Marketing Strategies for Restaurants
Food service is one of the toughest industries to compete in.
Increasing costs, employee turnover and stiff competition keep constant pressure on restaurants, and many of them don’t make it far. Despite the challenges, we’ve helped some restaurants break out of the pack and flourish over the years. Here are just a few things we’ve learned that can help keep tables filled and customers happy.
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be shocked at how many restaurants still have websites that look terrible on phones and tablets. This is the single greatest marketing sin you can commit in 2016.
Mobile devices now account for more traffic on the Internet than desktop computers, and the trend is not likely to change anytime soon. Making sure text and images on the page respond to screen size is critically important, but the job does not end there.
You also want to make sure the content on your website meets the needs of mobile users. For instance, when people search for a restaurant on their smart phones, they are usually trying to do one of three tasks:
- See a menu and/or specials
- Make a reservation online or call to make one
- Find the hours of operation and/or directions
- Searching for “restaurants near me”
Are these tasks easy to accomplish on your website using phones and tablets? The answer is no, you’ve got some work to do.
Optimize your local listing on google
Businesses that rely on local walk-in traffic need a listing on Google Places, which is a collection of suggested local businesses near the top of search engine results pages. These listings include addresses, phone numbers and links to websites.
If you have not claimed your business on Google, you will need to verify that you are the rightful owner. Once the verification is complete, you can manage your profile information, interact with customers and post photos. You can also optimize your listing by building citations across the Internet and encouraging customers to review you on Google.
Upgrade Your POS system
Updating your POS system can vastly simplify your marketing activities and business operations. Contemporary point of sale systems have marketing integration features that allow you to update menu items, track customer rewards points, and monitor the results of promotions by comparing sales against advertised specials.
Start a loyalty program
Loyalty programs are a great way to encourage repeat business and stay top of mind with hungry patrons. There are some great food apps you can establish a partnership with, and roll out some discounts or free appetizers to your best customers. Here are just a few of the most popular ones out there:
Use targeted advertising on facebook
If you aren’t using paid advertising to boost your Facebook reach, chances are good that your words are falling on blind eyes.
Organic reach for most businesses on Facebook is abysmal. A post on your page is only likely to reach 6 percent of your fans, tops, a number that’s likely to only get worse. Some of this is due to increased competition among businesses and people trying to get into user News Feeds, and some of it is Facebook wanting to make a fat buck on advertising. Either way, the only way for most businesses to reach a significant audience is by paying to boost their content.
The good news is that Facebook advertising is very efficient and affordable for even the smallest eateries. Facebook also offers advanced targeting filters, allowing you to direct messages to people based on geography, income, interests, and other attributes.
The secret to great marketing is experimenting with new strategies, while also knowing when to abandon ones that aren’t working. Your customers are changing. Their lives are changing. And it’s up to you to meet them where they are now, regardless of whether it’s on your website, Google or anywhere else. Making your brand easy to find and fun to explore is only half the battle, but it’s a crucial one.