There are millions of restaurants out there and your mission in life is to find a way to get a hungry customer to choose your establishment out of all of your competitors.
It’s a tall order, we know.
Which is why, in such a competitive industry like food and hospitality, your brand has to stand out in order to draw in new customers, keep your existing ones, and build a successful brand.
And having exceptional customer service and 5-star cuisine isn’t enough, either. To stand out, to truly stand out, you need to know how to market your restaurant with the strategies that resonate with your customers and differentiate your brand!
So, what are the ingredients that make up effective restaurant marketing?
Today’s blog has the inside dish! Read on for proven marketing strategies designed to elevate your restaurant’s visibility, engage your target audience, and set the stage for long-term success!
Why is Restaurant Marketing so Important?
Restaurant marketing is important for so many reasons.
For one, effective marketing builds up awareness of your restaurant and attracts hungry customers who are curious about your offerings, giving restaurant owners a chance to win over other customers and turn them from curious first-time visitors into loyal patrons.
The right marketing strategies also help to create a strong brand presence, boosting your reputation and making your restaurant more popular and, therefore, more visible to your target audience.
And let’s not forget, in such a competitive industry, where your customers have the pick of any eating establishment they want, effective marketing helps your restaurant stay top-of-mind for customers deciding on where to have their next delicious meal.
Outlining a Successful Restaurant Marketing Campaign
So, what makes for effective restaurant marketing to ensure that your establishment is visible, top of mind, and positioned as an attractive choice to keep your target audience wanting to visit your restaurant over and over again?
It’s important to first set yourself up for success. In order to create a successful marketing campaign, follow the steps outlined below:
1. Set Your Goals
Before you start anything, first set your goals.
Determine what you want your next campaign to achieve. Is it more foot traffic? New customers? Keeping existing customers? Selling a specific menu item? Enhancing brand awareness?
Once you decide, it will make it easier to know what you’re measuring and how you’ll measure it.
It’s a good idea to use SMART goals here to keep your objectives realistic and within your grasp. If you aren’t familiar with this, here is a brief rundown:
- Specific — Clear and unambiguous, addressing who, what, where, when, and why.
- Measurable — Quantifiable, allowing for progress tracking and achievement determination.
- Achievable — Realistic and attainable, considering available resources and constraints.
- Relevant — Aligned with broader objectives and meaningful in the context of the overall mission or vision.
- Time-bound — Has a defined timeframe, providing urgency and a deadline for completion.
2. Identify Your Audience
Then comes the folks you want to bring into your business.
Who is your audience? Are you looking to draw in big, happy families? Romantic couples? Gourmet types looking for an exclusive dining experience? Crowds of hungry sports enthusiasts ready to enjoy a meal and watch their favorite team?
Whoever your ideal crowd is, knowing exactly who you’re trying to bring through your doors is crucial in determining the messaging you’ll use to reach them.
We recommend using user personas here to really get a grasp on your target audience and the messaging you’ll need to hit their pain points, overcome their obstacles, and answer the questions they need to convert.
If you need some help creating user personas, click that link for an in-depth guide!
3. Set Your Campaign Duration
As we read in the SMART goal explanation, it’s good to have time-bound goals.
So, decide on how long you want your campaign to run. Is this a seasonal promotion? Six months before the opening of a new location to drum up hype?
Whatever you decide, choose a start and end date so you can be ready to measure all of the results you gather in that time frame.
4. Find the Right Channels
If you create user personas about your target audience, it should be much easier to decide where that audience can best be reached.
Whether your best chances at finding your target audience is with an email campaign, social media, or TV and radio, stick with it to get the message out to the folks who need to hear it.
Don’t be afraid to mix it up either. Consider an omnichannel campaign to maximize your reach and boost engagement!
5. Determine Your Marketing Budget
Establish how much you’re willing to spend on your ad campaign before you even start planning it out, including costs for marketing collateral, like flyers, ads, billboards, etc.
You’ll need talent to create these assets too, so be sure you factor in the cost of paying freelancers or hiring the in-house creative team you’ll need to make it for you.
Other things to consider are the costs of online ad campaigns, any software or licensing feeds you’ll need, and some contingency cash for those unforeseen events that always tend to pop up when you least expect them.
6. Choose Your KPIs
Based on the goals you chose in step 1 of the process, you’ll then need to choose the KPIs that best align with what you’re wanting to achieve.
If you’re not quite sure what KPIs to go for, check out our recent blog to help you navigate the complicated world of marketing metrics!
11 Effective Strategies for Restaurant Marketing
While you’re busy planning out the foundation of your campaign, here are some effective strategies for your restaurant marketing plan to help you promote your restaurant, reach your goals, and bring in more customers!
1. A Delicious Online Presence
In order to win over customers who find you online, be sure that your website is optimized for success!
Your website should be intuitive, easy to navigate, and have all of your contact info front and center. Hungry people aren’t known to be the most patient crowd, so make sure everything they could be looking for is easy to find and, if your website allows online ordering, be sure the process is smooth and hassle-free!
Potential customers will likely browse your website to see if there’s something that catches their eye before they make a decision, so include an online menu that shines with high-quality images and SEO-optimized entree descriptions.
In addition to an optimized website and easy-to-use online experience, you should also be active on your socials.
Regular posting and customer engagement via social media marketing work wonders to build up brand awareness, your online reputation, and get your restaurant in front of new potential customers!
2. Keep Up with Your Reputation
You can count on the first thing a potential customer doing after discovering your restaurant online is checking your customer reviews.
Because of this, it’s crucial that you keep up with your online reputation. If you don’t have a Google Business listing, then it’s a good idea to get one. Google reviews are so visible that an optimized listing is necessary to attract new customers.
Incentivize your customers to leave you positive reviews, if necessary, and do whatever you have to do to get them because they’re that important!
You can also ask for reviews from third-party sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor to showcase more of your positive customer experiences to new audiences.
Be sure to respond to any feedback you get as well, good and bad. You’d be surprised how far an apology or discounted meal goes to win back unhappy customers to your brand. This not only can mend fences but will demonstrate to everyone else your ongoing commitment to customer satisfaction.
It’s also important that you have some social proof on your website and landing page in case a customer decides to visit your website before checking your online reviews. Consider asking your customers for user-generated content and testimonials to showcase on your website for that extra dash of authenticity and credibility!
3. Content Marketing
Don’t overlook the power of content marketing for your brand!
Consider starting a blog on your website featuring food-related content, recipes, or behind-the-scenes stories. This has the double whammy of engaging and informing your audience as well as giving you somewhere to strategically place SEO-rich content to boost your online visibility.
You can also use high-quality and mouth-watering images on social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. People love to look at delicious food. After all, for many, Instagram eats first!
Those foodies also love to watch their meals being lovingly prepared. Video marketing is a powerful thing, friends; content like cooking tutorials, chef interviews, customer recommendation interviews, behind-the-scenes peeks, or video ads for platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are excellent tools for stopping the scroll, engaging your audience, and generating leads to your website.
4. Email and SMS
Email marketing is an extremely effective way to deliver that exceptional written, image-rich, and video content we just finished talking about.
Build out an email subscriber list and schedule regular content like sneak peeks of blogs, newsletters, videos, or even special promotions and exclusive and offers.
Segment your list to better personalize the kind of content you’re sending so that it resonates even more with your audience. If you have a demographic that is better reached over their phones, then reach out with an SMS campaign as well. SMS is also highly effective for reaching an audience on the go. Text your customers with timely promotions and last-minute deals to bring in a hungry crowd.
5. Local SEO for the Win
You’ve all done it when you’re hungry, we know you have.
Typing in something like “restaurant near me” is what many, many people do when they decide it’s time for dinner and it's necessary to visit a local restaurant in an area they’re not familiar with.
Take advantage of that habit by having a strong local SEO game! Use a tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs to research local search terms and then use them in your website in everything from blogs to menu descriptions to enhance your search rankings and put your brand at the top of the search result list!
6. Branded Merch
Turn your loyal customers into brand advocates with branded swag like T-shirts, caps, koozies, aprons, cups, and more!
It not only lets your customers act as human billboards but also builds a sense of community and identity amongst your clientele.
Not to mention, selling branded merchandise can be quite a lucrative additional source of revenue for your brand. If you need some help creating branded swag, let us know, we’d love to get you started!
7. Google and Social Media Ads
PPC ad campaigns are a great way to get your content and ad to the right people at the right time.
Invest in targeted Google Ads to get your content to appear in relevant local searches to reach new customers or draw existing ones back to your doors.
You can also run paid advertising campaigns on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram, to reach a much wider audience. Be sure that the ads you run are eye-catching with high-quality images, snappy copy, and a can't-miss-it call to action!
8. Themed Events
Who’s up for some fun?
To change things up, why not draw in a crowd for themed events that vibe with your brand and your audience?
Whether it’s a karaoke night, live music, trivia night, Taco Tuesday specials, local sports team events, House of the Dragon Sundays, or kids-eat-free dinners, hype up your event on your socials and in your email and SMS campaigns.
This is a great way to bring back your existing customers for some fun, as well as draw in curious new customers.
Don’t forget to collect feedback and insight from your customers to improve and refine future themed events too!
9. Partner Up
Join forces with popular delivery services like UberEats, GrubHub, and DoorDash to boost brand awareness and make your offerings more convenient to your target audience. Local discount sites like Groupon or RetailMeNot work well for this too, if that’s a place your target audience would be.
If it aligns with your brand and your target audience, you can also team your brand up with local food bloggers and influencers who have a substantial following and are capable of further spreading the word about your restaurant and your services!
Either option is an excellent way to get your brand in front of a new audience and both amplify brand awareness and attract hungry customers.
10. Loyalty Programs
When it comes to strategies to keep your existing customers happy, you can’t go wrong with a loyalty program.
There are a variety of ways to do it but, essentially, loyalty programs are point-based systems that allow a customer to earn rewards for a certain number of purchases in order to encourage future business.
Whether you choose a “buy 10, get 1 free deal” or opt for sending exclusive discounts, free items, special promotions, and more to your loyal customers, a well-designed loyalty program strengthens the bond between your existing customers and your brand.
11. Connect with Your Community
Get the word out and show your potential customers that you care about what matters by connecting with the local community that they’re also a part of.
Participating in local events or sponsoring community initiatives and fundraisers is a great way to give back to your community. It is not only a good way to build up brand awareness, but it’s just the right thing to do!
And if you don’t want to go it alone, you can also collaborate with other local businesses or organizations for charity events or fundraisers to give back, cross-promote each other, and build a supportive network together.
What the Right Marketing Strategies Can Do for Your Brand
A well-executed restaurant marketing campaign can reap some serious rewards for your brand.
Here are some of those key advantages:
- Increased Visibility — Effective marketing efforts enhance a restaurant's visibility, making it more noticeable to potential customers both online and offline.
- Attracting New Customers — Marketing campaigns help attract new patrons by showcasing a restaurant's unique offerings, specialties, and promotions to a broader audience.
- Building Brand Awareness — Consistent and appealing marketing builds brand awareness, making a restaurant more recognizable and memorable among the target demographic.
- Boosting Sales — Strategic marketing initiatives, such as promotions, discounts, and limited-time offers, can lead to an increase in sales and revenue.
- Enhanced Online Presence — Leveraging digital marketing channels improves a restaurant's online presence, including a user-friendly website, active social media profiles, and positive reviews on platforms like Google and Yelp.
- Customer Engagement — Interactive marketing campaigns, social media interactions, and email newsletters foster engagement with customers, creating a sense of community around a restaurant.
- Effective Communication — Marketing enables a restaurant to communicate essential information, such as menu updates, special events, and operational changes, to its customer base.
- Competitive Edge — Standing out in a competitive market is crucial. A well-crafted marketing strategy helps a restaurant differentiate itself from its competitors and showcase its unique value proposition.
- Customer Loyalty — Loyalty programs and targeted marketing efforts build a loyal customer base, encouraging repeat customers and glowing word-of-mouth recommendations.
- Adaptability — Marketing allows a restaurant to stay agile and adapt to changing market trends, customer preferences, and industry dynamics.
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Hungry for Marketing Success?
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