When it comes to restaurants, there are key differences we see between those that are successful and those that struggle. Based on our experience, here are 15 marketing must-haves you should execute for your restaurant.
#1. Have a functional website
Your website is the first “taste” people get of your restaurant. It needs to be functional as well as visually appealing.
In terms of functionality, a restaurant website must be clear about location and contact information. You want it to be super easy for people to find you or make a reservation.
You need an excellent menu page. A PDF image of your printed menu won’t do (more on this in the next tip).
Last, if you have an online ordering system, it needs to work seamlessly (more on this in tip #9).
You can design an excellent website yourself using a Websites 360® restaurant website template. This is an inexpensive way to create an elegant, functional site for your restaurant.
#2. Design an excellent menu page
When potential diners visit your restaurant website, they want to know a couple of things. First, they need your contact info and location. Make it easy for people to find you.
Second, they want to know if your menu is what they crave. Be sure to design an excellent menu page that’s easy to view on a phone. We suggest including images of your dishes (or at least of your signature dishes) and prices.
#3. Local SEO is critical
This is how people are going to ultimately find you online and how you are going to keep your restaurant sustainable for a long period of time. SEO is a long-term investment that will pay off if you stick with it. If you neglect your SEO, then your business will struggle.
#4. Google My Business page
This is critical because you can’t rank in Google Maps or collect reviews on Google if you don’t have it.
#5. Stay current
Keep yourself up to date on current statistics, trends, facts, and figures that can help you analyze your restaurant marketing plan. Should you make any tweaks to how you market your restaurant? Should you position your restaurant differently?
Sites like Modern Restaurant Management are great resources for the latest trends in the restaurant industry.
#6. Reach out to local food bloggers
Ask some food bloggers who are in your area to review the restaurant. The link from their website to yours will help with your SEO and their influence will help to bring in more customers.
Before reaching out to just any food blogger you will want to research them to be sure they actually have some influence. Check out their website and social media pages — have they written more than just a couple of articles? How many people are following them online? If they’ve written 2 articles and have 4 followers on their social media pages, then they wouldn’t be worth offering a free meal in exchange for a review because they don’t have much influence.
#7. GET TONS OF REVIEWS!!!
Good reviews will help your business to thrive because they are the basis of your reputation. Everyone is looking at reviews before they decide where to eat. While good reviews can bring you a lot of success, bad reviews or no reviews can kill your business.
Ask people to leave reviews online (Google, Facebook, Yelp, Top Rated Local, etc) and follow up on those reviews. Thank people for leaving a good review. Politely and respectfully respond to negative reviews and work towards solving the issue they had.
Ask for reviews and social media page follows. Ask your regulars and loyal fans offline to ‘Like’ you on Facebook, follow you on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, and help spread the word. Send an email, call those you have a good relationship with, and walk right up to their table while they’re enjoying what they love about your restaurant.
#8. Use an online reservation tool
It’s not uncommon anymore that people would rather reserve a table with a few clicks instead of making a phone call. OpenTable is a great reservation site that’s worked well for many of our clients.
#9. Offer delivery
People enjoy the convenience of food delivery. If you don’t have delivery drivers of your own, then you will want to look into options such as GrubHub, Uber Eats, Doordash, etc.
#10. Grow your email and SMS database
Many restaurants use mailers, but email marketing is more efficient, environmentally friendly and a faster way to keep your customers in the know. Promote your e-newsletters through social media, on your website, and inside your restaurant. You will need to decide what will work best for you. SMS text message campaigns can be great to offer flash deals to get people in the door on slow days.
#11. Strong social media presence
Strengthen your word of mouth marketing with an interesting, interactive social media presence. This gives you the ability to engage your customers 365 days a year, represent your brand and enlist customers to share their stories. That’s priceless.
Be sure to create your Facebook Business page; don’t use your personal page for your restaurant. I see some restaurant owners set it up as a personal page and that not only isn’t scalable but it prevents your ability to actually advertise on Facebook.
Because of its visual appeal, Instagram works well for restaurants. Add images of your dishes and events regularly, and encourage diners to post about their experience.
Foursquare isn’t as well-known as Facebook, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t ample marketing opportunity for restaurants. This social platform enables restaurants to offer a variety of deals (for free) that users must check-in to take advantage of. This – along with the fact that users can earn “badges” for checking-in so many times – makes Foursquare a viable marketing option for restaurants.
#13. Run contests
This is a great way to reward social media fans, grow your fan base, bring in more customers, and promote loyalty. Give customers a chance to win a great prize and you’ll give them another reason to come back again.
#14. Create and implement a customer loyalty program
Send out e-newsletters to those who sign up to be in the program, highlighting exclusive deals. Promote your loyalty program offline and online.
#15. Reach out to your local media
Reach out to your local news sources to let them know you are opening (or that you have just opened) a new restaurant. Tell them a little bit about the restaurant (type of cuisine, how the restaurant is themed, what your inspiration for the restaurant was, etc) and see if they are willing to write an article or mention it on the air.