6 Marketing Strategies for Restaurants and Food Businesses You Can’t Afford to Miss

From #MondayMotivation to well-thought targeted marketing campaigns, the term, ‘marketing strategy’ can mean a lot of things. 

Thus, the ‘best’ marketing strategy is relative; it depends on your business (your business’ main objective, competitors, finances, geographical conditions, and so on), your target audience, and all the elements associated with your business. 

This becomes a bit trickier when it comes to restaurants and businesses in the food industry for many reasons:

Marketing Challenges in Restaurant and Food Industry

  • It can be difficult to align your marketing efforts for all customers as restaurants have a wide range of target customers (especially if your food business has an online presence – which is undoubtedly beneficial for growing your business, but also requires you to up your marketing approaches).
  • Restaurants’ reliance on food critics, food reviewers, and other third-party reviewers for word-of-mouth marketing is another common restaurant marketing challenge. 

This word-of-mouth marketing is not limited to the surrounding of your restaurant or staff members’ behavior, but it vastly includes the taste of food. 

This can be a challenge for restaurants: if a food critic likes their meals spicy, and the restaurant has a more subtle taste, then that restaurant might lose ratings (by the food critic) based on a metric that varies from person to person; what’s spicy to the restaurant’s target customers might not be spicy enough for a food critic, but it damages the restaurant’s brand perception all the same. 

To improve that, here are 6 proven ways to increase positive reviews for your restaurant

  • The role of mood dependency can also negatively affect a restaurant’s profitability. Same customers who prefer your restaurant might change their diet or switch to another cuisine for long periods of time. 

With such marketing challenges for restaurants and the F&B industry, as a marketing strategist, how do you know what is going to work and what will not? 

By experimenting – in the initial stages of your business, you can follow the footsteps of leading food businesses in your industry; once there is a sense of stability, you can get your hands dirty with risky marketing strategies as well – this is only if you want to play safe, you can also break the rules and create new marketing strategies for your restaurant and food business. 

To get you started with engaging marketing strategies for your food business, we have put together a few of the truly best, recently-updated, and most versatile marketing strategies which you can leverage to grow your food business and restaurant. 

Marketing Strategy #1: Strengthen Local SEO for ‘Near me’ Searches 

Around 46% of all Google searches are local. On the other hand, 56% of local stores have not even listed their names on Google My Business. Before we dive deeper into why this matters, let us understand what is local SEO: 

Local SEO is a marketing strategy through which you can leverage search engines to your benefit by optimizing the online presence of your business. It helps you attract more customers – both, online and offline – from local searches. 

//Click to tweet: above-mentioned sentence//

Why does this strategy work specifically for restaurants and food businesses?

Amongst all “near me” searches, “restaurants near me” is the most popular. Statistically speaking, around 6.2 million organic “near me” searches are for restaurants. 

Thus, if your restaurant does not have a queue waiting to be served, there is a very high chance that strengthening your local SEO might help you with it. 

How to implement this marketing strategy in your restaurant and food business?

We understand that local SEO is crucial for local food businesses, but getting started on the wrong foot can bring more harm than good. Thus, here are some actionable tips to optimize local SEO for your restaurant and food business: 

  • Mobile site: Optimize your current website for all devices: desktops, mobile phones, tablets, iPads, etc. Bright’s Local’s study tells us that 61% of mobile users are more likely to engage with a local business if they have a mobile-friendly website. 

P.S. If you do not have an online presence of your restaurant or food business, it is high time to build it. 

  • Google My Business: It is the foremost step towards having a strong local online presence of your business. 

It is quite easy to claim and list your restaurant on Google:

  1. Go to google.com/business and sign in to your Google account. 
  2. Provide NAP (name, address, phone number) details. 
  3. List it on Google Maps. 
  4. If you have different branches or franchises, you can add all the branches under the ‘Business’ tab at the top left of your screen. (Here, keep the NAP details the same for all branches). 
  5. Select categories that fit your business. 
  6. Verify your business listing by phone or email. All done. 

Listing your business on Google My Business can be the beginning of branding your restaurant. Moving on, you can explore these 8 restaurant branding tips to go stranger than ever

  • Ratings and reviews: Online reviews are quite an underrated way of boosting local SEO and gaining credibility for your business at the same time. 

Though your happy customers would like to drop a review for your restaurant, you might need to encourage them to do so. If you are feeling adventurous, you could leave a link-to-review CTA on online menus, websites, social media posts, etc. Also, ensure you reply to these reviews; this will show how you value your customers.

Marketing Strategy #2: Leverage Influencer Marketing on Social Media 

While social media marketing is a well-known and very effective marketing strategy, topping it off with the power of influencer marketing is a combined marketing strategy that businesses should not miss. 

A report from Annalect and Twitter tells us that consumers trust recommendations from influencers almost as much as they trust their friends’ words. In this report, 49% (almost half of them) rely on influencers’ opinions for product recommendations. 

Why does this strategy work specifically for restaurants and food businesses?

With a large social media following of various influencers across the world, you can make your food business reach a very wide audience in one go. 

Amongst many types of influencers, one of the most known categories of influencers is food bloggers. There are a number of food bloggers – and other influencers for that matter – who are seeking opportunities to collaborate with businesses that align with their rapport and previous collaborations. Thus, influencer marketing is an entirely win-win situation for your food business, restaurant, or food truck. 

How to implement this marketing strategy in your restaurant and food business?

One of the easiest ways to leverage influencer marketing strategy is to reach your target customers by inviting influencers (local and global) to explore and dine in your restaurants. From thereon, influencers can go-ahead to share their experience with the world. 

Besides that, here are a few ways in which influencer marketing can be one of the best marketing strategies for your restaurant and food business: 

  • Food bloggers: Explore portfolio websites or blogs of food bloggers (if you are looking for a marketing strategy to attract customers specifically from your geographical area, then you can filter out these blogs based on location), and select food bloggers who seem most associated with your food, products, and services. 

Here, you can take the extra mile by ensuring that the selected food bloggers have a target audience similar to yours. 

Once you have a list of food bloggers who fit your requirements, you can contact these food bloggers and request a review of your restaurant in exchange for offers or monthly discounts. 

  • Travel influencers: If your restaurant has multiple branches, you can reach out to travel influencers who are currently in an area that is close to one of your branches, and request them to upload photos of them exploring your restaurant along with a positive note to their followers. 

This can easily bring your restaurant around 5,000 – 50,000 new potential followers – and most likely, some of these will turn out to be your customers. 

Marketing Strategy #3: Give Added and Tangible Value to Your Customers 

Marketing is not only for acquiring new customers, it is also about your existing customers. Nonetheless, some marketing professionals overlook the importance of existing customers; which makes this marketing strategy quite crucial. 

Unlike content marketing or email marketing, this is not a traditional marketing strategy. Some might even argue that this approach is more about customers and less about the company. Well, it is partly true, and entirely effective. 

“If we start with our audience’s needs, preferences and questions first, and build our marketing plans around that, we’ll likely be met with much greater success and we’ll see better results,” says Melaine Deziel, founder of StoryFuel. 

Why does this strategy work specifically for restaurants and food businesses?

Going to a restaurant or ordering from a restaurant is not just about one element, it is more about the entire experience (combining taste, services, the ambiance of a restaurant, packaging of food (if ordered), and staff members). 

For them to have a memorable experience, you have to ensure that you give your customers a little added value which encourages them to look forward to having the same experience; a.k.a it will lead to brand loyalty amongst your customers. 

How to implement this marketing strategy in your restaurant and food business?

It has been quite established that your customers are the epicenter of your food business, and it raises the need of giving value to your customers. However, even though you are likely keeping your customers’ needs and preferences in check while coming up with your marketing strategies, it might not be evident to your customers. 

Thus, as a restaurant owner or a food business owner, you will potentially benefit from providing tangible and direct value to your customers. Here are some ways to get started with it: 

One of the best ways to make your loyalty program more effective is by partnering with third-party online ordering applications. You can use gamification and rewards to encourage your customers to visit your restaurant. 

Besides this, you can also provide coupons and discounts via a loyalty program on your website. 

  • Festive season offers: While many companies provide discounts and offers to their customers, only a few companies connect to their customers. Here is what makes the difference: 

Offering a discount mostly means that you are lowering your prices for higher sales or to attract customers. However, if you attach a meaningful aspect to your discounts, not only will it help you with attracting customers but also with creating a better relationship with your existing and potential customers. 

You can start by Facebook advertising your festive sale or festive giveaways (it could be with or without a contest). 

Bonus: Prompt Restaurant and Food Marketing Strategies 

Besides these known yet often forgotten marketing strategies for restaurants and food businesses, let us explore marketing strategies that are quite prompt to implement; on the contrary, need time to work best. 

Though these marketing strategies take their time to bring results, it is their regular and consistent implementation that makes them highly effective. 

4. A Covid-19 Friendly Environment

Though it is hopefully coming to an end, Covid-19 has transformed a friendly restaurant environment into masked and distant waiters and waitresses. 

Gradually, restaurants and food businesses are back in business, but with people’s justified concern, it is best to have some precautionary measures in place to keep your restaurant germ-free and a healthy place to visit and eat. 

You can start by implementing minor safety measures such as distant tables, a sneeze guard or sanitizers on every table, encouraging takeouts, and walking your customers through all your precautionary measures to make it evident that you value your customers’ safety. 

5. A Website (with an active blog)

A website is certainly a non-negotiable element of your restaurant’s marketing strategy. However, having an up-and-running website is not enough to reach a wide market worldwide (or even locally). 

However, to leverage a website to its best advantage, you must have some basic website pages: a home page, an about us page, a contact page, and a FAQ page. 

Begin with a home page, and learn how to design an outstanding home page for your business website

Besides these, here are a few things you can do to get the most out of your business’s online presence:

  • A practical website design: Your website will not be of much use if it is not functional and brings convenience to your customers. 

You can ensure that your restaurant and food business has a solid and functional website by having a photo gallery page that shows what your restaurant looks like, happy customers, food pictures, etc. You can also have a reviews page to increase your restaurant’s credibility. 

  • An active blog: Posting blogs such as food recipes and table manners can earn you a lot more credibility in terms of knowledge of the food industry than you would think. 

You can also post blogs about new events, offers, and other reasons why your target market should engage with your restaurant. To get more traffic to your restaurant blogs, you can also start promoting these on social media channels. 

As this is not direct advertising or promotion of your restaurant or food products, but a way to intrigue your customers, it is a more genuine approach to attract your customers. 

6. An Email and SMS Equation

Posting on social media channels helps you reach a wide target market in one go. It is undoubtedly a great way to market your food business and a restaurant, but it does not create a personal connection with your customers. 

Businesses have been focusing on excellent packaging design and including a thank you note or a user manual with a package – this is how product-based businesses initiate a personal connection with their customers.

As a restaurant or food business owner, you can do these while sending food deliveries. 

However, you do not have to stop at personalizing delivery packaging only. To take it up a notch and do this all digitally, having a solid email marketing strategy in place is a great way to do so. 

It is a low-cost method to attract multiple customers while bringing a personal touch to your marketing; you can do this by sending a well-crafted email and SMS on your customers’ birthdays and other special occasions such as festivals. 

You can also share monthly email newsletters which can include updated menus, customer stories, coupons, etc. 

Get inspiration for your email newsletters from this collection of 18 email newsletter examples we love getting in our inboxes

Wrap Up Note

The restaurant and food industry has been facing quite some challenges in recent times due to the worldwide pandemic. However, with new challenges come updated solutions. 

With the above-discussed marketing strategies for restaurants and food owners, we planned to give you the nudge your restaurant and food business needs to build an indestructible brand presence, attract potential customers, have better customer relationships with the existing customers, and reach higher heights locally and worldwide. 

Be that as it may, we understand that every restaurant is different (different customers, priorities, needs, location, etc) and that makes it obvious that every marketing strategy might not be for every restaurant. 

We strongly suggest you explore these strategies, customize them based on your needs, and evaluate which restaurant and food business marketing strategy works best for you in the short term and long term.

You may also like

Getting a creative design is easy and guaranteed!
Two realities that everyone likes.

Get started
As Featured in:
Forbes Logo
Entrepreneur Logo
Yahoo Finance Logo
Inc Logo