Restaurants just keep popping up one after another. It’s a tough industry to be in, but it is also extremely rewarding. The question is: how are you supposed to stand out when every other restaurant is clamoring for the attention of your customers?
Maybe it’s time to finally step up your marketing game! Just keep in mind that while the marketing strategies you’ll come up with should increase sales, drive traffic, and draw attention to your restaurant, they should also be engaging and genuine.
1. Host Weekly Themed Nights
Midweek business slumps are some of the most severe issues nearly every restaurant faces. Weekly themes are a big hit with regulars and locals alike, which means it’s a great way to build long-term relationships with your customers.
With a little bit of creativity and concept testing, you’ll be able to pull this off in no time! If you’re looking to get your creative juices flowing, here’s a list of ideas:
- Art-Based Themes – Once a week, host a gallery night and invite local artists to show off their work.
- Themed Show Night – Why not test your creativity by creating new dishes that are only available on theme nights? Better yet, you can create menu items tailored to the show or movie.
- Roleplay Nights – These can be murder mysteries or fantasy lore. You can limit the action to each table or let people move freely; the scale of the event is totally up to you.
You can also look into hosting family game nights if you’re a family-friendly restaurant, or networking events to give local business people a chance to interact in a no-stress environment.
2. Organize A Giveaway Or A Contest
When marketing on social media, remember that the more engaging your content is, the more successful your efforts will be. And nothing excites customers more than giving away freebies.
For small, local businesses, some ideas for the best freebies you can give to your customers are:
- discount vouchers
- gift cards
- coupons for a free meal or drink
- brand merchandise, if you have any
You may either send the winner a direct message with their coupon code or print it on a business card or postcard for a more personal touch.
If you want to take this up a notch, why not host a contest? Contests are one of the most effective methods to encourage your customers to engage with your page and posts.
For restaurants, Instagram is the platform to host your contests! Give away a prize to whoever captures the most “Instagrammable” food shot. Just don’t forget your mechanics. Consider asking customers to use a certain hashtag, cite the geolocation, and tag the restaurant’s profile page.
3. Focus On Local SEO
Perfecting your search engine optimization is one of the most crucial steps in restaurant marketing. SEO is key when it comes to driving organic traffic to your website and, eventually, people to your seats. With a good SEO rating, your business will appear at the top of SERPs (search engine results pages) as soon as people search for “pizza places (or whatever) near me.”
Whether locals or travelers, you have to make sure that your website’s SEO positions you as a local hotspot. Improve your business’s local SEO with these tips:
- Leverage content marketing by creating a blog with entertaining and relevant material
- Make sure that local keywords are used on every page of your website
- Use both internal (to other pages on your site) and external links (to affiliate websites, sources of data, etc.)
- Create or improve your Google My Business profile
- Make sure your contact details and address are prominently displayed and easy to find
4. Repost User-Generated Content
If you truly want to optimize your social media presence, you have to keep sharing quality content by being authentic. Trust us, your customers will know whether you or the people associated with you are genuine or not. So, when it comes to authenticity, leverage your loyal customers as your influencers. By doing this, you retain existing clients while also advertising to potential customers who trust word-of-mouth referrals.
You can find user-generated content on review sites like Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, social media networks like Facebook and Instagram, and blogs.
Don’t know how to encourage customers to create user-generated content? You can start by incorporating these tricks into your strategy:
- Install a mural or interesting sign to make a memorable backdrop for photos. Place your business’s social media information beside it so that others can tag your restaurant.
- Give customers a small freebie or discount for posting a photo of their dining experience on Instagram or Facebook or writing a review on TripAdvisor or Google.
5. Host An Influencer Event
Speaking of influencers, social media marketing strategies nowadays wouldn’t be complete without them. If you want to push forward with influencer marketing, make sure to focus on local food influencers. Don’t just partner with random influencers. Start with a small number—about 3 to 5 will do.
For your influencer event, make sure to explain what you’re offering to the influencers you are connecting with:
- Free or discounted food
- Networking opportunities
- Meeting with other influencers
- Opportunity to interact with their followers
Layout what you expect from them, such as engagement goals, a certain number of posts pre and post-event, and honest reviews.
6. Create A Loyalty Program
When you want your diners to keep coming back, loyalty programs are a fantastic way to reel them in. They’re not exactly new, but they’re definitely an effective idea to boost your restaurant’s sales. See, the benefit of having a loyalty program is that your revenue will not fluctuate as much and you won’t have to continually look for new customers.
You may use a loyalty program to gain a continuous income stream and establish a stronger relationship with your customers. Programs like these come in different shapes and sizes. To give you an idea, you can reward frequent customers with discounts or create some type of point-based reward system.
When creating a high-engagement and high-return loyalty program, think about what your customers want and how to reach them. Utilize your data and all of your restaurant marketing tools to create rewards based on their previous purchases and buying habits.
7. Start An Email Club
If you’re a small business, you might think that email marketing is just for big chains. However, more and more local restaurants are now launching their own email clubs because they are profitable. With email marketing, you can upsell, cross-sell, and promote special events.
Don’t know how to grow your email list yet? Here are some tips:
- Make the most out of the data you get from your loyalty program
- Offer incentives for joining your email club
- Incorporate QR codes into your menu and asset design
- Collect email addresses directly at the table
- Organize an email raffle and weekly prize
- Give Wi-Fi access to your guests
Once you have a list of emails, you can now develop a marketing plan around what you want to send to your customers. Through newsletters, you can offer tailored specials, menu changes, and other fun and engaging information to your subscribers.
If email isn’t your thing, you can also look into SMS marketing.
Plan, Strategize, Conquer!
To successfully boost your restaurant’s sales, you have to do a lot of planning and research. As you create your strategies, don’t forget to think about your brand and your team’s capacity.
Start with a couple of ideas and experiment with them. If a concept ever fails, be willing to try a few others. Now go out there and boost your restaurant’s sales like a pro!
For the latest information on technology, business, and finance, subscribe to TurtleVerse today!