Foodservice is one of the most competitive industries, so whether you’re a restaurant owner, or aspire to be one, it’s crucial to have a clear concept of how to market a restaurant.
As of 2019, there were over 1 million restaurants in the United States alone. With competition that hot, your restaurant needs to show something special to stand out.
But how and where do you start?
In this article, we offer online restaurant marketing tips to help you get started. Don’t worry – you don’t need to be a marketing genius to follow this guide.
Three steps to take before marketing your restaurant
When learning how to market a restaurant, first, you need to start small. This will ensure the success of your restaurant marketing campaign.
Step 1: Review your market condition
Researching the industry will help identify customers’ needs as well as analyzing competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. You will be better positioned to identify what works and what needs to change.
You need qualitative and quantitative data. The former focuses on abstract factors like experiences and preferences, while the latter focuses on statistics.
These results can be obtained from interviews, reviews, surveys, and trial and error.
You’ll discover the current trends, what’s the best method to reach your market, and the appropriate price for your products or services.
You can also start small by asking for feedback every time someone finishes their meal, either by asking directly or by providing comment cards on each table.
Alternatively, you can let customers sample your food and ask them what they think. Give coupons as incentives for those who are willing to participate in surveys.
Now, to understand the competitors, look for restaurants with the same theme or concept as yours.
Note their pricing, menu, food presentation, and ambiance. All of this information will provide a solid starting point for your marketing campaign.
Step 2: Renovate and refurbish your restaurant
If you already have a storefront up and running, ask yourself whether renovation is necessary.
A pleasant-looking restaurant affects customers’ food experiences and your revenue.
- What sort of feeling do you want to evoke when customers enter your restaurant?
- Do you want to create an intimate setting, or something more fast-paced and restless?
Your decor choice should be based on the answers to these questions. For instance, chandeliers may work in a fine dining establishment, but not in a fast-food joint.
For starters, pick a color scheme that represents your brand. It will help you choose the best tones and materials for the walls, furniture, and accessories. You can use the color theory for inspiration.
While this may seem trivial, the impact of colors on eating behavior can’t be overstated. Many fast-food chains use red logos and décors for the color’s association with appetite stimulation.
Colors can be used to make a restaurant appear bigger or smaller. Light and cool colors can make a room look spacier, while warm tones are suitable for creating an intimate, snug impression.
Lighting is another important feature to consider. Aside from serving a practical purpose, it can enhance food presentation and ambiance.
There are three primary types of lighting:
- Ambient or general lighting. This can be natural light or an artificial one, as long as it helps people to see objects comfortably.
- Task or office lighting. This type is designed to help people perform specific tasks, such as cooking or reading the menu. Place it in strategic areas like the kitchen or above the tables.
- Accent lighting. Use this to highlight a focal area. It can be placed around wall decorations, behind bars, or near mirrors.
When redesigning the restaurant’s interior, take the size and layout into account.
Plan the seating placement and capacity carefully, so your customers and staff have plenty of room to move. After all, a beautiful interior is useless if it’s not practical.
As a rule of thumb, Fohlio suggests using a 60/40 ratio between the dining and kitchen areas.
The table spacing, however, depends on the type of establishment. For fast-food restaurants, one chair for every 10 square feet is recommended. For fine dining, it should be 20 square feet per chair.
Pay special attention to the placement of restrooms. Make sure it’s somewhere easy to locate, and don’t forget to provide a directional sign if needed.
Don’t place restrooms too close to the kitchen as this might skew customers’ perception of your food hygiene.
Step 3: Prepare engaging content
Producing useful and relevant content is one of the most important steps in restaurant marketing.
Demand Metric reports that content marketing is 62% less expensive than its conventional counterpart, but can generate 3x as many leads.
It’s an excellent way to expand your customer base. According to the same source, 70% of customers claimed that they prefer articles to advertisements when researching a company.
The first thing you need to do is establish your brand voice, which will unify all of your promotional materials.
To do this, though, you need to know who your target audience is. Casual style is perfect for young adults, while mature audiences might prefer a professional tone.
Your content can be recipes, cooking videos, exclusive offers, or even updates regarding the latest specials and events in your restaurant.
Spice things up with some mouth-watering pictures of your best dishes, and you’ll have a solid content bank to showcase the moment your website is up and running.
Invest in a high-quality camera for your food photos.
Learn some basics of photography composition, and use natural light sources for all of your shoots. Alternatively, you can hire a professional photographer to do the job for you.
Set a publishing schedule.
You can base it around holidays or other special events, and then create content that matches those seasons. For instance, you can post a turkey recipe a few weeks before Thanksgiving.
You might also take advantage of Zyro’s AI Content Generator to create a well-written piece.
8 Creative restaurant marketing strategies you might try
Restaurant marketing can be tricky and exhausting. However, there are plenty of tips on how to market a restaurant, that will help you get started with no hassle.
1. Create a restaurant website
One of the most best ways of how to market your restaurant is, of course, having a website.
It’s a tool that lets you promote your restaurant, boost your content, and connect with loyal customers.
A great restaurant website should have the following key elements:
- Color scheme and logo — experiment with primary and complementary colors for an aesthetically pleasing combination. Place your logo somewhere noticeable.
- A catchy domain — use your brand name as your domain. Check whether your desired domain is available with Zyro Domain Checker.
- Clear copy — create a simple but compelling copy. Pay special attention to the About page, where you’ll showcase the restaurant’s unique history and philosophy.
- Restaurant details — list your restaurant’s address, phone number, and operating hours.
- Menu — it’s encouraged to use photo-based menus to boost sales, and to highlight recommended items.
- Reservation form — your visitors should be able to book a table through your website.
- Contact platform — stay in touch with your customers through social media and email newsletters.
Now, the question is, how do you build a restaurant website with all of the elements?
- Visit Zyro’s homepage and click Create a Free Website.
- Choose a template from the available options.
- Start customizing. Here you can edit the background, add images and videos, and use the AI Content Generator.
- Preview how your site looks on desktop and mobile devices.
Once everything is ready, hit the Publish site button.
Getting your restaurant website up and running using Zyro can be done in no time. You don’t even need any coding experience.
2. Create a Google My Business account
A Google My Business account helps local customers to find your restaurant’s address and working hours.
This prevents impersonators from claiming your listing and managing reviews without your knowledge.
- Log in to your Google Account or sign up for one.
- Enter your business name, choose a business category, and click yes when prompted for the location’s address.
- Fill in the address and pin its exact location on the map.
- Google will ask you whether you have a delivery service. If you choose yes, you need to add the areas you serve.
- Enter your contact details. Make sure you type the restaurant’s phone numbers, email, and website address correctly. Click Next -> Yes -> Finish.
Once the account is ready, fill in other details and make sure the information is as specific as possible.
Drop a link to your website, set up the profile picture and cover photo, and put pictures of your dishes and establishment in the gallery.
To encourage more reviews, write polite responses to the existing ones — be it positive or negative. Your business will seem more personable and approachable.
3. Utilize social media
Social media is an excellent tool to market your restaurant, to connect with your existing customers and promote your restaurant to new audiences.
When posting, consider the time of day. To find the ideal posting time, think about your demographics, local timezone, and what sort of content you post.
Something users react well to is relatability, so include the human element. You can use memes when appropriate, create appreciation posts for your chefs, and introduce your staff.
Use contests and giveaways to get shout-outs from your customers. You can host a food photo competition, review contest, or share-to-win giveaways.
4. Use sponsored Ads
Paid ads are another great way to market a restaurant. How so?
Most people don’t want to go far for good food, so let the algorithm know that you’re in the neighborhood.
Most major advertising platforms offer geo-targeting options. But you can make the results more precise by filtering who gets to see your ads.
Think back to your target consumers. Are they mostly college students who frequent coffee shops, or are they young parents who would take their kids to a family restaurant?
Make sure to be as specific as possible, so you won’t waste money on campaigns that aren’t effective.
5. Activate email marketing
McKinsey reports that email marketing is 40 times more effective for acquiring new customers compared to other channels. What’s more, email marketing’s average return on investment (ROI) is $32 for every $1 spent, according to a DMA report.
Through emails, you can send regular newsletters or promotions to keep customers coming to your restaurant. You can introduce a seasonal menu, new dishes, or inform people of upcoming events.
The key to an effective email newsletter is to stay consistent, but relevant.
Bombarding your customers with thoughtless emails will just make them unsubscribe. Personalize your email, use catchy headlines, and avoid spam-trigger words.
6. Reach out to food bloggers and influencers
Word of mouth marketing from food bloggers and influencers can increase your restaurant’s visibility.
Invespcro revealed that 94% of consumers trust influencers over their peers and relatives when making a purchase. What’s more, 72% find a business trustworthy if it’s endorsed by influencers.
However, not all influencers are a perfect fit for your brand. Make sure to analyze their content, and see whether it matches your brand image and voice.
To bring in a stream of local customers, it’s best to partner with influencers who are based on your area.
The next task for you is to build and maintain strong business relationships.
Invite influencers to attend exclusive events, offer them promos and giveaways, or have a limited-edition dishes named after them.
These little gestures will make them feel appreciated and increase the likelihood of turning their followers into your customers.
7. Partner up with food apps and delivery services
People who have never heard of your business can discover it, and regulars will appreciate the convenience of enjoying your food anywhere they want.
Partnering with delivery services is also an excellent way to attract millennials and Gen Z.
GloriaFood found that 87% of Millennials and 93% of Gen Z are very pleased with these services and that restaurants with no online ordering or delivery service may lose 70% of potential customers by 2021.
It also comes as no surprise that third-party delivery services increase a restaurant’s profitability by up to 20%, according to TouchBistro.
Restaurant owners can also reduce costs on table services, and won’t have to manage their own delivery operation.
However, it’s not an arrangement that can work for every business.
Fine dining establishments are more than just convenience. It’s a business that thrives on delivering experiences. This is something that can’t be replicated by delivery.
8. Monitor your online presence
Now that you know how to market a restaurant, make sure to monitor the results regularly. This way you can understand your audience, maintain engagement and reputation, and improve your strategy.
To monitor your campaigns’ performance, there’s Google Analytics for tracking web performance, and Google Alerts or Social Searcher for tracking brand mentions. For article scheduling and posting, you can use Buffer.
Restaurant marketing recap
As a restaurant owner, staying on top of your game is important to triumph in the oversaturated market. You need more than just good food to keep your customers coming back.
In this article, you have learned how to market a restaurant.
Strategies proven to improve your chances of success include:
- Creating a restaurant website with Zyro
- Putting your restaurant on Google My Business (and other review platforms)
- Socializing through social media
- Utilizing sponsored ads
- Harnessing the power of email marketing
- Collaborating with influencers
- Partnering with food apps
- Monitoring your online reputation
Last but not least, a clever marketing strategy won’t work if it fails to live up to its promise. Always focus on delivering the best experience for your customers.