7 creative marketing strategies for your restaurant or café
Great creative marketing comes from thought and insight, particularly when you run a small restaurant business or café. Need some ideas and inspiration on how to market yourself? From the BBC to a local Marrickville favourite, let’s explore the marketing strategy basics.
1. Know your business vibe
The more you know about Why You vs Someone Else, the greater your chances of attracting new customers and holding onto your loyal faithfuls. So before you pay a designer or write a post on your Facebook page or upload a snap to Instagram, have a think:
· Know exactly what you offer
· Understand customers, their appetites, their attitudes
· Snoop around at the competition
By stepping back from the day-to-day and throwing yourself into the complete customer experience, you’ll be able to see what’s working, what isn’t, and the ways in which your marketing could nail it.
When someone walks past your shopfront and knows nothing about who you are, and they see your business name, spot a crisp tablecloth or two, and that’s about it…what will they do? Don’t make them work for it or you could risk a walk-by.
· Get a menu out there – the shy types in particular will thank you
· Put your website, phone number and social media details on the door/window
· Awards and newspaper clippings can work wonders, too
3. Easy-to-use website
People want your details, especially the menu, and they may not want to dig around for it on affiliate websites like Zomato and Trip Advisor. You control the narrative here, folks.
Put your attentions here:
· Give them what they want – bonus points if your menu and address is on the home page
· Good quality pics – make them salivate
· Collect emails and mobile numbers – send them offers and news
There are plenty of website-building platforms you can use if you’re yet to get started – like Squarespace or Wix. You can find someone to help you build it – like solo players at Freelancer.com – or you can do a contra deal with someone in your local community.
Plus there’s search engine optimisation (SEO) to help people find you. Try terms that include your speciality, neighbourhood, and anything else you think people will type into Google. If you want to be found in ‘bucks parties’, ‘private chefs’ or ‘vegan northern beaches’, make sure these terms appear on your web pages and are in the site’s meta data.
4. Listen up
Getting creative means listening up and rolling with whatever comes your way. And social media in particular is where people will go when they want to talk to you or know more. So be sure to have a Facebook page and actively encourage customers to leave reviews there – as well as places like Google My Business and Tripadvisor. It’s great advertising and relatively easy to look after – with a caution that you do need to put in the time to monitor it. Don’t let it go unchecked.
And should a negative post crop up, don’t try to delete it, don’t ignore it and don’t be defensive. A sorry or an explanation can go a long way. Your customers and prospects will learn a lot about who you are as a business just by how you handle yourself in these situations.
5. Instagram #goodtimes
You are in the business of selling experiences, and nothing sells it better than a picture. Hello Instagram!
· Food and drinks should feel Insta-worthy – beautifully presented, beautifully shot
· Use hashtags relevant to your cuisine, theme and local area so people can find you – #pubfood #dayoff #newie #yourbusinessname
· Bring customers into the conversation – #repost their shares, give them a freebie if they tag you in a post, run a competition
6. Think local
Locals love locals, so you want to be seen by all the people in your neighbourhood, wherever they may be. While they might be on community social media pages and following the words of local influencers, don’t forget the more traditional channels like your local rag, street posters, and community events.
· Sponsor the democracy sausage sizzle
· Do a free cooking class on your signature dish
· Take out a two-for-one ad in the paper
7. Loyalty rewards
Everyone loves a little something. It doesn’t have to be much, but it can go a long way. A free drink for a friend on the next visit, that entrée they like at half price – whatever the budget allows could repay you in spades. If collecting emails and mobile phone numbers on your website, you’re already half-way there.
Remember, keep an eye out
Just staying on top of what’s happening in with your neighbourhood could give you a nudge in your next marketing direction. Not ultra-creative per se, but oh so useful. Ready to start listening?
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