About the authors,
Hind Kandi. A digital marketing Analyst at the International Institute of Digital Marketing™ originally from North Africa. When I am away from my desk, you’ll probably find me cooking, reading Manga, or spending time with my family. LinkedIn: Hind Kandi
Hailey Sian. A digital marketing Analyst at the International Institute of Digital Marketing™ based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Chemical engineering student by day, a content creator by night. LinkedIn: Yi Jing Sian (Hailey)
10 Digital Marketing Strategy for Restaurants
Starting a restaurant business industry might be difficult to break into, since it has become more and more challenging in the past few years.
Since this is a demanding matter that people struggle with, how can we avoid these obstacles, and push the luck on your side?
The best way to start is to build an efficient marketing strategy plan, for your audience.
Start by asking the ‘How’ and the ‘what’ question.
- “What do I have to do to create a presence in my community?”
- “How do I attract customers?”
- “How do I create loyalty?”
In order to help you navigate this new marketing reality is to go DIGITAL. While some people are still stuck with the traditional marketing methods, such as: handing out flyers, radio commercials or knocking from door to door, the world itself has gone Digital. Hence by saying that, if you don’t include digital methods in your restaurant, you might face the same misfortune as those who ended up closing their shop.
But fear not, in this blog, we shall put 10 marketing strategy plans for restaurants, that will give you up to date ideas and information for your next promotional initiative!
1. Build your brand
Photo by Anna Nekrashevich from Pexels
Your brand is the first thing that the customer will focus on, when they enter your restaurant, it will reflect on anything that you’ll do including your marketing strategies, decors etc… In order to build a good reputation that will exceed you, the business should:
- Start by promoting the brand to capture the customers attention, and sticking out in their memory whenever they want to eat outside
- Make sure you deliver on time, include social media, PR, events, blogs, partnership and have outstanding customer service.
Once they realise the quality of both the product and service, you will build your brand.
2. Have a mission statement
Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels
Before you begin brainstorming marketing activities, you should start with aligning both your mission and vision statement to your business.
Mission statements are the reason why your restaurant exists. Therefore, you should include around 1-3 sentences of 50 words explaining where you are including:
- The restaurants value
- Be a leader that will inspire both you customers, staff and stakeholder
- Be detailed and specific!
Vision statement is what you are expecting from the restaurant in the future, make sure to include realistic goals that will impact both the customers and the restaurant. It should be motivational and inspirational.
Do not forget to use the future tense.
3. Identify Your Audience
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Identify and learn about your target audience. Developing a marketing plan is also getting a knowledge of your target customers. It is usually based on Demographic and behaviours of the customer.
For more details you can read this.
One of the questions you should run through for each customer segment is:
- What kind of events do they enjoy?
- Do they communicate via social media or review websites?
- Are they more into takeaways or dine out?
- Are they interested in coupons or discounts?
Make sure to know what customers seek outside the home and determine the motivation behind choosing to eat outside and choosing one restaurant over another.
4. Do a Competitor Analysis
Photo Credit: iStock-1134293632
In order to succeed in the restoration business, you must research your competitors and get to know what they offer. Most of the businesses do a SWOT analysis(https://www.restohub.org/operations/planning/restaurant-competitive-analysis/) that include:
- Strength: what are the competitors doing that makes them draw customer, once you get to know, you can learn from it and do better
- Weaknesses: what are the issues that they are facing with, that way you get to learn from their mistakes
- Opportunities: what are the strategies you think you can implement to avoid the same mistake your competitors did.
- Threats: do your competitors offer something unique that you cannot?
Get to know what makes their customer loyal. Always check their social media and blogs for their latest promotions, campaign, deals, coupons and freebies, even special events such as live music, games nights and karaoke etc…
Make sure to know what are the things that will differentiate you from your competitors and what you can do to stand outside the crowd.
5. SEO (Website, Google my business)
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels
Search engine optimization is one of the most important things to do in a restaurant business marketing plan. It will help you gain organic traffic to your website and customers to your seats, therefore the higher your SEO is rating is the quicker people will find you online
In order to attract both local customers and travellers, your website’s SEO need to have a good local hotspot, having said that, a good way to increase the traffic in your website would be:
- Create a blog where you will put relevant content.
- Make sure your website has the right keywords, other SEO coding such as embedded pictures and videos, heading etc…
- Use other internal links to browse in other pages of your websites and external links to affiliate websites and other sources of data
- Make sure that you have instagrammable picture that will attract foodies
- Create a google my business account: One of the simplest ways to gain traffic and attract customers is through Google My Business listing, since it operates information, reviews, posts, and so much more.
Even though all this information can be found on your website,
put forward the content you wrote for consistency across Google Search and Maps Google local guides can also review and edit your listings for consistency).
- Make sure to have a call-to-action button, where they can easily find information of your address and contacts
If you are new to SEO, have a look at the latest SEO articles in 2021
6. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing has been huge especially for small businesses. It allows more people to be aware of your restaurant’s existence. You can build your brand and audience by creating new content that is engaging on different social media platforms. It is also a great way to interact with your audience directly.
The social platform we would recommend to have for every restaurant are:
These are great platforms to connect with your local community. For example, the more people connect with your restaurant’s Facebook account, Facebook’s algorithm will search or recommend potential and suitable audiences to your page.
- Create content that makes you drool!
Photos or videos of food are a great way to generate mass attention. After all, who doesn’t like food? You can also create a cooking or behind the scenes video from your restaurant, this helps bond you and your customers as if they are a part of your community.
Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels
- Geotagging and check-ins
Geotagging and check-ins are some of the main ways to allow people to find your restaurant. It is basically a free advertisement whenever your customer posts a photo and tagging your restaurant. Instagram shows photos of people who have the same geotagging and this allows more people to see other customers who have visited your restaurant before.
- Social media ads
Social media ads work when you target the right audiences, your ads will be viewed by your local community that are most likely to come to your restaurant. It can also show you an insight into the people that interacted with your account and with that information you can improve your marketing strategy or services
7. Mobile Apps
Photo Credit: Tripadvisor
Getting on board with the latest technology or apps will allow you to reach more audiences from different places and demographics. The mobile apps that are commonly used are:
- Open Table
This is also useful for tourists who are not familiar with the local area as they can recommend them to your restaurant. It is important to manage your restaurant’s profile from time to time and also to provide useful information such as a menu, address, etc.
Reviews and comments are very heavily looked at in these mobile apps, so interacting and thanking your customers it’s a great way to create bonds and trust. You can also request your customers to leave a review and in return reward them with vouchers or discounts.
Respond to bad reviews! This shows that you take responsibility for your actions and care about what your customer needs.
8. Word of Mouth
You are more likely to go to a restaurant if a close friend or family recommended it to you right? That is the power of word of mouth! Consumers trust their friends and family, that is why word of mouth is such a valuable source of marketing. According to Nielsen study , it has shown that about 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than they do advertising.
You want to create real fans and supporters of your restaurant. The more passionate your fans are about your brand the more likely they will talk about you.
Provide value to your customers, not only your food has to taste amazing, the experiences that you bring to your customers have to be memorable. People love to share experiences and information when a certain relevant topic comes up and this will increase the value of words of mouth of your brand when they mention something good about your restaurant.
9. Offer Loyalty Points & Cashback
Photo Credit: Yolantis
Loyalty programs have been a marketing strategy for business owners for a long time. This not only encourages your customers to revisit your restaurant, but it is also a great way to collect customer’s data and continuously advertise to them through email or your app.
With the current trend and how people want everything to be fast and convenient, people are not attracted to loyalty programs as much as they used. This is due to the inconvenience of signing up as a member traditionally (long paper registrations). However, a loyalty program can be effective by making the member registration process fast and simple.
- Digitize your loyalty program to an app or online.
- Requesting fewer and only important information (name, birthday, email, phone number) to reduce customers from quitting halfway during registration.
- Use phone numbers instead of loyalty cards to gain points whenever a customer dines into your restaurant.
10. Food Delivery Marketing
Photo by Norma Mortenson from Pexel
Gloria Food’s reports that 86% of US adults order food to their front door from online food deliveries. Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic, the market of online food delivery has grown drastically. The whole online food delivery service is actually an experience. It starts from customers ordering, to waiting to simply enjoy the food on their plate. So, it is crucial to ensure you provide a pleasant experience to your customers.
Here are 3 ways you can market your food online and out-do your competitors:
- Keep improving the quality of your services:
Quality service will always attract customers. People are willing to spend extra just for fast delivery, but people aren’t likely to use a delivery service that is slow as well. To improve your delivery speed by hiring more employees or mapping out better routes and provide delivery tracking.
- Collaborate with third party delivery service:
Different countries have their own third party delivery service. In the US, it would be Postmate and Grubhub, where different restaurants within your area can be found in an app.
- Promotional Branding:
Start by adding your brand’s name and logo to your employee’s uniform, delivery bags, bikes and hats. This allows your potential customers to be aware of your brand and acknowledge that your restaurant also provides delivery services.
Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy from Pexels
In conclusion, there have never been so many new ways to discover more food options. These 10 digital marketing strategy plan is great for restaurant owners who are just starting out or a restaurateur who wants to improve on their marketing skills. The important key as a restaurateur is not just providing good food but also communicating what you can offer to your customers that is engaging and will keep them top of mind in the future. Managing a strong digital presence in our world today is not an option anymore, it’s a necessity.