In the wildly competitive world of restaurants, it can be hard to get ahead. With over one million restaurants operating in the United States, restaurants that want to make a mark on the industry have a hard uphill climb to do so.
Great food and great ambiance are the cornerstone of operating a restaurant that succeeds, but these factors don't mean much without a customer base to enjoy them – and getting diners in your seats means marketing.
Marketing may not come naturally to many restaurant owners and managers, but a solid grasp of the basics can be the difference between a full house and a distinct lack of customers. These five creative ways to market your restaurant online can increase your likelihood of success, positioning you to drive revenue and please customers.
1. Create/Improve your Website
Every business needs a website, and that includes restaurants. With nearly 90% of shoppers – and that includes diners – researching online before making a purchase decision, the lack of a web presence or a bad website, automatically puts you behind the eight ball.
A restaurant website doesn't need to be fancy or full of features, but it does need to be modern, clean, easy to read, and full of the information diners need to know. This can include hours of operation, contact phone numbers and email addresses, location, parking details, information about the chef and, most importantly, the menu. For most diners, menu items are the most important factor in choosing a restaurant, so be sure your website showcases what makes you special.
If you take reservations using a third-party platform, such as Chownow or OpenTable, be sure to include a link on your website to make it easy for diners to plan a visit.
2. Implement a Delivery and Takeout System
Delivery and takeout options can be a great way to drive additional revenue without needing more tables in the dining room. Only a minimal increase in labor is required to achieve higher margins, so there's no reason to prevent guests from enjoying their favorites from home. If you don't have your own delivery staff, that's okay. The big names, including DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub, can take care of that for you.
Partnering with third-party delivery apps is an excellent way to get your name out there in the community, reaching new users across your metro area. If the idea of too many apps and tablets is overwhelming, there's a solution for that, too. Cuboh consolidates all your takeout and delivery services into one convenient location, streamlining your third-party services and facilitating fast, easy options. Whether you choose a few services or everything available in your area, Cuboh can keep you organized while driving additional revenue.
3. Add Images
Whether your menu features hometown favorites or ethnic cuisine, diners like to know what they're getting. Instead of asking them to imagine what you have to offer, include images where possible to take the guesswork out of the equation. Some dishes can vary in nature from one restaurant to another, while others can be hard to understand for diners new to the cuisine your restaurant serves.
If you're unable to add images to the menu on your website, at minimum include them on your takeout or delivery platforms. Customers are less likely to shy away from an unknown dish if they can see exactly what they're getting, and nothing sells food like a delectable looking image. From sides to entrées, practice your photography skills or partner with a pro to highlight what sets you apart from the crowd.
4. Create a Simple Marketing Strategy
Effective marketing is about more than setting up a website and hoping people find it. It also requires creating a strategy. A marketing strategy focuses on the way you want to achieve your goals, regardless of what they may be. From increasing foot traffic to driving online engagement, marketing is how you accomplish your own objectives for business growth.
Your marketing plan can include:
- How much money you have to spend
- Where you want to focus your attention
- The kinds of promotional ideas you have in mind, such as sponsored ads on Facebook or Twitter
- The time available to devote to marketing
- Your marketing goals and objectives (followers, visits etc.)
- Key performance indicators that pertain to your goals, and how often you plan to measure them
Before you put fingers to keys and start putting yourself out there, know what you want to achieve, what platforms make the most sense, and how much you can spend to get there.
5. Utilize Social Media
Social media is a must for small businesses, providing a way to communicate with fans, share new promotions or menu items, and attract new customers. With social media pages, you can keep followers up to date, ensuring they're engaged and interested in what you have to offer. You don't need to devote hours a week to staying active on social, but a robust presence with regular updates is a benefit.
You don't need to have profiles on every site, but maintaining a name on some of the big players is key. Depending on your demographic, Instagram is a particularly popular choice, due to the appeal of food photography, while Facebook is advised for its ubiquity. If you only have the time or focus to invest in a few options, these 2 are likely the best choices. Be sure to respond to customer questions and feedback in a timely manner. Diners want to know they're heard and appreciated, whether in person or over social media.
Your restaurant has an identity, whether yours is rustic farm-to-table or Mexican-Asian fusion. Your brand's persona should drive everything you present online. How you choose to market your restaurant can vary, from a focus on social media to maintaining a great website. With these five creative marketing ideas, you can be sure your brand gets the exposure it deserves, driving diners and dollars to your small business.
If you want to win at marketing and ensure a stellar approach to takeout and delivery, we can help. Book a 15-minute consultation to learn more about how Cuboh can transform your business.