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As businesses are gradually reopening in California, restaurants are coming up with reopening marketing strategies to fit a COVID-19 world. Last week we talked about getting your restaurant ready for reopening. Now we’re here to share with you 4 proven marketing tips and techniques to help you keep loyal customers and get some new ones.
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Reopening Marketing Tips for Worried Diners
While some people are looking forward to dining out when it’s finally allowed, others are more cautious.
Most elderly people would rather wait a longer period before returning to dine at restaurants to avoid exposure to the virus. Diners who are concerned about infection rates will be more cautious about dining at crowded restaurants where social distancing is not fully implemented.
A key part of your reopening marketing strategy should be to address these concerns. Let diners know you have their safety in mind and be clear about the steps you’re taking to ensure it.
1. Reservation Systems Can Boost Your Marketing
Some of the leading reservation systems recently added new features to adapt to Covid-19. Use these to boost your reopening marketing efforts.
Resy, for example, created a mobile waitlist and capacity monitor. This way guests can add themselves to the restaurant’s waitlist if they’re close to the restaurant.
OpenTable launched a grocery store feature that allows shoppers to reserve a shopping time slot. Yelp Reservations offers a new feature that links your digital menu to your restaurant’s Yelp page to avoid contact via shared items such as a physical menu.
Tock also came out with a suit of new feature. The app now allows customers to reserve, purchase and pickup meals from restaurants that did not offer takeout before.
Check out this article to learn more about these systems and what they can do to push your reopening marketing strategy forward.
2. Create Irresistible LTOs
People don’t want to miss out on anything exciting or trendy, so offering a limited time meal is a great way of driving traffic to your restaurant and upgrading your reopening marketing technique.
But LTO’s during COVID-19 need that extra twist. We often turn to comfort foduring in stressful times, so it makes sense this pandemic drives consumers to more indulgent cravings.
A Technomic survey shows consumers prefer comfort food and bundled deals such as the classic bacon, egg and cheese sandwich from Wendy’s menu or Starbuck’s salted Caramel Mocha.
Here are some points you should consider when making an LTO strategy:
- Who are you targeting? 50% of Millennial and Gen Z customers want to be the first among their friends to try a new LTO and post it on social media. If you’re targeting them you should use the appropriate channels to reach them.
- Where can you find your target audience? Different age groups use different apps and communication channels. Millenials and Gen Z use Instagram more often while older age groups tend to spend more time on Facebook.
- Are you offering something unique? Market your LTO using its unique features. Your LTO can be a meal that isn’t currently on the menu, or a cool new twist on a customer favorite. It can also be inspired by traditional holidays or the current season like a pumpkin spiced latte in the fall or a steamy soup in the winter.
- Are you leveraging Social media for your reopening marketing? Encourage people to share your restaurant’s LTO on Instagram and use hashtags. Consider rewarding the first diners who try the meal and post it.
Be creative with your LTO’s, the more innovative and fresh they are, the more traffic they’ll drive to your restaurant. Cheetah supplies restaurants with a wide range of wholesale foods that you can stock up to prepare your LTO’s.
3. Start a Loyalty Program
There’s no question that returning customers are of the utmost importance to the success of any restaurant. Regulars tend to spend more than first timers so it’s important you keep diners happy and coming back for more.
Here are some reopening marketing pointers for your loyalty program strategy.
- Reward loyalty on each visit: Loyalty program customers are more likely to return to your restaurant, especially if you reward them after each visit. You can do that through accumulating points towards a discount or by redeeming a voucher after reaching a certain number of visits.
- Gift cards: These allow the customers more flexibility in claiming rewards. They can claim them whenever they wish and when they do arrive they usually spend more than the amount in the gift certificate.
- Personalized rewards: Customers value personalized rewards and experiences such as receiving a free meal on their birthday. People will arrive to redeem them and then spend even more money.
4. Communicate with Customers
Safety should be the main message when communicating with customers regarding the reopening of your restaurant. You should be transparent about how you plan to keep your community safe. Here are some reopening marketing pointers to think about:
- Opening hours: Let your customers know whether you’re open, closed or only doing curbside deliveries.
- Health and safety guidelines: Tell your customers how you’re sanitizing your restaurant so they feel safer coming to dine in.
- Social media: Update information on social media, apps, online ordering website and email campaigns regarding health regulations.
- Ask for feedback: When talking to customers, ask them how you can make their time better. Consider using loyalty app and social media to offer coupons for future service as a reward for their feedback.
- Get creative: Some restaurants are offering family style meals that customers can freeze. Others are creating special limited menus.
These reopening marketing strategies are all about communication. Your customers want to go back to eating out, but they want to know it’s safe and your strategy is a big part of it.
By keeping an open channel of communication with your customers, you can reassure them it’s safe to visit your restaurant while marketing new meals and offers that will attract them to your restaurant over other restaurants.