When most people think of owning a restaurant, they imagine a place packed with customers, long queues, and the continuous ringing of takeaway orders. However, the reality for most restaurants is very different. They struggle to get a consistent flow of customers, and instead of turning substantial profits, they make significant losses. As a result, they often have no option than to shut down.
It isn’t because their food or service was terrible. They simply didn’t have a restaurant marketing plan in place to attract and retain customers for the long term.
In this article, we will cover:
- How to build a big buzz for my restaurant using social media
- Leveraging events to get a flood of people through the door
- How to attract customers to my restaurant
- How to track and improve your restaurant marketing efforts
- A simple SEO technique for high rankings on Google
- Using data to amplify growth
Restaurant Marketing Plan to Grow Business
Before we delve into the various techniques, it is important to set a foundation for your marketing efforts. Contrary to popular belief, people don’t visit restaurants just because of the quality of food. They could order a microwaveable dinner from the supermarket or cook at home. They visit for an experience they can talk about with friends the next day.
You could serve amazing food; however, if you don’t go above and beyond for your customers, they will just visit a different restaurant. Plus, they are likely to tell their friends about it. A university professor identified four primary reasons why people visit and recommend restaurants.
- Food: This needs to be outstanding and well presented. A good marketing strategy for food and beverages is to visit/order takeaways from competitors just to compare.
- Service: Your customers visit for the experience. Treat them with importance, and they will keep coming back.
- Design: Does the design of your restaurant fit the theme? Sometimes less is more. Pinterest is an excellent place to find ideas.
- X factor: What does your restaurant do better than other places? What would a customer tell their friends about with excitement? It could be something simple like offering a free drink and an apology to customers who have waited too long for their food.
When I speak to restaurant owners I always ask about their food and beverage marketing ideas and current restaurant promotions. Most widen their eyes with amazement. The restaurant marker is fierce. Therefore, you must get into the mindset of ‘fighting’ to attract and keep customers. For every output, there is an input. You can’t get more customers (output) without an effective restaurant marketing strategy (input).
The easiest way to be consistent is to create a food service marketing plan calendar which marks essential national and local events. Here are some event types you would want to include and why:
Local sporting events: You can engage with fans using Facebook ads and do a few fun restaurant promotion ideas by presenting an ‘exclusive’ offer, such as 2-for-1 on pre-match drinks. Most teams have a supporters club. Reach out to them on social media or via email to promote this offer. Don’t just restrict this offer to football fans. Remember that there are a lot of local fitness clubs around the country who would appreciate unique restaurant ideas like an exclusive deal.
Public holidays: This is an opportunity to get families into your restaurant. Therefore, it is worth creating Instagram posts and promotions around public holidays.
Local partnerships: If your city has a university or sixth form, it is key that you engage with their societies. You can partner up with student unions to launch promotions during the beginning of the new academic year and post-exams period. This enables you to attract a lot of new customers. The more local partnerships you create, the more opportunities you have for a flood of new customers.
Street team: The most convincing way to exhibit your food is to let people have a taste of it. A few local restaurants offered free ice cream on a hot summer’s day in the middle of Manchester City Centre. Who would say no to free ice cream? Each small tub of ice cream also had their branding, opening times, location etc. In fact, the exhibit and tubs of ice cream got shared thousands of times on Instagram. In one afternoon, they had announced their arrival with a bang!
It is worth organising a street team campaign during quieter months. Be creative about the execution and weather conditions. For instance, offer a sample of soup during the winter months and ice cream during the summer.
Each method will bring in new customers. The key to long term growth is to be consistent with your efforts.
Reputation Management & Customer Service
What do people see when they type your restaurant’s name into Google? In this day-and-age, a website and regularly updated social media profiles are a necessity. If they can’t find you, or reviews aren’t favourable, they will simply visit a competitor.
No matter how hard you try, some people will have something negative to say about your business. Competitors might even leave some. Don’t reply angrily. Potential customers would be able to see it. Therefore, you must respond in a certain way.
- Address their complaint and apologise for not meeting your exceptionally high standards during their visit.
- Offer to make it right and provide your contact information. Most of the time, people just want to complain, and Google reviews or Yelp are the quickest way to do so.
- If possible, communicate with them privately. In most cases you can learn something which will help to fix your business which is a key in social media marketing for restaurants.
- If the review was clearly left by a competitor or someone who has never visited your restaurant, mention it in your response. Politely state that “We can’t seem to find you in our records as having been a previous customer.”
Notably, you can have fraudulent reviews removed. To do this, you will need to get a Google My Business account. This enables you to flag reviews for removal. Besides this, Google My Business allows you to post offers, pictures and control how your restaurant appears on the search results. Make your first impression great.
SEO for Restaurants
Using Google My Business helps your restaurant to appear in position 1 when people search for your name. However, what if people in your local area are just looking for a place to eat? They are likely to type in terms such as [Your city] + best restaurant. Competitors with better SEO and better restaurant marketing strategies are likely to hit the number 1 spot. As a result, they can attract many customers without spending any money on the best advertising for restaurants.
Here are eight ways to quickly get an SEO boost:
- Ensure that all your social media accounts are linked back to your website. This marketing strategy for restaurant business sends out positive signals to search engines because their algorithms gain more context.
- Speed is a ranking factor. From experience, restaurant sites tend to be small due to having too many graphical elements. Owners also buy the cheapest hosting package to cut costs and disregard writing a business plan for a restaurant. A great restaurant business plan sample would include efficient food marketing strategies.
- Localise your content. Instead of trying to rank for a broad term such as restaurant, which will be owned by large chains and apps such as Deliveroo, aim to rank in your local area. You can do this by having a blog and creating content targeted at your local area. For instance: “10 best places to visit in [city name]” and then add your restaurant as one of the 10 best places. Content like this will ‘force’ you to mention local landmarks. This sends out ‘relevancy’ signals to search engines.
- Create video content. Video is one of a few unique restaurant promotion ideas, and it can also help with SEO. Include your city/town in your video title and add a link to your website in the description. Share it on social media to get some views. Showcase the food on offer, and end with your contact details and location. For restaurants I have consulted with, we find that the best restaurant ads end up on page one within a short space of time.
- If your restaurant site runs on WordPress, use Yoast SEO and install the local extension. This best restaurant marketing strategy helps to improve SEO by localising your website.
- Relevant backlinks are a ranking factor. Therefore, you can begin by submitting the site to directories such as Yell, your local council and restaurant directories.
- Stick with the best restaurant promotions. Great content + promotion = results. Therefore, it is worth reaching out to local bloggers, instagram influencers and Youtubers. They might be willing to link out to your site or share their visit with followers. All of this activity helps with SEO.
- The time spent on your site is an SEO ranking factor. Far too often, I see badly designed restaurant websites. It is worth revisiting your site to see whether a redesign is needed. Your business depends on it.
Improving the Restaurant’s In-Store and Online Ordering Process
You can have the best restaurant growth plan in the world. However, without data and excellent ordering experience, it won’t matter. That is why we built etakeawaymax to put you in total control of your restaurant business and give you creative restaurant marketing ideas. Why pay massive commissions, and lose the functionality to follow up with customers?
With our easy-to-use service and carefully built marketing strategies for restaurants and owners, you get the following:
- A custom mobile ordering app and website. Make your first impression magnificent.
- Get analytics on every part of your business so that you can take revenue-generating decisions.
- A built-in database so that you can follow up with customers.
- Automatically suggest drinks and sides to increase order value.
- Join the giants of the restaurant advertising industry by letting customers order using a tablet.
- A built-in feedback system for real-time customer service management.
We have taken the very best from giants of the food industry and brought it to businesses big and small. Usually, a restaurant marketing plan like this would cost a small fortune. Our packages start from £149 – including setup. Our more than 200 happy customers have changed how their business runs. We are so confident that we even included a 90-day money-back guarantee.