Marketing is a tough job these days. Believe me, I know. Especially when it comes to the food and beverages industry where competition is high and everyone claims to be “the best”, “the finest” and “the greatest”. But there’s an old saying that goes: “You sow what you reap”. Therefore, I thought I’d give it my best and provide some advice that might bear fruit when carried to the full extent.
Be visualVisual content is in high demand online these days, and having delicious looking photos on your website and across various social media outlets is essential for drawing hungry eyes. Be warned, though, taking really great food photos can be tougher than it looks. Lighting is often a key factor. Learn more here: Gizmodo article and this Udemy post.
Loyalty ProgramsOnline food apps should definitely be a consideration as part of your restaurant marketing plan. Using apps encourages visitors to check out your restaurant through gamification and loyalty programs, which offer visitors a free purchase or discount for visiting a certain number of times. The best case scenario would be the possession of your own app with your brand.
The other big thing to keep in mind when it comes to restaurant loyalty apps is how you handle feedback. It’s great to thank users for their reviews, whether positive or negative. If you get negative feedback, always answer in a polite, professional manner. This builds the best possible image. Some guests might hate your meal, but that will be forgotten. The way you treat people will never be.
BCodeBcode is another form of technology you can adapt for your loyalty program. BCODE is a unique mobile scanning technology that enhances mobile marketing and mCommerce strategies. It can be used to deliver and authenticate tickets, coupons, loyalty identities and payment credentials to the more than 6 billion mobile phones on the planet.
Google+ AccountSetting up your restaurant’s Google+ account is quite important. When you search for a business within Google, Google’s Knowledge Graph provides the business’ details in the sidebar. This source gathers a large chunk of its info from Google+, so having your business set up on Google+ is a huge bonus, as having your restaurant appear via Google’s Knowledge Graph allows for more prime search real estate (for free)!
Geo-targeted AdsFor most restaurants, local is the name of the game. Most folks are looking for good eats close to home. Geo-targeting ads help you save money, ensuring that only users in certain cities or within a specific radius see your ads (eliminating non-relevant clicks, which can cost you big ad bucks). Many online advertising services, from Google AdWords to Facebook and Twitter, offer geo-targeting ad options (at no extra cost).
NewsletterRemember, your restaurant newsletter doesn’t have to be a weekly publication. In fact, users will probably appreciate a less flooded inbox if you simply send them a newsletter every month or so.
Introducing your staffIn an age of robotic customer service reps and soon to be self-driving cars, the human element is disappearing fast. Show off your 5-star staff doing what they do best! Seeing happy, smiling employees does wonders for your reputation, as customers long to be served by joyful workers.
Social Media PresenceOften, the restaurants with a strong social media presence as part of their restaurant marketing plan are the ones that fare the best, and in the competitive food industry, ignoring social media is a death sentence.
Of course you’ll want to create a Facebook business page and a Twitter account to share special discounts, exclusive coupons, photos of your newest dishes and promote your own news accolades. But setting up your accounts is only half the job. Keep up with activity happening on your social sites is also essential.
Google AlertsGoogle Alerts notify you when your business name (or other designated keyword terms) appears in a new piece of content on the web! This makes it easy to keep tabs on who is talking about you and your accolades.
Food Blogger OutreachWhen you’re a new restaurant, you may find it difficult to generate reviews and hype about your business. One great way to get reviews and press on the web is to invite food bloggers to your restaurant to give you a try, and consider offering a free meal or appetizers to encourage them inside. Politely ask if they’d be willing to review your restaurant and share their experience online. Some food bloggers have big followings, and getting their attention can have a huge influence on your restaurant. Even just one write up or mention from a major foodie can be huge for restaurant promotion efforts.
Online Details AccuracyEaters love to do research online – in fact, 89% of consumers research a restaurant online prior to dining. This is why it’s of vital importance that all your restaurant details are online and up-to-date, including the address, phone number, working hours, your current menu, etc. The stronger and more accurate your online details are, the better.
Online MenuUsers love to do research online before ordering from or visiting your restaurant. Don’t make users scramble to find your menu – publish a high-quality, easy to read menu that is up to date and accurate. Not sure how? Delivery sites such as Open Menu offer to publish your menu online for free.
Still, you’ll want to make sure to have your menu published on your website, too, since that’s often the #1 piece of information users are looking for when visiting your site (along with working hours, location, and contact info).
Coupons and DiscountsProviding coupons and discounts for your restaurant is always a surefire way to bring customers running. Offer a free dish to your new email newsletter subscribers.
Alternatively, you can try advertising a discount through Groupon or Living Social – if you go that route, you’ll get TONS of exposure, but end up paying a hefty portion of sales to the deal website. Keep that in mind.
Mobile AdsIt is forecasted in 2016 half of all paid clicks on Google will come from mobile! Restaurants are one the best candidates for mobile ads, as users are often looking for nearby dining options while on the move.
What’s really cool is that AdWords allows for all kinds of mobile customization and targeting options that let you get the most out of your bids. For instance, you can increase your bids around dinnertime. When users are often looking for fast food on their mobile phones you could be the first ad to show up for a “pizza” search when pie-hungry users are on the search for a slice. If you’re a restaurant marketer, don’t miss out on digging into a slice of the mobile ad pie (we’re talking deep dish).
Local IngredientsCustomers love to hear they’re eating local, and sourcing local ingredients from nearby can do a lot to boost your fan base and give you a positive reputation in the community. Definitely consider this option if it’s not out of your budget.
Good SamplesHere we can see some giants in this industry and have a look how they are behaving online. It’s obvious that their reputation speaks for itself, but let’s not forget how they earned it. And as a matter of fact, they still keep marketing...
- Website URL: www.mcdonalds.com
- Global rank: 2,050 (they recently got 523 ranks of improvement)
- Rank in USA: 440
- Main website performance:
Bounce rate: 23.10% (recent deterioration: 29.00%)
Daily page views per Visitor: 6.98 (recent improvement: 0.10%)
Daily Time on Site: 8:23 (recent improvement: 3.00%)
Total sites linking in: 3,105
- Website URL: www.mcdonalds.com
- Global rank: 8,868
- Rank in USA: 2,279
- Main website performance:
Bounce Rate: 48.30% (recent improvement: 2.00%)
Daily Page views per Visitor: 2.52 (recent improvement: 5.00%)
Daily Time on Site: 2:41 (recent improvement: 6.00%)
Total Sites Linking In: 9,271
There are more than hundred commercials and dozens of promo playlists on McDonald's YouTube channel.
These were just some practical advises in terms of restaurant marketing and advertising ideas. Hopefully you can put these tips to good use and you’ll have added patrons and clients. Do you have any restaurant marketing ideas that we didn’t mention in this post? Share your inspiration in the comments!