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In the fiercely competitive culinary landscape, mastering restaurant marketing is your recipe for success. Join us in this article as we share 14 expert restaurant marketing tips to distinguish your establishment and leave a lasting impression on your diners.
Prepare to revolutionize your restaurant's fortunes and claim the spotlight in your community.
1. Craft a Compelling Restaurant Brand Identity
Developing a compelling brand identity goes beyond choosing colors; it embodies your restaurant's personality, content tone, and customer emotions.
Consistently express your chosen theme across all content and actions. Your tone of voice and brand perception are distinct but interrelated.
Define them clearly to align your marketing strategy with your goals. Identify your ideal customers' demographics and habits to tailor messages effectively. A well-crafted brand guide encompassing elements like voice, color, logo, and theme can set you apart, attracting loyal patrons.
There are several steps you can take to brand your business and stand out from your competition:
1. Identify your audience via research
Understand who your potential customers are through: surveys, casual conversational questions, online industry trends or reviews from your competitors’ customers.
Find out what diners would love to see in your brand that’s seldom offered elsewhere. If you’re looking at online reviews of competitors on a review platform (e.g. Yelp), this could be expressed as a negative statement. For example, if a reviewer says: “I hated eating at this restaurant because they didn’t offer X,Y,Z…” find out if you can fill this gap.
Once you’ve collected lots of information on your ideal customer who would visit your restaurant, create a Buyer Persona. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just a few bullet points will suffice. A Buyer Persona will include their demographic, psychographic, behavioral, and geographic details.
TIP: Create a table with your UVPs (Unique Value Propositions) on the left, and your buyer persona on the right. Example:
|Our small family restaurant sells homemade meals, suitable for Vegan, gluten free or keto diets.
|Young professionals who are health conscious, active and like to travel.
|They do take out and also deliver.
|Busy people who don’t have the time to prepare the meals they want to eat.
|Their menus include Italian, American and Mexican food always with an infusion of their own country, Costa Rica.
|They like to try new kinds of food, flavours and textures.
|Fresh and high-quality produce are a staple for them.
|They spend an avg. of $30 per meal.
2. Show them your UVP and personality
Establishing your UVPs may come before or after you establish your ideal customer persona who you’ll want to consistently target. Emphasis on “consistenly”. Your core UVPs and buyer personal must stay relatively consistent so that your brand continues to align with them. They should evolve as your customer base evolves, but alignment is key.
Define your brand personality in a way that transmits your UVPs to your customers, creating an association between them.
The next step is to choose the elements that will identify your business. Some examples are colors, fonts, packaging, slogan, and your logo.
Certain colors evoke specific emotions and convey meanings. For example, The Logo Company suggests that red boosts energy levels, yellow is optimism, and purple activates the imagination.
Use a free logo maker such as Canva and have fun experimenting.
3. Integrate your brand assets across your channels consistently
Distribute your brand assets (colors, fonts, slogan, logo) across your marketing channels. Start by ensuring consistency across each page on your restaurant’s website.
A lengthier version of your mission statement could serve as your brand story on the About Us page.
Again, consistency is key. According to MarketingNutz, it takes up to 5-7 brand impressions before an individual can recall your brand. From the website to social media channels and offline interactions with customers, branding must be consistent.
Food Marketing and Sales
Marketing and promoting your food business require following a strategic step-by-step process. Get them here to boost your sales with more hungry customers walking through your restaurant's doors.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN...
- 10 Tips To Boost Your Restaurant Sales
- 8 Restaurant Marketing Tips to Stand Out
- Top 5 Tips to Improve Online Reviews for Your Restaurant
- Restaurant Blog: 5 Reasons Why This Boosts Restaurant Sales (+Tips)
- 7 Proven Strategies to Cultivate Customer Loyalty in Your Restaurant
- How to Use Video Marketing to Promote Your Restaurant
- Email Marketing for Restaurant Success: Comprehensive Guide
- 15 Tactics to Get More Instagram Reel Views for Your Restaurant Business
- How to Create A Successful Restaurant Loyalty Program
- Ten Essential Restaurant KPIs: What to Track for Success
2. Enhance Your Restaurant's Website Design
In addition to consistently showcasing your brand assets across your webpages, your restaurant’s website must include essential pages like the:
- Address, Phone Number, & Hours
- Link Directly to Social Media
- Link for Online Ordering (if applicable)
- Contact details and directions
You can enhance your online presence by expanding your website to include a:
- Reviews page
- Photo gallery
- FAQ section
Bonus Tips: Updating your Google My Business profile, including specific keywords on your website, and prominently displaying your hours, location, menu and online ordering platform on your website and google profile are all easy and free ways to up your online presence.
If you need inspiration on your website design, see how restaurants have designed theirs. Pay attention to what makes their design stand out and how you can replicate it.
3. Leverage Social Media for Restaurant Promotion
Social media is a pivotal marketing tool for restaurants, with 45% of American foodies trying new restaurants due to social media posts. Here we take a deep dive into four of the most popular social media sites and how to use each to your advantage:
1. Instagram marketing for restaurants
The goal: Showcase your restaurant’s brand, hospitality, and overall culture through visual storytelling – giving guests a sneak preview of what it is like to dine at your restaurant.
Who you’ll reach: Up to 1 billion monthly active users.
Ideal posting frequency: Aim for 3-5 times per week. Post Instagram stories as often as you’d like – since these are easy and quick, feel free to post multiple times per day. You can also post livestreams, and even Instagram reels.
Paid ads: With Instagram Ads you can easily promote your restaurant through Instagram ads, reaching audiences beyond your list of followers.
Pro Tips: Don’t forget to enable “geotagging” so photos show up when your location is searched.
2. Facebook marketing for restaurants
The goal: Build a community for your customers by encouraging page visits and comments.
Who you’ll reach: Up to 2.89 billion monthly active users.
Ideal posting frequency: 1-3 times a day.
Paid ads: Facebook ads (now called Meta ads) for restaurants is a great tool to reach target customers because each ad is highly customizable. When creating an ad, you’re given a wide range of options when it comes to deciding who you want to see the ad, based on location, demographic, and profile information.
Pro tips: End your posts with a question or a fill-in-the-blank challenge. (i.e. My favorite topping to get on a pizza from Ellie’s Pizzeria is _______!) Doing things like this will encourage interaction from your followers.
3. Twitter marketing for restaurants
The goal: Quickly share news and updates, interact with your customers, and comment on industry happenings.
Who you’ll reach: Up to 330 million monthly active users.
Ideal posting frequency: Up to 5 times per day (not including responses to individual Tweets).
Pro Tips: Respond to every customer mention, tag, comment, complaint, and criticism.
4. TikTok marketing for restaurants
The goal: Tell your brand story and connect with new audiences.
Who you’ll reach: Up to 1 billion monthly active users.
Ideal posting frequency: As often as you’d like – ideally 1 or 2 times a week minimum.
Paid Ads: TikTok Ads are available in more than 150 markets in 75 languages.
Pro Tips: Encourage user-generated content through legitimate partnerships with influencers. Offer a free meal in exchange for an Instagram post or TikTok review. Using popular sounds and tying viral trends back to your restaurant is an excellent way to get noticed by the algorithm.
4. Develop a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Blog
4. Develop a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Blog
Starting a blog for your restaurant is an excellent way to connect with your community and customers. It provides a platform to showcase your restaurant's personality, share stories, and recipes, and engage your audience.
You can also create a blog and write about topics related to food, cooking, or promotions at your restaurant.
You can even reveal interesting information about your restaurant’s food and recipes while including photos of the meals or any special ingredients or methods used in each dish.
Seven saucy tips for food blogging:
Blogging platform: Use a well-known blogging platform such as WordPress or Drupal to get a blog up and running quickly. Many blogging platforms allow you to purchase a domain name from within their interface.
Website builder: Use a website builder such as Weebly, GoDaddy, Squarespace and HostGator. These website builders usually offer a drag-and-drop interface so that you can create your own website quickly even if you have no coding experience.
Short and snappy chunks of text: A good blog post needs to have short sentences. Short paragraphs and bullet points also help to hold the reader’s attention.
Mix short and long-form posts: The jury is still out on the ideal length for blog posts, so try to mix and match short posts of 1,000 words or so with long ones of 3,000 words or more.
Post only high quality content: Research what your competitors are posting about. Ask your front-of line staff for ideas for blog posts.
Stick to a posting schedule: Fix a day and time to post, and stick to that schedule as much as possible. When you post at a fixed cadence, your audience is ready to consume the content you put out. Also, Google’s algorithm likes sites that post regularly.
Use keywords: Keywords are essential for attracting organic traffic. Do keyword research and plan your posts around the keywords your target audience is using. This will help drive organic, unpaid traffic to your website.
5. Use Email Platforms with AI-powered Automation
5. Use AI-Powered Email Platforms
In the dynamic world of restaurant email marketing, leveraging AI-powered email platforms can be a game-changer. Tools like Canary Mail offer innovative features to compose, manage, and send emails seamlessly, enhancing your marketing strategy.
Advantages of AI-Powered Email Tools:
Efficient Email Management: AI-driven platforms categorize and prioritize incoming emails, ensuring swift responses to customer queries and reservations.
Automated Campaigns: AI algorithms can schedule and dispatch email campaigns at optimal times, improving the chances of your emails being read and acted upon.
Personalized Customer Communication: AI tools analyze customer data to personalize emails, making your messages more relevant and engaging to each recipient.
Time-Saving Email Composition: AI-assisted writing tools help in crafting compelling email content quickly, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business.
Insights and Analytics: By employing AI, these platforms offer valuable insights into customer behaviors and email campaign performance, enabling you to make data-driven decisions.
Integrating AI-powered email platforms into your restaurant's marketing strategy can significantly enhance your reach and customer engagement, making it an essential tool in today's competitive marketplace.
6. Oversee Your Eatery's Image and Reputation
Regularly Google your restaurant’s name and set Google Alerts to track mentions of it. This can provide valuable insights into your restaurant's online image and reputation. You’ll reap the benefits of doing this:
Awareness of Customer Feedback: Online reviews on platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, and Google My Business give you a real-time snapshot of what customers are saying about their experiences. By regularly searching, you can monitor new reviews and address both positive and negative feedback promptly. Marketing platforms like Bloom Intelligence integrate with Google, Facebook, Yelp, and TripAdvisor can help streamline your review management by automating responses to online reviews.
Monitor Media Coverage: If your restaurant gets mentioned in a blog post, news article, or other media, it's likely to show up in Google search results. This can help you track any media attention (positive or negative) and respond or leverage it accordingly.
Detect and Address False Information: There might be incorrect details about your restaurant online – wrong opening hours, outdated menus, incorrect contact details, etc. Regular searches can help you spot and correct these inaccuracies.
Social Media Mentions: Customers might post about their experiences on social media platforms without tagging your restaurant. Regular searches can help you discover these mentions, allowing you to engage with the posts and manage your reputation.
In summary, regularly Googling your restaurant is an essential part of online reputation management. It helps you stay informed about what's being said about your business, address concerns, celebrate successes, and strategize for the future. It's a proactive approach to understanding and shaping your restaurant's online image.
7. Foster Partnerships and Build Connections
Boosting your restaurant's online presence involves tapping into influential food bloggers and food critics who can offer honest reviews and generate buzz about your establishment.
Step 1: Know the difference between: Bloggers vs. Critics
First and foremost, you will need to understand the difference between food critics and bloggers.
Food bloggers: In general, bloggers approach their writing with a more casual attitude. Most bloggers aren’t on someone else’s payroll - they primarily go by their own rules rather than sticking to strict guidelines like those that food critics may be held to by their employers. However, you can conduct background research on both groups the same way.
Food critics: These individuals usually write for newspapers or magazines and prefer to remain anonymous when visiting an establishment. They want to see what your business is like for normal customers and therefore don’t usually make their presence known
Step 2: Reach out to both bloggers and critics
After you’ve familiarized yourself with the work of food bloggers you like, you’re ready to launch your outreach campaign. Invite food bloggers to a free meal at your restaurant and politely request an objective review, without explicitly asking for a positive one.
Since food critics usually decide which places to review based on overall trends and the opinions of their publishers, it is less likely that they will respond to your invitation than it is that a blogger will, but it never hurts to invite them anyway.
For critics, offering a free meal in exchange for a review can be seen as bribery, but if you aren’t asking for anything in return, it gives them incentive to stop by your truck and try your food.
To increase the probability that your emails will be well received and your invitations accepted, personalize them! Keep track of those who say no, why, and those who don’t respond, noting to follow-up and contact them again at a later date and pursue additional outreach efforts.
If your food business receives a positive review on a credible blog or publication, this tells readers that the food, service, and atmosphere are exciting enough that the writer, someone whose opinion they have come to trust, recommends it.
8. Incentivize Customer Loyalty Through Rewards
You can create a loyalty program that rewards customers for completing a certain number of visits, such as three in a row or five in one month. This type of reward scheme is especially effective if you offer discounts or freebies to repeat customers, who are already loyal to your brand.
Another way you can use loyalty programs is by rewarding customers who refer friends, family members, and co-workers. This helps to build word-of-mouth advertising for your business, while also encouraging new visitors to come and try out your restaurant.
Additionally, you could award points based on a diner’s total amount of dollars spent at the end of each month. These points could then be converted into cash off their next order or even gift cards redeemable at other non-competing stores, such as Amazon.
Partner with online apps like Belly to attract and retain loyal customers at your restaurant. Alternatively, use traditional punch cards to encourage repeat visits and showcase your appreciation for loyal customers.
FREE Resources for Restaurant Owners
Craft a compelling restaurant brand identity.
Enhance your restaurant's website design.
Leverage social media for restaurant promotion.
Develop a content marketing strategy for your blog.
Use newsletters and email platforms.
Oversee your eatery's image and reputation.
Foster partnerships and build connections.
Incentivize customer loyalty through rewards.
These key steps will help you kickstart your restaurant marketing journey and attract and retain customers effectively.