5 Restaurant Marketing Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)
Restaurant owners have a lot on their plate. In addition to serving up delicious food, they also need to…
They also need to promote their business. However, restaurant marketing can be tricky. It's easy to miss crucial opportunities, or worse, alienate potential customers. Here are five common restaurant marketing mistakes and what you can do to fix them.
1. Ignoring the Power of Your Local Community
Unless your restaurant is located in a major tourist town, locals are the bread and butter of your business. You might want to engage your neighbors by:
- Supporting a local 5K.
- Donating gift certificates to a charity auction.
- Sponsoring your neighborhood Little League team.
Getting involved shows people that you're more than just a restaurant owner. And when you show you care, your neighbors usually respond. However, make sure your participation is authentic. People can smell a fake a mile away.
2. Neglecting Your Online Presence
Your online presence starts with your restaurant's website. Make sure you update it periodically. Some signs that it's overdue for a makeover include:
- Outdated content.
- Lack of social media buttons.
- Flash animation.
A website that looks like it was created in the 1990s or it isn't mobile-friendly probably needs an upgrade.
Next, you may want to pay attention to your reviews on sites like Google and Yelp. Be careful how you respond to negative reviews. Try not to come off as defensive. Instead, let them know you're sorry they had a bad experience and ask how you can make the situation right. Even if you don't win back that customer, a thoughtful response shows other potential customers that you care.
Finally, you might want to list your restaurant with a few online directories. Choose ones that are appropriate for your business, such as:
You might also want to claim your Google My Business and Bing Places listing. This can help your restaurant show up near the top of local searches, like "restaurants near me."
Check out Hubspot's list of 50 online business directories for more targets.
3. Letting Social Media Get Cold
Neglected social media can give the impression that you went out of business. Worse? It's a missed opportunity to engage customers.
Use your social media accounts to announce your latest specials, promote events, and personalize your business with pictures of staff and happy customers. While you're at it, try showcasing the reason you're in business – food. Consider taking a photography class through your local college so you can share mouthwatering images of your culinary creations.
4. Badmouthing the Competition
Competition in the restaurant industry can be cutthroat. However, you probably want to keep it classy, especially when you post online.
Trash talking other restaurants to customers or on social media not only makes you look petty, it can result in a lawsuit. Take a moment before you share anything that might be considered offensive. And just in case, make sure you have General Liability Insurance. It typically covers lawsuits related to slander and libel.
5. Doing the Same Old Thing
You can't serve up the same old, same old and expect customers to keep coming back for seconds. Try offering daily specials or experimenting with seasonal dishes. Just remember your customers usually expect reliable favorites and enticing new tastes, so you might want to keep your bestsellers on the menu.
Menu updates usually require more than new recipes. See how to plan them well in "Do These 4 Things Before Changing Your Restaurant’s Menu."
Still need some inspiration? Fit Small Business has several more restaurant marketing tips you may find helpful.