When it comes to opening up a new restaurant, getting your place known can have its fair share of difficulties.
Not knowing where to start, who to target or what to do can be quite frustrating. Fortunately, in any industry, key digital marketing strategies can help a new business grow and build a strong reputation.
Below are 5 Online Marketing Strategies that can help your restaurant get off its feet.
1. Get Social
Ahh, the power of social media. Nowadays, everyone is on their phone trying to be the first to find a new trend or wondering what the next ‘cool’ thing will be. Promoting your new restaurant via social media will help you set the tone on being recognized. Remember, consistency is essential in the social media world and providing something unique will go a long way. The most important social media channel I believe to use for your restaurant is Instagram followed by Facebook, however Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest are beneficial as well. Start using these platforms immediately!
Wondering what to do now?
Visual foodie shots are a key component to getting your business/dishes known. People tend to eat with their eyes, so when they see something appealing through your accounts, it will rush them right to your door. Speaking of appealing, make sure your photos look professional. A suggestion would be to hire a professional photographer and editor to take the perfect shot. However, like most small businesses and start-ups, your budget can be tight, thus if you don’t have the extra cash to hire someone, assure that your photos look as professional and clear as possible. Other suggestions for posts on your social media accounts are photos of your store-front, the indoors, patio (if applicable) and your staff. Implementing these posts will give your consumers an idea of the atmosphere your bar/restaurant presents. When posting these photos on your accounts, assure you use hashtags. Related hashtags can build brand awareness, increase engagement and target new customers.
Another way to boost your social media activity would be to host a contest for your customers. Have customers tag or submit photos of your foods to post on your account and grant winning customers a reward (i.e, free meal, certificate, discounts etc). Allow your audience to vote and choose the winner of the ‘best photo’ to create engagement. Contests like this help promote and grow your restaurant/foods and bring new customers in because of the ‘buzz’ you’re creating.
2. Create a website
If you want your business to grow and gain a great reputation you need to have a professional website. The majority of people like looking up a business website before ordering or going out. As a result, having a website alone along with it being user-friendly is important. A website allows potential customers to navigate what your restaurant is offering. Some standard but important information includes: phone number, hours of operation, location, cuisine you may offer, menu and more.
Having a website lets you give customers an insight on what your restaurant entails. Sharing your goal of the restaurant, inspiration, atmosphere and dining photos will go a long way before the customer even steps foot in the door. As a customer, I’d like to know as much information as possible about a new location before I decide whether or not I’d like to try it out. Therefore, some other informative details to keep customers aware of are promotions you have, special events, services you may offer, catering options and even happy hour choices that can drive customers right in.
*Note* Make sure your website is compatible with smartphones as most people will browse your site via their phones, especially when they are on the go.
3. Network through Bloggers/Foodie Influencers
Arguably, one of the best marketing strategies for your restaurant or bar is to network through food bloggers and influencers. Bloggers and foodie influencers already have a large following and are reputable with their reviews. A simple like, comment or review from these people can be substantial for your restaurant. Contact these individuals, invite them to your location and ask them to post a photo or opinion on your restaurant. Provide some sort of incentive for them such as free meals or free drinks and allow them to network for you via their accounts.
An innovative idea that some bars/restaurants do to create a positive impact with these influencers is inviting them to an exclusive event at their bar/restaurant specifically for them. Offering such a unique event, provides a limited/luxurious style and allows multiple influencers to be exposed to your location at once. Provide free meals or drinks for such an event to give these influencers nothing but positive reviews for your company.
Another benefit of connecting with influencers is getting feedback from them. They can give you insight on the things they like and also provide advice on how to better or improve certain things in your location that you haven’t already thought of. Their audience trusts them for a reason and accepting their constructive criticism will go a long way for your business.
4. Loyalty Program
Implementing a loyalty program provides an incentive for customers to keep coming back to your restaurant/bar. Your loyalty programs should offer coupons, discounts, free meals and other creative ideas that you can think of. In doing so, you will gain repeat customers along with building a positive rapport with your future consumers.
By executing successful loyalty programs, customers tend to return to your location more frequently, purchase more and share their experiences with others. When customers eat at a location a number of times, they want to be rewarded for their constant appearance. As a result, such loyalty programs will give customers the satisfaction they need to keep coming back.
Reward reoccurring customers and increase business sales, this method is as simple as it sounds.
5. Monitor and respond to online reviews/engage with audience
It’s inevitable to please every single person in this world. Especially in the food industry, people are subjective to their own preferences. What’s delicious to one person, can leave a bitter taste to another. When it comes to customer reviews, respond to them in a professional way. I advise that you respond to both positive and negative reviews in a timely manner. Your replies to your reviews reveal to customers that you care and are willing to do whatever it takes to make their experience a positive one. For more information refer to our blog post on how to respond to online reviews.
Engagement with your audience is essential in building a positive online reputation. In regards to social media, engaging with customers frequently should be constant in order to maintain a strong social media presence. Knowing what people are saying about your bar/restaurant online can give you insight on what they truly think. By responding to the activity happening on your social media pages, you are not only connecting with customers but you are also letting them feel important.
Patience is a virtue and trial and error will be key. Maybe a strategy works for one business that might not work for another. Don’t get frustrated, try out new ideas and hopefully all will come together.
Any other marketing idea that you believe can be effective? Leave a comment below with your answer!
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