Marketing for restaurants properly involves taking into consideration nearly every aspect of the business, including menu choices, pricing, and staff. While external marketing efforts can get people into the seats, internal marketing keeps them coming back. That means good presentation, quality food at reasonable prices, loyalty programs, impeccable customer service, and friendly and knowledgeable servers. Having a quality training program in place should be part of any marketing plan.
Marketing is a critical factor in marketing a restaurant. However, what type of advertising will bring desired results? Always use advertising avenues that can be tracked, like targeted mailings with coupons that you can count and make numbers to see if they are profitable or my favorite: setup a formalized referral system.
Having an online presence is vital to marketing a restaurant to reach potential customers and retain current patrons. Surveys show that today’s diners mainly use the Internet to search for restaurants. An email newsletter will help with retention, while a website with an introductory offer will help attract new diners. Features like an online reservation system, comments (or feedback) section, and online email sign up for special offers are important components of a restaurant website. Be sure to link your website to social media sites like Facebook and MySpace.
Marketing a restaurant online is comfortable with the many resources available. Get your website included on local online dining guides, as well as national ones, like Meta Flavor. Another great tool is Twitter, where you can reach out to diners instantly with special promotions good for that day or evening. Opening a Twitter account is free, and your marketing efforts can be tracked.
Marketing a restaurant means creating programs that will motivate people to dine at your establishment. Some low-cost incentives that have been met with success are establishing a wine club, designating a chef’s table, or creating a frequent diner card.
Networking is an essential element in successfully marketing a restaurant. Join your local chamber of commerce, get a restaurant business coach, trade associations, small business groups, and charitable organizations of interest to you. They are an excellent way to get your restaurant in front of potential customers who can also provide referrals to their acquaintances. These groups also open up opportunities for media coverage.
While many restaurant owners and hospitality marketing feel they have to offer discount coupons when marketing a restaurant, it’s not necessarily so. In some cases, such as with fine dining establishments, they work against the image you are trying to portray. While coupons are good for tracking advertising, they should be used sparingly. Instead, set up a formalized referral system where the discounts are given to friends and relatives or your best clients. You may also consider offering value-added services, like valet parking, free entertainment, or complimentary services.
Promotions are an integral part of marketing a restaurant. Plan a themed lunch or dinner, a wine tasting, a chefs program, or a contest. Whatever the promotion, be sure to promote it heavily using online tools such as social networks (Twitter, MySpace, Facebook), etc. They are free and efficient. It also helps with restaurant promotions, such as the announcement of new menu items, discounts, and special events.
- Stay Competitive
Staying competitive is another reason restaurants must advertise. Regardless of what you choose to do, your competitors — other restaurants, supermarkets, and fast-food establishments — will be advertising to your customers.
- Target Consumers
It helps when customers recommend your establishment to friends and colleagues, but it’s a myth that word of mouth is something restaurants can rely on to bring in customers.
- Increase Revenues
Marketing is an investment. If you invest wisely — for example, by hiring a well-respected advertising company to create a series of radio advertisements to reach a particular demographic — you can expect to increase revenue.
- Develop a Good Reputation
Marketing also can help you develop important aspects of your reputation. For example, suppose a regional barbecue restaurant depends on tourists for a substantial portion of its income.
Also, email your list with the details and post the information on your website. Finally, don’t forget the low-tech methods through on-site activities, like handing out flyers, having the staff dress according to the theme, or passing out samples. Try to create an atmosphere that will gain attention.