7 marketing tips to bring your restaurant into the 21st century
With new technology, those running a restaurant or café have many options available to market their business to a wider audience and improve profits.
The days are long gone when having locals spread the word about your café was all it took to make it successful. We live in a world where people are constantly being overloaded with information. If you want consumers to notice your business, it is essential to stand out. With new technology, those running a restaurant or café have many options to market their business to a wider audience and improve their profits.
Here are our top seven tips for marketing your café or restaurant using technology:
1. Have an impressive website
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can manage without a website – it’s going to be the hub of your online presence. And it’s not as hard as you think to set one up. The first step is to buy a domain name. If you’re lucky, the one you want to use will be available (just make sure it’s relevant and not too long).
Restaurant websites usually do not require too many different pages, so keep it clean and minimal. This will make it easier for people of all ages to access and understand your site. Use high quality, colourful photographs of your food and people sharing a meal to entice consumers. Be sure to make your website optimised for mobile devices, so that it will adjust to suit smartphones and tablets. There are many easy-to-use website templates available for free (or for a small annual fee). For the best results, you may want to pay a tech-savvy friend or professional website builder to help you develop the site.
2. Use Instagram
Instagram is one of the most easy-to-use and powerful tools restaurant and café owners can use to attract consumers. Start by creating your own account and posting photos of the food. You may even want to repost photos from other users that align with your own brand – for example, a quote about going for brunch on Sundays would be perfect for a restaurant that specialises in breakfast food. Put your social media details on your business card and menus, that way people can tag your account when they post a photo eating there. If your photos are aesthetically pleasing and the food looks delicious, people will begin reposting or making note of your restaurant name. Be sure to get involved by reposting photos your restaurant has been tagged in and interacting with those who have visited recently.
Formerly known as Urban Spoon, Zomato is a website/app that allows users to search for restaurants in their area based on cuisine, type of meal, cost and even specific menu items. It’s easy to sign up, and essential for effortless marketing and exposure. Upload your address, contact number, website, opening hours, menu and short description. Before you know it, visitors to your restaurant will begin posting photos, giving ratings and writing reviews. The more people that rate their experience positively and share it online, the more Zomato users will be exposed to your restaurant when they search or visit the home page.
4. Enlist food bloggers
With the rise of the Internet came the rise of the blogger, and the influence they can have on their followers is unquestionable. Encourage popular food bloggers to visit your restaurant. Some may be lured by a free meal, while others (usually those with extremely large followings) may require other incentives. If they’re impressed and write a good post about your food, you’re sure to have more customers in the door. Some great examples are Instagram bloggers @breakfastinmelbourne and @thehamburgler.
Using search engine optimisation techniques will improve the visibility of your website in search engines. For example, on Google there are many ways to optimise your website. Regularly publish relevant content, use meta data (information about the contents of your page), include lots of links and ensure your site loads quickly. You can learn about SEO techniques by researching on the Internet, taking a short course or attending a workshop. If your business is large (perhaps you have expanded into a restaurant chain), then it may be worth hiring a marketing expert to work on your SEO and other activities.
6. Create a customer loyalty program
Customer loyalty programs provide many marketing benefits. It’s hard to find new customers, so why not encourage the ones you already have to dine with you more often. Ask your regulars to sign up to an email marketing list and send them special offers. Provide member-only incentives, like a free dessert or a mid-week special. You may choose to invent your own loyalty program, or connect your store to a program that is already run at various shops.
7. Run a contest online
Attracting customers is all about creating incentives. Running a competition will give consumers an out-of-the-ordinary reason to visit your restaurant. Hit two birds with one stone and make it an Instagram competition. For example, many brands run competitions that involve people reposting a particular image with a particular hashtags. A winner is then randomly chosen. Alternatively, you could award a prize to the best photo taken of food at your restaurant OR have a specific food challenge for customers to compete in, such as “Finish our GIANT big breakfast in half an hour and you’ll eat your next meal free, plus win a $100 Westfield Gift Voucher”. If the competition is fun and worthwhile, customers will spread the word to others. Permanent “challenges” will likely bring a slow, steady flow of customers, whereas one time offers will boost your sales and exposure during the time it is running. The choice is yours!
In summary, when running a restaurant – or any business for that matter – it’s important to assign funds to marketing and promotion. Don’t rely on passing traffic and word of mouth – it takes a long time to build a business the old fashioned way. Make an effort to market your restaurant using some of the latest tools and you will grow your business faster.
If you’re dreaming big and don’t know how to fund those dreams, Prospa can help. As Australia’s leading online business lender, and with a super fast and easy application process, we can offer you between $5,000 and $300,000 to help you grow. Call 1300 882 867 or find out about our small business loans.
Danny Crichton and Justin Schmidt’s business started out as a single pizza oven. Now they’re masters in growing a business and building a loyal customer base.View more
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