From what we can tell so far within the restaurant industry, no longer is it the sole burden of your website, or indeed your menu, to draw in customers.
There are several things that can make your restaurant more appealing, but none so much as the modern day version of advertising. Social media.
There’s no doubt this is a powerful tool to engage with new customers and retain existing ones and it is clear the restaurants that do not use social media, do so at their own peril.
Facebook is possibly the most well know of the social media vehicles.
Since its beginnings in February 2004 Facebook has been the go-to for social networking for personal use. Corporate interest then came from the shadows, and the potential for business was duly recognized.
This conduit has become invaluable to business and has become accepted as an essential part of a marketing plan and strategy.
While social media can be difficult for some ‘old-school’ restaurant owners to grasp, and while there is still traditional advertising in its many forms, it is the newer forms of technology that can become your restaurants best friend.
So what’s the fuss all about?
Statistics on restaurants involving themselves with a social media platform such as Facebook really do tell a story.
Creating a Facebook business page allows you to reach beyond what would have been considered the normal grasp for restaurateurs, customer wise.
This people driven media now allows you to consider the more amiable aspects of running and growing a successful service driven business.
Facebook allows you to brag a little about your delicious meals, your ability to cater to the hungriest hoards, and even to showcase your amazing staff.
Don’t be shy to let the community know if you’re proud of your people. Also if you use a particular producer who is known for locally grown produce or meat, let customers know.
If you do, or are considering business partnering, this may just create a win-win situation. This is a great avenue for your business partners to share the wealth.
Entice Your Fans
If you’re having a particular event, or you have them on a regular basis, Facebook can be essential in getting the word out.
Events are a great reason for people to gather. Not that people need an excuse to dine at your establishment, but an ongoing Friday night special event may just bring home those extra dollars, particularly in the leaner times.
Do you offer a venue for local bands?
Advertise the fact if you offer live music. In some cities, live bands are a rarity and a definite draw card for your younger fans to try your food whilst being entertained.
Of course, it depends on your venue and the restrictions and licensing to which you have to abide by, but if you’re willing, imagine the excitement a small, annual Battle of the Bands competition would generate.
Now is the time to get creative.
There’s a lot of competition out there, Setting yourself apart can be key.
Have An Email Tab
Offer the ability to sign up via your Facebook page. If people haven’t seen your website to enable them to do this, then Facebook is a great way to add to your database.
You may be missing a whole different market that doesn’t necessarily know about your restaurant, until they see that one of their friends on Facebook have ‘liked’ you.
Consider going one step further and offer incentives if viewers sign up today.
We are all consumers. Don’t you like a freebie?
We Eat With Our Eyes
People still eat with their eyes. Will all the advances and technology available to customers these days, this much hasn’t changed.
Tempt your diners both existing and potential, by showing your menu. Your menu, or even your latest dishes, can give people a solid idea of what to expect from your food and how it looks when presented.
It may just push them over the line especially if they were wondering what to do for dinner.
You never know what motivating people is at different times.
Photos naturally are extremely important. If you’re not that great at taking them, maybe your staff can assist or have someone who knows a little more about food photography take them for you. There’s definitely an art to making great dishes look spectacular.
Show Me The Money
Discounts, food samples and VIP special offers are all designed to bring your customers back again and again.
Link your discounts with event nights. A two-for-one drink offer may have them stay for that extra glass of wine.
Share discounts, special offers, and coupons with your customer base via email as well.
Always add your website link to your profile. The easier it is for people to go directly to your site for a better look around, the better.
You site may be your pride and joy, where potential customers get to see in greater depth your venue and your staff.
Having a gallery of photographs of people having a great time is a great way to motivate to the desired result: a booking.
People relate to other people so don’t hide your much loved website just because you now have a Facebook page.
So What Do You Think?
Give your customers a chance to let you know how they feel about your restaurant.
Polls and surveys are a great way to let people interact with you.
This needn’t be as scary as it seems. Feedback allows you to address things that you may not have known are failing or need improvement.
Comment gives you an insight to your business from fresh eyes.
It could be very worthwhile for your staff and business planning for the future. Whether that’s training of staff, or diversification menu wise, comments can really generate a lot of ideas for your business.
Any guess what? You didn’t have to pay a marketing guru to extract the info. It was offered up freely.
At the end of the day what any restaurant hopes to achieve is to connect with their customers. As consumers we are left to our own devices so much that
Use the technology available and at your fingertips.
Of course this vehicle doesn’t have to be the be-all and end-all for your marketing plans, but it is clear that consideration of this from of social media taking up a large proportion of it will likely make your restaurant more viable.
You need to keep ahead of what’s current, that’s a given in these times of people taking a very close look at where their disposable income goes. Facebook for your business certainly is current.
You may never look back.