10 Creative Ways to Market Your Fast Casual Restaurant
Running a restaurant is a tall order, but running a successful restaurant can sometimes feel impossible. The competition among restaurants is fierce, and restaurants are more likely to fail in their first year than any other kind of business. Add to that the fact that Millennials are taking over the market and have unique ideas of what they want from their dining experience, and you’ll begin to understand why strong marketing is so essential for restaurants.
If you’re at a stage in your business where you’re ready to get serious about marketing, start with these ten strategies.
Write a Press Release: Have you come up with a creative new menu item? Did you just hire a new chef? Did you take over a formerly failing restaurant? Did you just get an A+ Zagat rating? Brag about it with a press release. Press releases are shockingly underused in the restaurant industry, and they are an excellent way to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Just make sure the press release is online (not in the paper) if you want it to bring in business.
Partner with GrubHub: Partnering with a food delivery app like GrubHub and Seamless will allow a broader audience to find you. It also has the benefit or prompting customers to review your food so that you can collect valuable customer data.
Offer a loyalty program: By partnering with a customer loyalty app like Loyal Bucks or Perka, you will give your customers the chance to get discounts or free meals when they visit your restaurant frequently. These programs improve customer satisfaction rates.
Start Text Message Marketing: Text message marketing is a powerful but significantly underutilized marketing tactic. Start out by offering your customers an enticing offer, like a free drink or dessert with their meal if they text “dessert” to 55555. They show the receipt to their server and get their promotion. Then, you can start sending them promotions once a week, once a month, or whenever you’d like. You’ll build your list, increase brand loyalty, and please your audience with surprises and deals. It’s a win/win situation. Here’s a comparison of some text message marketing companies.
Get on Instagram: High-quality photos are one of the best ways to promote your restaurant because it allows people to visualize what they’re going to indulge in later. A full 60% of people are more likely to purchase from a company that has high-quality photos on their website; this number is likely much higher for restaurant customers. Show off your menu items in all of their glory on Instagram and your website. Just make sure these photos are high-quality, as low-quality, poorly lit, or poorly staged photos may end up doing more harm than good.
Geo-target your Google Ads: People want to dine close to home. Promoting your restaurant to someone who is a block away is more effective than targeting to someone who will have to travel two miles to get there. Geotag your ads so people can easily find you on their iPhones when they’re right around the corner.
Stay on top of your social media accounts: You already know you need to have a Facebook page, but how often do you check it or add new content? Responding to customers’ questions can go a long way toward customer loyalty. And adding regular content will encourage customers to “like” your page and keep up to date with your promotions and events.
Use Brand Ambassadors: Brand ambassadors are paid professionals who promote your brand and your food to potential customers. Brand ambassadors can dole out samples of your food to a local audience, host an event to bring in new diners, or do any number of other promotions to show off your restaurant.
Tweet in a timely fashion: Want to promote a 40% off discount on burritos? Don’t post it at 10 a.m. and hope your customers find it. Tweet it out at noon and again at 6 when they’re starting to get hungry. Offer deep discounts late at night when midnight snacking starts.
Have a functional online menu: How many times have you gone to a restaurant’s website only to find that the menu is outdated, hard to navigate, missing prices, or missing altogether? 80% of customers will visit your website before they visit your restaurant. They’re looking for pictures, menus, dining hours, prices, and your address. Do not disappoint them.
Of course, there is no such thing as a one size fits all marketing plan. Don’t blindly follow this list and ignore your customers’ response. If you try one of these methods and your customers don’t respond, move onto the next. Get creative. Ask your customers what they’d like to see in your marketing. The most important thing is to get to know your customers’ preferences and then deliver a quality experience that goes above and beyond their expectations.
For more information about marketing your fast casual restaurant, or to hire brand ambassadors for your next event, contact Modern Promos today.