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Today, in most industries, foodservice especially, marketing falls into two major categories – offline and online. You may not be an online marketing wizard, but there are simple things anyone can do to boost their online presence.
There are three things every restaurant or bar owner should have if they want to increase brand awareness and attract both new and repeat customers. We’ll take you through each of these, from taking charge of online reviews, to making the most of different social media platforms, to creating and managing a website.
Online reviews have taken the food industry by storm, and most diners will look at restaurant reviews on sites like Yelp or TripAdvisors before choosing where to dine next. Since customer reviews have become a major factor in decision making, your restaurant better have a positive presence on these sites.
Encourage your customers to leave a review on by offering them incentives like a voucher or coupon for their next visit. Not only does this contribute toward your online presence, but it gives customers the sense that you care about their opinion and experience, and will encourage them to come back. It also improves the chances that their review will be positive.
Although these might be hard to read, don’t shy away from negative reviews. Take these as a chance to learn and improve, and as a way to better understand your customers’ needs. Responding to these reviews is your chance to show whoever’s reading them that you care about your customers and to guarantee they’ll have a better experience next time around.
Leverage Social Media
Social media platforms play an important role when it comes to marketing and spreading brand awareness for your restaurant. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and similar sites are a powerful marketing tool that you should learn how to use to boost your online presence and reach new audiences.
Paid campaigns are one way to go, but these can be costly, time consuming and if they’re not done right they can be ineffective. Unless you’re paying an expert to manage your business’ social media platform, spend time creating organic content and spread it around.
Be conscious of each platform’s purpose and style. Instagram is a great place to upload colorful, high-resolution photos of your best dishes and share stories of customer experiences from any given day. Facebook is great for getting people to talk about your business and for interacting with them by replying to their posts and answering their questions. You can also tag customers to let them know you thought of them and that you appreciate their business.
Offering giveaways, asking questions or getting users’ feedback on new specials or menu items are another way to get people involved. Most important, be personal and post often. The more you post and engage with your audience, the more effective your social media efforts will be.
Give Your Website a Facelift
If you still don’t have one for your restaurant, stop reading and come back once you have a restaurant website. In today’s world, businesses cannot afford not to have their online business card.
To ensure your website serves as a strong marketing tool for your restaurant, it needs to look the par. At the very least, it should feature plenty of photos of your food, drinks, staff and ambiance. Hiring a professional photographer to highlight the best of your menu and décor can be a bit expensive, but considering most web pages with images will do a lot better than text-only pages, it’s a good investment. This doesn’t mean you have to pay for another round of professional images every time you change your specials. In fact, a collection of professional, amateur and even diners’ photos will give your website a dynamic feel.
A fancy layout and cool graphics are not the only thing that your website needs. People who visit your restaurant’s website are also looking for information like opening hours, location and directions and your menu offering and pricing.
Other great features to add are booking options, customer review section, an event calender of live performances, promotions or theme nights, a press kit, and an about page where you tell your story, introduce your staff, and showcase any awards you’ve won. The more information and quality content you put on your site, the more value it has for visitors.