Hospitality businesses have suffered tremendously during the pandemic, but now that most restrictions have been lifted it’s time to implement a wide ranging marketing plan to make up for lost revenue.
The restaurant industry is one of the most competitive, so creating a brand which stands out from the crowd with an enticing message and imagery is of paramount importance. A restaurant branding agency will help develop your concept and evolve your messaging so you stay fresh and relevant. What do you want your customers to think of when they hear your brand name? Who are you targeting and what message with resonate with them? The answers to these simple questions will help indicate the direction to take with your brand touchpoint.
2. Booking Platforms
There are a number of platforms which will really help drive customers, most of which have commission only arrangements so you only pay for covers that actually dine at your restaurant. These include Opentable, Bookatable, The Fork, Quandoo and Eveve. Running promotions at certain times of the week, will help boost sales at your quiet times. These promotions don’t have to be discounts or set menus, Opentable for example can put your restaurant to the top of local searches but will charge a higher cover price.
3. Local marketing
The majority of a restaurant’s customers will either live or work within walking distance. So look at what’s in the area (Google Maps is best) and devise strategies to target them. For example there may be quite a few schools in the area so you could introduce a Kids Eat for Free promotion and contact the PTA’s to promote. Hotels, theatres, cinemas, museums, universities and large local businesses can also be contacted and promotions set up. Get out there and build relationships – after all that’s what’s successful marketing campaigns are all about.
Have a walk around the restaurant and look for advertising opportunities – these could well be cheaper than you think especially in the current climate. Adverts at bus stops, lamp post banners etc can really help to get your message out there. If you don’t have the time or the inclination to do this yourself, ask a restaurant marketing agency for help.
4. Email marketing
Email marketing is another very cost effective way of keeping your customers engaged and reminding them of your USP’s. But rather than sending out promotions all the time, focus on what makes you special and reinforce brand attributes. For example by giving recipes, cooking tips or some interesting information regarding the food heritage and influences of your brand.
There are 4 main ways of utilising Google Adwords: -Ads in the main searches, Google My Business Ads, Customer Intent Ads and Remarketing.
Ads which appear at the top and bottom of a page of search results are generally the most expensive and therefore should only be used to target group bookings – so keywords that mention private dining, venue hire and birthdays for example. Google My Business ads are generally about a half to a third of the costs of ads on the normal search page. The analytics from those ads shows all the customer actions – even the phone numbers and duration of the calls of those that have phoned the restaurant.
With Customer Intent Campaigns, you give Google a list of websites that your customers will visit ie local competitors and Google then puts your ads in front of those people when they visit third party sites on their display network – eg You Tube. These campaigns are great for building brand awareness and the price per click is very cheap – going as low as 4p.
Remarketing ads appear on third party websites, after a customer has initially visited your site.
Although it’s almost impossible for a single restaurant to get to the top of the main search terms as the first page is dominated by the big directory sites like Time Out / Opentable / Tripdvisor etc, you can still target long-tail keywords. These could include dog friendly restaurants in X or child friendly restaurants in X. SEO is a massive subject, but in summary think about what’s good for your customers rather than what’s good for Google and you won’t go far wrong. So make sure that your content is interesting, easy to read, the site loads quickly with easy navigation. Building links to your website from quality and relevant websites will also help your site to climb the rankings.
7. Google My Business
To increase your chances of appearing at the top of the map searches, make sure your Google My business listing is as complete as possible. So make sure all the information is correct including opening hours etc also upload images and menus. It’s also worth posting comments regularly and encouraging your customers to leave positive reviews.
8. Social Media
Social media is obviously a key part of any restaurant marketing strategy but it’s important to not spread yourself too thinly. So focus on Instagram and Facebook initially. Although both platforms use algorithms which continually reduce reach for organic posts (normally just 10% of your followers will generally see your posts), advertising is cheap and easy to target your local demographics. Lack of content is often a reason for not posting regularly, but inviting micro influencers who have around 10,000 followers, for a free meal, is a cost effective way of creating a wide reach. They will also normally send you photos they don’t use.
Flittering is a very cheap way to reach a lot of your local target audience, especially is there is a station and busy pavement nearby.