According to a 2016 marketing whitepaper by Pragma, the UK bar and restaurant industry was worth £78.8 billion in 2014, showing an increase of 0.86% since 2008. The report also found that independent restaurants were losing market share over the period at a rate of -2.8%, giving up ground to fine dining and branded restaurants.
With so much competition in a marketplace that is only getting more crowded, it can be difficult to know how you can make your restaurant stand out, and give people a reason or incentive to choose you over the rest of the dining options. With this in mind, we’ve decided to take a look at some of the most effective marketing methods that could do wonders for your restaurant. Read on to find out more.
Create an effective website and include a menu
If you don’t have one already, creating a website for your restaurant should be first on your list of things to do. Even if you like to do things old school, going without an online presence or having a page that is difficult to navigate can cause you to miss out on quite a lot of business — especially in an age where people like to look up where they are going before they do so.
The 2016 Restaurant Industry Forecast by the National Restaurant Association found that 70% of smartphone users look at a restaurant’s menu online before making a decision on whether they will attend. This statistic alone goes a long way to communicating how important both a website and an online menu are to securing new business, so it’s vital that you set these up.
This guide from Alliance Online suggests that you opt for a mobile-friendly website that includes a menu that can be easily viewed without having to download additional .PDF files, as they can put people off. You can find out more about what goes into making a website that is adapted for smartphones from Google’s mobile-friendly tutorial, where you can learn directly from the company that makes the big decisions.
Keep an eye on review sites and respond appropriately
In a study by search specialists Moz, it was found that over two thirds of people believe that online reviews play an important role in the decision-making process when buying something. Also, 21.9% of respondents said that they would be put off buying a product or service if they read just one negative review. For restaurants, websites that offer customers the chance to rate and have a say on their dining experience can massively affect how much business they get.
Outlets like TripAdvisor and Yelp are two such platforms, which can see hundreds of reviews posted for each restaurant. You can enhance your reputation by being proactive on these sites, where people can see that you care about your diners. Offer thanks for positive ratings, respectfully resolve any disputes, and act on any issues that are brought to your attention. Pay special attention to three-star reviews, rather than the glowing or overly negative ones, as these are more likely written by people giving a reasoned, constructive opinion about their customer experience.
Engage with customers through social media
Social media was created to connect people, and it can also be a valuable tool for connecting your restaurant with its customers. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter can give you direct access to millions of potential diners, allowing you to advertise, promote and, most importantly, engage with your customer base.
Make sure that all of your restaurant’s details are included on your page and aim to post content that is useful and informative, rather than overly promotional. This way, potential diners will be more likely to interact with you, so you can begin to engage with them and build a relationship, as well as a public persona. You should also be willing to deal with complaints and criticism through social media too, as this is the way that many people will let you know what their dining experience was like.
Instagram and Pinterest are two platforms that are heavily visual-based, so it is important that you begin to build a library of professional looking photos of your food. Get your hands on a high-quality digital camera and give BBC Good Food’s guide to taking professional food photos a read. Alternatively, you can hire an actual photographer and get them to do the hard work. Try to post images that really work for your food, making it look as delicious as possible.
People who write about their dining experiences on a blog can often have a large following. By reaching out to them, they can help to build the growing reputation of your restaurant (as long as you impress them). If this is something you’d like to do, it’s best to make a shortlist of bloggers, considering their writing styles, tastes, and whether they would be likely to help you out. If you’re not sure where to start, the Foodie’s 100 is a site that lists the best blogs in the UK.
Once you’ve identified who you’d like to work with, you will have to approach them. It’s important to stand out here, as your blogger of choice probably receives several overtures from restaurants every day. Don’t come on too strong, simply introduce yourself and tell them why you’d like them to come to your establishment. Try not to make your message sound as if you’re writing it to 20 other bloggers and be prepared to take a polite no graciously, as you don’t want to ruin a potential future relationship. If they agree to attend, it’s time to put your best foot forward and make a good impression.
Take these four tips on board and you could improve the online marketing of your restaurant by quite a distance. You can then look forward to a delicious future.