There are more ways to market your restaurant than ever before – especially online. It can be overwhelming to consider all of your options and all the tasks that need to be handled on a daily basis.
This is why developing a focused plan for your restaurant is so crucial. When you have a marketing plan, you can boil it down into daily action steps that you can use to get the word out about your place of business. These action steps make the marketing process far more manageable in the long run.
Use the following five steps to develop your own local restaurant marketing plan.
1. Create A Web Presence
Can local customers find you online? Do you have a mobile optimized website? Is your contact information and location clearly marked and easy to find? Do you have a content marketing plan that helps your website’s SEO?
If you want to beat the competition, you need to find ways to help your target customer find you before they find other restaurants. Creating relevant blogs posts or pages about your specialty or menu items, daily specials, and even coverage relevant to the local food industry could be worthwhile.
With more and more customers searching for locations on mobile devices, it would be wise to have a website that scales too.
First, make sure your is business listed with Google+ Business (see instructions here). This is free and a great starting point if you’re just beginning to build your online presence.
Another great resource to get started with is SinglePlatform, which enables you to publish your business information across the most popular review sites, search engines, and mobile apps with a single click.
If you’re creating blog content, make sure Google is indexing your blog by adding your blog url to Google’s Blog Search.
2. Search For Local Food Bloggers
Getting reviews and backlinks to your website can boost your presence both online and offline. Look for local food or restaurant bloggers and ask them if they would be willing to review your restaurant and/or food. You could offer them a coupon, a free meal, or other incentives to bring them in. You can use Google’s Blog Search, to look for “San Francisco Restaurant Blog” for example, and find the top ranking bloggers that you might consider reaching out to.
On a related note, make sure to monitor online reviews. What are your customers saying about you on sites like Google or Yelp? These reviews may provide insights into how you can improve and create a better customer experience. If you receive criticism in your reviews, don’t hide from it. Instead, use the review as an opportunity to show the online community that you are listening and responsive to feedback, and are making improvements based on that feedback. This is one of the best ways to build credibility and trust with your customer base, as well as set a strong impression that you are committed to feedback and improvement.
3. Implement A Customer Loyalty Program
Offer exclusive deals, complementary meals, or other incentives through a customer loyalty program. This can be a great way to grow your email list or ‘Facebook’ likes as well (i.e. by offering special deals that they can’t find elsewhere). When your subscribers see communication coming from you on a regular basis, you will stay top-of-mind, compelling your customer to come back to see what’s new.
4. Update Your Menu
Your menu is one of your most valuable marketing tools. If your menu doesn’t look good, or is generally boring or outdated, you are far less likely to make a good impression on the customer. First impressions do matter.
Practically speaking, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the layout. Is the menu organized? Is it easy to read? Have you put your most profitable items towards the beginning and the end? You may also want to consider whether or not you have too many dishes, as a higher number of choices can seem overwhelming to the patrons.
5. Host Events
Events provide you with a great opportunity to bring in the local community. Live music, parties, networking events, business functions, community events, comedy and a variety of other types of gatherings can introduce new patrons to your restaurant.
There are a variety of ways to market these events including social media and email, fliers and posters, local listings, cards or displays, and so on. Creating a great company culture is an investment that pays dividends. Happy employees send strong messages to patrons that should not be overlooked.
Don’t forget to study and observe trends and case studies on an ongoing basis. Continue to look for ways to improve upon your marketing plan, and remember to stay on top of technology as new advancements continue to emerge.
Have any additional tips to share? Please leave them in the comments section below!
Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley