Amidst various lucrative industries, the hospitality industry is quite popular. Though it consists of many businesses like hotels, event planning, and catering, a significant percentage of people who aspire to be part of this industry, choose to open a restaurant. However, setting up a restaurant and running it efficiently while delivering impeccable service is challenging. Moreover, huge competition has made it even more difficult for restaurants to attract customers. Hence, it has become imperative for restaurants to have a 360-degree marketing strategy to establish and sustain their offline and online presence.
Also, time has changed, and people want to spend on good food and leisure. Therefore, they don’t mind traveling long distances to dine at their favorite restaurant. Apart from local people, tourists from different places are also another segment of potential customers that restaurants need to target. However, this can happen only when you have a holistic marketing strategy. However, designing a marketing strategy is not a cakewalk as one needs to consider various aspects like location, target audience, online channels, and competition. So, in the current scenario, a successful marketing strategy is one that focuses on multiple platforms to ensure broader reach. Here are 51 restaurant marketing strategies by experts that will help you address almost every aspect of promoting your brand.
Even though digital technology is playing a key role in attracting customers, yet offline techniques of marketing are effective and impactful, especially for restaurants, whose sure shot target audience is people living or working around the restaurant. The conventional offline marketing strategies by experts discussed here can fit into all budgets and restaurant categories.
Tasty Igniter is a free, user-friendly, and customizable open source software for restaurants. They even have a food blog where experienced people of the hospitality industry write on various aspects of running, managing, and marketing a restaurant.
1. Go local
The mantra is, start local and aim to go global. Therefore, never underestimate the impact it makes to publicize your restaurant in the local newspaper, radio, hoarding, lollypops; and you can also try coming up with no parking boards and more. This helps to increase footfall and proves to be even more effective if you have launched a new cuisine or service and want it to instantly be publicized. This is a great idea if you have takeaway service.
2. Conduct events
Leisure avenues can never fade if you are planning to create an edge over your competitors. Therefore, theme events, DJ nights or live band events are a hit. Another idea that can help you increase footfall as well as goodwill is attaching the live events with some charity initiative. The money thus collected can genuinely be given in support of a good cause.
3. Participate in food festivals
Food lovers are everywhere and therefore, food festivals are a hot new trend these days. There are many open food festivals that call for restaurants to participate. This is a good way of bringing good food under one roof. Participating in food festivals help you to see what is happening in the industry and helps you to build more customers. Though participating in these food festivals may be slightly expensive, but the returns are worth it.
We live in a community where nothing happens in isolation. The same rules apply to marketing also. Therefore, it is definitely a good idea to collaborate with local business-like supermarkets by placing some advertisements or posters that would increase your brand visibility.
Posist is an initiative by the Times Group that highlights and discusses everything about the food and beverage industry.
5. Be a part of food guides
Recognizing the potential of the food and beverages industry, many exclusive food magazines, guides and awards have come into existence. Thus, being a part of these is a great way of creating a wide brand presence. As restaurant business also runs on trust, being a part of such magazines and awards increases your credibility in the business.
6. In-house marketing
While good food is crucial for restaurant business, the ambience of a restaurant is also important. Though changing the ambience of a restaurant is a task, but it is definitely a good bet to play around with the interiors, lighting, themes and much more. This would not only give a refreshing feel to your customers and let them enjoy their meals but it also gives your staff a sense of enthusiasm. But ensure that your brand logo is placed loud and clear on the interiors like the glasses, coasters, cutlery, etc.
This is an authentic and tested marketing tool, which involves Ads in local newspapers, hoarding space, radio mentions and much more to capture the attention of audience in large numbers.
8. Distribute pamphlets
This may sound outdated but it is one of the most effective offline marketing medium to reach out to your local customers. A well-designed pamphlet that enables you to showcase the best dishes of your restaurant to customers may immediately get you quick response.
Participating in food festivals is one option and partnering as a food partner in a happening social or cultural event is another possibility to reach out to a wide audience. In such events, you can make your prospective clients taste your food and increase the chances of making them your permanent customers.
10. Public Relations
In case you are planning for any food festival, a new restaurant outlet or celebrating your anniversary, calling for a press release can help you reach out to prospective customers.
With the world becoming digital, business and audiences have shrunk on to a virtual platform. Also, since online marketing enables you to reach a wide audience in varying budgets has made it imperative for restaurants. Therefore, along with offline marketing, equal or more importance must be given to online marketing considering the fact that people of all age groups are always hooked to the Internet these days.
The fork is an initiative by Trip Advisor that speaks about food, cuisines, restaurants and the tips to brand and market your restaurants effectively.
Building a website is the basic requirement of online marketing strategy and an important one. Therefore, a well-designed and worded website is what you need primarily. Ensure to make it clear of what your restaurant serves in terms of cuisines and complement that with food photos. These days, many people visit restaurants on the basis of their online reviews. So, you must ensure that you have the best and genuine reviews on your website. Last but not the least; do not forget to mention the location of your restaurant. It is ideal if you could provide a facility to make reservation through your website.
12. Social Media
It won’t be an exaggeration if said that these days, mobiles are mostly used to stay active on social media. Thus, it is loud and clear that social media is the best way to constantly stay in touch with your clients and prospective clients. Therefore, identify the platforms and make your presence felt.
13. Cross web promotions
Just like there are many food magazines and awards for offline marketing, there are exclusive food and restaurant websites that cater to reviewing different restaurants and speak about their specialty. Identify such websites and target to get featured in them. This would help you reach out to all those who follow that website.
14. Visual Promotions
There are many channels that support only visual marketing and give a lot of scope for cross channel promotion by listing your restaurant Ad in suggested videos and Ads while a video plays.
99 Dollar Social is a comprehensive website that brings in some of the best marketing practices that can be used to establish, grow and sustain your restaurant business.
15. Live chat
While building a website, one of the key features that must be taken into consideration is live chat. It an effective tool for your business to provide excellent customer service to the visitors. When someone visits your website, pop up with “May I help you” window to encourage user to immediately ask his query and get your service.
16. E-Mail marketing
the current scenario wherein, corporate team lunches have become quite popular, a well-designed email marketing plan with great offers for group dining and targeted towards the corporate sector can contribute a lot to your restaurant’s footfall and brand building.
17. Tie-up with influencers
Blogs on websites are important for business growth. In the current virtual world blogs have picked up big time. You may not have blogs attached to your website but associating with food bloggers or influencers like food stylists, food photographers and more, you can actually create a good media presence for yourself, as these bloggers or influencers have a large number of followers.
18. Giving offers to followers
We are sure that restaurants conduct various on ground events and promotional food festivals for their clients. However, when conducting online marketing, it is essential to do something for your virtual clients as well which include exclusive discount coupons for your social media followers etc. This increases the possibility of converting your virtual clients into real ones.
19. Social paying
Word of mouth publicity has been an age old marketing technique, which has a great impact on your brand. In the current digital scenario, this technique is recreated wherein, you invite a bunch of people to dine at your place and ask them to share their experience of dining at your place on their social media handles. Thus, when a friend suggests an eatery, another friend definitely plans for a visit.
Gourmet Marketing offers marketing, brand building and PR services to hotels and restaurants. Here are a few online marketing tips for restaurants by their food blogger Matthew.
20. Search Engine Optimization
Having a website is not sufficient. You need to support that website with effective SEO that enables continuous availability of your restaurant during a web search. Therefore, you must keep your website dynamic with all the latest updates and pictures for effective SEO at all times.
21. Mobile application
These days, people rather use a mobile application than visiting a website. Therefore, having your restaurant available on an app or registering with any food apps is a good bet. This gives your clients instant access to your restaurant. With home deliveries picking up, a mobile application is good for your takeaway business.
22. Online Menu
Irrespective of where you are present online, ensure that everywhere you feature your menu. It is essential for your clients to know what you serve as it helps in targeted marketing.
23. Interact with your customers
Online marketing is vast and to know whether you are able to target your customers, you must interact with them. This can be done by having a food blog, conduct contests and surveys wherein people are open to sharing their views and opinions, conduct contests and give them rewards or coupons.
Search Engine optimization is one of the most effective ways of generating traffic on a website and establish the presence of your business online.. Thus, irrespective of how your website is designed, unless and until there is an effective SEO plan in place, it will not be possible for you to drive your hungry customers to your restaurant. SEO as a tool has many layers that enable you to target your audience based on location, cuisine, age group and more. So, if you want to succeed in today’s world you cannot and must not ignore SEO marketing strategies for restaurants.
Corey Morris is the Vice President Marketing at Voltage and with vast experience in digital marketing he also writes about marketing strategies and tools that help businesses build brand presence in the digital world.
24. Set the SEO goals and define the content
The first step of your SEO strategy is to lay the expectation from the SEO campaign clearly. This is essential because accordingly you can design the website and work on the content as per the expectation. Therefore, first define the geographic boundaries that you wish to own and once you are done with first step, finalize the keywords. Based on the theme or category of your restaurant, identify the words with which your clients would probably look for you. Identify these keywords and incorporate them into the website content.
25. Start local first
It is ideal that you first target local customers around your restaurant. For this, it is essential to update your website with the right address, phone number and other such details. Ensure that you have done your mapping on Google maps.
26. Make your website equipped
It is rare that your customers would come to your website to just scroll it up or down. Majority of the times they are looking for your social media platforms. Therefore, ensure that you have updated all the details of your social media platforms and are duly linked.
27. Update reviews and testimonials
Credibility is an unavoidable endeavor for any business. When it comes to restaurants, this factor becomes even more important. Therefore, encourage your clients to review or share testimonials on your website. In case you have a review book at your restaurant, update it on your website.
Dave Davies is the founder of Beanstalk Internet Marketing, Inc. He is a well-published author and has also given guest lectures on SEO at many seminars and conferences.
28. Menu matters
While setting up the SEO strategy, ensure that you have added your menu to your website. This is essential as it enables your restaurant to be visible if the search is dish or cuisine-based. Also, because the restaurant is all about food, a well-designed menu card put up on the website can do wonders. It not only shows what all you serve but also acts as a lead for tempting the taste buds. Therefore, ensure that you have good pictures of your dishes.
Citations as such are a great tool for all businesses focusing on SEO. However, they are even more useful and powerful for restaurants as they help in getting views, direct calls, inquiries, etc.
Nicola Barcellona is a marketing consultant who specializes in designing and implementing digital strategies for small and medium size businesses which also includes the hospitality industry.
30. Name matters
In the online world, it is the URL i.e. Uniform Resource Locator that matters. Therefore, it is essential that the URL of your website and all social media handles include your brand name and are unique as well so that they can be easily searched on. Ideally, for effective SEO it is better to have keywords which are used in the platform’s titles.
Food is all about images and you would like to show the maximum on your website. But remember that the picture size should not be more than 150KB else the page loading will slow down which may cause your client to move on.
32. Technical aspect
Tag title and meta description play an important role in effective SEO. Therefore, ensure that the title and description are unique and do not exceed 65 and 156 characters respectively.
If you scroll through any mobile, the number of social media apps installed would be much higher as compared to general utility apps. This makes the impact and involvement of social media in our lives loud and clear. Understanding the role of social media in personal lives, these days, businesses have realized that the best way to cater to a wide audience of all age groups, social media is the best. However, if not planned and implemented well, Social media marketing can dent your brand building. So, here are some tips that you must take into consideration while making a social media plan:
Kendal Austin is the marketing manager at Toast Tab and she is also a blogger and doodler. In addition, she writes on the tricks and tips for digital marketing.
33. Be consistent yet different
Social media marketing involves multiple platforms that cater to different types of audiences. However, they are diverse but ensure to maintain uniformity in terms of the color palette used in the creatives, language and tone used in the posts and more. However, as you do this, remember not to have the same content for all platforms. Have different creatives and different texts for different platforms. This will ensure that the audience gets different experience every time they visit your social media platforms.
34. Customer engagement
This is one of the most powerful and effective tools but it is neglected. The plus point of being on social media is that you can interact and engage with your clients on a one to one basis through enquiries, queries and reviews. However, remember in this process, negative reviews must be attended first and promptly.
35. Share customer content
These days, it is quite common for customers to mention about check-ins and post pictures of dining at restaurants. Tap on them and share that content.
Morgan Thomson is a columnist and digital marketing analyst. She writes blogs on various digital marketing techniques that can be used for different industries including restaurants.
36. Promote your staff as your asset
People matter most in business and therefore, tap on your team’s interests and likes. Link that to harp on the fact that your people make the restaurant what it is. Create posts sharing your employees’ interest and make them, in turn, reciprocate with sharing them further. This not only increases your social media base but also gives you that required organic followership.
37. Cross promotion also works
Social media has many platforms and it is not always possible to be a hit on all platforms. In such situation, use your established social media channel to promote or highlight the other channels.
38. Behind the scenes
Cooking is an art and a restaurant can definitely use this quote to build their social media presence. Posts like your chef baking; a picture of your vegetable vendor, the journey of a vegetable to become a curry, step by step picture recipe and more can do the needed magic on social media.
39. Keep a tap on your customer
The thumb rule is to never underestimate your customer. Keep an eye on your followers and you never know that you can bump into some interesting posts about your place. In such cases, re-share your customers post and show them your gratitude. This establishes customer loyalty.
40. Harp on top menu recommendations
Though your place offers many dishes, showcase the most preferred dish through pictures or by a collage based on its ingredients. Through this, you can engage your customers and encourage them to try new dishes.
41. Update your followers
Whenever you have an event or special cuisine tasting session happening at the restaurant, keep your followers aware of all these updates online in a creative way by posting an artistic poster or GIF or video.
42. Encourage community activities
Every city has community events like music concerts, plays and more. Take them as an opportunity and share them through your social media platforms. Giving some tickets or passes can also be a good bet. This way, the customers get a chance to attend their favorite events and increase your brand recall value.
Digital marketing is all about likes, views, shares and clicks. Though most of the times, the effort is to achieve this organically, so some sort of paid promotion is a must. Once you achieve a reasonable presence, then you can make the ratio of paid and organic to 40:60. But to reach that safe zone, PPC marketing strategies help you.
WebpageFX is an award winning full-service online agency that offers SEO, PPC and other digital marketing services for various industries including the hospitality industry. Here are some tips by their team on how restaurants can build a strong brand image.
43. Go mobile
Once you have decided to spend on PPC, the first step you need to take to make your PPC campaign success is a click-to-call option on all your ads. Be it on your website or social media, all the landing pages should be accessible on any mobile device.
44. Location-specific keywords
Generally, people search for restaurants in your locality. Therefore, exploit this element in your PPC campaign. Focus on city, region, and town while selecting keywords for your business.
45. Remarket yourself
While you are conducting your campaigns, there will be times when some of your targeted customers have missed your campaign. In the current scenario, wherein there is a lot of competition, people tend to forget you even if they were at your place and liked it. Therefore, conduct PPC campaigns on a regular basis to keep your audience hooked to your services.
46. Special care for landing pages
While conducting a PPC campaign, the landing pages must be activated with a call to action feature to increase the probability of converting prospective clients into real clients.
47. Track the performance
As PPC campaign is an ongoing process, it is essential to track every campaign as they help you analyze the performance, identify the mistakes and to make better campaign plans in future.
Wordstream software helps in helping businesses manage their business online. Here are an array of marketing techniques including online and offline strategies by their guest blogger.
48. Visual stories
When doing marketing, remember that the success of any campaign depends on the quality of the content. Therefore, when you are creating an ad try to incorporate a universal emotional element into it to which your audience can relate.
49. Know the trends
Having a successful social media campaign not just means projecting your updates or trying to compete with your competitors. The idea is to tap the market trends be it a movie release, book release or political news. In short, try to capture the news that is trending among diners.
50. Be prompt
In most cases, restaurants consider that creating ads with a call-to-action and pushing it effectively is all that you need. However, the real challenge is to complement prompt on ground attention to callers. Then only it can succeed.
51. Play around Hashtags
All you need to do is conduct a simple search and you will come across some trending hashtags. You can use them in your campaign and also can focus on creating a hashtag to leave a long lasting impression on your customers.
Thus, using these 51 strategies by experts you can devise an effective marketing plan for your restaurant. However, on a closure note, remember that a successful marketing strategy is a blend of all the above- mentioned techniques that must work in unison. So, go ahead and build a brand for your business.