These days, there are so many people in the restaurant business.
From home-based bakers, local cafe owners to large food chains – there is fierce competition in every segment.
This competition is driven due to technology. While it’s a challenge to compete, it’s certainly possible to come out on top.
Here are some of the best restaurant marketing strategies for your business:
#1. Get listed on food apps
That’s the first and foremost rule for all restaurant owners. Whether you have a local business or a large franchise, the best way to create brand awareness is through food apps.
Hold up. The most important reason why you need food apps is because of the growing online delivery market:
As you can see, the percentage of online delivery has skyrocketed in the past few years which is why you need to focus on your online presence and not just your restaurant.
However, make sure you study your customers first.
Instead of wasting time and money getting yourself listed on every food app, conduct a survey to find the Top 3 food apps that your customers use and go for them.
Take a look at the best food delivery service apps in 2019 that you’ll want to partner with.
#2. Don’t underestimate the power of infographics
In layman terms, infographics refer to visuals. And posts that use images receive 650% higher engagement than text-only posts!
Let’s test this theory on you.
Which image did you comprehend faster? The picture of the apple, right? That is because 90% of the information sent to the brain is visual.
You’re probably also skimming through this article, focusing more on the visuals.
As a marketer in the restaurant industry, you can create engaging videos of food being prepared, aesthetic pictures of your restaurant and a unique logo to create a brand identity.
Recently, the Elan Cafe in London went viral as the most ‘Instagrammable Cafe’ simply due to its beautiful interior:
If you want to incorporate engaging infographics into your restaurant marketing strategy, use LucidPress.
#3. Make sure you have an online presence
Like I already emphasized, an online presence is crucial for gaining an edge over competitors.
Here are the three things you need to focus on to achieve optimal market share:
- Your website
Not only do you need a functional, up-and-running website, but it also needs to be Search Engine Optimised. Without proper SEO, your site will end up in the ‘dump’ i.e. the double-digit page number of search results that no one ever opens.
To improve your website’s SEO, you need to do the following:
- Create a blog. Publish engaging content that is either entertaining or helpful
- Use clear headings so that Google bots can decipher what your content is about
- Boost your website’s conversion rate to at least 5% or above, depending on industry average
- Hire a good web designing team to improve your website’s appearance and reduce your bounce rate
- Reduce page loading time to under 3 seconds
When it comes to Google, there are 3 things that you need to monitor:
- Advertise your brand through geo-targeted ads on Googe. On average, Google ads yield a 50% return on investment.
- Set up Google Alerts so that every time your business or a relevant keyword is mentioned, you are notified. This will help you keep a track of the activity going on around your business.
- Set up your Google+ account. Every time a user searches for your business, Google’s knowledge sidebar will provide them with relevant details:
- Social media
Again, instead of targetting all the social media platforms, pick a few that your users are active on and work on those.
This way, you’ll have more time to focus on each; thus, generating quality content.
Select social media platforms based on your target audience. As a restaurant, your target audience is probably foodies who follow food blogs on Instagram and Facebook.
Create a blog on the platform they are most active on and post regular content about new dishes, recipes etc.
You don’t necessarily have to post about content related to your brand. Instead, you can review other restaurants and post about content that your followers are interested in.
Take a look at Mel’s Instagram account, @girleatworld, with 387k followers to find some inspiration for your food brand:
Perhaps her fame stems from the ingenious idea of combing the two things that everybody is in love with: good food and travel diaries.
#4. Conduct contests
The easiest way to gain quick followers organically (and cost-free, might I add) is through online contests. Contests also help to drive more customers in-store.
Here are the best ideas for conducting effective contests:
- Offer a gift card to the winner of the contest:
The added benefit of this contest is that people who are already interested in your brand will enter so you can target them later for promotional offers and SMS campaigns.
- Give out a recipe book!
Almost every business is conducting online contests offering the same prizes. If you want to go out of the way, give your most loyal followers a recipe book with their favorite recipes (but be sure not to sell your trade secrets!).
- Give a free cooking class
This one will probably get A LOT of followers engaged. A good cooking class costs a couple of hundred dollars easily, so this may be a big prize for your fans.
- Restaurant memories
If you want to take contests to the next level, get your customers to send in their favorite pictures as memories at the restaurant.
This way, not only can you choose a well-deserved winner that has been loyal to your restaurant, but you can also post user-generated content.
User-generated content will increase post engagement by 28%!
Moreover, research shows that 84% of customers believe online reviews as much as personal recommendations! With positive reviews, you’re likely to get a high inflow of customers.
#5. Don’t leave out email and SMS
These are two of the most underrated forms of marketing in the industry. They come at a minimal cost and provide one of the highest ROIs.
Use email and SMS to create brand awareness when you set up shop in a new location. Get customers to subscribe to your campaigns and send them discount coupons and offers through these channels.
Source: After Offers
For SMS, you can use ExpressText to help you conduct an SMS marketing campaign through a seamless, automated process.
For email, MailChimp should be your Number 1 go-to for an email campaign. You can send out thousands of emails and SMS in just a few hundred dollars.
#6. Move towards healthy, organic materials
According to Forbes, Subway falls into the category of the Top 3 biggest food chains globally, and there is only one reason behind that: it sells healthy, organic meals.
As technology has created increasing awareness among individuals, restaurants can no longer get away with selling food that isn’t up to the mark.
To convince your customers that you are selling organic materials, you need to be transparent about it. The best example to learn from is McDonald’s.
Throughout the years, there have been numerous myths and rumors about where McDonald’s sources its meat from, how the food is made etc., perhaps by competitors trying to bring down the brand’s reputation as the leading food chain.
However, the brand handled this in the most tactful way possible. It introduced the ‘open kitchen’ concept in its franchisees worldwide:
Even today, customers can simply book a kitchen tour and see for themselves how the food is made and where it comes from.
The lesson to learn from here is, transparency helps to build a certain level of trust with your customers. This trust will, in turn, lead to loyal customers that bring a hefty amount of revenue in the long run.
#7. Train your staff to become your most important asset
In the restaurant business, your staff is your most crucial asset. They can make or break your restaurant marketing strategies, and it all depends on how you trained them:
- Use upselling techniques
When customers enter your restaurant, they are likely to ask for a bottle of water before they order.
Train your employees to use this opportunity to sell customers a mocktail or a high priced drink by making it sound tempting. This will help you earn more revenue per table.
- Maximize table turnover
To do this, you need to keep your customers moving.
Make sure your serving staff is on schedule. They should be serving drinks before or with the food. Once customers are done with their meal, waiters need to clear the table and send the bill immediately.
It sounds simple, but once you implement it you will realize that tables are cleared earlier for the next waiting parties, thus improving customer turnout and revenue.
However, you need to train your staff in such a way that they do not annoy the customer. Suppose a customer does not want to order extras or fancy drinks, don’t push it.
Your staff needs to be trained such that they know how to assess the situation and act accordingly. To learn more about upselling and staff training, click here.
#8. Incorporate automation into your restaurant
Automation is the future.
If you’re still relying on traditional ways to run your restaurant, it’s likely that you’re missing out on a lot of profits that you could have made otherwise.
Here are the most common ways the food industry is incorporating technology that you can too:
Kiosks, also known as self-serve counters, are becoming increasingly common all over the world in restaurants.
They reduce long lines, reduce the cost of employee payroll and increase efficiency among other benefits.
Source: QSR Magazine
- Online Reservation
Not only are phone calls becoming a thing of the past for millennials, busy restaurants often have extremely long call waitings.
To counter this problem, you should introduce online reservations for your restaurant. It takes seconds to create a reservation and you don’t have to tie up an employee to the phone line anymore.
- Point of Sale mobile systems
A POS service is usually a cash register.
However, if you want to reduce lines and bring convenience, its best that you get a mobile device for POS service.
These allow you to bill customers right at the table, creating ease for both the customer and the business.
Here’s a demo in case you were wondering how to use one:
One of the best mobile POS systems you can find is TouchBistro.
It may be a bit pricey at $69/month for some businesses so make sure you weigh the pros and cons before purchasing it.
The best thing about these restaurant marketing strategies is that they won’t break the bank.
Staying ahead of competitors no longer requires a heavy source of funds. Instead, you need to work smart, not hard!