Operator's Edge | Seven Restaurant Marketing Strategies to Implement In 2021
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Seven Restaurant Marketing Strategies to Implement In 2021

The recent global pandemic has forced businesses, including restaurants, to shut down, pivot or adapt. Almost an entire year into the pandemic, things have gradually started to change. But what used to work earlier may not work in the new and changed post-Covid-19 world.

So, here is the list of seven offline and online marketing ideas and trends for your restaurant to attract and retain customers in 2021.

1. Covid-19-Friendly

Because of the pandemic, the candid and friendly environment in restaurants has changed to masked waiters and waitresses, tables that are six feet apart and sneeze guards at the counters. Gradually, things are becoming normal, and restaurants have started reopening. But with people still wary of venturing out, restaurants need to up their game in terms of keeping things contactless and germ-free.

One way of doing this is by encouraging takeout. Some restaurants are using mannequins and stuffed animals to ensure social distancing. Another way of instilling confidence in your customers is by communicating the steps you have taken to ensure food quality and a safe dining experience.

2. Search Engine Optimization

It’s imperative for businesses to be on the first page of Google. It's a two-edged sword. Not only does it bring in more traffic, but at the same time, it also establishes your authority. But getting to the first page in a crowded niche as a restaurant business is a difficult journey.

To briefly give you an idea, SEO for restaurants majorly revolves around optimizing your website and content for local searches. It means publishing high-quality and keyword-optimized content, using Google Places and Local Google Plus, engaging with customers on social media and getting your restaurant listed in popular business listings.

3. Local "Near Me" Searches

"Restaurants near me" is the most popular "near me" search query. There are roughly 6.2 million organic searches for this phrase per month. Therefore, I believe optimizing your website for "near me" searches has the potential to grow your restaurant business more than any other form of marketing strategy.

To optimize your restaurant for "near me" searches, the first thing you can do is list your business on Google My Business. If your restaurant has branches in different areas, you need to create separate pages for distinct locations. Ensure that the NAP (name, address and phone number) remains consistent on all your business profiles scattered around the web.

Request that your customers leave reviews on your business page. Customer reviews are a great way to differentiate the best businesses from the average ones, and Google gives preference to the best service providers, showing them at the top.

4. Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is an artificial computer-generated environment that allows the experience of scenes and objects that don’t exist in real life. Restaurants are using this advanced technology to enhance customer experience by letting them explore their menu and recipes while their food is prepared. Restaurants are a haven of gastronomic experiences, and virtual reality helps in enriching their experience by letting them explore more options.

For example, in 2018, Domino’s New Pizza Chef used augmented reality to give customers a real-time experience to create a pizza combination with the help of an app on their mobile devices.

In 2017, KFC introduced a new way to train employees by using a virtual reality game called "The Hard Way — A KFC Virtual Training Escape Room." It is a 25-minute process in which participants virtually prepare fried chicken to escape and win the game.

5. Influencer Marketing

According to a 2019 Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report, approximately 92% of respondents believe influencer marketing to be an effective form of marketing. Choosing an influencer for your business is like choosing a marketing partner. Therefore, you have to ensure that you share mutual interests and goals.

Since restaurants operate in a particular area, micro and local influencers work exceptionally well for them. Look for food bloggers who have a large following on channels like Instagram, where captivating images of your cuisine could be displayed and seen by people. These food bloggers can have a decent following of 5,000 to 25,000 fans who take their word for it.

6. Branded Videos

Sixty-four percent of consumers make their purchase after watching a branded social media video. Branded videos not only help in promoting your brand and your tantalizing cuisines, but they also highlight the ins and outs of operations.

Today's cautious customer wants to peep into your restaurant to know the precautions you take while cooking or serving food. A simple behind-the-scenes clip can give them the confidence to visit your restaurant or order online.

Long duration videos can be posted on Facebook and YouTube. Whereas Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter are appropriate for posting shorter videos. Your restaurant video provides an ideal opportunity to tell your customers your story.

7. Food Delivery System

Online food delivery systems provide an extra sales channel for restaurants. With a food delivery system, a restaurant, store or an independent food delivery company delivers the food. Customers browse the menu, place their orders and make payment online. The restaurant prepares the ordered food and delivers it effectively themselves or through a third party.

Employing an efficient food delivery system can help the restaurant gain a larger market share. It is a sure way of attracting more customers.

To Conclude

The pandemic has forced some drastic changes and adaptations upon the restaurant industry that will endure into 2021. But challenges bring innovations. Many of the above-mentioned marketing practices will remain in the system and fundamentally change the way restaurants do business in the future. As American chef Anthony Bourdain said, "If anything is good for pounding humility into you permanently, it’s the restaurant business."

In the end, I would say that the pandemic proved yet again how resilient and incredible the restaurant industry is. Just be flexible and creative, and together we will sail through.

Source: Harpreet Munjal, Forbes