We are living in one of the most disruptive times in history when it comes to how consumers make their choices. Social media and now mobile have changed everything we know about marketing. I'm lucky enough to have seen the online world for the last 6 or 7 years and also worked in kitchens in the first part of my career so I've seen both sides of things. I don't own a restaurant now, nor would I ever want to (way too hard work for me) but I decided to put together a list of things that every restaurant should be doing in terms of attracting customers. Most are tech focused and a couple just shed light on some of the things that you shouldn't be spending money on. Do all of these and I absolutely guarantee you will have punters flooding through the door. I'll certainly come along myself.
Take Beautiful Photos
When we compile lists here on the blog or write features about restaurants, one of the first factors that we take into consideration are the quality of the photos that restaurants have. People love to look at food porn style pictures when online and as a restaurant you simply have to take high quality images. It is incredibly cheap to do these days and it lets people see what you can deliver and gets them excited. Good photos get shared everywhere online and will attract lots of new customers.
Buy A Smartphone For Your Manager / Chef
A good smartphone will cost you about 500 euro but in the hands of the right person within your restaurant it will become your most important marketing tool. It can be used to access social networks, take amazing pictures (all the pictures on this blog are taken with an iPhone) and creating all sorts of wonderful content and to tell the story of your very own restaurant.
Keep Your Website Super Simple
Restaurant websites are without doubt the worst sector in the world in terms of delivering what they should be. What restaurants need to understand is that we don't want big flashy sites blaring out horrendous music with fancy animations. All people want are a menu (absolutely not using PDF), some photos, a number to call you on and the location of the restaurant. Anything else is a bonus and absolutely non essential.
Tell Your Story With A Video
Videos used to be expensive to produce but you can get an eager, very capable student or small company to make you one for between 500-1000 euro these days. There is no better way to get your story out there and get people excited about your company. It is also an incredible way of making people think you are a lot bigger than you actually are.
Don't Buy Plaques
I've written about this in the past. There is no bigger waste of money in the modern world than plaques for restaurants. This is restaurant marketing from the 90s and it is just a way for food writers to get money out of restaurants because they can't make money on their own content online. Do not waste a penny on these.
Depending on where your restaurant is located there is a very good chance that you are going to be getting tourists coming to your premises to eat. Rather than focusing on local sites you should consider what sites the guests will be using. Take Yelp as a great example because although it is not huge here most Americans swear by it and it is their first port of call.
Have A Strong Facebook Presence
Facebook is one of the most useful marketing tools you will ever come across because it is where the vast majority of the population spend large amounts of time. It is all about staying front of mind with your customers and showing them the quality of your food and ingredients. I don't want to see pictures of cars or funny memes. I want to see what you are cooking and if it looks good, there is a very good chance I'll pop in.
Offer Free Super Fast WIFI
Wifi is important today as running water in the toilets of your restaurant. Most places are starting to get that fact and things are improving. The simple fact is that many people decide where to eat based on the Wifi. I make 100 Euro purchasing decisions based on the quality of the WIFI on a weekly basis. Make it free, make it fast and make it easily accessible and you will get lots more customers.
Don't Go Down Deals Route
I hate deals sites. It is a business model that was set up with the view of getting as much money out of restaurants as possible without thinking about quality or a long lasting business model. You will never ever see the restaurants who are doing well on deals sites but you will see the guys who are struggling there. This is a broken business model and please don't spend money on this because it won't get you long term valuable customers.
Don't Give Away Freebies
As you can imagine writing a food blog I get offered free stuff all the time. I never ever take them. In my favourite restaurants, bars and cafes I have never been given 1 cent off anything. If you start giving free stuff away you immediately devalue your product. If you are proud of what you do and happy to stand behind it then you should never be giving it away free.