In the whirlwind of the last few months, it is easy to see how the restaurant industry has been turned on its head. While we still have to see how this roller coaster ends, we safely say that the marketing trends have embraced the change and consumers’ habits have permanently been impacted. So, how does that affect marketing and how to keep up? We will try to shed some lights for you.
From sending them a promotion to confirming their reservation, or letting them know their table is ready, texting is the new and most efficient way to communicate with your guests. But make sure you take full advantage of this new channel. When it comes to enticing guests to visit your restaurant, nothing works better than offering something special, a free drink or a free appetizer at the exact right time. For instance, at happy hour time on Friday, hit them with an offer they can’t turn down and will drive them to your place. More precise and more visible than emails, messaging has to become the center of your marketing operations at this point.
According to various surveys, 77% of diners visit the restaurant website before they dine at the place. As such, try to capture them while you have their attention and make it easy for them to make a reservation, add their name to the waitlist or view your menu. Offer a vibrant website with inviting pictures of your restaurant and your dishes, add a few friendly faces, or the story of your location to pique their curiosity and grow their loyalty to your place. And finally, be there at the time they make their decisions. For instance, select a reservation system with a partnership with Reserve with Google so they can book a table right from the search result.
Many online advertisers are giving you the possibility to precisely target your guests. Not only in your town, but right down to their zip code. If you are a local joint, this is a great tool to only include segments of the population that will be most receptive to what you have to offer. You can also easily target folks with specific interests. For that BlueGrass group coming to play live or that brewery tasting night, you can directly advertise to their fans in your region.
We heard you and feel your pain, finding staff is becoming an impossible problem to solve. Guests require even more attention and you have less to give. Restaurant owners are all turning into automations. We have seen everything from little delivery robots to new kitchen robots increasing productivity. For the front of the house, you can offer kiosks for guests to place themselves on the waiting list, or order before seating. Lots of new technologies are being developed and while enticing, you should look at the entire customer experience and always question if it enhances the service or complicates it, for you, your staff and your guests.
Ok, that’s old news, but restaurant owners have been extremely creative in ways to make their place, menu and experience unique. In turn, all restaurant owners have to constantly rethink their concept and make sure that not only are they keeping up with the changes but they are also offering something different and special to their guests. If not, they won’t return or take the time to recommend your place to their friends.
In one of my Facebook foodies groups, a friendly neighbor started a pizza place. The guy was very present in the group, always full of friendly advice, good humor and support for fellow restaurant owners. Everyone knew him. When he started his pizza place, people started going just to finally meet him in person. People loved the place, the pizzas and the friendly atmosphere. It snowballed to the point where everyone in that 10K member group felt they had to go to that place, so they drove miles to visit it. This is a real life example of how important social media has become and that there are many ways to use it to promote and engage with your community.