Restaurant Marketing: The statistics are intimidating: 60% of newly opened restaurants will go out of business within their first year.
This means if you own a restaurant, you need to thoroughly understand restaurant marketing so that you are not among the 60% who are forced to shut down their business.
Independent restaurants are up against some pretty tough competition from other independent establishments as well as from larger chain restaurants.
While competing against other independents is welcome, it seems to so often be a case of ‘may the better man win.’ How do you compete?
How do you survive—and thrive—when chain restaurants
have so much marketing power and
entice patrons with their huge wallets and splashy advertisements? These are all formidable odds you have to face. The only way to gain the competitive advantage over such odds is with savvy restaurant marketing.
What makes one restaurant thrive while another fails, especially if they both offer excellent food and outstanding service?
Very often, what seems like sheer luck is actually a result of the implementation of very smart restaurant marketing and operating procedures.
The dynamics of a restaurant business, while certainly containing unique issues compared to other businesses, can still benefit from the same tried and true methods that many other businesses use to succeed.
Below, we’ve listed 6 restaurant marketing strategies you can employ to ensure that the tables at your restaurant are always filled.
#1: Collect Your Customers Contact Info
This is essential… especially focus on collecting your customer’s email addresses.
Once you have an in-house list of customers to stay connected with, you have a very powerful tool to build customer loyalty, and it frees you from being held captive by so many of the other high-cost advertising methods.
Print up post-card sized forms that you give to every single customer to fill out. Offer to give them a free appetizer, or free drink, or free dessert (or some other incentive) if they fill out the information for you.
The return on investment in having a large list of in-house customers to gain repeat business from will more than compensate long-term for the cost of your free incentive.
#2: Create a Website
Today, creating a website for your restaurant is an absolute must. I cannot stress this enough. In today’s high-tech world, at least for restaurants, not having a website for your business is probably as bad as not having a sign outside your restaurant.
With more people turning to the Internet to decide where to eat, without a website you will be losing a lot of potential hungry customers.
Did you know that many people use their mobile phones to look for restaurants while on the go.
You will be missing out on a lot of potential customers by not being available to them on the internet. In addition to listing all the items on your menu, including beverages and desserts, your website should also include information on your location and contact details as well as your operating hours.
Mention all your specials, from take-out or delivery service to online reservations and orders and dates of your special events. Of course, make sure you promote your email list on the website also.
#3. Google Maps:
Get your business listed in Google maps and other online places
Did you know that mobile phone users can now open up their phones map publication, type in the word restaurant, and a map of where they are currently located will appear with listings of all of the restaurants in their vicinity? Of course, it only shows the restaurants that are actually listed in Google maps.
It’s free to get your restaurant on this map, and I guarantee you are missing out on a LOT of potential customers if you are not on this map. GET ON GOOGLE MAPS!
Also, make sure you have your restaurant listed in:
and the other popular online restaurant review sites.
It’s usually free to get a basic listing in all of these places, and you can be very sure that first-time customers are going to check you out in these places.
Don’t leave these listings to fate! It’s possible for your customers to create your business name on these places… and leave you bad reviews.
So take control of these listings!
Although they are not going to let you place reviews yourself, your customers can place reviews for you! Again, offer your customers an incentive… consider giving them a free dessert or something in exchange for a positive review.
#4. Host Events Regularly
Hosting different events regularly will help you attract new customers and give your loyal patrons another reason to keep coming back.
Hosting events could also help to get you in the news. The more press coverage you get, the more curious readers are going to be about your restaurant.
Your restaurant can be the venue for all kinds of events including tastings, cook-off and bake-off competitions, live music shows, movie screenings, fund raisers, art exhibitions or standup comedy shows.
Focus on ideas that your customers would enjoy. Be creative and have fun. If you’re having fun, there’s a good chance that fun and passion will translate to your customers also.
#5: Make Creative Changes
Don’t let your restaurant stagnate. No matter how delicious your food is and how good your interior décor, after a while it will decay. Make sure you stay on top of keeping things looking fresh and clean. Spice things up a bit by making a few creative changes every now and then.
#6: Get Published
One of the ways to create a marketing buzz is by publishing regular stories or press releases about your restaurant. Write an interesting story about how your restaurant came to be.
Talk about the one of a kind experience that your restaurant offers. If you offer any specialty cuisine, whether it is Lebanese, Indian or Spanish, you can promote yourself through stories about the different eating traditions in these specific countries.
Perhaps publish a recipe or two on that cuisine. These are all things that you could publish to your email subscribers list as well.
#7: Advertise Inside Your Restaurant
When your clients are sitting at the table enjoying their drinks and food, they have plenty of time to look around. This is the best time to attract their attention and promote upcoming events and special happenings.
Use banners and posters, card and sign holders, table displayettes and menu inserts. Create something they can look forward to so they can come back for more, be creative and get them talking about your business.
We hoped you found this information on restaurant marketing helpful and will start to use some of the ideas here. If you would like to ask us a question or need more help or advice please contact us.
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