Do you own or run a restaurant or a chain of restaurants? If so, like so many in the sector, you’ll have endured a difficult and often distressing time during the pandemic. Your main focus now will be on pro-active planning. With experts predicting a healthy future for the hospitality sector, your number one priority must be to give customers of the future the confidence that your venue will be their destination of choice for years to come.
Restaurant marketing to instil customer confidence
Your challenge is to market your business to potential customers in a way that fills them with confidence. You need to convince them that, when visiting your restaurant, they will not only enjoy great food in a warm environment, but they will also be safe from infection. Your success in persuading them of this will depend largely on your marketing communications. In this article, we’ll look at your restaurant marketing options.
Communication has always been the essence of effective marketing, but now, as you almost start your business from scratch, it’s more important than ever. You need to keep your customer right up-to-date with where your restaurant business is at now and what your plans are for the coming months.
You need to inform that about:
- The steps you’re taking in and around your restaurant to keep them safe from infection. This could be in terms of new health and safety equipment and social distancing measures you’re bringing in.
- The services you’re offering now and plan to be offering in the future.
- How you’ll be keeping them in touch with developments – notices, blogs, newsletters etc.
Communicate the new customer journey
Do you offer a takeaway service? Maybe you provide drive-through, click-and-collect, or delivery too. That’s excellent, but not all restaurants are as enthusiastic as they might be about their efforts to cater for customers during lockdowns. Some are reluctant to shout about their offering, almost as though these are services that are beneath their normal standards. Don’t make this mistake.
You need to demonstrate to your customers that you’re open for business and that your approach is pro-active, innovative and flexible for their benefit. The efforts you make now, will be remembered by your customers for months, maybe years, after the pandemic has left us.
Restaurant marketing strategy
Use all the marketing channels at your disposal to communicate your marketing message. Think about outsourcing marketing support. Using the right marketing channels to get the right message across in the right way is a job for specialists. It’s not simply a question of having a few posters printed or making a handful of social media posts. You need a clear strategy. You need to be aware of the media available to you
- Print – leaflets, newspaper ads, press releases, posters, signage
- Digital – web content, blogs, emails, social media, video, media releases
You may decide on a two-phase marketing strategy:
- For now – communicating the steps you’re taking to provide a service during lockdown
- As lockdown is due to be lifted – setting out plans for your ‘re-launch’. New menus, new health and safety measures, new processes
Communicate safety measures
Your customers will need to be sure that, in your restaurant, they’re as safe from infection as they can be. The pandemic has prompted the need for even more effective and reliable hygiene measures than ever before. Your customers will want to know about the steps you’re taking to protect them.
- Have you invested in new equipment? Ensure this is promoted.
- How about making a video tour of your restaurant, showing all the new health and safety measures you’re taking?
- Look out for support from brands. For example, Mechline provides stickers for customers that purchase their HyGenikx air and surface sanitisation systems, so venues can show that they’ve installed hygiene and safety equipment.
Include an FAQ section on your website
Over the past 12 months, your customers will have had questions for you about the measures you’ve taken to reduce the chances of infection in your restaurant. So answer these questions. Set up a prominent FAQ section on your website. You may also have faced objections or complaints about your measures. Again, answer these – and don’t be afraid to be straightforward. The more authentic your answers, the more customers will learn to trust you.
Reviews and testimonials – social proof
Whether you’ve been in or out of lockdown, there will have been times over the past 12 months when you’ve been able to offer a food service of some kind or another. However restricted your service has been, you’ll have delighted some customers. You’ll have received favourable comments. Always ask if you can use such reviews or testimonials on your website or as part of your social media activity. Use every opportunity you can think of to spread the good news.
Take a look at our downloadable document – How To Increase Restaurant Covers and Footfall – specifically Step 4 – Provide Social Proof.
Undoubtedly, there are great opportunities ahead – opportunities to attract a whole new customer base. Many of your potential customers will be ‘de-mob happy’, desperate to get out into the world again and reacquaint themselves with their family and friends. It’s your job to make sure that your restaurant is at the top of their list of venues to visit. The success you have in maximising these opportunities will depend on your ability to communicate your message.
To help you to increase your bookings, we’ve prepared our 6-step guide for you to download – ‘How to increase restaurant covers and footfall’.