Marketing your restaurant can be a challenging task, but it can be an immensely rewarding one as well one the correct strategy is used. Although cooking wonderful food and having a menu that reflects the personality of your neighborhood will always be strong tools in any strategy, it cannot be the only thing you do. Until people know that you’re open for business, you’re not going to be busy until you begin to promote yourself.
That’s where these ideas can really help your restaurant out! Your strategy must always begin with knowledge of what your target demographic happens to be. That’s the neighborhood that immediately surrounds your restaurant, even if you’re in a small community. Know what your neighbors like and expect from your cooking specialty, provide it, and you’ll always have local support.
Best Marketing Strategies for Restaurants
1. Determine Your Target Market
Before striding forth with any marketing effort, it is important to know who your target market happens to be. It is the menu you create and the price points on your menu that you have which will determine who will want to come to your restaurant. Reduce prices to reach a larger target market, but don’t increase the size of your menu because that tends to turn people away.
2. What Is Your Function?
Profitability might be the primary function of your business, but it isn’t always the focus of your marketing strategies. There are of different secondary functions that you need to meet in order to reach your primary goal. Identify if brand recognition, community involvement, or some other secondary goal is the way you want to achieve that goal.
3. Use Your Competition
Your competition succeeds or fails just like your restaurant. Do some research and find out why people prefer your competition over you or why no one visits their restaurant. This will help you to adjust the weak areas of your final product, which will always be your greatest marketing tool.
4. Know Your Threats
Although another restaurant serving a similar menu is the threat that many owners focus upon with their marketing strategy, there are a number of additional threats that need to be addressed. Higher property taxes, a changing neighborhood demographic, or even increasing vendor prices are all threats that should be addressed with your marketing strategy as well.
5. Focus On Your Features
Your strengths are what will build relationships and relationships are what cause customers to visit your restaurant more than once. What is the one distinguishing aspect your restaurant has that no other restaurant in your area has? Discover that, make it the focus of your marketing strategy, and then deliver consistent results.
6. Find Opportunities
Opportunities to market your restaurant are around every day if you know where to look for them. A brief conversation with a grocery store cashier is just as effective as a 30 minute presentation about your restaurant to the local Chamber of Commerce sometimes. With every opportunity comes the chance to create local ambassadors for your restaurant and that’s ultimately what you’re going to want.
7. Shore Up Your Weaknesses
Denying the weaknesses of your restaurant is what will lead you into bankruptcy, no matter how effective your marketing strategies happen to be in other areas. The only way to find these weaknesses is to solicit feedback from your customers. See if they’ll fill out comment cards for you about the food and the service you provided. If you don’t have customers, then you’ve got all the feedback you need and change must occur to survive.
8. Training Is Marketing
The amount of skill you and your staff have in any given area is a marketing strategy that is often overlooked. Invest in quality training opportunities for the front and the back of the house and not just in your management structure. Your customers will enjoy an enhanced level of service and your employees will be grateful for the skill development that can help them later on in life.
9. Make Sure You’re Functional
Up to 97% of your prospects are going to be using the internet to find out more information about your restaurant. That’s why any marketing strategy must also include an emphasis on local search options and that means Google since they get two-thirds of search traffic. Optimize your website, provide a quality user experience, and make sure you can be found based on the type of cuisine your kitchen puts out.
10. Encourage Reviews
Local people will trust local reviews about the quality of your restaurant. To encourage local reviews, ask if your newspaper will print a review about your restaurant’s food in return for a free meal to a reporter. If they won’t do that, then there are a number of local food bloggers that would jump at the opportunity.
11. Monitor What Gets Said
One of the easiest ways to see if your marketing strategies are working is to setup notifications about your business. This way any review that gets posted to the websites where your restaurant has a presence can be quickly reviewed and any negative feedback can be quickly countered.
12. Make It Easy
Your marketing strategies should also incorporate ways that make dining at your restaurant a simple, easy experience. There are a number of ways you can do this based on the neighborhood of your location. Later hours might be a good idea for a college community area. Early weekend hours might be a good thing in a retirement community. An online reservation system is helpful for those who lead busy professional lives. Examine what your neighborhood needs and then provide it.
13. Always Engage
Unless your restaurant primarily markets itself to a 55+ demographic, you need a social media presence in your marketing strategies. This allows you to engage people in a way that naturally builds a relationship. It also gives your customers the chance to provide instant feedback, which can be invaluable if you’ve got a bad problem that needs to be solved.