How To Market a Restaurant Using These 8 Simple Steps – Part I

June 26, 2013 11:30 am Published by

Here’s the deal. You want to know how to market a restaurant. You want to increase your sales and ensure your restaurant is the modern twenty-first century go-to spot.  This ideal scenario would require an upsurge of brand loyalty and therefore frequency of purchase. There are competitors around you that fill treble as many tables as you and you’re probably looking out the window in despair wondering what you’re doing wrong.

After all, your menu is elegant and cheap, the chefs are second to none, you’re in a great location and you’re attracting a lot of business. The problem is getting these customers to come back and going beyond the once off visits.

The typical traits of a successful restaurateur are

  • multitasking effectively,
  • having financial planning skills,
  • employing the right staff,
  • charming the pants off customers,
  • being a people person at all times,
  • managing stress.

This is all well and good and probably has got you to where you are today. You’re not closed down, you’re still in business, BUT you could be doing a lot better and generating more customer loyalty.

You spend a lot of money on marketing and you’ve even dipped into coupon marketing and daily deals websites to drive repeat purchase, which aren’t doing you the financial reaper any favors.

The problem is simple.

You’re paying your money and doing everything you can to market your restaurant; You do all this work and don’t for a second think about the person you are targeting, the customer. In order to do well, the trick is to put yourself in the shoes of the customer.

Step #1: Profile your Customers

The best thing you could do to begin with is develop customer personas.

I can’t stress enough the importance of having an expert understanding of your customers; their needs, wants, characteristics and lifestyles, in order to do well.

You can do this in a number of ways. I’ve outlined ways to gather information about your customers’ behavior.

  • If you have a customer email list, don’t be afraid to use it; survey them and do this by luring them in with an incentive.
  • You could even ask if any of these key customers would be interested in a follow up interview for an incentive like a gift card. Make sure these customers are asked the right questions that will meet the goal of finding out what attracts the customer when it comes to your industry.
  • Get creative. The next time one of your fairly loyal customer enters ask them ” What brings you here today?”. Even slip things into conversation, CSI style! Try and get their feedback on new menu items. Really it’s about knowing their mind set, interests, motivations, behavior, goals and what makes them tick. Call your first persona Bob, give him his traits (which I’ve just listed) and move on to your next one!
  • Observe your customers. What are they doing? Are they reading, on their laptops or eating french toast for the third time this week? Their actions can tell you a lot about their lifestyles, their needs and their wants.

Step #2: Get creative with your image

How to market a restaurant using the image of your restaurant

Get creative with the image of your restaurant

What meets the eye of the target customer when he walks past? And to use it to know how to market a restaurant?

We live in a beautiful developed world, we make decisions with all of our senses; you need to visually design your restaurant in the eyes of the customer.

People like elegant.

People like arty.

People like the vintage restaurant.

People like American diner style.

Some of the leaders in the restaurant/ fast food field are players like Planet Hollywood, Eddie Rockets and Nandos. You’re not passing their windows looking in at checkered table cloths and cranky waitresses; you’re looking in at a different world and a vibrant atmosphere.

I’m not saying you should put your staff in roller skates, but grab your customer profiles and unleash your arty creative side;  get cracking!

  • Consider your window display and your menus. Take a look at this link to see some really creative ideas.
  • Advertise your dishes and events in the restrooms. If you have a small bar, do a trial run on cocktails. Don’t look so concerned, they’re not that hard to accomplish!
  • If you have an outside area, make it as appealing as possible as regards seating and lighting. It’s sort of become the norm to take a stroll or have their meal outside, especially in nice weather. Don’t forget about your smokers – they are the ultimate coffee lovers!
  • Think creatively again- if it’s getting chilly provide your customers with blankets, if they bring their pet with them for their morning coffee, provide doggy bowls. Provide left over/takeaway boxes. Lash on the cream on those hot chocolates! It’s these kind of small touches that generate customer loyalty. I for one am a sucker for falling for these little touches. Be remembered for something.

Step #3: Consider your employees as the best ambassadors

How to market a restaurant through your staff

Employ the right kind of staff

Having the right kind of team is the most powerful marketing tool you could have.

A positive environment, a place that your staff enjoy working at, and a few hearty laughs here and there make a restaurant very appealing in the eyes of the customer. Again, I am talking from experience. If it appears that the staff are happy and enjoying themselves it creates positive associations with the restaurant.

Advise your staff to wear a smile at all times and to put customer service first. Even hold little competitions like “employee of the week” to keep the team motivated.

Another good way to use your staff effectively is to have them tell all their friends about the restaurant and give them a free bottle of wine with their meal.

Even ask them to promote the business on their social networking sites.

Give them sales roles from time to time in a light-hearted way with guaranteed incentives. It will benefit everyone.

Here are the first three steps on how to market a restaurant. I hope you enjoyed reading the first part and most importantly found it helpful. Stay tuned for Part  2 next week where I’ll discuss the remaining five steps!

Image references:Featured image, Planet Hollywood, Take care of your staff
Sarah Woulfe

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