Whether you’re handling marketing for a chain restaurant, or just trying to heighten the visibility of your own local mom and pop diner, here are seven pro tips for restaurant marketing that will give your eating establishment a much-needed boost.
Accurate Brand Personality Representation
Branding is everything, and that’s true across the board. You may not think about it as being so important for restaurants, but stop and think about some brands in particular.
Fast food chain Carl’s Jr. has a simple and readily identifiable brand, including a mascot, which gives it a family-friendly vibe. But the advertising and marketing also sells a snarky sense of humor, elevating the simplistic brand design to create a funky, unique personality that appeals to the target market.
Sit-down restaurant Red Robin, meanwhile, is another example of how branding and brand personality should influence everything about a restaurant, not just the logo design. It’s marketed for families, with a mascot that not only defines the logo, but even shows up in person to walk around the restaurant. Setting aside the fact that giant character costumes may occasionally make small children cry from fear, on the whole it’s a fun way to appeal to the family demographic and make the brand personality even more clear.
My point here is that it’s worth the time and effort to clearly outline in detail the personality behind a restaurant. Whether it’s a family-friendly diner or a five-star full-course gastronomical experience, there is a personality behind it, and it should be reflected in every bit of marketing that you do.
Color Choice Matters
One of the most specific and important details in visual marketing is the choice of color. This is true for any type of business, but especially for restaurants.
Why? Because restaurants often thrive and grow based on their ability to appeal to the immediate appetite of the potential consumer. And color choice can directly impact that appeal — and even motivate the consumer to step in and order up. The psychology of color gives us some insights into how this works. We tend to react to colors in certain ways, and different colors are evocative of different moods.
Bright, eye-catching colors, especially red, can actually stimulate a person toward action — in this instance, motivating them to pull off the road and go into that diner with the giant red “Eat Here!” sign.
There’s a reason why restaurant branding so often uses bright colors, especially fast food brand logos almost always do — bright colors work.
Setting aside the logo design for the moment, however, another aspect of making color work for your restaurant marketing is the decor of the building itself. Color creates a mood, and should reflect not only the personality of the brand but also the atmosphere of the establishment. Experts suggest calming, fresh greens for a restaurant that focuses on a healthy menu, for instance. Darker, richer colors work well for an upscale dining establishment, and bright, cheerful colors are ideal for a family restaurant.
Whatever the ultimate choice of color palette for your marketing and the building itself, make sure that the tones work well together.
Manage Social Media
More consumers are looking to interact with brands on social media platforms. This is a great marketing opportunity, since it gives you the chance to connect on a more meaningful level and build loyalty with your diners.
But just as important as starting your own social media account is claiming and managing the pages for the restaurant on Yelp, Google, and other similar sites. These are usually the first results that come up when a business is searched for, so it’s vital that the information is correct. This means making sure there are links to the website and menu, and ensuring that the phone numbers and address information are all up to date.
It’s also a good idea to keep up with the reviews that are posted on these public sites. About 33 percent of diners read feedback from other restaurant-goers before they decide to try out a new place. You can’t control what the reviews say, but you can control how you respond. Leave polite, friendly responses to reviews, both good and bad — address any concerns, and you may be able to convince potential customers to give the restaurant a try regardless of a previous bad experience.
Keep Your Online Menu up to Date
Speaking of the menu, this is a particular pet peeve of mine — Googling a restaurant and finding a menu that is completely outdated. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting all hyped up over trying something new only to find that they haven’t offered that menu item in some time.
“Don’t frustrate your customers” might seem like an obvious piece of advice, but it’s particularly relevant when it comes to accurate and effective marketing. Make sure that your menu is up to date and easy to find.
Start a Food Blog
Blogging can be hit and miss, but it’s proven to be a very effective way to market a business when done well. Research key search terms to make sure that SEO opportunities are being utilized, and add in plenty of pictures! Menu items with photos attached are often ordered more than those with a simple description, and the same can be true of including food photos in blog posts.
This isn’t a tip that has been acted on by many restaurant chains, so it’s an excellent way to really make a business stand out from the rest, as well as providing a plethora of opportunities to establish the brand personality, build loyalty, and fully market what the best of what the restaurant offers.
Begin a Loyalty Program
Everyone talks about building loyalty in their customers, but starting a loyalty program for diners allows the restaurant to show its loyalty in return. Loyalty programs work bilaterally for both parties — it helps to retain customers and rewards them for returning.
Generally speaking, customers are more likely to try out — and return — to establishments where they feel valued. Loyalty programs are an excellent marketing tool that can garner new customers as well as enticing them to come back again and again.
Make Your Specials Really Special
Every time we sit down at a restaurant, the server lists off the specials. I’ll be honest, I have never once ordered a “special” that was rattled off to me on those occasions.
On the other hand, I have gone to a new place and ordered a certain menu item because I heard about it from others and because the establishment is “known” for it. That’s why my final tip is about elevating your specials.
Elevating your specialty items is about more than just having your waitstaff tell customers about them. It’s about incorporating marketing techniques that can make them go viral, spreading word of mouth, and including special items in your print and online marketing. Restaurants are built on the reputation of their food, and the more you can put the spotlight on those individual items, the more the restaurant will shine.