A friend of mine from Paris asked me last week: “Tell me how many patrons I will have when I spend a thousand bucks in your digital marketing plan and how many will have if spend for two thousand?” And I stood there with my mouth wide open, hesitating what to say. Alack, I couldn’t.
I wish I could demonstrate an interface enabling the smell of a specific dish to reach the client once I send a special “smell push notification”, whereby I would incite the strongest temptation in him or her, inviting the guests to my table. But again, I have to admit I can’t do it…yet.
Till I put my dreams into reality, today I can name a few tips and tell you how you can attract new guests to your humble restaurants. For now, the answer is… social media marketing. Don’t feel awkward. There was a time when connecting to people oversees was as unimaginable. But in order to take your reach that far, we need to move forward, step by step. Most restaurant owners lack proper online presence and still they keep asking themselves why they don’t rank the highest numbers by Tripadvisors. I suggest you start today, before thinking about tomorrow.
One of the first steps in successful marketing is to know who you’re communicating with. This is particularly true in social media. You need to think like your customer, and about why they would want to visit you. Create such a tone for your social media. If you want your place to be known as the neighborhood hangout – create a tone (or even character) that you’ll consistently use across all of your social media platforms. Then post it in a friendly, neighborly tone.
Facebook provides an incredible opportunity for dining establishments to connect with their clientele. You’d be hard pressed to find a patron of yours who is not on this site – and most of them are checking their updates a few times a day. Facebook is a place where people go to ‘hangout’ with friends. That’s why they go out to eat too, right? You can see here (Bahama Breeze Island Grille) and learn here how to use Facebook for you restaurant marketing. Also, here’s an example of some tasty-looking tuna tataki from Milestones.
Here’s an example from a client using our sweepstakes app. Wayne Gretzky’s Toronto ran a geo-targeted sweepstakes through Facebook to successfully generate awareness of their newly renovated digs, and their brand new menu.
Geo target your ads – Facebook ads let you do all kinds of very specific, niche targeting. This is ideal for restaurants and diners. You can target your ads to be seen only by Facebookers in your particular geographic location. You can also target your ads to be seen by those with specific likes, and by those who like certain pages.
Videos are very cool when embedded directly into an update, or in a tab. If you have videos about how your dish is made, or you have an interview with your chef, food suppliers, happy customers, include them in an update. You can weight posting them in your Facebook or YouTube account.
Instagram is an enormously popular photo sharing platform. Enjoying seamless integration with Facebook, it’s used about 95% of the time when your patrons are posting images to their Facebook friends. You can use Instagram in conjunction with your Facebook tactics, or use the site on its own. Hashtags are huge on Instagram. They’re very prevalent and relevant. To increase awareness about both your Instagram profile and your restaurant, include relevant trending hashtags. For example, if it happens to be #nationalcheesecakeday and your culinary delights include cheesecake, then post a scrumptious photo.
Instagram is a site of photos. Use this opportunity to post delicious photos of your menu items. Engage with menu items – take photos of your menu one step further – get your customers to upload their favorite items, to help build your menu of images on the platform. It’s an amazing way to get your customers talking and sharing your amazing with friends. That’s word of mouth marketing gone viral!
Twitter is a very successful marketing tool for restaurants, both large and small and from high end to fast food (including street trucks). With only 140 characters per update, tweets get read and shared at a phenomenal rate. Twitter is also used a lot through mobile.
Here’s an example from Domino’s Pizza
You should definitely include images of your dish. Although Twitter is a text based site, updates with photos get shared, rendering more followers on Twitter, and directing traffic into your establishment. Here’s an example of a scrumptious and delicious looking image from La Dolce Vita.
Promoting your establishment through coupons and discounts has long been a part of successful marketing. Add in a social element, make it a group deal and you can have a viral campaign on your hands. You could, for example, run a group offer for a free appetizer. This will encourage your patrons to share your group offer and tweet it to their friends, and it will drive people into your eatery.
Hashtags are very popular on Twitter, too. Include them in your updates. Use similar tactics to the ones mentioned above with Instagram.
Tip: You don’t want too many (given Twitter’s character constraints) and you should leave room in your tweets to get RT’s and shares with @mentions – so a friend can send your tweet to their friend.
Of course, there are many more tactics you can use, such as trying out Foursquare or Yelp, or creatively marketing on other platforms. In this piece we tried to tell you one thing: instead of dreaming for super-creative interfaces and ultra-elegant applications that care for long lines of guests and patrons, you should stand up and dig your own marketing strategy by using the tools available. As the wise man always says, “You reap what you saw.”