How do you get people to visit your restaurant? Well, the quickest way is to make them feel hungry. Harnessing the power of social media, restaurants and fast food chains tap into that impulse by engaging their audience with fresh, crisp photos and friendly engagement. So the real challenge isn’t to nail these things down. It is standing out.
Well, if you ran into this article, you are the lucky one, because there is a way to do restaurant marketing the same way, yet differently. Most marketing tips new restaurants get draw examples from already established and successful restaurant chains who have thousands of followers and social proof at their fingertips.
In this post, we will show you how to do that from scratch.
Where do I start?
The single most important thing when you are a new or struggling local business is putting your restaurant on people’s mental map. What is a mental map? Basically, if a person feels hungry and starts thinking about the closest place they could eat at, you want them to think of your restaurant as one of the options in the neighborhood. Nowadays, however, people rely on their phones to do the searching, making your job a bit easier.
1. Put yourself on the map.
Of course, it’s not all about the proximity. The next thing people are going to study on the map is working hours, how your restaurant looks like, what’s the menu, and how people feel about it. So, the gist of it is – make sure your Google maps listing is as detailed as possible. Add every piece of information you can – working hours, parking, reservation details, etc. Include pictures – of the interior, exterior, your best dishes – whatever represents you in the best possible light.
If you have a website, make sure you pay attention to good SEO (for basics on SEO, hop on this link to learn). Long story short, if you want customers to find you, your website needs to contain keywords connected to their potential search queries – for example, Italian food, pasta, pizza, etc.
If you want to make sure you covered all the possible search queries of your customers, follow these three steps suggested by Rand Fishkin. You can use a keyword tool like KMeta, which allows you to search for keywords on Google, Bing, Amazon, and YouTube, in various languages and regions and get all possible search engine suggestions.
You will find more information about local marketing here.
2. Gamify the social media experience
Being on social media is not an “if,” it is an absolute “must” for any restaurant that has ambitions to draw in new customers and keep the old ones. Create accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.
Post pictures of your restaurant, working staff, guests, best dishes. Share a simple recipe. Start a conversation about trending topics. Serve Eggos when the new season of Stranger Things starts, or create Game of Thrones themes cocktails every Sunday. The possibilities are endless.
Another way to raise brand awareness and engage with your customers is to gamify the social media experience – organize competitions and award your audience with freebies, coupons, discounts, or loyalty club membership. Encourage users to submit content they created in brand-themed competitions.
3. Build a local brand
Building a brand is the ultimate endgame when it comes to developing local business. Since you are acting in a small environment, this is somewhat easier. The key to successful branding is the messaging and consistent strategy. It is more than an ad copy – messaging is knowing what your business is about and communicating it in a way that evokes an emotional response.
Therefore, do not present your restaurant as a mere place where people eat. Present it as a place where people spend wonderful moments, relaxing or cherishing good food and friendship.
Consistent strategy means sticking to your message and translating it to various channels and situations. This means also getting out on the streets, talking to your customers directly, and taking part in the local community’s activities. Just imagine the wonders an annual open kitchen day for the needy would do for your brand. In general, getting involved with your community doesn’t have to mean you have to spend thousands of dollars – it simply means being there and contributing in the way you can.
How do I start?
Now, all of this is fine and dandy, but as we mentioned, dozens of other businesses are doing it too. Not to mention that, if you want to build a decent social media following, you won’t be able to do it organically. You’ll have to pay Instagram or Facebook for ads, and keeping your ads out there and hoping for best can get pretty pricey.
4. Build an email list
But there is a way to attract customers for a very low price, and keep them close by acquiring access to their email inbox. Why? Because highly targeted email marketing allows you to build a following from scratch on a limited budget. When you engage with people on your email list, you are talking to people who consented to be contacted, and they are interested in what you have to say. Here are some stats:
You can start off by sending emails manually, but as you build your email list, it is good to switch to automated emails. Automating this process does not mean shooting blindly – tools like MailChimp or ConvertKit allow you to segment your audience based on their demographics, interests, and the way they interact with your email. You can send different emails to each of these segments. And what would be in those emails?
- Your menu, weekly specials, new dishes
- Special offers
- Blog posts about your restaurant’s history, its activities in the local community, recipes, or content relevant to your brand
What’s important about these emails is that not all of them are supposed to immediately sell a reservation at your restaurant. Much like social media, you can use email to nurture a relationship with your audience. What makes it that much more effective is that with email, you can customize content for various segments of your email list, while on social media you are posting one same message for everyone.
But, now, the trick – how do you get people to notice you and give you their email address? Well, it involves step number two – but in a completely different way.
5. Create a quiz
As we mentioned, relying on paid ads and passive content without promotion strategy can quickly get pricey and ineffective. The average cost per click for food and beverages is between $0.99 and $1.25, but keep in mind that one click does not necessarily mean a sign-up or a dinner reservation. In order to pay off, a click needs to generate some meaningful action – a customer following your page, signing up to your newsletter, or visiting your restaurant.
In general, your industry has an average click-through-rate between 4.76% and 5.15%. This is not a bad number, but what if we told you that you can achieve a 50% lead capture rate (lead capture=emai sign-up) and 39% click-through rate?
Well, you can do that using interactive content such as quizzes? How come? Quizzes are great at:
- Collecting leads, building brand exposure, selling products and services
- Educating your audience
- Learning more about your audience through interactive surveys
- Entertaining your audience
In fact, if your quizzes are well-crafted using one of the best online quiz makers, they can do all of these things at the same time. Good quizzes often do a couple of these things at the same time. Quizzes tap into our curiosity, competitiveness, and need for self-reflection and belonging – all the feelings top-notch marketers and advertisers have always been evoking in buyers.
Based on your marketing goals, there are several types of quizzes you can use.
Trivia quizzes are fun, super-viral, and somewhat absurd, but thanks to websites like Buzzfeed and Facebook shares, they have become an incredibly popular trick for building brand awareness and product placement.
If you’re curious to learn more, we have prepared a detailed guide on how to make your own Buzzfeed quiz.
Personality quizzes seek to tell respondents something about themselves, helping them self-reflect or identify themselves with a larger group. They are a great way to generate leads and segment your audience based on their needs, interests, and preferences.
Knowledge quizzes can be a subgroup of trivia quizzes, or they can address the interests of specific niche audiences (for example vegans or followers of some diets). They are a great choice for reaching an audience that is highly likely to become your customer.
We created one quiz as an example. This is a fairly basic quiz – it’s nothing scientific or too serious.
Now, the headline is a ridiculous, yet fairly common dilemma for any restaurant goer, so you immediately tap into that by offering a clear, personalized solution.
You can run it as a Facebook quiz ad that includes a copy with an incentive, such as winning a discount or free dinner in exchange for quiz completion.
Once the respondent starts off, you can start with a simple, general question like this.
However, you don’t have to be serious the entire time – you can also ask entertaining trivia questions that reveal something about the customer’s personality and taste.
You may notice that we are using pictures in most of these questions. For a good reason – you want to make the respondent as hungry as possible. You want to evoke positive emotions with bright-colored, crisp pics full of light, whether they are displaying food or not. The follow up questions delve deeper into the respondent’s personal taste, and their eating habits.
In the final question, we ask how far the respondent is ready to go with experiments.
Before we deliver the results, we display an opt-in form. Now, many people may drop-off at this point, but this is where the incentive can kick in.
Of course, your quiz doesn’t have to include the opt-in form. For example, you can use results to redirect people to your website, landing page with an offer, social media page, etc. We went this way, displaying results such as these.
We included a picture, short description, and a link that enables the respondent to immediately reserve their table. Of course, in case they don’t like their result, we also mention an alternative option.
Of course, this is a broad, random quiz, just one of the many quiz templates you can find pre-created in your LeadQuizzes account. But if you have specific items on your menu, you can craft it to test your audience’s taste and preferences. For example, we had one question exploring how spicy the respondents like their food.
You can also create a question about food allergies, and based on these answers, segment these respondents into a separate group. You can send these customers special adjusted menus and offers – just imagine how far ahead that kind of convenience can get you compared to your competitors.
Once you build your email list and your customers slowly start flocking, you can leverage your organic reach on social media and in the local community.
If you like our restaurant marketing idea, all you have to do is to click below and sign up for a 14-day trial with LeadQuizzes. In this article, you will find a detailed guide on how to create a marketing quiz, while this blog post explains how to create an effective email newsletter.