I’ll be the first to admit that most of my income is donated every week to restaurants around town in exchange for delicious food. Like many self-proclaimed foodies, I too pride myself in finding neat spots around the city and recommending them to my friends. So, I am the ideal target market for an up and coming restaurant. The question that restaurant owners ask themselves is, how do I leverage my marketing to get more foodies in the door, especially on weekdays. There’s a lot more to restaurant marketing than just location, location, location. We’ve been working with all types of restaurants in the past five years and here is what works everytime.
1) Instagram the heck out of your food
As a restaurant, your most precious commodity is your food. Take lots of pictures of your food, make it look irresistible and let Instagram do the rest. Foodies spend copious amounts of time ogling at Instavids and pics of yummy things they might want to try next. Invite them with your visuals and half your work is done.
2) Reward reviews
Want people to write amazing reviews about your food on TripAdvisor and Yelp? Reward them for it. Offer a free drink or a discount for people who write positive reviews for you. Your target market may be willing to go through a lot of trouble for a good incentive.
3) Build your email list
Make your website work for you. It’s not just a place where people come to check out your menu or your timings. Give them a reason to stick around. Offer exclusive deals to people who sign up for your newsletter, like a free meal on their birthday or a coupon for their next order.
You can then use that email list to send out announcements, promote deals, get more reviews and boost your blog views.
4) Blog a lot
Blogs are your friends in the world of SEO. The more you write, and the more strategic you are about your keywords, the better your Google ranking will be. Blog at least twice a month consistently, or don’t bother at all, because sporadic blogs don’t help you in the long run.
5) Tie online with offline marketing
Use your store to promote your online initiatives and use your online channels to promote the offline ones. For instance, if you’re offering free coffee with any meal on Mondays, promote that in store using posters, tent cards and signs, but also talk about it on all your online channels like your website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
6) Use Online Ads
If you’re looking to promote a specific event or deal at your restaurant, you need to boost your ads. Otherwise you’ll just be talking to all your buddies who liked your page, and no new customers will come on board. Look to spend at least $100 per ad, if not more.
7) Create Loyalty
If you’ve got foot traffic and are looking to convert people into regulars, you should consider creating loyalty programs. This gives people a concrete reason to come back other than just your food. Starbucks, Tim Hortons and McDonalds do this really successfully. Think of fun ways to do it for your brand. Maybe it’s a bingo card with your food items on it, maybe it’s an app, maybe you offer free food for life to anyone who comes to the restaurant 100 times in a year. Whatever it is, loyalty programs bring in more revenue if you do them right. So come up with one for yourself and stick to it.