No matter how good your food and service is, no matter how cool a dining concept you have developed, every restaurant owner needs a strong marketing plan to help his or her business grow. Keeping customers in your seats is the name of the game and there is a lot of competition out there so you need to make sure you are doing everything possible to market your restaurant properly. Don’t let the daily minutiae of running a restaurant keep you from developing an effective marketing plan.
The one thing you should always be doing is keep track of your restaurant’s Google ranking. Did you make it to the first page of a search for your type of restaurant and location? Look at who your competitors are and how they market themselves to see if there is something you should be doing differently. Always keep up on current trends and statistics that will allow you to keep tweaking your marketing plan so it adapts to any changes in the market.
Here are some ways to market my restaurant in 2017:
Have a well-designed website
In today’s market, you really can’t afford to not have a website for your restaurant. Most people look to the internet for information about just about everything including where to go for dinner. Your website should not only be well-designed and attractive to look at, but it should be functional and easy for people to navigate. You want your potential customers to be able to easily find the information they are looking for. You need to also give them clear options on how to reach out and contact you as well. Besides important details like menu, location and hours, you should also include daily specials and special events coming up and any special services you may offer at your restaurant that will make you stand out from the rest. Many restaurant websites also have food blogs to draw in more readers to their site.
For best internet ranking, make sure your site is well-optimized and that you follow SEO practices to make sure your website is showing up in people’s restaurant searches.
Set up Google Alerts
One easy way to see what people are saying about you and to keep up-to-date on what is going on with your competitors and the food industry in general is to set up Google Alerts with important keywords so that you never miss out on important information.
Cultivate a relationship with food bloggers
Food blogging has become so popular today and you should take advantage of that. Cultivate relationships with some local food bloggers and invite them to come into your restaurant to write a review on your food and service. Good reviews will help generate more interest in what you are doing and you can also include those reviews on your website. On that note, you should have a page on your website where you can include links to any press your restaurant receives. Make sure to share these on social media too.
Engage customers on review sites and social media
Hopefully when you created your website, you also established a social media presence on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It is important that you stay active there posting specials and special events, but also to engage with your customers. Always thank customers for positive comments and respond in a respectable manner to negative ones as well, promising to address the issue they bring up. Do this also on review sites. Besides showing people you care about your customers, it will also give you a good idea of how your restaurant is perceived in your local community.
Allow customers to make reservations online
Online restaurant reservation tools like OpenTable are really popular today because more and more people prefer to do all of their interactions via the internet instead of having to pick up the phone and deal with a live person. By giving your customers this option, you are also making scheduling easier for you and your staff as well. It is a win-win situation.
Run contests and special promotions
Who doesn’t love a fun contest or a chance to win something or get a discount off their meal? Contests and special promotions encourage customer interaction and makes them more excited about choosing your restaurant for their next meal out. Launch them online and use your social media accounts to get people chattering about it. Plan ahead and have something scheduled at least each month if not every week. All the positive excitement will get more people interested in what you are doing.
Create a customer loyalty program
While as a restaurant owner you are always looking to bring in new customers, you never want to forget your loyal regulars either. Create a customer loyalty program to thank them and to offer them special discounts or events just for them. Also send them a monthly email newsletter that keeps them up-to-date on what is going on at the restaurant. Make sure to include photos of events at your establishment. People love to see pictures of themselves and their friends in the newsletter.
Encourage staff to promote online presence
Having a social media presence will only take you so far if you don’t properly promote it. When your staff is interacting with customers make sure they are referring them to your website and social media accounts for latest news and information. The more excitement you create about it, the more likely people will check it out.
Post lots and lots of pictures
We are a very visual society. In the food business especially, people want to look at photos of delicious dishes and to see pictures of your staff and fun events that you hold. Ask a staff member that is good with a camera or consider hiring a professional photographer to take regular pictures for you that you can use on your website and social media sites. The hope is that people will share your pictures and help spread the word about what makes your restaurant so special.