Entrepreneurship is my love while food is my passion. Apart from been a marketer I am also the owner of a restaurant in Athens, Greece. Its name is Thama. Thama is all about serving traditional dishes made from the purest ingredients from the region of Messinia (Peloponnese). Extraordinary flavors, gorgeous smells and fine ingredients ignite my passion for food. And this same passion is what I want to ignite to my clients.
However, this is not an easy task. In fact is so difficult because the competition among restaurants is so fierce that I need to employ my marketing knowledge (and experimentation sometimes) in order to drive clients to Thama Restaurant. Until now I have tried many different things but in the end I have reached down to the following 10 marketing tips:
1. #Foodporn photos
Optical stimulus plays a vital role in the restaurant business. You need to excite your potential clients and make their palate long for your food.
So the use of social media and especially Instagram are your best friends in this effort. As with everything (almost) these days, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the best ways to promote your restaurant online. Having amazing looking food photos is essential.
However, you need to be consistent and post everyday (twice a day even better) across every channel. Try and post images and short videos accompanied with a smart line or description. Make it simple but beautiful. Make your post as “tasty” as your food. I also try and make it cozier, more family-like.
Although a more professional camera would be preferred, an iPhone would also do the job along with Photoshop lightroom.
2. Social Media Ads
In order to boost both the image of the restaurant as well as attract new potential customers you can and you should use Facebook and Instagram sponsored posts. Don’t worry if you do not have a big budget. What you need to pay attention to is how to spend it wisely and efficiently.
3. Setup a Google+ page
Despite the fact that Google+ has lost its original traction it is recommended to have a Google+ page. The reason is because when you search a business within Google, Google’s Knowledge Graph gives you all the details in a sidebar on the right. Google’s Knowledge Graph gathers all the necessary data from Google+. So, it’s like having a premium ad placement in Google’s property.
4. Setup a Tripadvisor account
Tripadvisor can have a tremendous impact since it is based on the power of the clients. Positive comments will definitely boost your business’s reputation. There are many clients that before visiting a business they consult Tripadvisor in order to have an idea of what they might expect. So, if a business has many positive reviews then it is more possible to lure new customers.
However, Tripadvisor can be a double edged knife. Bad reviews will also find their way there and you should be ready to deal with them. If you decide to reply to a bad review you need to make sure that you do it very politely and sometimes it’s better to reply along the lines:
“Thank you for your review. We are sorry to hear that our restaurant/business did not meet your standards. We value your opinion and we promise that we will improve our business”.
However, if you feel that the customer deserves a harsher tone because her review was unfair, you are more than free to do it but bear in mind that you risk ending up in an endless conversation loop that will ultimately lead to a dead-end.
5. Reply to comments and reviews
It is suggested that you find the time to reply to as many comments as possible in your social media accounts. This shows that your business is a living organism and there are people behind it that truly care and value their customers’ opinions. Be friendly, polite and use comments as a means to getting in touch with your customers. Why not giving them a discount in a private message to use when they come for a second time! Believe me they will come back and will tell their friends.
6. Promote User Generated Content
User Generated Content is an excellent opportunity to increase engagement and make your customers feel special. If you see that a customer has taken a photo of one of your dishes and shared it in social media then it would be nice if you re-shared it to your own social media accounts and tag them along. This will make them feel special and it will elevate your business to a higher status.
You can also host a contest and have your audience engage. Try a photo contest maybe. Or even a recipe/cooking contest. Give the winners a free meal or an appetizer for free. Get them involved.
7. Start a blog
Since content is king it would be nice to also have a blog. Blogging will give you the opportunity experiment with your business’s personality and style. Topics may vary from recipes to how to’s to the everyday life of a restaurant marketer.
You don’t have to make a blog post everyday but don’t start one if you plan not to continue updating it.
8. Show off your staff
A restaurant is all about life. As is food. Thus, don’t hesitate the people that run your business. Happy faces, smiles and team atmosphere can work wonders.
9. Make it to the Press and online
Try and get your restaurant to be featured in newspapers and magazines as well as online. Get in touch with people in the industry and introduce your business. It’s quite possible that they will write about since they themselves are looking for businesses to write about. Invite them to try some of your dishes. Inspire them to write about them.
“If it’s featured on XYZ Gourmet Stories magazine then it must be good. Let’s try it”. And once they are in your establishment then it is in your hand to win them over and prove the article right.
10. Have a website
Just in case it’s not inferred by all of the above it goes without saying that you must have a responsive website for your business. The site needs to be SEO optimized and reflect your restaurant’s style and personality.
Marketing tips for restaurants are not limited only to the above. There are more one can experiment with and try. What is more, not every marketing tip fits ever business. It depends on the style and personality of each restaurant. I do hope that all of the above will give you an idea and help you in your marketing endeavors.
Oh, and if you happen to be in Greece don’t miss the chance to taste the flavors of Messinia at Thama restaurant