How to Market Your Restaurant Online

How to Market Your Restaurant Online - Chef Works

Author: Tori Goddard  

The importance of restaurant marketing for hospitality owners

Word of mouth isn't enough to ensure your restaurant stands out from the rest. The hospitality industry is competitive. When you add the challenges that COVID-19 has presented, and having to adapt your offering to takeaway during lockdown, a solid marketing strategy is crucial to attracting customers.

Brian Halligan, CEO & Founder of Hubspot, once said, "It's not what you sell that matters as much as how you sell it!" and this is very true of digital marketing for restaurants.

You could have the most amazing culinary offering (which we are sure you have!); however, if your target audience doesn't know about it, you could certainly be wasting time and money.

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There are several reasons why effective restaurant marketing is essential in the hospitality industry. It allows a restaurant to provide information about the business and keep customers up to date on ongoing changes. It increases brand awareness. It builds loyalty among your customers and allows you to promote new services and offerings.

Getting started with a plan

There are many ways to market your restaurant, and you'll want to create a strategy that works for you.

The first thing you'll want to do is to get started with a plan. Research who your audience is – where do they come from? What are their demographics, e.g. age, life-stage, income? What do they enjoy doing? You'll want to make up a profile of your target audience, so you can effectively market to them through the proper channels.

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Allocate a budget for an ongoing plan; map out the timings for the period you would like to focus on. In the beginning, perhaps it's more short-term, i.e. six months, but later, you'll want to plan for one year and potentially even have a five-year plan.

The great news is, there are some quick and easy marketing tools that you can implement right away to help drive those customers during this challenging time. So – we'll focus on those for the purpose of this guide.

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Ways to market your restaurant

Here are just some of the ways you can market your restaurant effectively:

If you haven't already, build a website.

There are many simple-to-use websites such as Squarespace if you have a limited budget and would like to do it yourself. This will allow your restaurant to have its own space where your audience can find out crucial information and updates, plus it's a way of inspiring them to try out your cuisine. If you need help with building your website, you can hire a specialist that you can find on the website like Upwork or Airtasker.

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Start a social media account.

Social media usage has sky-rocketed during the pandemic, with extended lengths of time spent at home. Start an Instagram and Facebook account for your restaurant and ensure all your key information such as opening times, contact details, cuisine, and any special offers.

To learn more about social media for restaurants, you can read our 10 tips for social media success.

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Invest in quality photography/ content.

You've heard of food porn, right? People are drawn to images that showcase mouth-watering dishes. Investing in a professional photographer to take pictures of your dishes for use on your website, social, and share with media, will serve you forever.

It would help if you worked on the presentation of your dishes so that they are Instagrammable. Ensure you have high-resolution imagery, as you'll need those if a journalist asks to include them in print. It's also a great idea to make sure you have a range of imagery to use different styles to suit different channels.

Don't forget about websites like Shutterstock or Pexels, where you can get some images for free.

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Create/ review Google My Business listing.

This allows you to engage with your customers on Google for free. Sign up here if you haven't already. Ensure that your listing is up to date with as much information as possible, including good descriptions, a COVID update, plus use the slick imagery you've created. Google favours businesses that have as much information included and who are constantly updating their listing.

Ensure that you have a system in place to encourage reviews, i.e. ask happy customers if they wouldn't mind giving a quick review – this will also help others find you.

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Use data sourced from your customer loyalty base.

Ensure there is a way to 'opt in' for customers to hear regular updates from you. That way, you can target this audience with ongoing information about your restaurant and various offers to entice them. They can sign in to receive a regular email, but it could be as simple as a text message update.

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Incorporating local PR initiatives.

If there is a local charity, why not help support it in some way? For instance, if you are a burger restaurant, you could offer a certain amount of money spent on one particular burger to be donated to said charity. This helps raise awareness of your part in the community and could be a drawcard for the local press.

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PR, in general, is a great idea.

Public Relations is the art of creating stories that entice journalists to cover them, therefore getting the word out there about your restaurant. If, for instance, you have a chef with an exciting story to tell, why not share that with a foodie magazine? This is an excellent way of reaching your target audience and is very cost-effective.

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Knowing if your marketing is effective

Ok – so you have your restaurant marketing plan in place. But how do you know if it is effective?

Some great ways to measure success is to look at the following:

  • Social media – what is the percentage growth in followers from the time you started? What is the engagement like?
  • Loyalty base – has the number of customers that 'opt in' grown? By what percentage?
  • PR – have you managed to secure any stories in the media, either local or national? And have you heard customers saying they noticed your restaurant in an article they saw?

All of the above will help you assess ongoing if your restaurant marketing strategies are working for you, and if they're not, it gives you a chance to reassess!

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So hopefully, by now, you have a great idea of what effective restaurant marketing is. You have a range of easy-to-do ideas to get you started, and you know how to track the success of your marketing initiatives.

If the budget is tight, even at the lowest level, creating social media accounts and investing time to improve your Google my Business listing can work wonders and come at no cost. And it's all trial and error – if one way isn't working, try another! Hopefully, before too long, you will be amazed at how you have grown your customer base.

At Chef Works, we are driven by those who are inspired by all things culinary. Fueled by the belief that every culinary professional deserves the right apparel and tools to enhance the work they do. We understand that the recipe for excellence goes far beyond simple ingredients.

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