The primary problem for many restaurant owners is not getting customers to return, it’s getting them through the door the very first time. No matter how satisfying the food, word-of-mouth alone is unreliable and doesn’t have a wide enough reach in today’s competitive, ultra-saturated market. There is obvious appeal in making sure your restaurant has an inviting atmosphere, unique menu, and attentive service, but none of those features address the original problem. To draw first-timers to your restaurant, you must make an effort to market your offerings.
Whether you’re opening a new tapas restaurant targeting Millennial foodies or have been running a well-respected supper club for decades, here are five ways to ensure your eatery draws them in and keeps ‘em coming back:
ESTABLISH A BRAND
A brand image will develop over time with any restaurant. If a designer or marketing team isn’t in place to lead a branding effort, the image will form spontaneously through public perception, which may not always be flattering to your business.
It is therefore important to be consistent and intentional with restaurant branding efforts, including decisions about signage, interior design, your logo and typography, marketing, and communication with the public.
Start by analyzing your competition. What makes you unique? How does your restaurant go above and beyond what others are providing? That value proposition should be a key consideration during the brand development process.
BE STRATEGIC IN MENU DESIGN
Menu design plays a central role in marketing a restaurant. If you’re located where there is decent foot traffic, possible patrons coming in off the street will use your menu to determine whether they want to dine there. If someone searches for a restaurant online, the menu may be the only part of your branding they see. For these reasons, it is extremely important that the menu looks professional, grabs attention, and properly reflects your value proposition. Also, be sure to take these content and design tips into account:
- Select typography wisely: Make sure it fits your brand and is easy to read.
- Use illustrative language: Draw customers to your dishes using emotive adjectives like succulent, full-flavored, fiery, etc.
- Include what’s important: List what’s in each dish for those who have allergies or may be picky about certain ingredients.
- Avoid industry jargon: Use words your target audience will understand.
- Help the indecisive: Highlighting your most popular dishes point customers to a favorite when they are having trouble deciding on their own.
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER
The pervasive use of social media has changed the expectations of the typical customer, and quality photographs can now be the deciding factor in whether a restaurant draws in the hungry public. A recent study found 30% of 18- to 35-year-olds are less likely to visit a restaurant if they find its Instagram presence to be lacking. A professional photographer can capture stunning images of your recipes and restaurant in general. After that, it’s all about posting the results to social media to generate reactions and more traction. Good food, after all, is meant to be shared.
PARTICIPATE IN NON-PROFIT EVENTS AND LOCAL FESTIVALS
Consider paying to have a booth at a local festival (food, music, art, etc.). These types of events draw crowds full of people that may otherwise never be exposed to your food and brand. In the span of a single day, or perhaps a weekend, you can vastly accelerate exposure among mostly local clientele. Festivals also offer the perfect opportunity to test new menu items.
MARKET A LIMITED-TIME PROMOTION
It’s a classic marketing tactic that continues to get results: The limited-time promotion. Even in the modern age of instant gratification, many people won’t feel motivated to act without the added pressure of a fast-approaching time limit. These types of promotions bring a built-in sense of scarcity that can be hard to replicate through other means.
Restaurants commonly scatter promotions (BOGO, free appetizers, etc.) throughout the year, often focusing on the post-holiday lull of January and February to help boost sales.
Adapting these tips to your own restaurant’s specific needs can go a long way toward keeping you top-of-mind in the community. Draw them in by having a consistent brand and marketing strategy. Your incredible food will do the rest of the work, turning newbies into regulars. And it doesn’t take a Michelin-star chef to know that more customers, visiting on a regular basis, are the primary ingredient in the recipe for success!
It’s also important to ask for help when you need it. If you are overwhelmed in trying to market your restaurant, aren’t seeing the results you want, or don’t know how to get started, contact Baer Performance Marketing to help you get on the right track.