Devising an online marketing strategy for a restaurant is different than if you were creating one for a retail store or other service-based industry. When people go to a store or bank, it’s for a specific reason – they need shoes or have to pay bills. When people go to restaurants, bars and lounges, they choose to go. They could very well go to Safeway and cook for themselves. They choose to go out to eat because they want to be entertained, they want to be catered to, they want to have the experience.
Using online marketing, you need to incorporate the experience and the entertainment into the digital realm to entice people to visit your establishment and to keep returning. Here are five online marketing strategies for restaurants, bars and lounges that will get people in your place, spending their money.
There are way too many different forms of social media to describe here, it would take pages. The same fundamentals apply to whatever platform you choose: always keep your tone courteous, polite and friendly. While you’re sure to get plenty of compliments online, you’re also bound to run into some complaints – anyone who works in restaurants knows that you can’t please everyone. Deal with the complaints online just as you would if the client were in your restaurant: with courtesy, apathy and professionalism. You will be judged by how you act in the face of negativity.
- Follow/like people and companies in your area – including local celebrities and well-known people in your industry.
- Share local news with your followers, including upcoming festivals and events, etc.
- Share your restaurant’s news, promotions and deals with your followers.
- Engage with your followers when they’re outside of your restaurant. It’s a great way to keep your business in their mind and further the relationship.
- Use YouTube for quick videos showcasing your chefs cooking a signature dish
Blogging is a great way to engage your customers, spread your expertise and news and is the easiest (and cheapest) form of content marketing online. It brings traffic, engages visitors and promotes your business. Not sure what to blog? Here are some suggestions specifically for hospitality.
- Blog about the news and trends of the restaurant industry – popularity of a particular type food
- Events at your restaurant – news year’s eve party, concerts, specialty food events, wine tastings
- Have your chef write blog posts about recipes or how to do a particular type of cooking
- Have your bar manager blog about wine, cocktails or beer
Every city has their own set of local directories that residents use. Check to see which ones are operating and the most popular in your local. And most important, get listed where your competitors are listed.
- First and foremost: make sure your restaurant is listed with Google Places. It is one of the best forms of local SEO there is.
- Claim your listing on Yelp. You can really optimize the listing with photos and information. And claiming the listing gives you’re the opportunity to respond to the comments and complaints posted.
- Check around for other local directories in your city – every city has their own selection
Pay Per Click (PPC)
Pay Per Click is the ads that you see on search result pages, in your Gmail account, on the YouTube screen, among other places. While Google AdWords is the biggest player in the sector, it’s not the only one. The Bing Network, as well as Facebook and Twitter (also considered social media advertising), offer PPC, it all depends on what your clientele is and where they hang out online. Once you decide if PPC is right for your business, there are a few things to consider to ensure you get the best bang for your buck.
- Research appropriate keywords, making sure that they aren’t too hard to compete for, relate to your business and will deliver the traffic you want.
- Spend a lot of time on your headlines and ad copy – it will define your success or failure with PPC.
These are just a few ways to take advantage of the opportunity online marketing and the internet gives your restaurant to increase traffic, visibility and sales.