What are the latest tactics in Restaurant Marketing?

My Quora answer to: What are the latest tactics in Restaurant Marketing?

The competition among restaurants these days is fierce. In fact, statistically 8 out of 10 restaurants will fail within the first 18 months primarily for the following few reasons:

Reason #1: Not really in touch with customers.
Reason #2: No real differentiation in the market.
Reason #3: Failure to communicate value propositions in clear, concise and compelling fashion.

So…..How do you get in touch, establish a differentiation and communicate with your customers besides filling their bellies with mouthwatering, unforgettable food? MARKETING!!!

Here are a few marketing ideas and strategies that promise to help you improve your business and get attention from hungry foodies everywhere.

1. Word of mouth: Research continuously proves that word of mouth by a friend, loved one or co-worker is still the most effective way to win new customers.

2. Stay current: Keep yourself up to date on current statistics, trends, facts and figures that can help you analyze your restaurant marketing plan. Should you make any tweaks to how you market your restaurant? Should you position your restaurant differently?

3. Show off your staff: In an age of automation and robotic customer service reps, the human element is severely lacking. Show off your 5-star staff doing what they do best! Seeing happy, smiling employees does wonders for your reputation, as customers long to be served by joyful workers.

4. Have a functional website: Can local customers find your restaurant online? Make sure they can with a well-optimized website that does what you want it to do. The key is to get them to your website before they find your competitors. You can create a food blog, list daily specials and direct visitors to your social media profiles and online review sites.

5. Engage in local SEO practices: Websites aren’t just for big companies; now more than ever, small local businesses are realizing the importance of having a website and implementing an Internet marketing strategy. Since 72% of all searches are related to a search for local content, you should be 100% sure that your website will show up for those searches relevant to your restaurant.

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6. Enlist local food bloggers: Ask local food bloggers to review your restaurant in return for a free meal. The outside link will help with rankings, and the positive review will help your reputation.

7. Monitor review sites: You live or die on your reputation, so pay close attention to what people are saying about your restaurant online. This is where your offline visitors can tell the online world about their (hopefully positive) experience at your restaurant. Thank visitors for positive reviews and respond to and respectfully resolve negative reviews.

8. Use an online restaurant reservation tool: Invite your customers to make a reservation on sites like Open-Table. You need an online restaurant reservation tool to make it easier for your customers and easier on yourself. And sometimes people just don’t want to pick up the phone – they’d rather make their reservation in just a few clicks.

9. Partner up with delivery services: In today’s online-driven environment, ease of use is the name of the game. Many online delivery services streamline the ordering process, and internet-savvy patrons often love taking advantage of such delivery services.

10. Grow your email database: If you compare to direct marketing, email marketing is more efficient, environmentally friendly and a faster way to keep your customers in the know. Promote your e-newsletters through social media, on your website, and inside your restaurant. You will need to decide what will work best for you.

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11. Get a social media presence: Strengthen your word of mouth marketing with an interesting, interactive social media presence. This gives you the ability to engage your customers 365 days as year, represent your brand and enlist customers to share their stories. That’s priceless.

12. Provide enough incentive for people to pay attention: Give your patrons incentive to follow you on social media channels or to come into your restaurant, and make it simple for them to do so. If you constantly put up your restaurant specials on Facebook, your fans will lose interest. Mix it up, don’t be afraid to have fun, and be a part of the local community.

13. Foodie photos: If you’ve ever logged onto Instagram, you’ll understand that food porn is alive and well. Arguably the very best way to promote your restaurant online is with high-quality, drool-inducing photos. Visual content is in high demand online these days, and having delicious looking photos on your website and across various social media outlets is essential for drawing hungry eyes.

14. Loyalty programs: Partnering up with online food apps should definitely be a consideration as part of your restaurant marketing plan. Partnering with online apps encourages visitors to check out your restaurant through loyalty programs, which offer visitors a free purchase or discount for visiting a certain number of times.

15. Give your menu a fresh look: If you already have a great design that works well, this may not be necessary. If you have a boring or outdated menu, however, customers may think your food is not enticing as well.

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16. Ask: Ask your regulars and loyal fans offline to ‘Like’ you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter and Pinterest, and help spread the word. Send an email, call those you have a good relationship with, and walk right up to their table while they’re enjoying what they love about your restaurant.

17. Yelp: has tremendous power in the restaurant industry, and having a strong backing of positive Yelp reviews is like having a flock of golden geese – reviews from Yelp can do wonders for your business.

18. Google+: Setting up your restaurant’s Google+ account is as important as setting up your Yelp account.

19. Manage your online reputation: Review sites have become an integral part of a business’s reputation, and negative reviews have the potential to harm your business. Too many negative Yelp reviews, whether true or not, will turn business away. Asking happy customers to write you a review, as well as responding personally to any negative feedback, is the best way to maintain a positive online reputation.

20. Develop your restaurant’s brand identity: Building your restaurant’s brand identity can have a big affect on your social media performance. Your goal should be to build you restaurant’s identity around your target customers.

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