Restaurant marketing the right way
According to the British Retail Consortium, 2019 was the worst year on record for the high street, with sales falling for the first time since 1995.
However, where retailers suffered, eateries actually thrived. In fact, in 2018/2019 more than a third of all change of use applications submitted to councils were to convert a shop into a restaurant, café, or takeaway.
Of course, that was all before Covid struck, closing bars and restaurants, and emptying the high street.
But this must be seen as far from the end of retail and hospitality, and as we write now, the year 2021 in the UK should be seen as the beginning of a new dawn for these most traditional of businesses.
Rest assured, if you own a shop or restaurant, provided you offer what people still want, then, with an amount of adaptation and initiative, you can go on to thrive in the coming years.
First of all, let’s take a look at restaurant marketing. Why should someone choose to eat at one restaurant rather than another nearby?
Of course reputation, word of mouth, has a part to play. But it’s not enough to simply serve amazing food and have the best customer service – particularly in the case of a new business – you also need to get the word out.
And here’s how we can help. So let’s look at some of the fundamentals, and then some of the more advanced methods and tools you can employ to get ahead.
Your target market
The very first thing you must do is to take time to craft a strong brand identity with a view to your target market. This is an essential first step when putting together a marketing plan. It will help you to create a highly-tailored strategy with a good chance of success. In particular consider the following:
Who will be your customers?
What’s your marketing budget?
What tactics will provide the best results, and what will they cost?
How will you monitor and evaluate results? – your return on investment (ROI)
Have a great website with easy ordering & table booking
TripAdvisor research from 2018 discovered that 80% of UK respondents make restaurant reservations online. And today this number is even greater.
Besides showcasing your food, the key to a successful website is how clear and simple it is for visitors to order food and make reservations.
In this highly competitive space, you must also make all the essential info – address, opening hours, menu – as accessible as possible.
You can see a good example of a reasonably priced efficient online ordering system here…
Make the most of Yelp and restaurant review platforms
TripAdvisor found that 87% of UK consumers choose a restaurant based on online reviews.
But it’s important to play your own part in the conversation… According to TripAdvisor, 88% of respondents read management responses, encouraging the majority to try a restaurant regardless of whether the initial review was positive or negative.
So, take the time to respond to both good and bad reviews by showing gratitude to those who share a good experience, and trying to placate those who’ve had a bad one.
Master social media marketing
As well as being excellent platforms for promotion, social media sites allow you to engage with your clientele, build loyalty, and attract new customers.
That’s why authenticity and originality is paramount. Build your brand. Reinforce it. Don’t simply try and copy the approach of a brand you admire. Instead, use the knowledge of your own local market to cultivate a voice and image that will resonate with your audience.
Restaurant loyalty programmes
It’s easier than ever to run a loyalty or rewards programme for your restaurant. Apps have made them more convenient for businesses and their customers alike.
Plus the latest online systems give you the tools to track, analyse, and tailor campaigns to increase their effectiveness, removing the need for participants to carry around stamp cards.
The 2018 “What the British Think of Loyalty Programmes” report by YouGov and rewards agency Mando-Connect reveals that three quarters (77%) of the population are members of a loyalty programme, with seven in ten (72%) respondents believing they are a good way to reward customers.
There’s clearly an appetite for loyalty schemes, yet fewer than 25% of UK restaurants offer them.
Getting your website and brand to appear at the top of the search results, and above your competitors, for relevant search terms is known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). And there’s often tough competition for those pole positions.
As a minimum, consider the following:
- Add your target customer location and keywords to page titles that appear in the top line of web browsers.
- Include keywords and compelling info in the meta description (i.e. the snippet under the meta title in the search results).
- Make it as easy as possible for customers to leave reviews – Google considers reviews (especially ones you respond to) to be a good indicator that your restaurant is worth directing people to.
- Local citations are another good trust signal– make sure you feature in directories, local news sites, blogs, and local social media pages.