Even before this pandemic took over our lives, the restaurant industry has always had to be competitive and each individual restaurant has had to stand out. However, now that restrictions have eased and restaurants are starting to reopen, marketing and PR will and have become so important for operators to instill in their marketing strategies.
At the height of the pandemic, certain brands and restaurants really had to figure out a crisis management plan because they were publishing content and advertising that failed to adhere to the social distancing guidelines. It included footage of groups dining out together or lines out the door without distancing. Because of that, the restaurant industry was one of the most heavily affected by the pandemic and there was a very severe drop in consumer trust levels. So, regaining consumer confidence and getting customers in the door is essential to restaurant survival.
Marketing and Public Relations can be time-consuming and require strategic planning and a good deal of patience. However, spreading the word about your restaurant is just as important as finding a produce supplier or hiring the best staff because otherwise there wasn’t really a point in doing those two things. Hiring a Public Relations company like Pressfarm can take the stress out of any campaign. They will use their expertise to create every document and aspect of an effective marketing campaign.
In this article we will look at some strategies that restaurants can implement to get people in the door.
1) Consider working with a Public Relations company
While it is possible to do marketing and public relations yourselves, sometimes it is just easier and less stressful to hire someone to do it for you because as mentioned before, it can be time-consuming. PR professionals are there for a reason, they know exactly what needs to be done to create an effective marketing strategy. Companies like Pressfarm are there to create everything that a company needs from email pitches, press releases, among other things so that companies can just send them out and reap the benefits. They will be there to guide and help in any way necessary so that you can focus on other aspects of your restaurant.
2) Add a charitable element
Especially at a time like this, adding a charitable element will definitely get people’s attention. For example, you can tell potential customers that if they order from your restaurant, you will be giving a percentage of the money achieved to a charity that really needs help at the moment. A great example is Pagu, which is a Japanese and Spanish Tapas restaurant that made a large amount of paella and other warm meals for nurses and doctors on the front lines. When people see that you are trying to give back and support something they believe in, it not only boosts confidence in the brand, but it also secures consumer brand loyalty. Some restaurants are also letting people buy donated meals to healthcare workers.
3) Show that you are environmental
A lot of restaurants are turning to farm-to-table eating because a lot of people are wanting to know where their food is coming from and are wanting to support their local businesses. So, if you are in a position where you can get locally grown food and create delicious meals from there, it is important that you advertise that. You need to remember that you should never do false-advertising because you will definitely lose customer trust and at a time like this, you need people to know that everything that you advertise is true and your food is sustainable.
4) Partner with local companies to promote one another’s business
Unless you live in a tiny town, there are definitely other restaurants and bars in your area. So, you should team up with a few and promote each other. For example, if there is a brewery in your area, you can serve beers from there and they will most like recommend their customers to go to your restaurant as well.
5) Make sure your actual menu is social media worthy
Even before social media existed, we all knew the phrase “We eat with our eyes.” With that same logic, in this time where people are spending most of their days on social media, you need to make sure that the food that you create LOOKS delicious enough on social media. At the same time, while in the actual restaurant, make sure that your food looks as good as it tastes because people will take a photo of your plating and put it up on social media and that will get other people interested in your food and your restaurant.
6) Invite local food bloggers to sample your offerings
Food bloggers and writers are the ones that can make or break your restaurant. But, they are essential in getting the word out there about your business, so at this time when you are considering reopening, invite them to sample your menu. However, do not invite them with the intention that they are going to write about your food. If they think your food is great, they will most likely write about it but do not hound them to write a review for you. They might feel used because that’s all you wanted by inviting them and they will write a bad review.
7) Offer your chef or bartender to local media outlets to share recipes and trends
A great way to put yourself out there is if you talk to local media outlets about your restaurant. However, it will probably be better to get your chef or bartender to talk because they will be able to talk about something other than your restaurant. They can go and share recipes with the local community for dishes or drinks that you have at your restaurant in addition to talking about it so that if they want to get the full experience of your great service, customers will come to the restaurant even if they can cook at home.
8) Participate in local food festivals
Obviously at this moment, large crowd events will not be existing for a while. But, another way that you can do a “food festival” is to get a large amount of restaurants around your local community to create small portions of their signature dishes and if people want to participate in the food festival, they can purchase a “ticket” and the food from all the different restaurants that they choose will be sent to them via food delivery. It is a great way for people to know which restaurants are open or planning to reopen and choose which restaurants they want to go to once restrictions ease.
9) Offer tastings and cooking demos
A lot of people are taking to the Internet to find recipes and tutorials of how to create dishes at home. So again, if you were to get your chef or staff to create a video tutorial about recipes from your restaurant, people will definitely check out. Though it may seem counter-intuitive to provide a recipe for people to cook your food at home, you do not need to divulge your secret recipes but just guide people. When they get a slight taste of what you have to offer, they will definitely want to come in to see how their version of your dish stacks up.
It is very evident that the restaurant industry took a very big hit during this time and strategies have been implemented not to prosper, but merely to survive. These marketing tips will help restaurants gain visibility and hopefully get customers in the door. Not only do companies need to show that they are open, but they also need to gain customer trust back with proving to customers that they are adhering to the rules of social distancing.