This guide has everything you need to know to drive more traffic to your restaurant and get more reservations. If you want to learn how to grow your brand and get more customers you’ve come to the right place.
Great food and a good location isn’t enough. You need a great marketing strategy, too. Marketing is the most important part of your business because it defines if your business succeeds or crumbles like the 30 pubs and restaurants that have closed down every day in the past year- a statistic which no doubt has been caused by restrictions during lockdown.
Marketing is what will make people want to come back again and again, and tell their friends about you, too. Essentially, it’s how you build a successful restaurant business.
The first step is to create a marketing plan. A marketing plan is a written document that outlines your marketing strategy for the next year or so. It includes all of the types of marketing you will use, what goals you want to achieve and how to establish whether your efforts have been successful or not.
You can create your own marketing plan, or you can hire someone else to do it for you. This article will talk about the common types of marketing you can use to promote your restaurant.
Advertising is the most common type of marketing. It includes any type of paid media that you can use to promote your restaurant. You can advertise in newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, billboards, on the internet, and even on the sides of buses!
Advertising can be very expensive. But it is also very effective at getting your message out to a large number of people in a short amount of time.
Paid social media advertising is a great way to promote a restaurant. It’s very effective and affordable. So if you’re considering it, the first thing you’ll need to do is set up your social media pages- Facebook and instagram is a great place to start.
Once you’ve done that, go into the Facebook ad manager (which can also run instagram ads) and create your first campaign. There are plenty of different goals you can pick here, but just go with the one you feel fits best with your restaurant’s current position in the market. After that, you can pick your target audience.
For example, let's say you are the owner of an independant traditional pub which shows football matches on televisions, and also offers themed food days. Business is low on Tuesdays so you’re releasing a new food day ‘Taco Tuesdays’ to try and bring in some new customers.
You probably have a good idea of what your current regulars get up to in their own time - perhaps a lot of them are football fans. You can use information like this about your current regulars to target similar people who are also likely to be interested in your pub.
With Facebook’s ad manager you can select the interests of your target audience to make sure your advertising money is well spent and going to the right people.
Say you select they must have an interest in football and/or tacos, and must have an interest in going out and/or craft beer. This means your advert will be shown to people that fit these interests and are therefore more likely to visit your pub.
Influencer marketing is all around you, even if you don’t realise it. Examples can include sportswear sponsorships at the olympics, or celebrity chefs ‘plugging’ their books, and being their own influencer.
There’s a few advantages to influencer marketing. It's a very broad category with tons of different options to choose from, and there’s going to be one to fit any kind of budget. Options are influencers who have a large social media following, or alternatively bloggers, celebrities, and journalists so there's an influencer available for every niche, and every budget.
Influencer marketing is a great choice as the use of experts and authorities can help you stand out from the crowd. Your restaurant is competing with other restaurants, and experts and influencers can help to set it apart from the competition. Imagine if a Kardashian recommended your food- you’d have a year long waiting list!
Second, experts and authorities can help you build an image and a reputation. They can help people online and off to associate your restaurant with your niche and target audience.
Let's say you have a classic car themed cocktail bar. You could reach out to a travel blogger who posts about the best places to go in each town they travel to, and roadtrips in a classic car.
They’re likely to partner with you as it already fits in with what they do, and their audience is likely to enjoy the content they make, plus create an image of your bar as a ‘must go’ location to go on roadtrips.
And third, experts and authorities can help you attract new customers by creating content for your restaurant that attracts your niche and target audience.
If you have a blog, influencers can write guest blogs there like a family recipe which will not only add to your available content, but will also bring their audience onto your site, where they’re likely to investigate more and explore your site.
Direct mail marketing is a type of advertising that involves sending out direct mail pieces to your target audience. Direct mail pieces include postcards, brochures, letters and more.
You can use direct mail to promote your restaurant by sending out coupons or special offers to customers who are likely to come in and spend money at your restaurant.
You can also use direct mail to promote your restaurant by sending out information about new menu items, new hours, new locations and more.
Print advertising is another type of advertising that you can use to promote your restaurant. Print ads include newspaper ads, magazine ads, trade ads and more.
Print ads are usually very expensive. But they are also very effective at getting your message out there, especially if you partner up with a local newspaper- this type of advertising can be combined with something like a promotion where you could have a printer advertisement with a coupon for a free item such as an appetizer.
Readers of that paper could then rip out the voucher and be persuaded to make a reservation in order to claim the free food.
Radio advertising is another type of advertising that you can use to promote your restaurant. You can create radio ads yourself or hire someone else to do it for you, and this is a fantastic way to target people when they’re driving home from work, listening to the radio and thinking about what they’ll do for dinner- advertising to them at ‘prime time’.
Unpaid advertising is becoming much more prevalent as it costs much less in the long run. Tools will focus more on increasing organic touchpoints with your brand or increasing the SEO, so people can find you easily when they search for something like ‘restaurants near me’ without you having to pay for an ad to target that keyword.
Public relations involves getting your business mentioned in news stories or articles in newspapers and magazines. PR is usually free or inexpensive, but it can be very effective at raising awareness about your restaurant and building your brand. The more you are mentioned in the news, the more people will know about you and want to come to your restaurant!
Things you can do to get into a local newspaper is donate to local charities or start running a food bank. This will be a huge positive boost for your PR and brand awareness.
Social media marketing is all about using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube to promote your restaurant. SMM includes posting status updates on social media sites, sharing photos on social media sites, creating videos for social media sites and much more.
Social media sites are great places to share information about your restaurant with customers who are looking for restaurants like yours, and they are free! So really, there’s no reason not to use them. But remember, social media marketing takes time and effort to do well. So if you don’t have the time or energy to do it yourself, hire someone else to do it for you.
It depends on the platform but in general you’ll need to produce regular content that appeals to your target audience, has an emphasis on visuals and is a mix between informative posts about your venue and humorous posts to increase engagement.
Content marketing is a great tool to use in promoting your bar or restaurant organically. It's great for your SEO (how highly you rank on search engine pages for relevant keywords) and positioning yourself as an expert in your industry. If you're not sure where to start, we've got some great tips for you.
The first step is to start a blog. You can do this by yourself or hire someone to do it for you. It's important that your blog is well-written and has good content on it, otherwise people don't want to read it and they'll leave quickly.
You can find ideas for relevant keywords and other information to do with increasing your SEO here.
Once you have a blog up and running, you should be collecting emails from people who visit your site via opt-in forms at the end of each post or in the sidebar of each page on your site.
After you've collected these emails, send out regular newsletters about what's going on in your bar/restaurant. This will increase the number of touchpoints your customer has with your brand, and serve as great reminders for them to visit you.
Once you've got a blog and an email list, you should be sharing your content on social media. You can share links to new posts or even repurpose some of your blog posts into Facebook/Instagram stories.
If you're not sure how to do this, hire someone who knows how to create great content for social media. It's important that the person posting is in charge of the account so they know what's going out there and can respond if needed.
I’ve you’ve made a few posts you think your followers will like, you should schedule them so that they don't all go out at once and overwhelm people with too much information at one time. Plus, it means you can schedule posts to go out on certain days, like world smile day.
It's important that your social media accounts are active and engaging so people want to follow you, but don’t fill up feeds as that could be seen as annoying and could earn you some unfollows.
Your website is the front door of your business and should be designed well with great content on it. If you're not sure what I mean by "great content", hire someone who does know what they're doing!
You can also have an online reservation system built into your site so people can make reservations online without having to call or email you directly. This will save you time and money as well as give customers another way to reach out if they need help with anything else in addition to making a reservation at your bar/restaurant.
Your website should have your menu on it so people can see what you're offering. If you don't have a physical menu, make one! You can hire someone to do this for you or create one yourself if you know how to design and create websites. If not, hire someone who does! It's important that your website is up-to-date with the latest food and drink offerings at your bar/restaurant.
I hope this has been a good introduction into all of the different marketing tools you have available and given you some ideas of things you can use for your business.
Though this guide is packed full of information and advice, your own personal circumstances such as your location or type of venue will determine your exact plan.
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