The modern restaurant has a lot of competition, including other local restaurants, franchises, and the biggest of national chains. To stand out and get more customers means focusing more on marketing. It’s easy to say you need to work harder on your marketing strategies, but aside from the vague generalizations that are all too common, how do you ensure those strategies are practical?
If you’re looking for ways to up your restaurant marketing game, here are the practical steps you should be taking in 2022. Get them right, and footfall should grow, and your sales might be a marked improvement on previous years.
Get the Basics Right
It’s likely you already have some understanding of the basics. Having a website, learning even a little about search engine optimization (SEO), and filling out your Google My Business (GMB) template should all be something you already have in place.
If not, then your first step is to get set up.
Build and Optimize Your Website
Whether you’re eat-in only or you’re offering deliveries, you're not going to get far in 2022 without a well-designed website. If you don't yet have one, now’s the time to build one. While it’s unlikely that a proactive restaurant in 2022 doesn’t have a website, there are outlets lacking this all-important tool. Fortunately, there are plenty of website-building platforms available that make building a website (even from scratch) incredibly straightforward.
If you do already have a website, you need to ensure it loads quickly and is easy to navigate. One of the most common mistakes for restaurants is to have a menu available only as a PDF, which needs to be downloaded. That needs to go. Your menu is one of your most crucial web pages. It needs to be visible to casual browsers who simply won’t take the time to download information that should be easily accessible. Take a look at some examples of the best restaurant websites in 2022 for inspiration.
Learn Some Basic SEO
Having a website isn’t enough if you want potential customers to find you before your competitors. SEO is a big, sprawling, ever-changing subject, but don’t panic. You don’t have to learn everything about SEO. Just learning something about the basics can take you a long way to the top of a local Google search query about local restaurants. It’s not as technical as you might think, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming either.
SEO can get very complicated very quickly, though, so stick with the SEO basics to start with. Find out what keywords are and how to use them, the importance of content to drive revenue, and how to monitor your search engine rankings. Just these three elements as your SEO foundation will be enough to start improving your online visibility.
Use Your GMB Profile
Google My Business is a free profile offered by the biggest search engine in the world. It’s a great resource, but far too many small businesses neglect to fill out their details. This is hugely important, as you can easily earn a free win as far as local searches go. When someone asks Google for a local restaurant near them, a GMB listing means you’ll be found much more quickly and easily. That search engine query turns into a website visit, which can then turn into a table booking.
Don’t overlook the importance of getting your basics right. Build the right foundation, and the rest of your restaurant marketing strategies will become much more potent.
The Importance of Instagram
Social media platforms will play just as significant a marketing role for restaurants in 2022. Facebook continues to dominate but is losing younger consumers rapidly, while Instagram continues to be the most important social platform for restaurants.
Today, consumers are empowered by tech, and it’s become an extension of them. That’s why your customers want to be able to take photos inside your restaurant and share their experiences with their followers. The idea of the “Instagrammable business” is not new, but in 2022 it’s going to be more important than ever. That’s going to mean:
- Using unique decor
- Ensuring every plate that comes out of the kitchen can be photographed and shared.
Presentation matters more than ever, and every second your customers spend in your establishment can be tailored to make it more shareable on the social platforms your target audience uses.
Marketing with Your Customers
Putting your customers in charge of your marketing is one of the easiest ways to manage your marketing strategies. It can also be extremely high-value, especially if you've exhausted yourself by thinking up new marketing ideas. User-generated content will be one of the biggest marketing resources for restaurants in 2022, and it’s likely to become a marketing fixture for the foreseeable future.
By getting your customers involved in your marketing, those customers align themselves to your brand more closely. When brand awareness leads to brand loyalty, you earn more sales from those customers. Make them feel like they’re part of your brand story, and you have a potential lifelong customer right there.
So make use of testimonials, post good and bad reviews on your website, and share photos customers have taken of your best dishes. Make sure all of your user-generated content is highly visible. After all, customers created that content voluntarily. Using it will cost you nothing, and if it attracts even a single table booking, your ROI is through the roof.
It wasn't that long ago that the idea of email as a valuable marketing tool was dismissed. The rise of social media saw email newsletters fall out of favor, and they were generally frowned upon by all but the savviest of marketing teams. More than ever, having an email newsletter marketing strategy is one of the most high-value ways to reach your audience.
People are protective of their inbox, making it extremely valuable marketing real estate. It’s a direct line into the daily lives of your loyal customers. It’s low cost and stands out against other marketing methods used in 2022. Every person who subscribes to your emails has done so because they like what you do.
Those people could be past patrons who might just need the right special offer to entice them to book their next visit. Or your most loyal customers who require the right email at the right time to make them think about your brand and pick up the phone to book. The good news is there are thousands of online guides to email marketing focused entirely on the restaurant industry. Learn as much as you can, and you might be surprised by just how effective email marketing can be.
The Influencer Question
The rise of the “influencer” has seen a lot of criticism. There are many examples of so-called influencers causing more of a problem for brands than being beneficial. However, there’s a reason why influencers continue to be a vital marketing option for restaurants — they work.
Forget your big-name celebs with a social media management team posting content and engaging with fans. They might have millions of followers, but you’re not going to get a lot of impact from those big names and the price they’ll charge for a brand mention. Instead, look at macro-influencers. These are the social media accounts run by real people and that generally have fewer than a thousand followers.
That smaller audience gives them an authenticity you can’t beat when it comes to extending your reach. Macro-influencers might have fewer followers, but they engage with them. That authenticity isn’t something you can buy, and it’s an extremely potent way to get more people to see your brand. Macro influencers aren’t going to be the diva you see screeching about exposure. Instead, they’ll promote your restaurant, usually with no payment required other than a free meal.
Restaurant Marketing in 2022
These are the most effective and high-impact ways to ensure your marketing strategy in 2022 helps grow your business. From getting the basics right to fine-tuning your marketing channels, the need to put the work in has never been greater. And these aren’t your only options either. Real-world marketing — such as billboards and radio ads — still has value, especially locally.
However, the above practical strategies are where you need to focus if you want your restaurant to stand out and be remembered in 2022. Marketing takes time to get right, but give it some focus, and it pays for itself. Just remember that not every strategy will resonate with every one of your customers.
Trial and monitor, making adjustments as you go. Start with the simplest marketing strategies, and learn more as you develop a deeper understanding. There are no shortages of fresh and original marketing ideas. Take the time to brainstorm, use the right channels, and you could be heading into 2022 bound for faster growth than you ever thought possible.