Restaurants are businesses, and marketing is a crucial factor to every business’s success. People will not know about your restaurant if they never hear about it. Therefore, marketing is essential to get the word out about your restaurant, so people will be more likely to visit. However, newbie restaurateurs may not know a lot about marketing. Luckily, this guide is full of restaurant marketing strategies that anyone can and should do to market their restaurant in 2021.
Know Who Your Customers Are
The goal of an excellent restaurant marketing plan is to convince a customer to do business with you, right? Well, that means that you have to know your customer before you start making marketing moves. It does not matter what kind of restaurant you have – you will likely have a niche set of customers that will be more interested in your restaurant. Therefore, you need to find a way to reach these people, and that starts by knowing who your typical customer would be.
Let’s start with the basics – think about your average customer’s ages, location, gender, etc. For instance, a hip and “trendy” bar would likely attract men and women, being a mix of young millennials and Gen Z from your area. Now, we gotta get into the details to make more effective restaurant marketing strategies.
Now that we know who your customers are, you should think about their habits, dining preferences, spending power, etc. For example, the average Gen Z teenager in Los Angeles will have pretty good spending power, be more likely to prefer “aesthetic” dining experiences, prefer eating out, and such. Therefore, you can tailor your restaurant marketing plan to showcase how your restaurant caters to those aspects. For instance, you can show off your “aesthetic” food and restaurant on Instagram, show trendy food items on the menu, etc.
Give People Coupons
Everyone loves to save money. When people pay for something, they often experience “buyer’s remorse” and feel like they regret purchasing it. However, they will rarely get buyer’s remorse if they feel like a good deal of experience from their purchase. An easy way to do that is to offer coupons to people for your restaurant.
Coupons are one of the oldest restaurant marketing tips, but it is also one of the most effective. A whopping 90% of customers will at least look for a coupon about once in their lives. However, people in 2021 do not use paper coupons as much. Instead, they use digital coupons.
The goal here is to make a digital coupon that is easy to search and share. If it is easy to search for, new customers will be more likely to try your restaurant. If people who tried your restaurant can share the coupon, they can easily give it to their friends and family. Essentially, this encourages people to spread your restaurant’s name via “word of mouth,” which is always an effective marketing strategy. People often trust reviews from people they know, so the coupons can motivate people to talk about your restaurant.
Make a Great Website
Did you know that 81% of shoppers research businesses before they buy? People have access to more knowledge, including about businesses, thanks to search engines like Google. Therefore, consumers want to know as much about the business before they buy, and that would include your restaurant. Pretty much everyone looks for websites to see what the business is all about, so you need to make a fantastic one for your restaurant.
A website would work as a marketing tool for your restaurant, functioning 24/7. Therefore, people who want to learn about your restaurant during closing hours can take a quick look at the restaurant. That way, they can easily find out about the location, menu, etc., without calling the restaurant. It makes it more convenient for the customer and you.
Your restaurant’s website should focus on the basics first. It should contain your menu (you may add prices), photos of the food, etc. It is also essential to list your restaurant’s locations and contact numbers if a customer wants to reach you. Moreover, it would be best to hire a website designer to make a clean website that is easy to navigate. A website designer can also make your site consistent with your brand.
Take Advantage of Social Media
Social media is a powerful restaurant marketing tool that every business should take advantage of. About 74% of customer’s buying decisions get influenced by social media. Customers heavily rely on social media accounts to see what the business offers, like your best menu items or your latest beverage. It is also useful to see other people’s reviews if they tag your restaurant or use your location.
Set up accounts on Facebook and Instagram. If you are feeling up to it, you can create Twitter, Tiktok, and YouTube accounts as well. The key here is to make sure that your accounts are consistent with your brand. The style of content, colors, messages, etc., should all go with your brand’s voice. Moreover, you should use free social media marketing tools, like hashtags.
Once you get your accounts set up and know what kind of content you want to post, think about consistency. You want to keep your accounts active, so new customers know that your restaurant is still open. Ideally, you should post content on your accounts every 2-3 days. As much as possible, do not create a post every day, which can bother some of your followers.
Build Your Reputation on Restaurant Review Platforms
As you may have noticed, customers do a lot of their own research. They will take a look at your website and social media accounts, but they often check out reviews of your restaurant on popular restaurant review platforms like Yelp. People want to know what your food is like from a customer’s view, so these restaurant review platforms need to become your best friend.
Ideally, you should start by trying to build positive reviews on these platforms. Each customer is different, so you might get low ratings now and then. However, your overall score should be fairly high. That way, potential new customers will be more likely to visit your restaurant.
Most major platforms allow you to claim your business for free, so you ought to do that right away. That allows you to control your profile on the platform and enhance it. You can also monitor your reviews. Moreover, you can make replies to reviews, like mentioned earlier, to help you maintain a positive rating.
It is pretty much inevitable that every restaurant will get a bad review. However, what matters is how you deal with a negative review. For instance, let’s say they left a bad review because they got the wrong order. You could politely and professionally respond by apologizing and offering a free meal with the correct orders. That way, you can right a wrong, and there is a chance they could change the review! Moreover, people will see that you care about your customers and their experiences.
While most things are digital nowadays, we should not ignore the effectiveness of good old-fashioned printed marketing. For instance, restaurant managers and owners should always have business cards on them. Business cards contain basic information about the person, restaurant location, e-mail, etc. Let’s say that you are speaking to a potential connection or a new customer. You can simply hand them your business card, and they can contact you or visit your restaurant whenever you want.
Leaflets are also a great way to market your restaurant casually. You can get leaflets that feature parts of your menu, pictures of your food and restaurant, your restaurant’s story, and more. You can also use leaflets to announce events, special deals, etc. You can hand these leaflets out on the streets, leave them for people to take easily, or under the car wiper blades.
How Much Should I Spend on Marketing?
Now that we know the basics of a restaurant marketing plan, we gotta get into the numbers. It mostly varies on each restaurant, but one recommendation states that businesses that earn less than $5 million each year in revenue should spend about 7-8% of the revenue on marketing. It may seem steep to some people, but proper marketing will ensure that the business will continually get new customers and maintain their current customers.
Now, how do you allocate that marketing budget across your channels? Again, that will mostly depend on you, your customers, the nature of the business, etc. For instance, people with a younger market should focus on allocating most of their budget to online restaurant marketing strategies. If you run a restaurant for families, you can allocate 70% of your marketing budget to online marketing (e-mail, social media, etc.) and 30% to offline marketing (business cards, leaflets, newspaper ads, etc.)
All in All
No business should ever skip on marketing, and that is especially true for restaurants. Restaurant owners that want tons of customers need to ace their marketing game to stand out from the crowd. New restaurateurs can make use of the helpful tips listed above in the guide to market their restaurant this 2021 effectively.
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