Every successful restaurant story begins and ends with a good marketing strategy. This integral facet of the business is often overlooked and overshadowed by other concerns. The food industry is the second largest advertising sector in the American economy. With ever-increasing competition, an efficient marketing strategy is the cornerstone of private culinary success.
Don’t Ignore Traditional Methods
There are many tried and true marketing techniques that have been around for decades. The savvy marketing strategist should never ignore them. They can be effectively personalized and modified for every situation. However, the biggest current in modern-day advertising is the Internet. The wise business owner takes full advantage of both approaches, creating a diversified and wide-reaching marketing plan.
Local newspaper columns and culinary publications are always a good way to draw attention to a restaurant. Most of the columnists are food critics with a substantial reader base. The readers are the target audience, and often travel in like-minded social circles.
Targeting local businesses is a great way to spread the word about a business and attract new clientele. There is no better place for social interaction and local gossip than the workplace. Coworkers share this information with each other, and with their clients. An effective way to break into this sector is catering. It is a great idea to offer custom and diverse catering packages at competitive prices.
Another good strategy is promotional partnering. Make connections with successful and well-respected local business owners who are willing to suggest or promote the business to their customers. Of course this must reciprocated, so choosing a reputable partner is key.
Universities in the vicinity are always a hotbed for social interaction and networking. College students spend a lot of time and money eating out every year and sharing news of their favorite haunts with their friends. Legitimate promotional strategies for this demographic include running regular drink specials and hosting special events, such as a live music night. Effective marketing can be as simple as placing flyers around campus and actively posting on social network websites.
Recent marketing surveys reveal that nearly nine out of ten customers research restaurants via the Internet. The information boom has changed the way that consumers find and interpret topics important to them. It has also affected the way that people communicate and relay this information. Every modern business owner should become familiar with burgeoning online marketing trends and utilize them as efficiently as possible.
Social networking websites have recently risen to the forefront in contemporary American society. Nearly 30% of total U.S. Internet time is now consumed by social networking (Experian). Statistics have also shown that half of all Internet users are influenced by social media in some way before making a purchase (Nielsen). It is a quick and easy way to share information about a business, gain an online following, and quickly spread news and promotional offers. Marketing and social media accomplish exactly the same goals. They bring people together and spread information in the most efficient way possible.
Every business should maintain a current Facebook page. Marketing success on this website depends on the owner staying active and keeping the business profile up to date. It is a great way to provide basic information and instantaneously offer promotions. Every “fan” effectively advertises the restaurant for no cost. The comments section provides an ongoing blog of positive reviews.
Twitter is another great online service for businesses. It is a platform for current news, events, and specials. Each time an account owner “tweets,” everyone who follows the restaurant will receive an update. It effectively serves as a billboard on the targeted clientele’s computer or smartphone screen.
Mobile marketing is another new and increasingly effective instrument in the modern day advertiser’s toolbox. In today’s constantly on-the-go society, 50% of consumers search for restaurants in their automobile, on a smartphone or tablet device. Therefore every restaurant should build a mobile-friendly website. Its features should be optimized for convenient mobile surfing. It is also a good idea to include a map and directions to the business, compatible with major navigation applications for iPhone and Android devices. Speaking of applications, every restaurant owner should visit Urbanspoon and complete the website’s profile of their business.
E-mail marketing is also a viable strategy for today’s online audience. Over 80% of consumers say that e-mail marketing has had some affect on their past purchasing decisions (Forrester Research). Build up a good client list. A good way to do this is through optional after-meal surveys. Ask if the customer is interested in receiving weekly updates on the business. Most satisfied customers welcome this information, and often forward the correspondence to their friends. The best thing about this strategy is the cost-to-benefit ratio, with average returns approaching $50 for every $1 spent.
There’s No Silver Bullet
It is difficult to choose the best marketing strategy for a small business in today’s ever-changing market. The good news is that there are many very efficient and cost-effective options readily available to the dedicated entrepreneur. Networking and print media are still very important tools, but creativity and diversification are the keys to modern marketing success.