So you’ve finally achieved your dream and opened your first restaurant. The place looks great, the menu is delicious, and you’re ready to become the next ‘must eat’ venue in your area. The restaurant business can be competitive, and with the industry seeing some of the toughest times in its history over the last couple of years, there are many businesses, new and established, that are competing with each other to get customers through the door.
The good news is that it’s expected the recent trend in ‘staycations’ will continue in 2022 as people look to the relative safety and cost-savings of enjoying holidays at home. This means more people are looking for enjoyable restaurant experiences and keen to try ‘new things’ – which could be just the clientele your new restaurant business should be trying to attract.
But how do you let everyone know your new eatery is open for business? This is where your marketing needs to be as good as your chef’s cooking skills. Getting the word out and tapping into all the available resources to let your potential customers know you’re not only open for business, but also the place to go for a most enjoyable brunch, lunch, or evening meal, is vital. But with so many options and different platforms, where do you start.
With the help of the restaurant marketing experts at SideDish marketing agency, here are some tips and advice on the key ways to promote your new business to get the covers your restaurant needs to succeed.
Google Business Profile
More than half of all online searches are carried out on mobile, and this is likely to be even higher for potential customers looking for ‘restaurants near me’. Of all these mobile searches, nearly 95% of them are carried out on Google. Which makes securing and optimising your free Google Business Profile so it can appear in the map-based mobile results of people looking for restaurants like yours crucial. This will help you tap into local passing trade, as well as provide an easy way for customers to call and book.
Like it or loathe it, there’s no getting away from how big a part of our lives Social Media has become. With people spending so much of their time on the major platforms, it’s important that you have a presence on the channels where your potential customers are hanging out. Check-ins, reviews, recommendations from friends, all of these can help attract new customers so make sure you are using the best platforms for your business, and managing your appearance and reputation on them.
When you’re starting out you might not have a huge amount of money to spend on marketing, but as well as all the activity you can manage yourself, even a small budget for advertising can provide a cost-effective return on your investment. From targetted local advertising on Google where you only pay if someone clicks on your ad, to campaigns on your Social Media platforms that can help you build your own audience, even starting with a small budget, and tracking what you spend and the results you see, can attract new customers and provide a good return on your investment.
Offers & Discounts
You just know that if someone tries your amazing menu they will be coming back for more – so why not give them a little nudge to get them through the door in the first instance? People love a deal, and if you offer a discount for first-time customers or a special offer of a free drink or side on the days of the week when you’re typically quiet, this could be a great way to boost trade. You could even encourage your new customers to do your marketing for you with some form of ‘refer a friend’ deal.
There are literally dozens of review websites out there for restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality sector, and with everyone quick to share their thoughts (good or bad) of their latest dining experience, these can offer a gateway to a wide audience of potential customers. Choose the most popular review sites for your type of restaurant, and actively encourage happy customers to post reviews. Make sure you’re managing your reviews, and if you do get the odd less-than-complimentary review, be sure to reply appropriately so others can see it is an isolated incident, or an unreasonable customer.
Keep in Touch
Even when someone has had a great meal and a really enjoyable evening, as soon as they leave your venue there are countless other restaurants looking to entice them in the next time they’re looking to go out. By getting customers to sign up to an e-mail list with the promise of regular offers and discounts, and priority notice of events, you have an inexpensive way of keeping the customers you’ve worked hard to attract that can easily be managed through the free and inexpensive e-mail marketing platforms available.
You could go one better than simply keeping in touch with your customers by setting up some sort of loyalty scheme. If they enjoy dining with you, and you reward them each time they return or refer a friend, you build up a base of loyal, regular customers, which is always easier and cheaper than having to constantly go out and find new ones.
So there you have it, just a few of the key marketing tips that will help your new restaurant find its way in the world and attract the clientele that will make it the place everyone wants to eat. You will find that some approaches work better than others with different customers and at different times, so the key thing is to always track your marketing activity, that way you will not only find out what works best, but what is the most cost-effective, allowing you to focus on best marketing options for your continued success.