10 ways to market your restaurant business
Getting your restaurant in front of a hungry audience of regular diners can be trickier than making mayonnaise from scratch. But if you have the right information, suddenly it all comes together. So before you start experimenting with marketing your restaurant, run your eyes over these tips.
1. Make your website look scrumptious
The foundation for all marketing these days is a tasty-looking website. It doesn’t have to be huge or ridiculously fancy, but it will work better if you have attractive photographs of your place, typical dishes and decent hunks of text about your cuisine style, team and food philosophies.
An important thing to do for your website is SEO (search engine optimisation), which involves finding the best key words and phrases for your establishment, then weaving them into your website’s written content and meta data (the title and description you see in Google search results). You can use a Facebook page for your restaurant until your real site is up and running, then keep the FB page for ongoing social media activity.
2. Claim your business on Google
Getting your restaurant onto Google maps helps in a multitude of ways and it’s free! Once it’s set up, your Google Business Profile becomes a handy bit of web search bait and a valuable platform for news and promotions. To get started, just search on Google My Business then follow the instructions. It helps to have some beautiful photographs of your place and plates.
3. Online restaurant guides
Do what’s necessary to get your eatery into as many respected online guides as possible and encourage your favourite diners to add some reviews.
4. Be active on social media
Posting on your restaurant’s Facebook page helps to plump up your market presence. You can also use Twitter and LinkedIn to promote your eatery. If you’re not too savvy about social media yourself, delegate the task to someone else on your team (i.e. a digital native) – just make sure you stay in the loop with what’s being posted online. You should monitor social platforms daily, so that you can respond appropriately to comments.
5. Set up Instagram for your business
Great food is very visual, so Instagram is a social media platform you should definitely consider for marketing. However it does require some extra-nice photography of your restaurant and best dishes. If you can’t afford a real food photographer, get yourself a decent camera and do some online learning about how to make your images pop.
The secret to Instagram is to build a following as fast as you can. If you need a shortcut, consider paying for Instagram posts to appear in front of the right people. You can do it through Insta ‘stories’, as well as photo ads, video ads and carousel ads.
6. Get on board with Uber Eats
Your target market isn’t just people who visit your café or restaurant. It’s everyone at home who doesn’t feel like cooking (or wants to impress their friends at a dinner party). When you sign up for Uber Eats, your business will be included in their app. Once again, quality photography will help you immensely. Maybe it’s time to do a night school course on food photography!
7. Advertise locally
Kiwis like to eat local, so the homes and businesses closest to you are probably your hottest prospects. If you plan to do some online advertising, geo-targeting will tighten the focus to the neighbourhoods closest to your restaurant or café. You can do this with Google Ads, Facebook and Twitter. You can also go old school with a letterbox drop that promotes your place. And check out Neighbourly, where you can create a business listing that helps you to connect with locals.
8. Create a database of customers and use it
A database of customer email addresses is a valuable marketing tool, but you need to be careful about how you build it because you want the customers to be happy about receiving your communications.
One way to get your database started is to run a prize draw at your checkout. Offer the chance to win a gift voucher in return for their name and email address. Another strategy is to gather business cards from customers. Once you have a database, send out a monthly or bi-monthly newsletter using a tool like Mail Chimp. Promote special offers, new dishes, seasonal menus or new people on your team. Hey, you could even give them a recipe or two!
9. Trumpet your triumphs
If your café or restaurant gets a great write up in a magazine or newspaper (online or hard copy), use it to attract new customers. This could be a simple as putting a copy of the review in your window (if it doesn’t ruin the street appeal of your establishment) or linking to it from a Facebook or LinkedIn post.
10. Become a food blogger
While this option will only grab you if you’re pretty good at putting your thoughts into words, it can be a mighty powerful way to lift your brand awareness and make you look important.
Build a blog page onto your website and regularly add posts that are related to your restaurant or café. Maybe you’ve found an exciting new ingredient; write 500 words about it. Maybe you’ve hired a new chef; write a story about him/her. Or maybe you subscribe to sustainable nose-to-tail eating; write about it!
Once you have a blog post on your website, you can link to it from your social media pages. Blog posts can also be used to attract searches to your website – just wrap them around a relevant search phrase. For example, if you’re a seafood restaurant in Kaikoura, write a blog that includes ‘best place to eat crayfish in Kaikoura’ in the title. And if you’re a coffee roaster in Kingsland, make sure you weave in the phrase ‘best place to drink coffee in Kingsland’ or similar.