Having a great marketing strategy doesn’t have to mean shelling out big money for the services of a prestigious agency. In our “SMB Strategies Spotlight”, we explore universal methods of taking advantage of modern technology, and getting the most out of the traditional forms of marketing in any industry. With a game winning synergy in place, you’ll be able to gain exposure and stand out in a crowded field. Today, we explore ways of increasing foot traffic to your restaurant or cafe and turning those new customers into loyal patrons.
Fickle and volatile, the restaurant industry moves quickly and doesn’t take prisoners. Complacency and being reactive can doom your establishment quicker than a downgrade in health score. A study conducted by Cornell University and Michigan State over a 10-year period found that after three years, 50% of restaurants were no longer in business. Starting and running a small business is hard, but the good news is that forces within control of the owners or managers cause 81.4% of all small business failures.
A marketing strategy of relying on coupons printed in local weekly circulars is unlikely to drive enough customers to you establishment. Instead, our three Restaurant/Cafe marketing strategies below will help you keep your tables full and customers coming back.
With “foodies,” “food porn,” and Facebook feeds filled with the final moments of our food or drink before being consumed, “good” food isn’t enough anymore. Today, we love to eat interesting meals and expand our own culinary skills. We’ve come to expect food photography that inspires and makes our mouths water. This hunger (pun intended) for creative and appealing food is fostered by the improvement of cameras in cellphones and social media. So abundant are food photos that Jimmy Fallon mocks this phenomenon with a skit on The Tonight Show that insists Instagram is for pictures of breakfast and sunsets.
With technology becoming more advanced, easier to use, and less expensive, it’s a no-brainer that restaurants should be jumping at the chance to infuse great looking photos and video into their collateral. It’s been shown people are much more likely to order food or visit a restaurant if multimedia is involved.
This media is a great start for an establishment to keep up with the times, but it’s not enough. Instead, restaurants and cafes need to realize that this media is simply one ingredient in the recipe for a great experience. By focusing on creating an experience for a customer, the restaurant will be on the way to establishing its brand coherence. A simple concept, but often overlooked, studies have shown that only about 38% of companies have a high level of brand integration throughout its organization.
For example, lets take UPS. Why is it seen as such a strong brand? The reason is, you can travel anywhere in the world, but be able to instantly recognize a truck, delivery driver, advertisement, commercial, or website as belonging to UPS. Brand coherence projects strength, size, and trust, which are invaluable for growing your brand.
Like Yoda once said, “Size matters not.” Let’s take a look at a restaurant that takes brand coherence to another level. A small restaurant in Barcelona, Casa de Tapes Cañota, has worked with a design agency to develop their own unique style for everything including placemats, menus, website, social media, video, name tags, etc. This coherence through every customer touch point creates a fun and vibrant atmosphere that will be remembered.
If you’ve read our previous Small Biz Spotlight or Top Marketing Trends piece you’ll already know that SEO is important no matter what your industry is. Local SEO is even more important, especially for businesses that depend on a continual flow of new customers. Today, more searches are conducted on mobile than desktops, and many of those searches want to know relevant information about places near them. In fact, Google reports that since 2011, “near me” searches have increased 34x, and nearly doubled since last year. Moreover, these are not empty searches without an end-result. Google has also found that 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device either call or go to that business within 24 hours.
So how do you drive hungry and curious patrons to your restaurant or café? Make sure Google knows you exist!
In order to be displayed properly in Google and Google Maps, you need to set up your Google Business page. A very easy and straightforward process, we’ve found a great step by step explanation here to help you along. The more detailed and precise the information that you provide, the greater chances you’ll show up in local search results. Also, don’t forget to populate your page with pictures of appetizing food and unique features of your establishment.
Next, now that Google knows you exist, it’s time to make it easy for search engines to find your restaurant. To do this, it’s important to include your name, address, and phone number (aka NAP) across every page of your website. Accuracy is key here, as this information needs to be identical and be formatted the same way for optimal results. By speaking the language of search engines in the backend of your website, you can further improve the chances your restaurant is displayed further up in searches. By incorporating schema.org markup in your website code, you can be sure search engines won’t have trouble matching you to search queries. Copy and paste the code below into the backend of your web pages and change the bolded text to match that of your own business. If you don’t feel comfortable with this step, ask your web developer for help.
<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/LocalBusiness"> <p itemprop="name">COMPANY NAME</p> <p itemprop="address" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/PostalAddress"> <p itemprop="streetAddress">ADDRESS LINE 1</p> <p itemprop="addressLocality">CITY</p>, <p itemprop="addressRegion">REGION</p> <p itemprop="postalCode">POSTCODE/ZIP</p. <p itemprop="telephone">PHONE NUMBER</p> <meta itemprop="latitude" content="LATITUDE" /> <meta itemprop="longitude" content="LONGITUDE" /> </div>
Rounding out local SEO optimization is something you might have not even realized was taken into SERP ratings; customer reviews. In addition to factoring in your location, and search preferences, Google takes into account the quantity of reviews and their average star rating. The more you can get your current customers to leave you positive, genuine reviews, the greater your odds of catching the eye of future customers browsing for their next meal idea.
Technology is becoming more ingrained into every aspect of our daily lives, but direct mail with coupons still remains a great way to promote your restaurant in a local area. A study found that Direct Mail was the preferred channel for receiving marketing from local shops (51%). Even with this level of preference for this advertising method, it’s important not to neglect the bigger role online search and mobile usage is taking on in our daily routines.
The options that Google Adwords and advertising via Facebook open up are truly amazing and can take your local exposure to the next level. Google Adwords is a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ad service that displays your business when customers input search terms that match those you’ve chosen into Google. If you’re new to the idea of Google Adwords, think of it as old YellowPages advertisements meets the Jetsons. By bidding on specific search terms, your restaurant will be displayed prominently in search results, meaning the customers will likely see you first, even before organic search results. This isn’t even the exciting part however. The real advantage of this service is that you’re able to choose the device your ad is shown on, time it’s displayed, and a location area so that you don’t waste your advertising dollars on non-local searches. Think about the possibilities! If there’s a big football game on TV tonight, you can set up an Adwords campaign that displays your restaurant between the hours of 6-10pm, in a radius of 3 miles from your restaurant, when hungry sports fans search for “pizza near me ” from their mobile phones.
Another great way to augment your marketing with online advertising is through Facebook ads. Like with Adwords, Facebook offers some great tools to help you reach your exact targets. Targeting options include age ranges, device used, interests, and much more. So for example, if you have a taco shack on the beach, targeting Facebook users between the ages of 18-40 that live near your restaurant, and have interests that include “beach,” “surfing,” “tanning,” etc. would likely result in greater foot traffic to your taco shack. If you’re intrigued and ready to incorporate Facebook ads into your marketing strategy, check out this easy to follow tutorial video that breaks down how to set up your own campaign.