The restaurant industry can be pretty cutthroat, especially in areas where the market is densely saturated. That makes marketing a major challenge, and with services like Yelp in play, it only takes a few bad reviews for your restaurant’s public image to slip out of your control.
The good news is that there are several easy techniques you can use to give your restaurant’s marketing a much-needed boost. These simple tips will never replace a comprehensive long-term marketing plan, but they might be just what you need to get your business out of a slump.
Give away a gift card
A free giveaway is one of the most popular marketing strategies for restaurants, and for good reason. Gift cards are especially effective because they actively encourage the customer to return to your business; in fact, if they don’t, they’ll feel as though they’re wasting money.
Giving a free gift card to every customer probably isn’t financially viable, but consider giving one to customers who make at least a $50 purchase.A gift card good for $5 or 10% off of their order should suffice in most cases.
Don’t forget to reinforce your brand by packaging the card in a in a folder with your restaurant’s logo. It’s a great way to give the card a little extra gravitas and make customers feel like they’re receiving something extra-special.
Use branded glasses
Giving your customers free promotional products (such as custom-printed glasses) is a highly cost-effective marketing technique. Note that if you buy them in bulk from a site like Mojo Promotions, custom glasses can be purchased inexpensively for about $1 each. When you consider that a $2 or $3 drink more than covers that cost, letting your customers keep the glass is kind of like marketing to them for free; it’s something that will remain useful for a long time, so they’re likely to be exposed to your restaurant’s branding for years to come.
Consider going beyond just a simple image of your restaurant’s logo. If you go all out and create a truly imaginative design, your customers will be even more likely to hold onto your glass (and maybe even show it off to their friends!).
Buy location-based ads
With smartphones becoming ever more ubiquitous, location-based advertising that only targets users in a particular area is a very efficient way to ensure that you only reach those who actually have a chance of coming to your restaurant in the first place. This tends to work best when you actually use location-specific words and phrases in the ad; try mentioning the audience’s specific neighborhood by name. Some marketers even engage in “geo-conquesting” by aiming ads at users who are visiting (or have visited) competing restaurants.
Location-based ads for restaurants are especially effective on Yelp, since users are already likely to be looking for a place to eat. You can also purchase ads on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. For a wider reach on multiple websites, consider Google Display Network.
Host a Yelp event
A great Yelp review from an authoritative user can be a marketing windfall—especially if it comes from the cream of the crop. The Yelp Elite are a select few users who are seen as influencers within the Yelp community because they regularly produce helpful, high-quality reviews.
It’s easy enough to identify the Elite in your area, but convincing them to give you a positive review is a bit more complicated. Yelp strongly frowns upon soliciting reviews, but an official Yelp event can encourage influential users to visit your restaurant—and a successful event will make them all the more likely to leave a powerful review. To get started hosting a Yelp event, contact your local Community Manager from Yelp’s website.
The next time you find your restaurant’s marketing in a slump that you can’t seem to break out of, just put these simple techniques into effect. After all, sometimes all it takes is a well-placed push.