Are you a restaurant owner who wants nothing more than a dining room full of happy customers while you field incoming calls from hopeful people looking for a coveted reservation? If so, you most likely need some new restaurant marketing ideas. In this post, you’ll find some useful marketing strategies that will help you achieve your goals.
Before starting, it’s worth noting that the restaurant industry is growing and is estimated to continue to do so without pause. Globally, it’s predicted that the annual growth rate of this industry will be 7.01 percent through the year 2022. In addition, according to AlixPartners’s research, 34 percent of consumers around the world are expected to eat out more often than they have in the last 12 months.
So, it seems that the odds are on your side. The industry grows, people want to go out to eat and the Internet gives you new channels to communicate directly with our customers. It’s time to take advantage of this opportunity to boost our business through a good marketing strategy for restaurants. To help you navigate the sometimes confusing marketing waters, four of the best marketing strategies for restaurants have been analyzed and explained here. See what fits your business and try them out when you’re ready.
#1 Design Your Menu Strategically
Your menu isn’t just a list of dishes you serve. It’s a tool that you have to know how to use to attract customers and influence their decision making. Often, the menu is what determines whether a customer stays at your restaurant and returns or goes to the competition. Here are some tips to help you create an irresistible menu:
- Less is more when it comes to the number of dishes: It’s been shown that a menu with more than four pages causes a negative effect on diners. Barry Schwartz, psychologist and author of The Paradox of Choice, says this has to do with emotions because more options make people feel indecisive, discouraged and less satisfied than fewer options. More so, a study by Patrick Spenner and Karen Freeman published by Harvard Business Review found the only catalyst for coupling is the “simplicity of decision”—when buying is simple, consumers feel motivated to do it over and over again and will even recommend it to their inner circle. If your menu is too long, try to eliminate the dishes that don’t sell well even if they’re delicious.
- Detailed descriptions of dishes lead to more sales: According to a study by the University of Illinois, the more specific your dish description is, the more money your customers will be willing to pay for it. For example, would you choose “cannelloni stuffed with a traditional meat roast, bathed in bechamel and gratinated with Emmental de Savoie cheese” or “meat cannelloni?” The detailed descriptions in the first choice stimulate the appetite more and pleases diners.
- Use your own name or family name for one of your dishes: When you write your menu use proper names or familial terms for your plates. For example, instead of writing “French toast with milk” write “Granny’s French toast.” You will be able to invoke homey feelings in the diner that can bring them a sense of comfort. This makes your French toast fell more like a homemade dish instead of a commercial dish thrown together by a faceless cook in a kitchen.
- Use geographical signs to highlight the authenticity of the product: To highlight the quality of the ingredients on your plate, indicate their geographical origins. For example, if you serve a typical organic beef burger that comes from Galicia, you can write “organic Galician beef burger” on your menu followed by the other ingredients. Using this technique, your dishes will appear to be a higher quality compared to other burgers. This deemed superiority makes your customers willing to spend more money on a seemingly simple dish.
- Highlight what you want to sell: Eye tracking and heatmaps are techniques that advertising companies have been using for years to discover patterns in how people look at things—in other words, to figure out where the eye naturally goes when reading things like a menu. These studies have shown that people first look towards the center, then towards the upper-right corner and then towards the upper-left corner. This is known as “The Golden Triangle.” Based on these conclusions, it’s best to place dishes with the highest profit margin in those spots. That being said, there is another study by the University of San Francisco that questions this theory and says people usually read menus like books. To combat that possibility, you can highlight the most profitable dishes in other ways. Using resources mentioned in the previous sections, adding photographs or illustrations and using more impressive fonts or bold letters can make your profitable dishes stand out. For example:
In this menu, you can clearly see how “CARNE” (meat in English) stands out above the rest and captures the gaze. If we analyze it, we can see that it’s been placed in the center—the first point where we look according to the first study. A bigger, more shocking and heavy font was also used as was a very dense illustration.
#2 Take Advantage of Special Dates to Organize Innovative Events
Dates such as Father’s Day, International Women’s Day, Bachelor’s Day, Valentine’s Day and many others are the perfect excuse to introduce something new and surprise your customers. Instead of waiting for the reservations to come in, take some initiative and organize a special event for a specific day. For example, you can change the menu or introduce something new in the operation of the restaurant for the day.
While it’s true that the most traditional strategy is designing a special menu for the occasion, you can try to go further. For example, the Labarra restaurant in Barcelona organizes a single’s night to celebrate International Single’s Day. Based on the idea of speed dating, they set up a large table and put 10 single women and 10 single men seated together with the goal of getting to know each other while also enjoying a tasting menu and a free cocktail for a price of 30 euros.
Another strategy that can help is partnering with a brand or NGO to offer more than just a menu for the occasion. For example, the restaurant J’S in Singapore manages to differentiate itself from its competition on Women’s Day not only with a special menu but also allowing customers to pay what they want. The money raised during this day goes to an association that looks after the education of disadvantaged girls. In this way, J’S customers, in addition to enjoying a nice meal, can contribute to a social cause.
#3 Advertise Your Restaurant on Google
Google puts a pay-per-click platform called AdWords at your disposal. This tool allows you to create ads that appear above and below the results of search pages. This means that you can make your restaurant’s website appear among the first results of Google every time someone searches for a restaurant in your city.
Advertising on Google can be a good marketing strategy for restaurants for several reasons:
- Searching for restaurants through Google is common: According to Google Trends, the popularity of searches including the word “restaurant” has doubled in the last five years, almost reaching the maximum popularity value today. This makes Google a good marketing tool with great potential to reach your target audience.
- Advertising on Google is not intrusive: Advertisements are only shown when users are looking for a solution to a particular problem. In this case, finding a restaurant. Therefore, those who see your ad on Google after conducting a search will be much more receptive than those who, for example, have seen a large billboard for your restaurant randomly during their day.
- The cost of a campaign through AdWords is relatively low: When compared to a traditional marketing campaign through television, radio or newspapers an AdWords campaign is cheaper since you’ll only pay every time a user clicks on your ad. This makes it possible to get a higher return on your campaigns.
If you’ve never used AdWords and want to know more about how it works, check out these Google AdWords tutorials. If you don’t have time to enter the AdWords universe and you want to avoid hiring an agency or a specialist to design and optimize your campaigns, the Kolau platform is made for you. With Kolau, you can do it yourself in the easiest and fastest way. Take a look at it!
#4 Use Social Media Intelligently
Today, social media is already part of everyone’s daily lives thanks to smartphones. According to a Ditrendia report, there are 1.9 million people who access social media from their mobile.
Social platforms create more opportunities for interaction and allow you to reach people on a potentially viral level. This makes them one of the best channels to publicize a product or service while also engaging with your audience. Therefore, it’s a powerful marketing tool for restaurants that you should use to the maximum.
When it comes to social media, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the essentials. They have the largest number of active users and can offer you more advantages as a restaurant. That being said, if you don’t have the time or tools to develop and implement a good strategy for each of them, it’s better to select only one or two social platforms and focus your attention there. A careless social media profile can degrade the image of your restaurant instead of helping it. Remember, don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Developing a content strategy on Pinterest can be useful for your restaurant if your customer-base is mostly female as, according to the stats provided by the platform itself, 70 percent of their users are female. It works very well to attract traffic to your website if you have one.
Here are some practical tips you can apply when developing a social media marketing strategy for your restaurant:
- Add your social media profile information to your menu: Let your clients know that they can follow you on social media by printing your social media page names on your menu. You can even leave a little card on the table with your social media information complete with QR codes so they can find them instantly with their smartphone. This small detail can help you get more followers.
- Make daily posts showing photos or GIFs of your dishes: While it may be cliche, the eyes really are bigger than the stomach. The Max Planck Institute did a study that shows that seeing a plate of appetizing food is enough to stimulate the appetite. Using this information, posting photographs or GIFs of your best dishes on your social media profiles in the few hours before lunchtime can not only generate engagement with your followers but will also whet their appetites and make them want to go to your restaurant to taste the dish. In order for your photographs or GIFs to attract attention, make sure they are in the foreground with good light and that there is a contrast between the food and the plate.
- Run social media contests: Contests are a perfect resource for branding, publicizing your restaurant and products and expanding your fan base on social media. In addition, users often feel a strong attraction to promotions and prizes especially if the reward you offer is valuable. For example, the Nando’s restaurant chain in the United Kingdom launched a contest on Instagram and Twitter to promote its new burger called “Sunset.” To generate more engagement, they appealed to the typical pictures of dreamy sunsets that are popular on social media. Here, they invited their fans to take a picture of their Sunsets (referring to the new burger) with the hashtag #nandossunset. Everyone who participated was automatically entered into a raffle for a chance to win a 100-pound gift card to Nando’s.
- Use popular hashtags in your posts: The foodie movement is alive and makes up a large part of Instagram’s content. How many times have you seen customers taking pictures of their dishes with their smartphone? How many times have you scrolled through Instagram and found photos of irresistible dishes with hashtags like #foodporn #foodstagram #instafood or #foodie? Surely, many. Instagram and Twitter are the two social media platforms in which hashtags are the most relevant and can help you gain visibility. The key is to find those hashtags your target clientele is using and use them yourself so they can find you through your related publications. There are many pages and apps such as Hashtagify, Keyhole or RiteTag that allow you to analyze a particular hashtag and know, for example, what its popularity is, its number of impressions, likes, the languages of the publications it contains, the country where they come from and related hashtags, among other data.
- Record live videos in the kitchen: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter offer tools to record live videos to showcase an event in real time. While this might not seem useful for a restaurant, live video can actually help you connect more with your followers by giving them a chance to interact with you in real time. Moreover, you get a higher scope than you do with a standard post. Facebook gives preference to live videos when it comes to showing posts in users’ news feeds. A good way to use this for your restaurant would be to show live videos of what’s happening in your kitchen and how your chef plates up or makes a dish as if it were a TV cooking show. This is interesting content for your followers that will also be able to give them a complete idea of the food you serve.
#5 Invite Influencers and Bloggers to Come to Your Restaurant
For any business, achieving a large base of active followers is one of the greatest goals for their social media accounts, but it’s a process that can take time. This is doubly true if you don’t have a large budget to invest in social ad campaigns or genuine content that can become viral on its own. However, there are users who have already managed to create a large community around them, formed by users united by the same hobby or cause: influencers.
Influencer marketing has proven to be a highly profitable strategy in recent years. According to a study by Nielsen Catalina, an influencer marketing campaign reached 11 times the ROI of a standard digital campaign. Another study by Collective Bias, the leading company in influencer marketing, reveals that almost 60 percent of users have taken a review in a blog or a post on social media into consideration when making a purchasing decision with Facebook being the most persuasive channel.
If the content published by these influencers on their social media profiles is about what you offer in your restaurant and the influencer’s audience matches your target, their social media profile becomes a channel you can use to bring attention to your restaurant. This will help you gain followers and ultimately increase your sales. So, search for foodies who have a large community of fans on their social media profiles who reside in our geographical area and work with them to market your business. Here’s how to do it:
- Do research to find the most influential foodies: There are tools you can use to find relevant influencers for your marketing needs. Klear allows you to look for influencers on the main social media sites while BuzzSumo helps you find the most influential media channels and journalists who write about the topic you choose. There is also Twitonomy which helps you find influential profiles on Twitter from a specific hashtag.
- Analyze their social media profiles: Look at the number of followers and pay special attention to the engagement generated by their publications (number of likes, comments and shares they get). Try to understand their history by looking at what kind of content they publish, the type of restaurants they visit and if they have previously collaborated with other restaurants. Imagine that the influencer you’re analyzing visits your restaurant, takes pictures and makes a publication about their experience on their social profiles. Do you think your restaurant would fit in their profile? If the answer is yes and you think the impact of their publication may be beneficial, consider moving forward to the next step.
- Get in touch with them and invite them to visit your restaurant: Follow them on social media and look for a direct contact route like a private message on Instagram or Twitter. You can also opt to send them an email if they have a public address. In case they’re journalists or bloggers, you can try to contact the publication they work for and ask to be directed to that specific journalist. When writing or talking to them, tell them what you liked most about their content or what called your attention to them in the first place. You should also touch on why you think your restaurant could fit their page or column. A good idea may be to propose a breakfast meeting so they can get to know you, your restaurant and your product. However, don’t force them if their answer isn’t definite. If they agree to the meeting, you can talk to them about your ideas and continue from there.
Have you found these marketing strategies for restaurants useful? If you liked this post, you may also be interested in 7 Tips on How to Increase Reviews on Yelp, the leading page of customer reviews which is also very helpful for restaurants. Take a look at it!
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