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Marketing for Restaurants: How to Do it Right

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Kolin Morgan
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In the United States, there are more than a million restaurants, and these establishments compete not only with one another but also with less expensive dining options like home-cooked meals.


Given the many options for dining out, restaurant owners must ask themselves one important question: "Why should customers spend their hard-earned money to eat our food?"


Effective marketing gives a solution to that problem for customers who are hungry, but restaurants don't only sell food; they also sell sentiments and experiences.


What is Restaurant Marketing?


Restaurant marketing is a systematic, quantitative process for enhancing brand recognition, attracting new customers, and generating revenue. Any business plan for restaurant marketing must incorporate reliable marketing tactics. Effective restaurant marketing techniques include specific promotions, digital engagement campaigns, local search optimization, and traditional advertising.


The Right Way to Market a Restaurant


Before diving deeper into restaurant marketing guidance, let's first talk about some general traits of effective strategies. The best restaurant marketing initiatives are as follows:


  • Assessable: Objectives for marketing strategy must be specific and measurable. If you can't measure the results, you can't know what worked and what didn't for your campaign. Be sure to understand the difference between vanity metrics and value metrics.
  • Diverse: Consumers today use a variety of channels to access material and see advertisements. As only 42% of millennials watch live TV, a campaign that is exclusively distributed on broadcast TV, for example, may be overlooked by a sizable chunk of your audience.
  • Local focus: With a few notable exceptions, restaurants mainly cater to locals. It is essential to comprehend local market dynamics and relevant client expectations.
  • Emotional: Food and life are intertwined. For many people, eating brings up intense sensations of coziness, love, and family. The most effective restaurant marketers focus more on experiences than just food.
  • Let's look at some tried-and-true restaurant marketing techniques while keeping in mind these crucial components:


How it works


User-generated content demonstrates that customers trust your brand. Millennials trust user-generated content 50% more than any other type of media.


Allowing your customers to tell the world about your business is undeniable proof that your products are worthwhile talking about. Examples of this kind of content include blog entries, reviews, Instagram Stories, and posts.


Programs for loyalty


From your current client base, loyalty programs encourage repeat purchases. About 80% of adult Americans participate in loyalty programs.


People love receiving incentives; it's in our DNA. Loyalty programs stimulate repeat business from your clients, which generates a steady income.


Business Profile on Google Maps


Loyalty programs stimulate recurring business from your present customer base. Most American adults (around 80%) take part in loyalty programs.


People enjoy receiving rewards; it's in our genetic makeup. Loyalty programs encourage repeat business from your customers, which produces a consistent stream of revenue.


Working with local Food Bloggers


Getting a local food blogger to recommend your business significantly increases the market for it.


Food bloggers might be of aid to consumers who wish to spend their money on a special dinner. When you ask bloggers to eat at your restaurant, it shows that you are prepared to stake your reputation on the caliber of your food.


Responsive Online Menus


Consumers today expect straightforward digital experiences from the businesses they do business with. Digitally friendly menus make it simple for customers to learn about your company.


Knowing what to expect from your restaurant will help customers make their decision to eat there more quickly. Consider making a digital version of your menus that is compatible with mobile devices rather than photographing your physical menus.


Using Digital Coupons


For customers who must choose between two or more establishments, a voucher may be helpful. Coupons are supposedly used by 90% of consumers.


Digital coupons make tracking coupon analytics easier whereas traditional coupons are more challenging to use. They provide an excellent opportunity to entice potential customers when they might otherwise be reluctant to enter.


Delivery Service Partnerships


You can draw clients who don't only want to eat out by offering delivery. Collaboration with a third-party delivery service has been shown to boost restaurant revenues by 10% to 20%.


Usually, smaller companies have to choose between offering an internal delivery service and focusing solely on serving customers in the dining room. Delivery apps from third parties enable more adaptable service options.


Outreach to Local Businesses


If you can attract the business of the adjacent office workers, you'll have a loyal lunch audience.

Contacting neighboring companies can help your restaurant attract new customers. An informal discount deal or a fishbowl for business cards are also acceptable options for outreach.


The majority of these ideas are relevant to both fine-dining establishments and fast-casual restaurants. How do you decide when to use each tactic, though? And how many techniques should you use at once? A cohesive plan that incorporates a number of marketing strategies is essential for long-term success.


Restaurant Marketing Strategies Examples


Marketing strategies that don't have a clear structure typically fail. If all you do is react to market circumstances, you can never actually advance. For instance, if a rival restaurant opens up nearby and starts stealing all of your lunchtime customers, you might act immediately to put up a plan to quickly win them back.

By preparing your marketing from a growth attitude, you may progressively develop your customer base as opposed to reacting to external events.


Content Marketing


Potential customers can learn more about brands through digital material. There are many different forms of content, including:


  • Blog articles
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Email
  • Infographics


Each of these asset types can aid customers in making a purchase choice by responding to frequently asked questions, showing your best dishes, and helping them form a connection with your brand.


You could, for instance, produce a series of blog posts detailing the background of each item and showing readers how you developed your menu. Then you may create additional films that show real people enjoying food. You may also create an email marketing campaign to distribute your material to your current customers.


Social Media


Food is a social food. Food preparation and sharing are human traditions that are independent of place and culture. So, social media is a perfect fit for the restaurant business.


You may not be able to accurately describe the tantalizing tastes and alluring odors of your food online, but you may display tempting images that entice customers to visit your restaurant.


Social media also provides a channel for the distribution of user-generated material. For example, you may share consumer photographs on your Snapchat story.


Local Search


Restaurants stand to earn a lot from local search optimization compared to other business types. When people look for eateries, they typically want a quick fix that is nearby.


Thanks to review services like Yelp, Google Maps, and others, consumers may discover your brand more readily and decide whether they want to try it out more quickly. Try a quick search for your brand name to see how simple it is for locals to find you.


As soon as you've decided on your strategies and combined them into an overall plan, it's time to develop a comprehensive marketing plan. By creating a written plan with clear objectives, you can monitor your progress and adjust your strategy in light of your results.


Examples of Restaurant marketing plans 


Having a written marketing plan can keep you on track.


The following are the essential elements of an effective marketing strategy:


  • A value proposition: Before you can successfully sell your business, you must first identify the value you offer to your customers. Never overlook the fact that your brand's experience encompasses more than just the food it offers.
  • Customer personas: Effective advertising focuses on specific consumer demographics. You can identify the psychological needs of your clients with the help of personas. If your typical customer is looking for a family-friendly restaurant, publish pictures of families dining together on social media.
  • Measurable goals: Knowing where you want to go is a prerequisite for getting there. By keeping an eye on your goals over time, you can adjust your marketing strategy as necessary.
  • Channels and tactics: To avoid going overboard, choose two or three complementary marketing channels. Consider choosing two social networking platforms and starting a blog. Next, use a calendar to schedule the methods you'll use to attract customers.
  • A budget: Once you have the ideal marketing plan in place, it is time to determine the cost. Pick a spending plan that works for your business and stick to it strictly.
  • Taking a closer look at some of the most successful restaurant marketing campaigns will inspire you to develop your own brand.


Examples of Successful Restaurant Marketing Campaigns


McDonald’s

Simon Sinek's "Start with why" adage is masterfully applied to the McDonald's U.K. advertising campaign. The hierarchy of the structure is as follows:


  • The campaign begins by empathizing with the target market—busy parents. We see a pair juggling train rides and shopping outings while holding onto toys, keys, and luggage. That clarifies "why."
  • The parents then head to a McDonald's where a host asks them if they'd be interested in experiencing the brand-new table service option. We begin to see what the restaurant will do to address the problem.
  • As the commercial ends, the happy family sits down. The new service has given the parents more time on their hands, which they naturally use to eat delicious McDonald's hamburgers.


Taco Bell

Customers were asked to protest Taco Tuesdays by Taco Bell as part of its marketing campaign in April 2019. The retro-inspired campaign featured a TV spot, the hashtag #reBELLion, a discount for online purchases, and a variety of products.


Together, these tactics gave loyal customers a range of ways to become involved with and benefit from the campaign. It is an excellent case study of multichannel marketing.


Longhorn Steakhouse

Photographs of juicy steaks, stuffed potatoes, and other grilled goodies can be found on Longhorn Steakhouse's well-liked Instagram account.


For the new year, the company urged its social media fans to share their "hot thoughts" on steak. After receiving a ton of feedback on Twitter, they created an Instagram video featuring the best quotes. The campaign encouraged the cross-pollination of social media platforms while also providing clients with a direct channel of communication with the company.


Recommended Reading


The best restaurants typically don't become well-known immediately. They are prosperous because of their motivated and devoted proprietors. Successful restaurant owners don't let failure stand in the way of their objectives; rather, they utilize it as fuel to achieve better the next time.


Stay motivated and inspired with the aid of these books, all of which come highly recommended:


The 1-Page Marketing Plan


If you feel that your current marketing approach is a little unorganized, this book offers suggestions on how to make it more sustainable.


Restaurant Success


The restaurant industry can greatly benefit from the marketing tactics described in this classic literature.


Restaurant Owners


This book is full of tips from successful restaurant owners and offers essential insights into how to succeed in the food sector.


Customers who are hungry during dinnertime have many options. Make use of our free template and guidance to develop a successful restaurant marketing plan.

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