As a restaurant owner, you probably love nothing more than seeing your place bustling with happy diners. But as a business owner, you’ll know that this kind of success doesn’t happen by accident. Filling a restaurant over and over again requires a sound and sustainable marketing plan.
Even if you’d prefer to focus on providing the great food and atmosphere, there are a number of things you can do (or delegate) that are proven strategies for filling tables and having satisfied customers coming back for more – and telling their friends.
Here are three time-tested strategies for marketing your restaurant and filling those tables with grateful diners.
One of the most tried-&-true ways to create buzz about your restaurant is the age-old strategy of hitting the pavement. Getting in front of your local people and sharing the news around your community is still an effective way to spread the word about your business.
However, today’s consumers are inundated with marketing messages and adverts, both online and offline, so you will need to get creative with your promotional efforts. Though it’s possible to just hand out flyers with a discount coupon, to really maximise this strategy, give careful thought to who your target audience is and what offers, deals or promotions would they be most interested in.
Feel free to get creative! You don’t need to hire a gorilla suit but if you do something entertaining or intriguing as you spread the word or hand out info, you’re more likely to get a positive response from passersby and local shops etc. And if you really go to town with a newsworthy promo (think Richard Branson and his brand awareness capers), you may even find that people share your antics on social media and create some buzz on your behalf.
Although a relative newcomer to the time-tested strategies, PPC (Pay Per Click) is just another form of advertising – but with a powerful modern twist. With PPC advertising such as Google Adwords, you are paying to have your restaurant seen by potential customers at the exact moment they are searching for somewhere to eat!
In online terms, PPC has been around almost since the very beginning – launching in 2000, only nine years after the internet became publicly available – and it’s still going strong. For proof of this, just do an online search for PPC consultants. There’s an ever-increasing stream of these PPC experts because they know that advertising on search engines is powerful and it works.
So, if you’d like a simple way to reach your customers, hiring a PPC expert could help you fill your bookings diary, as well as allowing you to spend more of your time and focus on creating good food and taking care of your customers.
These days, it’s not enough to just offer quality food and great service. In order to compete with all the other dining options in your area, you need to give people a compelling reason to choose your restaurant or to try it out for the first time. Events are a great way to do this.
Whether you hire a style expert to share tips as people dine, or you run themed food nights, or you could even book the latest reality TV star to do a meet & greet, events are a proven way to woo back old customers and create a local buzz that will entice new ones.
One advantage of hosting great events is that they not only help to fill your restaurant on event night, but they can also raise awareness of your business that will support your longer-term success.
If you are going to go to the expense and trouble of putting on an event in your restaurant, make sure you make the most of it. Harness modern networks such as social media, local news publicity and PR to really maximise your efforts. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, you could employ more advanced techniques such as content marketing (blogging), email marketing (collecting email addresses) or SMS marketing (text messages).
Though you may not have considered yourself a marketer or entrepreneur when you began your restaurant business, it certainly pays to be savvy about marketing and promotion if you want a steady stream of customers coming through the door. With some astute planning and maybe even a little expert support, you can then enjoy more of the work you really love – feeding hungry diners in your busy, buzzing restaurant.