Although no two restaurants are the same and the marketing needs of one will differ significantly from another, some advertising strategies can work for everyone. What’s important at the outset is to define your restaurant brand’s identity. That involves much more than your logo, your interior design and even your menu. It’s all about the personality and tone of your restaurant, the experience you offer and the frame of mind in which you want your customers to go home. Understand what your target audience is looking for and tailor your offer accordingly, but not so strictly as to alienate other diners. Above all, remember that great food is only part of the formula.
Use Restaurant Apps and Listings
New apps to provide restaurant recommendations are appearing all the time. The best of them have a considerable reach and influence huge numbers of diners so you can’t afford not to be included. The best-known ones include Yelp, Open Table and TripAdvisor but there are scores of them. The great thing about most of these apps is that it won’t cost you anything to feature as the app creators make them money in other ways. To them, your restaurant is a valuable piece of content. To you, they are a platform that gives you free exposure.
Restaurant apps operate with a fairly sophisticated set of filters, so the more information you can provide, the better. The website address, opening hours and contact details are essential, but so too are details of your cuisine, current or representative menu, price range, extras like free wi-fi and of course the best-looking photos you can commission or take yourself.
Then there are the slightly more conventional online listings publications. Some of these have a strict policy of independent reviewing but if you can get a reviewer to visit and write a favourable account, that will carry a lot of weight. One of the most respected of these publications is Time Out, which now has sites as well as physical magazines dedicated to dozens of cities around the world including New York, London and Los Angeles.
Your restaurant itself is a major asset giving you a physical presence that you can exploit to the full for advertising purposes. Turn it into a beacon to attract diners: digital signage software for restaurants, such as that from a specialist like Mandos Media, provides an easily customizable and updateable method of messaging. Place a 4K screen in the restaurant window and you can use menus, images, videos, endorsements, live feeds and virtually anything you like to promote your brand and tempt the curious.
Use digital signage inside to give diners updates on the day’s specials, information on the provenance and nutritional value of the ingredients, staff biographies, the story of your brand and anything else you feel adds to the experience. Some restaurants have even experimented with showing silent movies which are perfect background visuals for a buzzing restaurant.
Google My Business
Google have very helpfully given businesses free tools to promote themselves. It’s in Google’s interest to do that because their USP is the quality of their search results. You need to set up a Google Business Profile in order to appear in Google Maps and local search results. Having done that, you also need to set up a Google My Business account which enables you to optimize your business profile and boost its visibility. Google My Business allows you to expand your details, giving customers far more information than a standard search result would give. It’s excellent for restaurants because it enables you to maximize your SEO performance in local searches, getting the edge over the competition. You can also engage in conversation with customers through Google My Business, answering questions, responding to feedback and even handling complaints. All of this communication is good for your customer service reputation.
This is a must for every business but it works uniquely well for restaurants, which provide a social experience. Posting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok keeps you closely connected to your target audience through your satisfied customers, whose engagement with you on these platforms will inevitably spread the word and drive more business your way.
And of course, get yourself a website. A really good one, properly designed and populated with features. It’s a very valuable virtual shop window.