Marketing is vital for any small business that wants to grow its consumer base and achieve long-term success. However, the truth is that marketing is even more important for local businesses that do not have the option to tap into the international market via the internet. Oftentimes, marketing a small local business can pose a number of challenges. So how can you develop a solid marketing plan for your restaurant on a budget? Read on to find out.
Give the Restaurant a Revamp
First impressions matter. You can spend an awful lot of money on your marketing methods, but you might still lose customers if they don’t like how your restaurant looks once they get there. Before you invest any money into your marketing efforts, it is worth dedicating some to revamping your restaurant. You could repaint, spruce up the décor or get some new tables or chairs. While you’re at it, it might also be worth revamping the exterior of your restaurant too. If the exterior of your restaurant looks a little dilapidated or run down, then you could be lowering your curb appeal.
Another way that you can market your business is to offer promotions. It gives both new and returning customers an incentive to visit your restaurant. The promotion that you decide to run is entirely down to you; some businesses favor a few different ones that they rotate through weekly, like ‘twofer’ Tuesday, where customers can get two appetizers/mains for the price of one. You could also choose to run promotions that coincide with holidays. For example, you could consider running a Mother’s Day promotion whereby mothers eat free. The options are endless; there are a lot of non-traditional holidays that you could lean into, too, like national pizza day. The promotions need to make sense for your restaurant, and it is important that you work out promotions that bolster your profit margin, not eat into it.
Build a Website
Businesses today need a website. The world is increasingly digital. Your consumers use the internet to explore the world around them. If you do not have an online presence, you could miss a huge chunk of your potential market. Your website serves as a virtual storefront. Consumers can learn about your opening times, where you are, and the story behind your business. You could even use the site to take reservations, dietary requirements, and maybe even for delivery or takeout services if you have the capabilities to do so. It is all about making things more convenient for your consumers. To make the most out of your website, you need to implement some SEO practices to ensure that your website ranks highly on the search engine results. The higher you rank, the more likely you are to be found by more people.
Utilize Social Media
Social media is a great way to market your business. Creating accounts and posting regular content helps you to interact and build a rapport with your consumers. It allows you to create a community, and in some aspects, it can provide an air of exclusivity, making consumers more desperate to be a part of this community. For example, you can post pictures of the meals, the staff, and offer promotions or discounts. Social media is also largely free to use, making it a cost-effective marketing option for restaurants with a modest marketing budget.
Build a Mailing List
Another effective marketing tip for most businesses is to build a mailing list. This is a list of your customer’s email addresses that you can use to send them marketing materials directly. Emails are another largely free tool, and as such, they offer a high return on investment. You email your customers with offers and promotions. However, it can be difficult to procure their emails, so a mailing list often goes hand-in-hand with having your own website. Customers can sign up to your mailing list on your website or in the restaurant itself. Once you have built a mailing list, you also need to think about how often you are going to send those emails out. If you send too many, your emails are likely to be deleted or find themselves in your customer’s spam folder. This article by Yelp goes into more detail on restaurant email marketing and provides some useful insights into what you could do. They also provide resources and tools that could provide a useful service.
Hosting fun events provides you with some unique marketing opportunities, and it is also a great way to provide your customers with a memorable experience. The events themselves can be anything that you choose, from the quiz or trivia nights to themed nights. If your restaurant serves alcohol, you have arguably got more potential when it comes to these nights. Setting these events up doesn’t have to be costly; for example, a trivia night doesn’t cost anything to throw apart from a bit of time to put together the questions. Of course, the more you commit to the nights, the more money you will want to spend on decorations and the like. However, if the nights prove popular, you can continue to host them in a rotation, meaning that you will get more use out of said decorations.
Prioritize Customer Service
Word-of-mouth advertising can be incredibly effective. People are far more likely to listen to the word of their trusted friends. The customers who visit your restaurant can be a great tool. This is why you need to prioritize their experience. By providing excellent customer service, you are creating a memorable experience for them. Therefore, they are more likely to think of you if their friends or family are looking for recommendations further down the line. This counts for the customers who visit your restaurant and the ones that want to reach you over the phone or over the internet.
When it comes to developing a solid marketing plan for your restaurant, there are several avenues that you can consider. It is up to you to decide which methods will work best for your business and help you further your goals. Realistically, marketing brings customers in, but the food you make and the service you provide are what keep them.