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Marketing for restaurants

marketing for restaurants

 

Marketing tips for restaurants – Enhanced with social media

Advice on how to boost sales and stand out from the crowd

Surprise me

In order to open their wallets and pocketbooks, today’s timid consumers want something special. We’re not talking about a surprising discount, but a surprising call to action. If recession-weary consumers are going to let the moths out of their coin purses, it had better be good. Creativity is the key.

Social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter present restaurant owners with many creative tools. These channels allow the restaurant to act like a person, and allow their customers to interact and converse with it as if it were a person.

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Pay attention to growing Hispanic influence

The Hispanic influence in the United States is growing. The future of our nation and the restaurant industry depends on what happens to this population. How your brand markets itself effectively to this group of increasingly influential customers is key in the years to come.

Certain social media channels like Facebook allow you create promotions and advertisements that target specific demographics. The classic example I like to use is that you can target a “Left-handed, red-headed female between ages 20-35 who live in Sacramento California”. It really is that specific, and you can drill down even more than that. Use this tool to target that growing Hispanic population in your local area.

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In pursuit of the social customer

While who owns social media may be the wrong question to ask, social media for the time being appears to live in one primary department. Over time, however, social media will extend the capacity of any business affected by outside behavior.

2011 was a pivotal year for social media. While many brands believe in its importance, there is still a great deal to learn. What’s clear, however, is just how early brands are in this growth curve. Social consumers are expanding beyond the Millennial demographic, as social-savvy individuals are migrating from the edge to the center of technology adoption and prowess. As they do, social networks and new-media apps and services become their platforms of choice.

New dayparts and revenue channels

There will be a greater focus on developing new dayparts for restaurant marketers. Breakfast is one of the fastest-growing dayparts in the industry today. However, it is one of the hardest dayparts for convincing consumers to switch to your brand or to change their morning eating habits.

Social media is a part of your customers’ daily routines. Everyone is different, but 90% of all social media users check their accounts in the morning before beginning their day. This is where you can convince your previous customers (your followers) to choose your restaurant over another. Time your specials and advertisements so that they appear during the times your customers are online check their Facebook page or Twitter account.

As all restaurant owners know, it is also important to gain new customers. Coupons, billboards, print and other advertisements can be expensive and hard to measure success. Be proactive and begin using 21st century marketing and talking to your customers where they prefer – online. Make sure your online reviews are being monitored. Online review sites like Yelp and Google Places are decision makers for customers looking for a new place to eat. Often, there is one bad review that sits on the top of these sites and is the first to be read by potential customers. Even more often, restaurants who do not participate in monitoring their reviews can be automatically categorized as something other than a restaurant.

Managing your online reviews not only prevents mishaps like these, but you can also use them to convert potential customers to followers. Once they are followers, you already have their interest. They are watching your Facebook page, and seeing what you post. They want to see what kind of restaurant you are, what your prices are, the food serve, the atmosphere and your overall image.

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Catering is not a new revenue channel, but with today’s social-media applications, catering is a whole new ballgame for restaurant marketers. Today’s savvy restaurant marketers are using online catering resources, and some are creating custom catering platforms, such as Boudin Bakeries, which has increased catering sales 300 percent in nine months with an enterprise, Web-based program.

Offering products online, bottling signature items and partnering with grocery retailers is a must for restaurant marketers. Huge brand awareness is garnered by having your brand in the grocery store freezer or bottled-products sections. Taking your signature menu item and partnering with a food manufacturer to produce proprietary products is a channel worth exploring.

Integrate, integrate, integrate

Integration of all marketing communications is essential to garnering the best results. For example, if you plan to introduce a new menu item, how will you communicate that to drive awareness and trial? It’s about consumer touch points. Every place a guest can see, hear or touch has to be part of the marketing plan. The e-mail blast, the Facebook post, the tweet, and coupon drop and advertising all have to work together to create a louder voice.

Post your changes on Facebook and ask for feedback from your customers before you order 500 new menus. You might find out that 30% of your customers don’t like #4 on your menu. Maybe 20% of your customers say: “Hey, where are the vegetarian options?”

You can learn a lot from your customers by utilizing the channels that allow you to communicate with them.

Communicate sustainability, health and ingredients

Consumers want to know the source of their food. Those brands that can articulate their ingredients and product sourcing are winning big with consumers. Marketers must weave multiple messages to include social responsibility, recycling and product sourcing, and to share calories, the amount of sodium and other nutrition data. Creating communications to get “credit” with guests is imperative today.

Have all of this information available to your customers on your Facebook page. You avoid expensive printing costs, and show that you care about the food that you serve. Your customers will thank you and spread the word for you.

Responsible marketing

Today’s marketers must be socially responsible. With soy-based inks and recycled-paper products all readily available, all point-of-purchase materials should be printed using recyclable materials whenever possible. Consumables, such as cups, tray liners and other logoed to-go packaging, need to be made with recycled materials for today’s green and sustainable-savvy consumers.

There’s nothing more sustainable than digital print – use it to your advantage and promote your “green” efforts to your customers through your social media channels.

Get moving

This isn’t first lady Michelle Obama’s cry; it’s time for restaurant marketers to get moving. Local store marketing is still the most effective and least expensive strategy for smart restaurant marketers. Most patrons of your restaurant come from within the three-mile radius, and being a part of the community has never been more important to stand out from the competition. Give your general managers and franchisees tools and tips, and send them into their three-mile radius to introduce themselves. Arm them with menus, offers and samples. When they get moving, so will your sales.

Utilize your social media channels to connect with other community pages and businesses. Contact these businesses and create win-win scenarios by cross-promoting and advertising. If you’re a breakfast only restaurant, you can make recommendations about your favorite steak house. The steakhouse can then return the favor and make their recommendation for their favorite breakfast place (your restaurant. The possibilities are endless.

 

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