The restaurant and hospitality sector is one of the largest industries in the world. As a restaurant owner, it’s important to know how to market your restaurant the right way if you’re going to survive in such a crowded and competitive marketplace.
In this article we’re going to look at five marketing mistakes that many restaurant owners make and show you how to avoid falling into the same traps yourself.
1. Ignoring the Power of Social Media
When you refuse to promote your business with social media marketing, you're missing out on the significant impact that this can have for your restaurant. Social media is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to communicate with your target market of potential customers and to engage with existing customers to encourage repeat business.
Using social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can not only show your audience that you care about communicating with them, but it lets them feel like they're a part of your success and it allows your business to feel more like a part of the local community.
With the right kind of social media marketing, your restaurant can start to build a customer base through word of mouth. In fact, if you have just opened your restaurant, posting about it on social media is probably the fastest way to let everyone know about it.
2. Not Having a Website or Not Keeping it Up to Date
There are still some restaurant owners who don’t think it’s important to have a well-designed website for their business. But many potential customers will use Google to find a local restaurant – especially people who are visiting the area and are less likely to know of you by reputation. Having a website doesn’t guarantee you’ll be found on Google, but not having a website is definitely going to stop you being found in the search results.
Even people who have already heard of your restaurant or found you on social media are more likely to visit you for a meal if they can check your website beforehand to look at your menu, make a booking, or get your phone number to call you and make a reservation.
Building a professional website doesn’t have to be expensive and platforms such as WordPress make it easy to build your own website and keep it regularly updated even if you have no prior experience of web design. Once your website is up and running you can increase the chances of potential customers finding it by learning how to use Google Ads and by getting your business registered for free on Google My Business.
3. Failing to Adapt to Change
Every aspect of your marketing should be flexible and you should be willing and able to react to changes that happen in the hospitality industry or to things that your competitors do. If you choose to simply stick to what's comfortable and do what you’ve always done, you are likely to get left behind. As society changes and consumer demands shift, even some big national brands have begun to struggle. As the owner of a small business such as a local restaurant, you have the advantage of being more agile and being able to change and adapt more easily – if you choose to do so.
Make sure you remain aware of your competitors and what they are doing. Keep up to date with changing fashions in the restaurant sector. And keep an eye on your local market in case the demographic begins to change. This will allow you to adapt your marketing and introduce new initiatives that are going to keep your restaurant business one step ahead.
4. Not Having a Budget for Marketing
According to the USA’s National Restaurant Association, only about 3% of the average restaurant's monthly sales is spent on marketing. This typically isn’t enough.
Often the reason for under investment in marketing is because the business owner doesn’t know which bits of their marketing deliver a return on investment and which don’t.
But if you implement a proper marketing strategy and properly test and measure the impact of different marketing campaigns, you can avoid this problem and be more confident about increasing your investment in marketing.
5. Not Engaging with Customers
Customers are one of the most important ingredients for a business in the hospitality sector. And in the social media age they have a powerful ability to either make or break the reputation of your business.
Word of mouth has been amplified a thousand times over by the advent of websites such as TripAdvisor and social networks such as Facebook and Instagram. Previously people would tell a few friends if they had a good or bad experience at your restaurant; now they can tell the world.
Everything about your restaurant needs to be spot on so as the marketing messages given out by your customers are good ones. It’s not just about the food. You need to offer good service, value for money, clean toilets, friendly staff, properly served drinks, etc.
When something does go wrong, don’t ignore it – especially if the bad experience has been shared on TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor is the biggest and best known website for customers to leave reviews and feedback about hotels and restaurants. And a large percentage of people will check your TripAdvisor reviews when deciding whether or not to have a meal at your restaurant.
Engage with your customers on TripAdvisor in the same way as you would in real life. Thank those who compliment you. Respond calmly and helpfully to those who complain and, if their complaint is genuine, make sure you are seen to do something positive about it.