For those who don’t want to read the full post about how to do your restaurant marketing plan (how to market a restaurant) here are the main points!
- Set and decide on 1 specific person to be the face and brand ambassador of your restaurant. This can be you, the owner or it can be someone in your business that is also passionate about the restaurant.This person should have some experience with marketing strategies for restaurants.
- Make sure the website is concise and well designed. Not cluttered with too much going on like most restaurant websites
- Setup a blog on the website where you can update what’s going with posts and also videos
- Update with blog posts about all restaurant and food related subjects. Post the restaurant story with history along with current events.
- Using Social Media
- In the restaurant, face to face, greeting by the brand ambassador
- Customer restaurant social check-ins with incentives
- Contact local food influencers on Instagram
- Contact local Yelp reviewers
1. Set 1 Person To Be The Face Of Your Restaurant
This is by far the most important step and one that will separate you from all of your competitors and allow you to gain a huge amount of tracking on social media.
This person has to be the face of the restaurant and be up front and seen first on everything from the website, to the person who greets them and comes around to their table to say hi.
I’m going to assume that an owner of a restaurant is reading this and for the sake of this post I’m going to assume that this person, the face of the restaurant and in charge of the restaurant marketing plan, is you (to help simplify this post).
Passion For Your Restaurant
Of course you can choose someone else like an employee to fill this role, but you have to understand a few things. First, this person must must must be the most passionate person about the restaurant and believe in it’s success 120%.
This person must have some skin in the game, meaning they should not be working on a straight salary with no incentives to work harder on both social marketing and in house marketing.
If you decide to not take the role of this person (which I usually advise not to do, it’s better and more transparent and natural for you to take the reins and be this person) you need to make sure to take time and choose this person wisely.
Make sure this person knows, this position is not a 9-5 job and working 70 hours a week at home and in the restaurant would be the normal.
2. Make Sure Your Website Is Very Concise and Designed Well
There is not a lot to this step. Many restaurants load up their website’s homepage with so much cluttered information that it just confuses someone who visits it.
Your homepage should have a few options that are larger than others. Options for users to click to get to information that they need.
For example, the menu, entertainment, signup for a newsletter.
Fast easy things they can see right away that are in larger font and with very vivid crisp images.
The website should be 4-5 pages and be mobile responsive so people can view the information on their mobile phones.
Images Are Worth 1,000 Words
Have awesome looking images of your top selling food items or specials that can be seen directly on the first page (homepage) of the site. This is a good restaurant advertising generality to put your best selling food items as the predominant image on all types of media.
You need to have all of your social accounts visible in the top half the page so people can easily get to them if they want to.
Your sign up for your newsletter or email list should be very simple where they just enter their email address. Don’t ask for more information it will just turn some people away from giving that information and you do not want that.
Use your email list wisely and do not send out emails too often and without a distinct purpose. This purpose should be about helping the readers for the most part but of course you remember the backbone is your restaurant marketing plan so promotions should be mixed in as well.
Awesome Website Examples
These are all examples of awesome looking websites that you should save and take notes on what they do on their websites.
3. Setup a Blog On Your Website
So your website is small, direct, and to the point. Awesome.
Now the next step in the restaurant marketing plan is for you to have some way to tell the story of the restaurant and of yourself. You will do this on the blog that you create.
So if your website is Restaurant.com then your blog will be setup on Restaurant.com/Blog.
4. Tell The Story Of The Restaurant Marketing Plan
On this blog is where you will tell the story of yourself and why you have such a passion for food and running this amazing restaurant in your local community.
This blog is going to be your home where you are able to build the foundation of your restaurant marketing plan one piece of wood at a time. It takes time to build a blog and get people to notice it so don’t get upset if you do not get many people interested at first.
Tell Me A Story!
People love stories, we all know that, and this blog is exactly where you will tell the story of the restaurant. Everything from the past from when it opened to the current day to day events.
New hires, bands that are playing, new specials to hit the menu, and the list goes on and on. And don’t forget to include yourself as a real personality on the blog and to blog about your opinions and your thoughts as the face of the restaurant.
Let people get to know you as a person, let them develop an emotional connection at some level with you. These people live and reside in the same community that you do so you already have that in common.
Do not be shy about your passion for being a restaurateur and working hard on building the online presence of your company.
People love a story of someone building and starting something new so tell that story, people will relate and want to engage with you by commenting on the blog and on your social accounts.
You should share all your blog posts on your social accounts to keep people up to date with what is going on with you and your restaurant.
5. Using Social Media For Restaurant Marketing
Many small businesses fail to fully understand exactly what social media is. Social media is all about people, the people that are actually on the platforms.
It is not a place for you to spam out your daily specials and post images hoping people will come to your restaurant.
You wouldn’t do that if if you had a group of people at a cocktail party would you. You would get to know them and talk with them.
You would bring up your business but in the context of what you are talking about. Maybe the context is foods you both love. Not just begin talking about your business out of no where.
Social Media is no different. You have to interact and engage with people. You have to remember it is real people on the other end and not mindless robots waiting to click your links and go to your website.
Jump in conversations on Twitter that people are having in your local area. Everyday people are talking about food on Twitter all around where your restaurant is located. Jump in and engage and interact with people.
The same on Instagram. Comment other peoples images. Provide some opinions on things given your huge passion for food and the restaurant world.
You can tell your restaurant marketing plan is more shaping up to be a “restaurant connecting plan” because this process is all about connecting people to yourself and your restaurant.
Be Helpful, Be Social
Help people and make it well known you are not just on social media to spam out things for your restaurant, that is what all of the other ones do.
So when people see you being a real person it will be very inviting to them and they will enjoy engaging with you.
This is where being human will always trump having a solid restaurant marketing plan or system.
6. In House Greeting
So everything I have been talking about has been pretty much online based, but not anymore. Now we go back to the bread and butter of what this business and your passion is rooted in.
It’s rooted in people and you enjoying the fact that people genuinely love coming in and dining at your restaurant.
This is where the real work comes in. The type of work that takes you from working a normal 40 hour work week to 60-80 hours per week.
Meet and greet as many people as you possibly can in your restaurant. Engage and interact with them just like you do online.
Many people you will have already talked to online to continue the conversation in your restaurant.
Do not walk around like a typical manager and ask tables if everything is to their liking. Be different, go beyond that, way beyond that.
You are not a restaurant manager, you are the restaurant personality and you are there to build your restaurant’s exposure both online and in house. You are the one in charge of the restaurant marketing strategies.
Leave the stupid “manager” title for someone else that’s in charge of making sure the bus boys do their job correctly and the line cooks show up on time. It’s not for you.
Make sure they know your name and that this is your business and this is your passion, this is your favorite thing in the world to do and you wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Make sure to tell people about everything going on with the website and all social accounts, and how you are really trying to branch out and build an online community for your restaurant.
7. In House Check-In Incentive
This idea is awesome and one you should definitely implement.
So you have your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts all setup for the restaurant and your face is one of the first things they see along with some of your best food items on the social accounts.
Incentivize The People!
Now let’s give people an incentive to comment on these social accounts and say that they are at your awesome restaurant, letting their friends see the update they post.
This is a an awesome restaurant promotion idea because it not only gives the customer an incentive, but also allows you to build a relationship through social media with them, making them repeat customers.
Let’s give them something like a free desert for each party that does this or maybe 2 deserts. This is awesome and people will love it.
But more importantly this gives you the perfect opportunity to jump over there and talk to them about the restaurant and the social check-in free desert special. It gives you an awesome time to get their names and really find out who they are in your community.
Keep Organized For Reference
Make sure to use this 5 minutes to chat with them and note down their names and what social accounts they are using, and of course be sure to respond to their posts and thank them.
But it does not end there. You must be sure to keep up with them over time and say hi to them on social media, while saying things that show that you do remember the time they were in the restaurant (even what they ordered).
This type of thing is what 99% of restaurants do not do, and this is what will separate you from them. This will elevate you to a level in your community that they could only wish for.
Keep well organized notes of everything you talk about and the peoples names and their social accounts. You will meet many many many people over the course of 1 day and it’s very important to remember details.
8. Contact Local Food Influencers/Bloggers
I’m not going to go hugely in depth in this part because I’m going to be posting a blog specifically about doing this step very soon.
First I want to clarify by what I mean by “influencer” when I use that term. I am NOT talking about the person in your community who is labeled as the “food critic” that writes in your local newspaper which all of 7 people read.
I’m talking about the people on Instagram with 10,000 followers that post a lot of updates with food as images. People who eat out a lot and go out a lot. People who are very passionate about food.
On Instagram you can search your local area and see what posts come up for that area.
So you will see all posts in this area when you click on that. You will have to weed through posts to figure out which ones have food images and then figure out which of those people post often with food images and really like to eat out in your local community.
It is not a quick 1-2-3 and you are done the task. This does take time but as you do this you will start to build a list of people you will need to start engaging and interacting with on Instagram.
Do not start sending them messages right away about coming in to your restaurant.
Build a relationship and engage and comment their posts for a few weeks. Figure out what they like and various things about them.
When the time is right then you can figure out the best way to start a conversation about possibly having them come in to your restaurant. It might be best to do this via email or a message on their Facebook account.
Yelp Food Elites
On Yelp, the most popular food review website, there are people that review many restaurants and gain the Yelp Elite badge. This means their opinion is regarded more than someone who is just a casual reviewer like myself.
Here are few searches that can help you find people on Yelp that are food bloggers that will list their blog in their profile. Providing an awesome way for you to reach out to them and learn about them, maybe one day getting them to come in to your restaurant.
Enter these example searches in Google to see how they work:
|site:yelp.com/user_details “elite 2016” “los angeles”|
|site:yelp.com/user_details “elite 2016” “los angeles” “my blog or website”|
|site:yelp.com/user_details “elite 2016” “los angeles” twitter.com|
Ended Up Being A Long Post!
I was trying to not make this so long but it seems I failed again 🙁
You can tell its even dark out now and it was mid day when I started this post lol. Yea I look sleepy, it’s because I think I am :p
I hope this was able to help a lot of you really understand how your restaurant can benefit from using social media and combining that with your in house personality as a person.
It’s not easy work to do this, but I’m sure you already know that success is not an easy path. So keep at it and over time you will see a huge huge increase in your online social presence.
And of course more importantly, you will see a huge jump in the amount of people who become not only patrons of your restaurant, but also become “regulars”!
Feel free to contact me if you are looking for a marketing consultant for your Restaurant and want to work with me.
I learn from people like Gary Vaynerchuck and Amy Schmittauer who have taught me a lot.
I'm from New Jersey and I love the Phillies, Flyers, and E-A-G-L-E-S.
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