Marketing your restaurant effectively can be tricky, especially if you don’t have the funds to put into huge campaigns or don’t understand the process well enough to know where to start. Luckily, you don’t need massive amounts of cash or in-depth knowledge of marketing to be successful. If you follow these seven tips on how to market your restaurant, you can drive traffic to your business and improve sales with minimal effort and expense on your part.
If you want people to come and eat at your restaurant, you’ll need a website. When potential customers visit your site they should get a clear sense of what you offer and where they can go to get it. Include an address, phone number and hours so that customers know exactly how to contact you with questions or concerns. Make sure your website is easy to navigate, with large print text and ample white space so that readers aren’t distracted by all of the information on their screen as they try to read through it. Pictures are also important—it’s estimated that 55 percent of consumers look at online reviews before visiting businesses in person. And if you’re unable to design a restaurant website that satisfies your requirements, you can ask a professional restaurant web design company for help.
A restaurant’s location is important. Customers are much more likely to go out of their way for a restaurant if it’s in an attractive place. Consider where customers in your area typically eat and think about what you can do to set yourself apart from competitors, such as making a good breakfast spot in an area without many good options. Once you’ve picked your location, try and make sure you’re close enough that people won’t have to drive too far but not so close that you’ll be competing with other restaurants on site.
SEO, SMO, and SEM
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of your most powerful weapons in marketing, but it’s not always easy to do right. First, figure out how often you need to update your website or content. You should post new stuff at least once a week; however, there are exceptions, such as if you run a service-oriented business where customer retention is key or if your products change frequently. On Google search, look at competitors and see how they structure their SEO and SMO campaigns. On social media, research what has worked best for them on each platform and what hasn’t. For example, Facebook tends to be more text-heavy than Twitter and Snapchat tend to favor short videos with vertical formats.
When to Advertise
Think of your restaurant as a neighborhood bar, where people can go to hang out with friends and family. Think of advertising like sending out invites to that neighborhood bar party, hoping people will come in. Targeted TV ads can help you get even more specific about whom you want to show up at your restaurant. You might want to advertise on ESPN or another sports channel to appeal to fans who live nearby and tend not only to watch football, but also order wings when they’re home from watching it with their friends. Advertise in an area where you have local regulars — ideally an area with a high concentration of similar restaurants — because these potential customers are already tuned into local entertainment options.
Where to Place Ads Online?
Social media marketing has proven to be one of the most cost-effective ways to market a business, but it can be hard to decide which platform is best for your restaurant. Facebook and Instagram are fantastic places to reach an audience made up primarily of high-school or college-aged millennials, but Twitter and Pinterest are often better options for reaching older adults who have more disposable income. For example, if you’re selling designer salads and want to go after wealthier boomers, you should use social media sites that are popular with that demographic: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Snapchat.
Traditional print ads have lost much of their effectiveness in recent years, but there are still some places where they can be useful. If you have a big-budget advertising campaign planned or are trying to reach an older audience, try placing print ads in community newspapers. Research has shown that older consumers may be reached best through television and newspapers, according to Entrepreneur. If you’re trying to advertise a new brand or business, a good alternative is direct mail advertising—postal flyers work especially well with restaurant companies because they focus on specific neighborhoods.
Other Marketing Options
There are numerous marketing options you can use when launching a new restaurant, from billboard and newspaper ads to Instagram influencers and coupons. However, some of these strategies cost a great deal of money while others offer no guarantee that they’ll be effective. To get started on a limited budget, focus on word-of-mouth marketing by encouraging people who try your food to spread positive reviews online or among their circle of friends and family. You could also host a grand opening event featuring your restaurant’s unique dishes and talented chef and then invite bloggers in your area to come to try them out for free.