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Today’s customers are more Internet and media savvy than ever, so it’s important to use online marketing to your advantage — especially in the tough world of restaurant start-ups. Rather than wasting money on print advertising – which, let’s admit it, is going the way of the dinosaurs – focus on crafting an online marketing campaign that establishes your restaurant’s brand and builds a solid following.
Let’s say, for example, that you’ve just opened a new wood fired, Neapolitan-style pizza restaurant. No matter how great your pies are, how many quirky toppings you offer and how stylish your decor, your online marketing strategies can mean the difference between success and failure.
In fact, online marketing is just as important for your pizzeria start-up as baking stones, pizza supplies, wood-burning ovens or a delicious sauce recipe. A few simple tips can help transform your online marketing from advertising to public relations, building your brand and establishing a loyal customer base in the process.
Blogs, Email Marketing and Social Media
Today’s media-saturated customers aren’t likely to stumble across your restaurant ads in print. Instead, you need to reach them through the channels they prefer like blogs, online journals and social media.
In order to attract this young demographic, leverage blogs, email campaigns and other online resources by creating interesting content that will draw potential customers in for the first time and bring return guests back for more.
Many media-savvy customers do research before they visit a restaurant. They want to learn about and see the food before they commit to a meal, and online marketing should tantalize their taste buds and their minds. Use your blog, e-newsletter journal or social media account as a forum to post intriguing tidbits, like:
- Pictures of particularly great dishes
- Video clips from the kitchen
- Chef bios
- Favorite recipes
- New additions to the menu
- Seasonal food items
- Food sourcing information
- Customer polls – Favorite entrees? Favorite dessert? Menu suggestions?
- Coupons or special offers
Appearance Is Everything
When you’re posting on a blog, tweeting or sending e-newsletters, keep a consistent appearance across all online forums.
Your restaurant needs its own unique “look” in order to build a brand. This specific branding style can be accomplished through the use of logos, color schemes, fonts and even sounds and scents. Interweave the brand throughout each piece of the marketing process as well as at the brick and mortar site, from websites and tweets to menus and signage.
Creating a specific image helps your customers remember the experience of eating at your restaurant and your brand, whether they smell a certain dish, see that funky color that you use in your website and on the dining room walls, or glimpse a symbol that you use in your logo and menu.
Though blogs, e-mails and social media are certainly effective ways to market your restaurant, one of the best ways to get good press is by – literally – making the news. Today’s customers tend to view advertising with a healthy dose of salt, so public relations boons such as online newspaper or magazine articles provide a trustworthy, credible way to garner exposure.
Increase your restaurant’s newsworthiness by:
- Hosting events such as fundraisers, classes, parties, tastings, concerts or competitions
- Partnering with local nonprofits or schools and donating a percentage of your profits
- Sponsoring a local sports team
- Writing a food or restaurant-industry related article for an online paper, magazine or popular blog
- Hiring a well-known chef
- Adding unusual items to your menu — bacon ice cream, anyone?
- Forming a partnership with local food producers
- Going green or participating in the Slow Food Movement
By combining several online approaches, you’ll build a comprehensive marketing strategy that not only keeps existing customers interested, but draws new guests too. Did you enjoy this article? Got any feedback regarding this industry? Don’t be shy, comment below and let us know! For more useful articles, please don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS-feed and follow Inspirationfeed on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook! If you enjoyed the following article we humbly ask you to comment, and help us spread the word!