website as well.
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As a restaurant, you need your business to stand out, and we know that it is easier said than done. But one area that you can use to create a solid impression is your signage. So, what goes into making a great signboard?
- A uniform theme that keeps the outdoor signage in-sync with the overall setting.
- Appropriate colors.
- Relevant font to represent the name of the restaurant. You cannot have something as silly as Comic Sans or high-functioning calligraphy.
- A good sign needs to be positioned in a certain area that serves optimal visibility.
- Incorporate action and animation as accessories to your signboard.
3. Create a Google My Business Page
You can ask any local SEO expert and they’ll tell you that having a Google My Business page is absolutely crucial for the online presence of a business. Google, the mammoth search engine, presents business information on searches giving priority to a business’s Google My Business profile. You’ll see that business information is presented in a knowledge graph when people search for a certain business on the right-hand side of the search results page. This is only one of the many things that you’ll benefit from if you have a GMB listing. Google My Business also has introduced features like Google Posts, an option to create a website, and review management. Making sure you have a Google My Business account and optimize it for local searches. Learn more about Google My Business on our Google My Business Page guide.
4. SEO Optimized Website
With the growing importance of a digital presence for businesses, having a website can have a lot of value. Perhaps you don’t really need a website given how efficient the options are. But, in case you already have a website, you need to make sure that it is well-equipped with SEO, not only to appear on searches but to rank as well. You need to make sure that your website has all the information that your potential customers will be looking for.
- Accurate address and phone number details
- Accessibility details – Parking facilities, Handicap-friendliness, pet-friendly, etc
- Delivery details (if any)
In addition to such specifications, your website needs to be well-designed, navigable and search engine optimized. Here are the things you need to focus on:
- Title tags
- Images with alt tags
- Indexable Menus
- A “www” site
- Mobile responsiveness
(You can read about these concepts in detail here.)
Geofencing is used to create a virtual geographic boundary with GPS or RFID technology that allows you to send an SMS or app notifications to users who enter this vicinity. With the application of geofencing to your marketing efforts, you can be sure to boost your audience engagement efforts. You can geofence the area around your restaurant, and let people know about anything from “soup of the day” to promotional offers. In addition to this, you can make use of Snapchat Geofilters that allows businesses to create customized templates as Snapchat filters that people can use. You can learn how to use Snapchat geofilters for your restaurant here.
6. Establish a Strong Social Media Presence
You have to agree that a social media presence is imperative to any business’ marketing. If you look at the social media habits of an average person, you are bound to find pictures of food alongside a small review of the experience. For this very reason, you need to create an active social media presence. Make a list of all the social media site you need to be on, and create an account. It is best to start small: use Facebook or Instagram, to begin with. Try to determine what you want to achieve through your social media handles. For example: do you want to increase brand awareness, increase your audience engagement, etc. After this, create a content strategy and a schedule for your posts to establish your business presence on social media. Creating a social media handle also allows users to “tag” your business when they post a picture online, and this helps put the word out on the street about your business.
7. Reach Out to Popular Food Industry Magazines for a Feature
Getting a feature in a popular food magazine can be very lucrative for your restaurant. In terms of branding, your restaurant will receive the push it needs if it appears on several magazines. This will also give your restaurant the media coverage to give it the acclaim it deserves. To begin with, make sure that you have an aspect of your restaurant that you use to publicize. It needs to be something that is news-worthy. For example, if your restaurant operates as a soup kitchen or actively participates in charity events, you have a story there. Aside from said “news-worthiness”, you can even impart the wisdom that you have gathered over the years as an experienced restaurateur. Once you have that in place, you need to reach out to these magazines to have them cover you. Not only will this benefit your brand, but you’ll even expand your professional circles and build thought-leadership in the food industry. (Here is a list of popular food magazines in the industry.)
8. Create a YouTube Channel for Your Business
According to an industry report for restaurants by Toast, YouTube is a channel that several restaurateurs are considering to boost their marketing. Given how technology has aided in the ubiquity of cameras and video recording devices, your restaurant can use YouTube to be discovered by more customers. For video ideas, you can refer to the Buzzfeed Tasty videos or have a “behind the scenes” clip. You need come up with a content strategy that provides your customers value, with your restaurant kept in the background. Make sure you employ professional services to document any events that your restaurant participates in. For example, if you participated in a local community event like a carnival, you can document it and present it on your YouTube channel. (Here are some YouTube content marketing ideas from Gourmet Marketing to get you started.)
9. Create a Loyalty Program
A loyalty program is only as good as its ability to retain customer engagement. Keeping this in mind, make sure that you craft a loyalty program that will keep your customers coming back and will attract other potential customers. But to begin your customer loyalty programs, you need to make sure that you have a POS (point-of-sale) software in place to manage your customer data. With this, you’ll be able to analyze and study customer data to implement your loyalty programs. (Here’s a list of POS systems that you can consider to implement into your operations.) Here are some loyalty program ideas you can use:
Provide your customers with discounts based on the amount they spend. For example, if your average customer spends over $20, you can give them a 10% discount on their next meal with you.
You can give away referral codes to your customers that they can pass on to their friends and family. Based on this, you can provide promotional offers that can benefit both parties.
Make your customers feel special. Based on a certain number of store visits, you can encourage your customers to return by providing them with a special menu or a free dessert.
10. Create a Holiday Calendar and Plan Ahead
Marketing is a non-stop activity, and we’re sure you probably plan ahead. But it would make a huge difference if you plan for holidays and festivals that are central to the different communities in your locality. For example, you can have dishes specific to the Irish cuisine for St. Patrick’s Day. You can come up with several promotional ideas when you consider the popular holidays that are around the corner. You will even open your doors to several communities by considering their ethnicities and traditions and catering to them. (Here are some ideas for promoting your restaurant in the holidays.)
11. Reach Out to the Local Food Bloggers
With people using the Internet to gather information about restaurants they want to eat at. Aside from reviews, people like to follow local bloggers who like to document their experiences on their blogs. Invite these local bloggers to review your restaurant for you. Make sure that you display all your positives to make sure that you receive a good review. Once your review is up, make sure you feature it on your website and share it across all your social media handles.
Just to make things more interesting, we thought that we’ll host a challenge about carpet cleaning marketing. Try any 5 of the aforementioned marketing campaigns, and write to us about your experience with them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us about your process and whether it was successful or not. If we find your email interesting, we’ll feature you on one of our future posts. We hope that you found this marketing guide helpful! Liked it? Give it a share so that it reaches more people from the restaurant community and helps them market their business better.
Spend More Time Running Your Business
And, less time obsessing about your local presence.