9 ways to rehab your restaurant business, without spending mega bucks.
Even before Covid-19 hit the industry, Restaurant marketing was already being transformed by mobile technology.
Social media platforms, email marketing campaigns, and food apps like UberEats and Deliveroo have all made marketing your restaurant online the central focus for any food business today.
While restaurants have always relied heavily on traditional word of mouth to market their services, (and while that still holds true today), word of mouth in this modern era can take on a very different, and more powerful form.
Those businesses that are combining digital and mobile technologies with creative restaurant marketing ideas, will bring their business out of the Coronavirus crisis most quickly.
But whilst some will get straight into action, sadly, there will be many others who will struggle to bring their business back at all.
Time and again research into this category reveals that success comes from something far beyond just cooking the most palatable dishes.
You need to provide an experience. Not just in store, but at every touch point of your customers journey with you.
Here are 9 x of the most powerful tactics you can use to bring your business back from the brink.
- Make no mistake, Social Media is where it’s Won and Lost.
Particularly for patrons who are under the age of 40, social media is absolutely imperative in the fight to win, and keep, customers in the restaurant business.
The modern day “foodie” loves nothing more than taking a pic of their meal and posting it online right before they dive in. Images of food instantly evoke the desire to have it and no other media has the same ability that social does to get those images consistently in front of your target audience such a low cost.
In the world of food, Instagram is number 1, Facebook is number 2 and then there’s a big gap before the rest. The key to going social and turning over profit is to post quality rather than quantity. Particularly on Insta. But always remember, social media marketing is never without risk. If you’re unsure about where to begin or how to handle your audience, you should work with a professional who can help.
- Use your website to extend your Customer Experience.
If you want your business to thrive in the modern era, then you absolutely must establish your own online presence. Get a professional website that not only tells your brand story, but facilitates transactions online.
Most business owners in this industry understand that they are in the customer service business. So don’t suddenly give up on that when it comes to your customer experience online.
If there were obvious obstacles in the way when your patron walked into your restaurant, you’d apologies and immediately remove them. Yet so many websites in this category simply aren’t managed with that same level of service and respect. After all the same person that visits you in store will also visit you online.
Your website is an opportunity to wow them, and make them feel special, and to give them an experience that you can be proud of.
Remember, the goal of Customer Experience isn’t just to create happy customers… its to create customers who are so happy that they will refer you, review you positively, and advocate on your behalf.
Your website lets communicate to a much broader audience than you realise. It’s always on, and when managed properly it can be the shop that never sleeps.
- Promotions aren’t just for special occasions
Offering contests are a good way to spread the word about your restaurant and to turn good will into good dollars. And whilst many restaurants seem to leverage Valentines Day and other special occasions, not many seem to grasp how effective loyalty programs can be to keep your best customers coming back, time and again.
People who come more frequently should get a discount. The key is making the loyalty component a high enough number of return visits to make it worthwhile to you and allowing people to opt in easily with the use of restaurant loyalty technology.
For a coffee shop, perhaps it’s buy nine coffees and get one free, or for a pub or bar it could be drink every beer on your beer list and get 10% off beers for the year. This will get people to return to your restaurant time and again when perhaps they would have chosen elsewhere.
- Every Campaign should build your Email Marketing List.
Email marketing is a vital component to effectively marketing your restaurant. No promotion is ever successful without first identifying, analysing, and understanding your existing customers and your target customers.
Fundamentally there are two main ways to grow your email list;
- You can get your customers to fill out forms in-person.
- Or, you can get them to fill out forms online.
Either way, you need to make sure you get their permission to use their data. However, its a much better customer experience (because its much less effort) to facilitate that data exchange online.
Email marketing is a very effective way to profile your customers ,and email is also a great channel for deals, offers and transactions to keep them coming back.
- The Rise of Micro-Influencers
One of the most compelling marketing tactics today is leveraging the network of others to promote your brand or products. For restaurant owners in particular this space is a huge opportunity.
You see there is a correlation between the size of the audience that the Influencer wields, and the level of engagement that they get. The general rule of thumb is that the smaller the Influencer, the more persuasive they will be with their audience.
As a Restaurant you don’t really have to overthink it, you can give them a free meal and a small cash payment, and they will instantly endorse your brand to thousands of people who actually care about what they say.
- Partner with the Platforms
You’d have to be living under a rock not to notice how many food apps have sprung up in recent time. Uber Eats, Deliveroo, Menu Log, and many others. As consumers, we don’t have to go through boring directories, or ‘surf the web’ for hours on end anymore in our quest to find a good place to eat.
Nowadays, all we have to do is download an app that points us in the right direction.
As a business you can take advantage of this by partnering with these food apps to make sure that your restaurant is not only listed, but is listed well, with beautiful content that tells your brand story and beats the competition.
- Social Paying
Similar to your micro influencer tactic, Social Paying is the practice of giving customers a chance to pay for their food by sharing things on their social media pages. This does not involve a cash payment, and these people are not professionals in this area. Instead, this is about generating some real authenticity to your story, by encouraging your real customers to help tell it. Other ways of incentivising this is to offer Free Wi Fi etc to those that are happy to give you a positive review online.
- Target with PinPoint Accuracy.
Ok, so that headline’s a mouthful. But Social media marketing is one of the most powerful tools for any small business. Of particular note, is it’s ability to target users who are within a 5 mile radius of your restaurant, and who match particular interests. (like having an interest in Vietnamese food, and you happen to be a Vietnamese restaurant, etc).
Social media marketing can put your restaurant in front of thousands of potential customers almost overnight. It’s capabilities go way beyond just brand awareness; it also helps you gain insight into your target customer.
For restaurants it also opens an avenue to get feedback from your existing customers. In order to get the best out of social media marketing, you should work with a professional. Facebook offers a huge array of options for any advertiser but understanding them all and being able to navigate the back end properly takes experience. Ad Manager can be complex, so work with the experts to come up with a viable social media marketing plan for your restaurant.
- Don’t just talk, Listen.
Nothing destroys a restaurant business like bad review.
I mean who wants to visit a restaurant that has a “bland food” or “dead cockroach” story on their review page? All your efforts online could go to waste if you don’t have comprehensive online reputation management in place.
Online reputation for a restaurant would simply involve responding to customer queries in a timely manner and responding to both negative and positive reviews in a way that would portray your restaurant in good light.
People usually mention your company when they want to get attention. Unfortunately that also happens when they are disappointed with your product. You can’t turn your back on it, or try to avoid it. Otherwise they’ll just keep speaking about you even though you’re not there. Instead, you have to try and understand what happened and solve the problem. Even if there is no problem at all. And you need to respond quickly. The longer you leave it, the worse it can get.
If you have no experience with online reputation management, employ an expert to help you tackle it. After all your reputation is everything.