As a restaurant manager, you're in charge of everything that happens in the restaurant. Adding marketing on top of that can sometimes feel overwhelming, but you can’t afford a dedicated marketer. You might be wondering how you can tackle this onerous task on your own.
It will require a little bit of thought, a touch of strategy, realistic goals and some perseverance, but you can indeed make a successful run with your marketing. The real trick to your success will be in acting strategically with your marketing campaigns and moves while keeping your customers happy and well-fed.
The best marketing for any restaurant is the food and the experience. If these are bad, no amount of online marketing will save you. But if you’re facing a crew of regular customers and almost no new business, here’s how you can start improving your marketing. Here are some suggestions to make running your own restaurant marketing a little bit easier.
All restaurants cater to certain types of people. Be clear about the demographic that you're working with so you can focus all of your efforts on attracting them. Through word choices and proper targeting, you can make sure that the people you want will resonate with your message.
Master One Marketing Channel, Then Expand
One of the biggest mistakes that restaurant owners do when running their own campaigns is to try to do too many things at once. They're running local PPC campaigns, a ton of social media platforms, trying to blog daily, and taking pictures like professional photographers. Unfortunately, that doesn't leave enough time to do what really counts: run a restaurant.
Stick to one marketing channel, keep it very simple, and determine whether or not it’s worth it before you move on to the next one. Note that some marketing methods will require a certain amount of capital to show a measurable result, notably PPC ads, and all will require time to get noticed.
You're the master (or mistress) of the restaurant, but you don't have to be the one who does everything that is involved with marketing. As mentioned later on, there may be people on your staff who can take care of some of the facets of marketing your restaurant. Your employees are going to be the best asset that you have for spreading out the many marketing tasks.
PPC stands for pay-per-click. It is a type of internet advertising most associated with Google, but companies like Facebook also provide PPC advertisements. In a nutshell, you tell a PPC advertiser your budget and how much you’re willing to spend for each click that you get on your ad. The more you’re willing to spend, the more likely your ad will get shown in a prime spot. Every time someone clicks your ad, the PPC advertiser gets a little money from your ad budget.
PPC ads are a very potent way to get attention. They are also a very easy way to lose a lot of money. You have to do your homework so that only the right people see your ads, but it isn’t as hard as you might imagine. Expect to pay at least $500 to the PPC Company for an ad spend to run a serious PPC campaign.
Facebook remains an excellent means of reaching out to your potential customers to let them know about deals and specials that are coming down the pike, but it’s much harder to attract new business through a social media page than it used to be. If you want new business to come through Facebook, you’ll have to learn how to use Facebook’s PPC ads.
But social media does have other marketing uses than just attracting new leads. The best way to use social media these days is to put systems in place which encourage customers to talk about their experience at your restaurant. Make it easy for your customers to give feedback. By responding to feedback, you can start a conversation that will make people more likely to return to your restaurant. Think of your social media page as less of a billboard and more of a secret fan club and you’ll be on the right track.
Platforms such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and others are excellent places where potential diners are able to get honest and unbiased reviews of restaurants, hotels, and services around the area. These are incredibly important these days. You need to be able to be found on these platforms with accurate information. This is a place where you can shine, so it might be good to encourage your regular patrons to log onto these platforms and offer their reviews.
Make sure to have someone (whether it's you or someone else) respond to the reviews that you receive. This lets readers know that you care about customer feedback.
If you dig into internet marketing, you’re bound to run into the term SEO. For a restaurant, an accurate Google MyBusiness entry and a quality website are all you really need to take care of this. Google MyBusiness makes those wonderful sidebars you get full of information about a particular restaurant after a search.
You want to provide as much information to Google as you can about your business. They want to know the hours, your menu, what services that you offer, and more. When they have that information in their database, along with reviews and other mentions of you, your ranking goes up and you're more likely to be featured as one of the 'six pack' of restaurants that show up when you search for terms like 'italian restaurant (cityname)' and '(cityname) thai food.'
With a young, bright staff, you've most likely got a shutterbug in your midst. See who loves taking pictures and whether you can get them to help you out with creating photos of your restaurant. Nearly every kind of online marketing channel will need photos, and you can never have too many of them to choose from.
It takes some serious skills to run a restaurant. You have to be the jack of all trades and a master of many of them, too. Not only that, but you have to be good at doing marketing to get the word out about your favorite place in the world. If you haven’t dipped your toes into online marketing, choose one of the five options and get good at it before moving to the next. You may not need all of them, but they do build on each other to create a strong online marketing presence.