Tables don’t fill themselves. Restaurant owners know this very well, and even though most would probably rather focus on the menu, a good marketing strategy is often the difference between packing the house and closing the doors.
Business owners who spend time developing and implementing a marketing program reap the rewards, but how do you know what works? Here are some restaurant marketing strategies you can use to jump-start your table turns.
Maintain an active social media presence
People have a huge appetite for images on social media, especially those of food, and many restaurants are using platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to engage their followers with mouth-watering photography. Taking good pictures of food takes practice and a bit of skill, but once you get the hang of it, you can use these photos to give customers a visual sample of hot new menu items, specials and drinks.
Another advantage of social media marketing is getting your brand in front of people while they are out in the community on their smartphones. Mobile marketing is very important for any online strategy, particularly location-based businesses like restaurants.
Make sure your website is mobile friendly
Engaging customers on social media is important, but having a mobile-responsive website is crucial. According to Bloomberg Business, people are using their mobile devices an average of nearly three hours a day. That’s more time than they spend watching TV. Offering people a clean, simple interface that looks good on their phones will allow them to browse your menu in the moment they are making a decision about where to eat. You can also offer them the option of booking a reservation on their phones or tablets. It’s also worth noting that restaurants that have mobile-friendly websites will rank higher in mobile search results on Google.
Establish loyalty programs for your customers
There are several online “foodie apps” restaurant owners can partner with to establish loyalty programs for their customers. After people visit a certain number of times, the app offers them a free item or discount off their meal.
Polish your business profile on review sites
Review sites make a lot of restaurant owners nervous. That’s natural; however, the important thing to remember is that if someone wants to write a review about you on Yelp, Google, or any other site, they can, regardless of whether or not you’ve set up a profile. Review sites can actually help grow your business, so it pays to populate them with good photos and accurate information. It’s also important to respond to feedback in a courteous and professional manner, especially with a negative review. It never pays to get into a virtual shouting match with an unhappy customer.
Restaurants are exciting, dynamic businesses with passionate customers. Creating a sustainable marketing strategy that you and your staff can improve over time will pay big dividends by setting your establishment apart from your competitors, encouraging repeat business from your loyalists and generating interest from entirely new groups of growling stomachs.