Learn how to use online and offline marketing to reach more customers for your restaurant.
The food industry is continuously growing, which means the competition can be cutthroat. In this article, we explore different marketing strategies you can use to boost your restaurant revenue and maintain a steady cash flow.
It doesn't matter if you're new to this business or have been operating a restaurant for years. There are three things you need to do to keep your business going: attract new customers, retain existing customers and provide impeccable service. To do this, you need to use online and offline marketing strategies; serving the best food in the world is not enough to make people come knocking on your door.
Restaurant marketing has dramatically changed over the years, and some effective strategies can be expensive. Although implementing your offline and online marketing strategies can cost more than you intend to spend, every penny will be worth it, so don't be afraid of making this investment. Consider small business funding to cover the costs. Following are several tips and strategies that you can use to increase your sales.
Online marketing strategies for restaurants
1. Take amazing photos of your restaurant's food.
With so many restaurants to choose from, people take their time finding the restaurant that will satisfy their taste buds. What could be a better way to capture their attention than by posting vibrant, great-looking images of your restaurant's food?
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so it's really worth investing in a good camera. Another option is to hire a professional photographer if you're less confident about your photography skills; make sure, though, that you only use high-quality images for your website, mobile apps and social media pages.
2. Create a simple, yet highly-functional website.
You don't need a fancy website with flashy images, moving parts and background music (they don't usually work on mobile devices anyway). What you need is a simple, straightforward website that contains all the information that customers need to purchase your food products or make a reservation. The best restaurant website is one that contains your menu, contact information, location, operating hours and other relevant information.
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3. Blog about your restaurant.
Adding a blog to your restaurant website is a powerful search engine optimization strategy that could lead new customers to your business. Your blog entries could give your readers a peek at your kitchen, ideas for how they can save money on their next restaurant visit, tips for pairing food with wine, a delicious recipe that anyone can try on Thanksgiving, etc. Here are more blog post ideas to add value and boost traffic on your restaurant website:
- Customer reviews (stories about their experience)
- Answers to your customers' most common questions (FAQs)
- Event announcements
- Employee feature stories
- Seasonal trend discussions
- Suggestion lists
- Top 10 lists, such as "Top 10 Desserts to Try on Thanksgiving" or "Top 10 Herbs to Stock in Your Pantry"
4. Go social.
A lot of people rely on social media to find recommendations, search for local businesses and compare brands. Social media is a great place to promote your restaurant because it's where people are most of the time. Being on social media gives you a chance to interact with your customers, attract new ones by posting photos and content, and promote your restaurant business for free. Social media marketing should be a part of your overall marketing strategy.
5. Go mobile.
Make sure that your website, marketing emails and social media content are accessible from a mobile device. It's no secret that most people browse websites from their phones. No matter how much effort you put in your restaurant website, if it isn't optimized for mobile devices, you're less likely to generate leads. Invest in a website that looks great and functions well from a mobile device, not just from a desktop computer.
6. Sign up for Google My Business.
If you don't have a website yet, or even if you have, signing up for Google My Business has so many advantages for your restaurant. It makes it easy for customers to find your store location, you obtain better search visibility, you can connect with your customers through Google Hangouts and you gain access to a wealth of analytics. Best of all – it's free!
Offline marketing strategies for restaurants
1. Expand your customer base.
Even a simple change in your target demographics can help increase your revenue. For example, if the majority of your customers are low-income earners, consider creating a campaign to target high-paying customers. This could mean sprucing up your restaurant or adding a special dish to your menu.
2. Encourage more spend.
When your tables are filled, upselling can take your revenues to the next level. However, you don't want to annoy your customers with persistent attempts to upsell and discourage them from dining at your restaurant again. Before you consider the following strategies, make sure your staff is well trained.
- Suggest items that have the highest profit margins.
- Offer a variety of extras that could accompany the meal ordered by your customer.
- Offer specific items. For instance, if offering a drink, be specific about what beverage it is (iced tea, cola, orange juice, etc.)
3. Delight your guests with live music.
Everyone loves a little entertainment while enjoying good food. Scheduling live music is a great way to attract customers. You could have live music in your restaurant every Friday or during weekends, for instance.
4. Run promotions.
Try running a promotion to increase traffic during slow times. For example, you could offer a free meal for every company of five on days when you have the least number of customers, offer free drinks every Friday night, or provide a free dessert for customers celebrating their birthdays at your restaurant.
5. Don't forget about loyalty programs.
It is way more expensive to attract new customers than to retain existing ones, so make sure you reward your valued customers for patronizing your business. Loyalty programs don't just boost engagement and make customers happy. Restaurant loyalty programs also have great potential for driving repeat sales. Here are some tips for a successful loyalty marketing program:
- Your customers don't want another card that will take another space in their wallet. Consider using a rewards app that they can access anywhere they go.
- An incentive program doesn't have to be complicated. No one wants to be a part of a program that has a long list of rules and stipulations.
- Tap into your customers' FOMO (fear of missing out) by showing them exactly what they are missing. Promote your loyalty program
- Offer free food. Customers love free stuff, whether it's a free drink, pastry or dessert, or a free appetizer.
6. Dare to be different.
With so many restaurants out there offering the same product and experience, why should people choose you? There are over a million restaurants in the U.S. right now. To stay competitive, you need to create your own mark on the industry. Find something unique and special about your restaurant and highlight that in your marketing – it's a way for people to recognize and remember your business.
7. Stay current with industry trends.
Keep up with the latest trends in the restaurant industry. Here are some of the trends that are expected to leave an impression on the industry in 2020:
- It's always the taste. The culinary experience is all about pleasure and a feeling of satisfaction.
- More and more customers will use digital apps to order food and sort the menu items according to their nutritional value or price. Yes, expect more menu customization this coming year.
- There is no slowing down on the use of natural and organic food. Customers will continue to search for flavorful, wholesome dishes.
- Traditional products will be a highlight among local restaurants. Food will be viewed as one of the ways to go back in time and savor memories.
- Eating on the go is still in, and it will continue to surge in the coming years.
With hundreds of restaurants entering the market each year, the competition has never been tougher. To ensure more cash in your register, it is important to create a marketing strategy that will attract more customers, retain existing ones and convey that you provide quality service.
Increasing your sales is easy if you combine online and offline marketing techniques. Start by taking high-quality photos of your menu, creating a professional website, adding useful content like blog posts to increase your web traffic and promoting your business on social media. Be sure to keep your website mobile-friendly and sign up to Google My Business to reach more customers.
Other ways to increase your restaurant revenue include targeting a new demographic, upselling, providing entertainment, offering a loyalty program, and providing a unique product or experience that customers will be excited about.