People need food to survive. This is the inherent luxury of being in the food business – some form of demand is always going to be there. At least until we all turn cyborg and just plug ourselves in overnight. I’m waiting, science.
The flip side of this constant demand is that there are a fair few others who want a piece of that same pie (if you’ll forgive the food-based expression). It’s a terrifically competitive business, that of food, and for those who are looking to not only survive, but thrive, a solid compliment of marketing strategies is vital.
So, I promised some winning marketing ideas, didn’t I. And I am, if nothing else, a man of my word. Here are a few quick-fire ideas that may be the difference between your business toast falling butter side up or butter side down (if you’ll forgive yet another food-based expression).
Rewards for Loyalty
Often the hard bit isn’t getting customers through the door, it’s getting them through the door again. Repeat business is the lifeblood of any successful restaurant, café or snack bar. Not only do you get the dollars from your regular, but they will also often turn into a promoter of your business, getting their friends and family to frequent your establishment as well.
How do you create regulars? By rewarding loyalty. Set up a loyalty program to encourage new customers to return. It could be as simple as a “6th coffee free” punch card, or a percentage off of a meal for posting something on social media. Whatever fits with your business’s brand.
Use Mobile Ads
In 2015, mobile searches officially overtook desktop searches in many major markets, including the US and Japan. Subsequently, over half of all traffic on Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising now comes from mobile devices. It’s fair to say that this number will likely be far more dramatic when narrowed to restaurant specific search terms, as people more-often-than-not search for restaurants while on the go.
All of this means that using mobile ads is a no-brainer. They are cheap, effective, and simple to set up. You can even just invest in a test run of mobile PPC ads and see what their performance is like!
Curate and Maintain Your Online Presence
An incredible 89 percent of diners do some form of online research before heading out to eat, it has been found. And if you’ve changed address, telephone number, or website recently, and haven’t gotten around to adjusting Google’s records, you could be missing out on all of those potential customers.
Your online presence needs to be constantly monitored, ensuring that the information is accurate and up to date.
Cultivate an Email Database
While the letterbox drop may seem like a more tried and true method for restaurants to market, it isn’t particularly effective. In comparison, email marketing is a cheaper, more efficient, more environmentally friendly and faster way to deliver news and deals to your customer base.
For email marketing to work, however, you need to grow a solid database of email addresses. You also need to give your recipients a simple way to unsubscribe, as there is nothing more unbecoming than an email round that you have no simple way of escaping. That will only generate ill will.
Restaurateurs are gifted with a terrifically photogenic product – food. Photos of your delicious morsels are a sure-fire way to get bodies through the door. And what better way to share them than through the food-obsessed world of social media.
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter offer far more than the opportunity to display your food porn, though. You can use them to introduce your staff to your customers, to deliver subscriber-only deals and specials, and to share positive reviews.
The business of food is a fun one to be in. But that fun can evaporate when the customers dry up. It’s important to invest resources in your marketing efforts early on, as they will pay off more and more as time goes by.
We’re not cyborgs (yet). People need to eat. Solid marketing gives you your opportunity to feed these masses.