For most restaurants, marketing strategies are not the first consideration when opening a new eatery. Whether you are a chef or restaurateur, you may be so driven by your passion for your profession that you end up using your restaurant as a means of self-expression, a labor of love, or even a work of art. Restaurant marketing is probably not at the top of your to-do list and, in fact, you might believe restaurant advertising is unnecessary and banal. The fact is that, while eating at your restaurant may keep people coming back, and word of mouth may launch you into tremendous success, the industry is so competitive that you need restaurant strategies to get patrons through your doors in the first place. Fortunately, there are several great marketing strategies for restaurants that are not only cost-effective, but require minimal effort to implement.
- Make the most of your website. A website that’s easy to navigate and user friendly can be a great form of restaurant advertising. Avoid making your page too “busy,” and make it easy for customers to access your menu and other pertinent information. Remember, many people prefer to access your site from their phones or mobile devices, so keep it mobile-friendly. If customers can’t find your menu, address, phone number, hours and other information, they’re likely to go somewhere else.
- Tantalize with limited-time offers. Of all the marketing strategies for restaurants, this is probably the best way to introduce new menu items. Get new and current customers excited by promoting new foods on your website and through social media, offering a good discount to encourage them to come in and try the new items. Then, provide comment cards to encourage feedback from your customers.
- Reward Loyalty.There’s something comforting about being a “regular,” and it’s even better if it garners a discount. Offer a punch card or digital rewards card to help customers earn points that will earn them discounts or free items and make sure the rewards are attainable. Offer more points when customers come in at certain times and you’ll be able to boost your sales during periods that are traditionally slow.
- Let your menu work to your advantage. Design your menu so that customers’ eyes are drawn to your most profitable items: on the upper right side of a bi-fold menu, or the top center of a tri-fold. Create tantalizing descriptions, particularly of items you really want to move.
- Give back to the community. Supporting local charities is one of the best marketing strategies for restaurants, because it not only benefits your business, but also the community. Hosting fundraisers is a good way to give back in a high-profile way, and inviting customers to volunteer gives them a sense of ownership, which will encourage them to keep coming back.
- Be a good host. From pancake socials, to wine-and-cheese nights, musical acts, or stand-up comedy, special events are a chance to give the customers a little something extra. In addition, special events will more than likely bring in new clientele.
- Use competition to bring in crowds. Host a trivia night, collect business cards for a giveaway, have a physical competition, or conduct a raffle. These events can inspire friendly competition, build your customer base, and give you a good way to collect email addresses and other customer contact information. Tip the scales in favor of loyal customers by letting trivia points build up, or by keeping business cards in the bowl for more than one week of giveaways.
- Market through email. Use email addresses you’ve collected from customers to craft an email list, and then don’t spam them! Instead, send out regular updates about promotions and other news, offering discounts through the email subscription. It’s also good to gather information about special events, such as birthdays and anniversaries, so that you can send personalized promotions to encourage guests to celebrate their special days with you.
- Consider delivery. While this may seem like a daunting proposition, it opens a much larger market! From college kids to busy families, there are many people who want delivery beyond Chinese and pizza, so this is a great place to find your niche. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone, as there are delivery services across the country that provide call centers and drivers to take and deliver orders. In many cases, this form of restaurant marketing requires only that you give the service an updated menu, then fill the orders in a timely manner as they roll in.
- Keep it fresh! Many of today’s consumers are extremely health-conscious, so concentrating on offering healthy options will make your restaurant a popular choice. This doesn’t mean that your menu has to be low-calorie, but offering “fresh” products rather than frozen is a good strategy in a market where “farm to table” is becoming a popular movement. Offering “diet” options is another excellent option, so consider using a tiered menu approach to appeal to a varied demographic.
Marketing strategies for restaurants play an important role in attracting new customers, but it’s important to follow up those tactics with excellent customer service. Restaurant paging systems can be instrumental in providing that service, helping you to ensure that your guests are quickly and efficiently served in every aspect of their dining experience. For more information about restaurant paging systems, or to find out how they can enhance your restaurant strategies, contact Long Range Systems today!