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What makes a successful restaurant? Is it expert customer service, great food and an ideal location with an awesome brand? Don't get me wrong, that is excellent criteria to build a platform with, but how do you go from a platform into a skyrise?
Marketing or PR tactics? Yes. But how do begin to market with today's newest methodologies? Inbound marketing has transformed marketing from traditional, outbound marketing, into a new content-driven digital science.
Think about it. When is the last time you bought a product based on a cold call, commercial or billboard? Now think about the last time you bought something because you found it on your own (organically), interacted with the company via email, discovered it during a quick Google search, or saw it on social media.
My guess is the second option.
When you're interested in buying a product or have an idea, you research then buy. The same is true for restaurants. Foodies are Googling you, finding you on a number of review sites or social media platforms, then landing on your website. That's why having a functional website, that's mobile-friendly is so critical for the success of your restaurant.
Let's strip your website down to the basics. Here's what you'll need to include:
- Hours of operation
- Special Holidays when your restaurant is closed
- An up-to-date FULL menu with pictures (Some menu sites will upload them from your website to promote your page for free! )
- Social links to all of your social networking channels
- Contact information
People are researching what to eat before they make the choice to travel there. Make sure you have social sharing buttons, so that patrons can "check-in" and tell their friends where they are eating and what they are eating. (Hello, word-of-mouth marketing!)
Your contact information should include a phone number, an email address and a physical address. It’s also nice to have Google maps linked to get directions to and from your establishment, for first timers. Make everything convenient for your guests.
Quick tip: Make sure you are checking all business listing sites that have your restaurant listed. Some of these sites have the option to leave a review and you need to know what is being said about your business.
Showcase your brand
Your website should generate the same vibe that your restaurant portrays. After all, it's the first impression for your future guests.
Let your customers get to know you through the screen they are viewing. Show off your restaurant with photos, both inside and outside so that people know what to expect. Your website is the perfect spot to tell your restaurant's story. Are you a “ma and pa shop", a chain, or a chef’s dream come true?
People relate to stories. Share what makes you different from your competitors. Tell the world. Show off your talent and specialties!
Insert your happy hour(s) information, the times and what it includes. Be as specific as possible, so that you don't have a lot of people calling asking questions.
List your weekly promotions, explaining specials that you have for different nights out of the week, such as Wine Wednesdays, College Night or Hospitality Night. Be sure to include what these promotions include and what they exclude.
Charity Work and Partnerships
Promote your achievements, partnerships, sponsorships and what charities you work with. Show your community that you want to be a part of it and are proud to be located there. This includes your involvement with taste of the town events, as well as local fairs and festivals. Share pictures of your staff having fun and supporting the community.
Promote your staff or one staff member every month. Returning guests will have fun keeping up with it, and it creates conversation at the table and at the bar. This is also nice for the morale of your employees, by creating friendly conversation and a reward for a job well done!
Start a blog and assign employees to share their experience at the restaurant. Don't have writers on hand? Take the time to personally write, or hire an intern. You also have the option to hire the professionals at Impulse Creative to do the work for you.
Blogging not only create authority for your website, it also increases your search engine optimization. You don't have to blog just about your restaurant, blog about everything you think your ideal persona (customer) would want to read. Listen to what your regulars are often asking your staff and write about that! Most importantly, be consistent with it.
Want to learn more about taking control of your Restaurant's online presence? Download the Restaurant's Big Book to Review Sites below.