While your restaurant may have a varied menu, delicious food, a great atmosphere, and great customer service, you will still struggle to build a following without promoting it. The point is, running a successful restaurant isn’t all about great food and service.
Providing top quality food and service should remain your restaurant’s top priority, but you also need to get the word out and attract new customers. Promotion and advertising is what we call a restaurant’s “secret sauce”. Let’s take a look at seven ingredients you should include in your restaurant advertising and promotional campaigns.
1. Focus on the best-selling items
Let’s start with a simple ingredient. The main selling point of your restaurant is the food. Promoting your restaurant should start with promoting the food itself. However, too many restaurants fall into the trap of promoting low cost, high margin food products. Others tend to focus on their cheaper menu options. Either approach can prevent your restaurant from attracting new customers.
Instead of promoting items based on price or margin, promote what your customers like. These articles are your “greatest hits” so why would you be promoting anything else? A quick glance at your point of sale data will identify the top three selling items on your menu. These items are what your customers love, and these dishes are what you should be promoting across all platforms.
Make sure you have high quality photos of these items. Invest to have these dishes photographed by a professional photographer who will know all about the lighting and angles to make the dishes look mouth-watering. Let the pictures speak a thousand words.
You can then use these photos on your menu, Instagram and Facebook page, website, and other ad platforms showcasing your restaurant. These photos will continue to provide you with a high return on your investment for years to come.
2. Create a conversation trigger
Word of mouth from your customer is an invaluable marketing strategy. Plus, it’s completely free. Great things happen when your customers share your passion and help get people through your door.
A proven strategy for marketing your restaurant is to create a conversation starter, which essentially means something unique that people will tell their friends about. Skip’s Kitchen is a great example of a conversation starter.
While you wait to take your seat, the hostess unfolds a deck of cards containing four jokers. If you hit a wild card, the meal is at home. Customers are drawn to the outlet for its food and service and the chance to win a free meal. Net profit? Book in advance or wait half an hour for a table.
Train your staff to build additional outlet points. These could include:
Seasonal items: “The chef only has this asparagus starter on the menu in high season when it is the best. “We are only presenting this salad for a few weeks while the wild blueberries are available.” “
New / Popular: Introduce and promote new menu items: “It’s a new and very popular aperitif, our customers love the smoked sauce. “
Original: “Is this your first time here?” We are famous for this menu item. The owner invented it in 1969. It’s her secret recipe.
Another great way to build awareness and traffic is to run hashtag campaigns for your conversation starters. The more talking points you can generate for your restaurant, the more likely you are to get traffic.
3. Use local SEO and content marketing
How much are you spending to build your website and promote it online? Chances are it’s a five-digit number. What if I told you that you don’t need to spend more than $ 2,000 to build your website and $ 4-5,000 a month to promote it?
The logic here is simple. When your customers are looking for a place to eat, they Google whatever they want to get the information they need. This information includes your location, hours of operation, menu, and reviews. Creating a Google My Business account for your restaurant is a great way to make sure all vital information is right at the customer’s fingertips.
Besides using Google My Business, you can also use content marketing to promote your restaurant. For example, you can create a blog to share the inspirations and stories behind your dishes. You can also get backlinks from high authority websites in your area by posting guest posts that link to your website.
If you’re trying to grow your customer base, you don’t need to go all out with your SEO campaign. Instead, use local SEO to target people in your area who are more likely to drop by and try your dishes.
4. Invite food critics and bloggers
Influencers like food bloggers and food critics have loyal following who trust what they say and recommend. Therefore, their reviews can help you boost your brand value while attracting footsteps to your door.
These influencers are considered experts on the restaurant issue, and their verdict can be seen as a guarantee of a great experience and even better food. Their online presence on social media platforms can help drive visitors to your website and promote your point of sale.
Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, TX had a good crowd that kept them busy every Saturday, but it was only known to locals. That all changed when chef and food influencer David Chang featured barbecue on his Netflix show. Almost overnight, customers from all over the United States began making pilgrimages to Lexington, a sleepy suburb with a population of just over 1,000.
What happened to Snow’s barbecue? Being featured on the show certainly played a huge role in promoting the business. More food critics and influencers have tried the barbecue and loved it so much that it has been voted the best barbecue place in the state – a very impressive achievement, considering barbecue is often considered. like the state dish of Texas. Snow’s BBQ is still a Saturday-only operation, but the lines have grown considerably.
5. Provide free meals on special occasions
Nothing creates loyal customers like remembering their special days and giving them free meals on those days. Think about birthdays, anniversaries, graduation ceremonies, etc. This strategy makes it possible to create a privileged link between the customer and the point of sale. You want a piece of this action.
Free meals for birthdays are a must for any restaurant. To find out which customer is celebrating when you need to set up your customer relationship management (CRM) or point of sale (POS) systems to store this information. Once you have this information, you can contact customers a week before the special day and invite them to celebrate their special day at your restaurant.
Another way to do this is to have your reception staff ask someone who is making a reservation for a large group if they are celebrating a special event. So get ready to wow them with a special offer. Decorate and personalize the table, offer free appetizers or desserts, or. ask your chef to visit their table and interact with guests to bond. There are many ways to get creative on this front. Do it and you will retain customers.
6. Make a cooking show on YouTube
Successful restaurants don’t sell food – they arouse emotions, offer experiences and build relationships. They tell a story. Creating a YouTube channel for your restaurant is the first step in unlocking your storytelling.
Creating content on YouTube is a powerful magnet in attracting millennial audiences. A recent survey shows that food content on YT has resulted in a 280% year-over-year growth in food chain subscriptions.
Your content can range from demonstrations of how to cook your popular dishes, how you source your ingredients, and videos of special occasions you have hosted at your restaurant. Provide behind-the-scenes views to engage and attract customers and build customer loyalty.
7. Start a food challenge
People love food challenges, and these challenges help build a buzz around your outlets and increase awareness levels. People like to be challenged to step out of their comfort zone and try to achieve something special.
Joe Rogers’ Parlor Chili, for example, was best known as “Springfield’s Favorite Chili” since its first bowl of chili was released in 1945. However, due to its location in central Illinois, Joe Rogers didn’t really ring the chili. fans, even though the Firebrand Chili Challenge is one of the country’s oldest food challenges.
When Adam Richman from Man v. Food came to town, he immediately set himself a goal of breaking the Firebrand Chili Challenge record of five bowls. He failed to break the record, but he still got his name on the restaurant’s Wall of Fame. The record has since been broken, with the new record – ten bowls – having been set in 2017.
In 2021, the record remains intact and will likely remain so for some time. That still hasn’t stopped chili fans from trying their luck. For many chili connoisseurs, just putting their name on the wall is reward enough to complete what many consider to be one of the hottest chilies in the country.
Even if your food isn’t as difficult – or explosive – as a bowl of chili, you can still organize food challenges to promote your restaurants. Brainstorm with your staff to come up with creative ideas for food challenges. Create super spicy tacos and invite local celebrities to talk about their careers while they savor the ghost chili sauce! You will have your audience divided.
These are the seven ingredients of your secret sauce to create a buzz around your restaurant and retain your customers.
One final point that you should consider and follow is your online reviews. Your online reputation is the lifeline of your business, and it’s what potential customers will read first. The general rule with reviews is to reply to all and deal with them.
Thank your customers for positive reviews and resolve negative reviews with proactive solutions. Show that you care about your customers and their opinions.