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Gastronomic Marketing: 9 Strategies for Restaurants that Work

Restaurant marketing has become much more demanding in recent years. Those responsible for gastronomic marketing, promotions and attracting new customers in restaurants face challenges as difficult as they are interesting. People looking to fill their bellies now have a dizzying array of possible options, and restaurants must compete for customer attention beyond location.

Too often, restaurants miss an opportunity to get their business in front of hungry diners.

Restaurant marketing is the best way to reach new customers, keep in touch with them and convert them into regular channels such as social media, email, events, sponsorships, discounts and promotions.

But always remember to take into account that the strategy for marketing a restaurant is different compared to the strategy for any other business model, so you should be sure to follow the right strategy for your business.

Marketing for Restaurants

To help you navigate this new restaurant marketing reality, we’ve put together a list of 9 restaurant marketing strategies and tactics.

#1 Establish your brand

Define your restaurant brand and stick to it. What is the main message you want to convey? Use it as the engine of your strategy. The restaurant’s website, social media, and any restaurant materials should support and align with your brand.

If your restaurant focuses on sustainability, create messaging that speaks to where your food comes from and how that creates a different experience. Avoid anything that doesn’t seem to support that mission.

#2 Claim your business on Google

Google My Business puts your restaurant information on the map, literally. By claiming your business, you can update your hours, website, menu, and other crucial information your customers need to know. Google prioritizes these listings and shows them first in search results.

A Google listing ensures that the most important information (location, phone number, hours, etc.) appears immediately when your restaurant is searched for online.

This also paves the way for launching local online ads like Google Adwords.

#3 Have a presence on social networks

All restaurants must have a presence on social networks. Just because you’re not an avid Instagram user doesn’t mean it’s not a good fit for your business. Social networks offer insight into your restaurant, help build relationships and keep customers engaged. Whether your business is on social media or not, surely your guests are. Take this opportunity to be part of the conversation.

Determine which social networks are the most used by your typical diner and make your business accessible on them.

3 basics for restaurants with a presence on social networks

  • Be visual. You can’t expect to get noticed online without compelling visual content. Photos can be of anything that might interest or excite your customers: photos of the food, of your team, and of your customers. Or even behind-the-scenes videos of your chefs in action. People tend to buy with their eyes, and the same is true on social media.
  • Post often. When your customers enter your networks, the first thing they should see is not a post from last week. Momentary posts like the dish of the day, photos from a recent event, or announcing a limited-time discount just for your followers are easy ways to show that you’re always connected to your community.
  • Talk to your customers. Social media is a place for your customers to talk to you and talk about you. Be sure to constantly check for mentions and comments on these sites, and respond to each one. Starting a conversation breaks down any barriers between your restaurant and your customers, and will lead to more interactions in the future.

#4 Make food instagrammable

An “instagrammable dessert” is a relatively new phrase in the world of food marketing. The basic idea is that the plating and presentation of a dish encourage people to take photos and share them online, especially on Instagram, where hashtags like #preferredfood are super popular.

Creating Instagrammable dishes is a super powerful promotional tactic because it leverages user-generated content to get your restaurant noticed instead of spending too much on advertising.

You can create the same dish over and over again and each time it is potentially spread to a whole new audience via social media for free. To master this technique, you need to have a unique idea that isn’t cheesy or traditional.

If you succeed, you can create a viral effect for your restaurant. When it happens, this could be the most impactful strategy of all.

5 ways to make your food instagrammable

  1. Combine colors. Use ingredients of the same shade or of various attractive colors.
  2. To share. Create an experience and a moment that can be recorded on video.
  3. Let them complement each other. Create matching plates when photographed together.
  4. That draws attention. Make the plates have bright colors.
  5. Good lighting. Use lighting that displays dishes in a flattering light.

#5 Focus on creating loyalty

Loyalty – Getting customers to come back again and again should always be one of the main parts of restaurant marketing.

Loyal customers cost the least in marketing to keep them coming back and are also more likely to tell their friends, making them great for word of mouth.

Loyalty is often the result of an amazing dining experience: great food, nice interior, customer perception of value, etc.

But you can also actively encourage loyalty through loyalty programs and reward plans for repeat customers. You can manage it all in-house or partner with a provider.

High-end restaurants may focus on enhancements to the dining experience, such as free champagne or dessert. More casual restaurants may directly offer a discount to loyal customers.

#6 Get found

Every day, thousands of people search for things like “sushi restaurants near me”.

A modern restaurant marketing plan should take into account how your restaurant will be found for these types of local online searches.

If someone searches for “chicken wings in the USA,” the restaurant strategy will determine which restaurant appears in the search results. If you are a sports bar in the USA, it is extremely important that you show up. At the very least, make sure you can meet these basics:

  • Google Business profile claimed and updated.
  • Location information on your website.
  • Reviews on Google.
  • Make sure your profile and page contain the keywords you want to be identified by (e.g “wings”, “hamburger”, “pizza”, etc.)
  • Website pages optimized for SEO.

#7 Encourage and incentivize online reviews (and don’t forget to reply)

For many, online reviews are the most important thing when choosing a new restaurant. Having thousands of 5-star reviews makes it very easy for people searching for restaurants online to choose your location over the competition.

What if the review is negative?

Receiving negative reviews will have a negative impact on the business. Therefore, managing and responding to reviews, especially bad ones, is an essential food marketing strategy.

How to answer negative reviews online?

You can approach negative criticism with a positive attitude and use it to your advantage. When preparing your answer, you should:

  • Consider the customer’s point of view and show that you understand it.
  • Acknowledge the problem and that you are willing to listen.
  • Take action. Seek to take action that resolves it.
  • Consider how you can avoid this situation in the future.

Above all, it also seeks to avoid:

  • “Copy and paste” pre-formatted responses. The answer has to seem genuine.
  • Tell them not to return to the place. It will be taken as an offense.
  • Say “we will review it”. Nobody will believe it.
  • Reply in private. Take responsibility and solve the problem publicly.

#8 Look for influencers and ambassadors of your restaurant

Influencers or brand ambassadors are people on social networks who have a large number of followers in their sector or in their city.

Find foodie influencers in your area

Some food bloggers have a large following, and getting their attention can have a huge influence on your restaurant. Even a single article or mention of a major foodie can be very important to a restaurant’s promotional efforts.

Once you’ve found some good targets, create and launch social media promotion campaigns for your restaurant with them.

#9 Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads…

Most restaurants have at least considered running digital ads as part of their food marketing strategy.

Online ads have a low barrier to entry: they’re easy to set up and you can start with a very small budget to test.

Each advertising platform has its own characteristics, which you will become familiar with over time. But keep in mind that digital ads aren’t that cheap anymore, so keep a close eye on performance and turn them off if they’re not working.

For them to work, you must comply with the basics:

  • Showing your ads to the right people is the most important success factor of your online campaigns. Review how to effectively target people by both location and interest categories.
  • It is essential to have ads that look good and attract your customers. Take into account the images, the text and the theme of the ads. Are you promoting any discounts or just the restaurant in general?
  • You need to monitor ad performance and continually test new combinations of creatives and objectives.

Keep your gastronomic marketing strategy updated

Stay on top of how the industry, your competitors, and your community are evolving. Your marketing strategy must be modified and adjusted to the inevitable changes in the environment.

The neighborhood may have become more exclusive over time; maybe a big chain has popped up next door and people are looking for the “local” option; a widespread food safety problem may have caused an aversion to shellfish. Be aware of these changes in the market and always be ready to adapt your restaurant marketing accordingly.

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