The post COVID-19 world requires many businesses across the globe to adapt to new ways of evolving, with this comes new ways of marketing. Trends emerge pretty much every week where the world of social media hops on, and whether you like it or not, it brings you more exposure, it increases traffic to your brand. We have used influencers and social media as an example because it’s the same with your business. We are facing unprecedented times, but there is potential for you to make your business and marketing strategy adaptable so that when situations arise that threaten business, sales, and transactions, you are already prepared and are one step forward.
Being forced to close doors to customers or even shut down completely, was something owners had to do in order to help protect themselves and the public from the coronavirus. Because of this though, it meant significantly cutting back on marketing strategies and campaigns.
We have seen restaurants go from closing their doors to acting as a takeout and delivery service, which was one benefit still. However, the biggest obstacle restaurateurs face is creating and executing effective marketing strategies that will contribute towards the successful of the restaurant, even when the pandemic is over and we return to some sort of normality. It’s clear that it is more important than ever, to support local businesses and help them through this challenging time, just how they’ve helped us numerous times and provided delicious cuisine for us!
Here’s 3 innovative strategies your restaurant could adapt to in order to come back from the pandemic more motivated and stronger.
Target Your Existing Customers
There’s a reason this is a top strategy across organisations. Retaining your existing customers costs you less than bringing in new ones. It’s a simple fact. While you might want to grow your customer base, and get more people through the door, it will save you time, stress, and money to retarget your focus on the current customers you have. You can increase your reach through loyalty and reassurance – there is a reason customers turn into returning ones, again and again. Whether it’s because you have the best customer service, or to die for pasta, your existing customer base appreciates what you do.
With existing customers, it’s incredibly important to form a relationship with them, and build a cultivating connection. It increases loyalty and trust, and this helps make the customers decision much easier when asked to go somewhere for food and drinks! Below we’ve listed various ways in which you can keep in touch with past customers:
Social media –
If your business has never been particularly strong on social media, it might be time to up your game, take a day’s course online, and get down to it. With tailored posts, you can connect with your customers and actively make an effort to form this connection and start a conversation with them. The more your customers see you, the more likely they’ll visit your restaurant when it’s time to finally re-open the doors. You can use organic posts (free) or tailor your posts to specific customers, their location, demographic etc – this is known as sponsored or paid posts and it helps you reach a wider audience.
Email marketing –
Email marketing is extremely effective with B2B businesses, but let’s not underestimate the power of marketing to your past customers. If you haven’t built a database over the past few years which keep track of all your customers, whether they’ve given you their email address instore, or they’ve signed up online, it’ll come in handy!Employ a combination of strategies with this, you could align your social media campaign, run a competition on your website – like we said, it’s all about forming the connection with your audience, and it’s never been easier online. A common email marketing strategy is offering discounts on products or services, this significantly increases the click through rate of your campaigns and certainly engages your customers.
Print advertising –
Although the world is digital and technology focused, print advertising still does work, and it helps local businesses mostly. Print advertising refers to flyers, posters, newspaper features, magazine features and so on. It is often cheaper than a digital campaign online, but it helps get a message out and increase your exposure. Were you thinking of a takeaway tonight and you received a flyer through the door from a restaurant you previously dined in? What’s the chance of you wanting to order a dish from there again? In our opinion, it’s mostly likely high.
Now, this should be a part of your overall digital marketing strategy covering social media channels – but it’s only become apparent for many restaurant businesses to accelerate and well, amplify their content marketing pieces. We’re not talking about a blog article or a written recipe, we mean hosting live tutorials, cooking lessons, cooking shows. Your existing customers will be keen to see what’s behind the scenes
Gordon Ramsay, a British chef with a chain of restaurants across the globe, has a dedicated YouTube channel on how he cooks his dishes. Take his easy barley risotto video for example, why not create your signature dish in front of a camera? Or teach others how to become a better cook? There are endless opportunities and routes you could go down with this, whether you offer them as free resources or require a fee for each – a loyal customer or cooking enthusiast will want to be involved one way or another.
Another angle to take with creative behind-the-scenes content is to reassure your customers. Whether you’re still operating as a takeaway/delivery service, and you’re preparing for your restaurant to re-open whenever it is safe to do so, you need to let your customers know the safety precautions you are taking, and seeing this, making it visible to them eases their stresses and worries.
You can communicate how all of your staff has been properly trained for this situation and have been trained with a food handler course that ensures safety for all matters related to food handling and preparation.
You can even offer tips on how to properly clean your kitchen, using the right chemicals, solutions, and materials. For example, synthetic brushes sweep everything from fine particles to large debris, microfiber cloths remove 99% of bacteria on surfaces and they outlast other cleaning cloths, when mopping use a figure 8 motion to mop the floor in small sections.
Optimize Your Online Presence
As we mentioned earlier, many organizations now, thrive off being online. The better technology we produce, the more digital we come, and it means we have to evolve with it. Rather than being set on traditional ways and expecting new customers to ‘just come’, you have to be more open to other possibilities, opportunities and strategies that can drive growth and success for your business.
This means by ensuring your presence online is good, and that you are visible to your audience. Rather than spend finances that you can’t really afford on big marketing campaigns, know that you can do some aspects of marketing yourself. Google has a free tool called Google My Business, and it’s incredibly effective in reaching local customers. If you performed a search in Google right now, where would you appear? Because if you’re not in position 1-5 at least, then potential customers won’t be seeing you.
To put it simply, optimising means to ensure the content you have on your listing, is consistent with what you actually do. And make sure it aligns with what you have across your social media channels as well. Here’s a tip, choose between 2-3 keywords for your business, and make sure you include these in your description parts of your social media channels, and your ‘about’ section in your GMB listing. Keywords for your restaurant could be ‘italian pizza restaurant’ ‘italian pasta’ and so on.
You can sign up for your free GMB listing here – simply follow the instructions and you’ll be on your way to a completed listing in no time!
When it’s time to re-open our businesses, there will be a ‘new normal’ so be mindful of the expectations you carry. It’s important to note that while we’re in lockdown that you can use it to your advantage, and curate new ideas, new opportunities that will help your business thrive. Restaurant marketing can be tricky, but take the time to learn about your audience, their needs, and what they’re expecting when they come back to dine in restaurants after covid – use it to your advantage.