Article contributed by Brett Linkletter and Ariana Brajkovich, Misfit Media
In this day and age, there are numerous ways to market a restaurant. Often times, it can feel overwhelming when deciding which route is best for your restaurant.
However, the marketing strategy that will best serve your restaurant often comes down to a number of factors including location, surrounding population, level of service/formality, etc. In this article, you’ll learn about a number of different forms of restaurant marketing and the benefits and drawbacks they each have.
Word Of Mouth:
Word of mouth is without a doubt one of the most effective forms for marketing. That being said, don’t let it be your downfall. If your restaurant is relying entirely on word of mouth for your marketing strategy, you are essentially relinquishing all of your marketing power to your customers. I understand that almost nothing beats a recommendation from a primary source, but people aren’t always the kindest when talking about restaurants.
I’m sure you are aware of Yelp reviews that go a little like this: “The food was delicious and my server was super friendly. Two thumbs up for the pad see ew! However, they gave us paper napkins instead of cloth ones and my table was a little wobbly–2/5 stars.” It’s the reviews that come from the type of people who would take a flight from New York to London, experience NO turbulence, and still complain that a baby 20 rows back cried for 10 minutes. Unfortunately, the most negative–and often most unreasonable–voices tend to be the loudest and most impactful.
However, happy patrons sharing their positive experiences at your restaurant with others is extremely beneficial. Whenever appropriate and natural, encourage your customers to spread the word about your store. Just be careful not to put all of your marketing eggs in the word of mouth basket
- Pro: Very Effective.
- Con: Little to no control, negative voices are often the loudest, not scalable
Mass Broadcast–TV and Radio:
If you are a widespread chain or international brand that is comfortable waiting an entire quarter to determine the effectiveness of a campaign, then TV ads are a reasonable method to have in your marketing arsenal. However, if you are a single, small, or medium sized restaurant or chain, TV and radio ads–more likely Hulu and Spotify ads–are not the best way to get your brand in front of a relevant audience. Unfortunately, you can’t really measure the impact those campaigns have on your business until the end of a significant financial period, and even then, you are measuring sales correlation rather than direct causation.
- Pros: Massive reach.
- Cons: Limited targeting abilities, can only measure through correlation, $$$
Email as a marketing strategy is a good way to keep your customers updated on events, promotions, new menu items, etc. at your restaurant. In most cases, you won’t be able to find new customers from email, but it is an excellent tool to re-market to your existing audience. Most POS systems offer features that can prompt customers and guests for their email address in exchange for membership to a loyalty program, promotional coupons or other perks. The main downside of email marketing is the overall low open rates (~20%) and even lower click rates (under 3%.) Unfortunately, “spam” and “promotion” tags applied by your email server don’t do your restaurant’s emails any inbox favors.
HOWEVER, even though you are only able to reach a portion of your mailing list, you don’t really have anything to lose! Subscriptions to email address hosting services (ex: Drip, MailChimp, and Constant Contact) are inexpensive (starting around $10/month) and allow you to send a (virtually) unlimited amount of emails per month. That’s right! In most cases, you are not charged based on the amount of messages you send to your subscribers. Collecting customer emails is also an important component to chat marketing, which is discussed further down!
- Pros: Easy collection, Warm leads, direct targeting, on-demand contact, low cost.
- Cons: low open rates, only re-marketing vs. new acquisition
Creating any sort of “organic” online traffic simply means you don’t pay for people to see your content. The biggest pro for organic online marketing, whether that be on social media or boosting your SEO (search engine optimization–where you pop up on Google when someone searches something relevant to your restaurant) is that it is completely free and very simple. Anyone is plenty capable of taking nice photos of their food and posting it to their restaurant’s Facebook and Instagram pages. The downside of organic posting is the limited reach. Across all industries, businesses see average engagement rates of 0.09% and 1.60% on Facebook and Instagram respectively. While it still isn’t a bad idea to have an appealing Instagram profile to showcase your restaurant, it’s not sufficient to rely on organic posting as your main marketing strategy for acquiring new customers. At Misfit Media, we consider posting on social to be a form of branding, rather a technique of new customer acquisition.
- Pros: No/low cost, personal, great for branding and image.
- Cons: Limited reach, difficult to measure effectiveness
Paid Social Media:
If you are aiming to build a following for your restaurant on social media, paid/sponsored content is the way to go. Facebook Ads Manager is a simple, user friendly platform that takes you step by step though the process of creating ads on Instagram and Facebook Social Media. When you market through social media, always keep in mind what your actual goal is: bringing guests into your restaurant. More often than not, restaurant owners get caught up in gaining followers and getting likes on photos–I like to call these statistics “vanity metrics”. Those metrics are relevant when it comes to building a brand presence, but when it comes to increasing your restaurant’s revenue, they don’t lead to definite conclusions on the success of your campaigns. One of my team’s favorite sayings is “You can’t deposit likes into the bank™”. Paid social media is a surefire way to expand your customer base as long as your campaigns are working towards the right goal.
- Pros: Detailed Targeting, guaranteed automatic large reach, exact budgeting.
- Cons: Vanity Metrics, difficult to measure contribution to revenue growth,
Chat marketing is a newer method of marketing where customers can interact with the business directly, preferably in a 1-on-1 scenario.
Think of marketing your business as giving a speech. You are speaking to a crowd of people on the amazing quality of your product or service. In this scenario, you have great reach, but the feedback you get from your audience is pretty limited. They can cheer or heckle you and you can read the looks on their faces and the overall vibe of the audience, but ultimately, you won’t know how receptive they were to your speech until you finish speaking and you are able to talk to them afterwards.
Chat marketing can be seen as conversation rather than a speech. Unlike a speech, chat marketing allows for instant and continuous feedback from your audience. It creates an open communication channel between you and each one of your customers–potential, new, and returning–allowing you to engage with them whenever you see fit once they initiate the conversation. This allows you to market to them directly at NO cost for upcoming promotions and events as well as general brand awareness.The most common channels for direct response marketing are Facebook Messenger, SMS/Text message, and email. However, each of these channels require the use of automation or chat bots to keep the conversation going. Chat marketing also opens up the opportunity to run campaigns where you can track metrics all the way from a customer engagement to an in-store customer transactions driven directly by your marketing.
- Pros: Detailed targeting, guaranteed reach, high open rates–over 90% (Messenger & SMS/Text), 100% trackable.
- Cons: Massive learning curve
Stat Source: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-statistics/
Brett Linkletter is the CEO & CoFounder of Misfit Media. He has an aggressive willingness to take on new challenges and a strong understanding of scaling a business from scratch. His vision is to disrupt the restaurant marketing space by empowering business owners with predictable, scalable marketing strategies so they can grow their business based on insights and data, versus guesswork and course correction. Brett’s specialty lies in creative content creation, brand messaging, social media growth hacking, and business development. His biggest role model and lifetime hero is his great grandfather, Art Linkletter, who was a famous TV personality and businessman.
Ariana Brajkovich is Misfit Media’s in-house media buyer. She is a data-driven individual who loves to take the creative route to achieve results. Ariana studied business and marketing at the University of Southern California and has found her niche in the restaurant world. She thrives in competition and is inspired by Misfit’s drive to take restaurants across the world to the next level. Outside of the office, you can find her skiing, rock climbing, or baking.
To learn more about putting together a marketing strategy for your restaurant or foodservice business, contact the team at email@example.com or 424-289-8648