It’s no secret that word of mouth is one of the best restaurant marketing tools; in fact, 85% of small businesses say word of mouth brings them the most customers. That is why you should take advantage of your online business presence by being able to strategically generate significant transaction traffic and increase sales.
As a matter of fact, Google reported in 2019 that searches including “near me” jumped in nearly every category, with searches for “where to buy” followed by “near me” increasing by more than 200% from 2017 to 2019. This illustrates that customers are looking for the nearest location to buy something. Your closest customers are searching for you online, so how can you help them find your business?
By developing a good local marketing strategy, your restaurant will soon be filled with repeat customers. Read on for the best restaurant marketing tips to help you beat the local competitors in your neighbourhood.
Why does your restaurant need a local marketing strategy? In addition to reviews, online searches, and getting customers interested in your restaurant before they even walk out to view your restaurant, local marketing targets potential customers based on the geographic area around you. By focusing your marketing efforts on the local community and the people who live, work, or visit your area of business, you are more likely to get repeating customers who could make your restaurant their go-to-restaurant while they are in the area and perhaps they could influence their friends to do the same.
So, how can your marketing strategy affect the local area around your business? Here are 5 restaurant marketing tips to keep in mind.
5 restaurant marketing tips to attract local customers
Local marketing strategy goes hand-in-hand with your existing marketing activities. Better yet, they allow you to do more of the things you love, interact with people, cultivate relationships, and create memorable experiences for all guests. Local marketing takes a more focused approach than other marketing activities. Here’s how to get started
1. Closest competitor research
Fortunately, as an MSME owner, you are already in the local community, and your target customers are the same people you see at the coffee shop in the morning or those you often meet at the store shopping on your way home. While understanding the demographics of the local neighbourhood is critical, from those looking for a weekly night out and looking to have a casual meal to those looking for a place to hang out after work, learning more about similar restaurants in the neighbourhood is also crucial.
When researching nearby restaurants, see what specials, events, or menus they have, either by visiting in person or by browsing through their social media. If you see a bunch of sports fans congregating around your business area, they may be locals and need some healthy food and drinks at low prices. If a Friday night jazz band draws people to the restaurant just down the street, does live music also fit the needs of your area of business? When you see a special place that attracts customers in the area, take one important thing from your competitors and apply it to your restaurant by adjusting the atmosphere of your restaurant.
2. Take advantage of SEO & geotags
With over 77% of restaurant visitors saying they will likely visit the internet before choosing a place to eat, improving your local SEO is a must for your marketing strategy. Here’s how you can improve your local search engine ranking:
Optimize your Google Business profile. Your Google Business profile acts as a “home page” in search results for local customers trying to find out more about your opening hours, type of cuisine, reviews, and location. When you build and regularly update your Google business profile with accurate information, menu updates, and attractive photos, it increases your chances of being found in Google searches.
Make sure to have a mobile-friendly website as well. Sure, all the food videos and photos on your website may shock customers who visit it on a computer, but most customers search for restaurants on their phones. Out of all the visitors surveyed, 56% said a mobile-friendly website is very important. Most of the time, diners want to quickly glance at the menu or find your opening hours, so a website that allows customers to call, order, view the menu, or place an order with just a few clicks on their smartphone makes it more likely that they will visit your restaurant soon.
Take advantage of geotags. By geotagging (location tagging) your restaurant in social media posts and encouraging guests to do the same, customers will only need one click to see the location of your restaurant as well we any other photos posted of your restaurant. Geotagging is a lucrative solution as it helps to increase your online visibility among nearby visitors and provides an easy way for consumers to explore related photos of your location.
3. Build relationships with business owners and surrounding organizations
Getting to know other nearby restaurateurs and business owners can be a big win for your restaurant. You may have known your nearest neighbour’s restaurant since your coffee machine broke or when you ran out of ice cubes, but expanding your reach can help you become a pillar of the community.
Join a business development organization. This group often hosts events where you can mingle with fellow business executives and meet face-to-face with business owners who are discussing something that may be important to your business as well.
Donate to the nearest school. If a nearby school is holding a fundraising event, consider donating and provide identification for your donated items. This will bring people to know your business and build your local reputation.
Participate in local food festivals. This gives your business an opportunity for customers to try products while featuring your logo on event marketing materials.
Offer special discounts. Consider offering the people who live within a few miles of your restaurant a discount. A small percentage of the discount given will mean a lot to them seeing that your restaurant is located close to where customers are.
4. Encourage team members to make recommendations
Your employees can be your biggest asset when it comes to local marketing. Encourage them to invite their friends to eat at your restaurant by offering incentives, such as coupons for free appetizers. Guests who have a personal relationship with a restaurant are more likely to tip and leave good reviews online. So treat your employees as well as possible so that they can do is mentioned above.
Showing off your employees on social media with behind-the-scenes photos or short videos on how to make a cup of coffee can encourage them to share on their personal pages, thus, expanding your reach.
5. Interact with customers online
While it doesn’t hurt to create a positive experience for customers when they dine at your restaurant, don’t forget that you can continue to interact with them online. Interacting with customers outside your restaurant is critical to building an active brand community. Maybe the next time your customer is planning a night out or thinking of a place to take their parents, your restaurant will be the first place they think of.
Informal interactions on social media. In addition to reposting guest photos, responding to comments, and posting tantalizing photos of their favourite dishes, maintaining an active social media presence allows you to highlight your restaurant daily and stay on top of your customer’s social media pages.
Create a WhatsApp marketing strategy. A powerful email marketing list is a powerful restaurant marketing tool that allows you to deepen relationships with your existing customers. Send exclusive gifts to your regular customers to inform them of new menus and more. This activity will encourage customers to make reservations or buy your food through delivery services.
Reply to customer reviews. When your customers take the time to leave positive or negative reviews, be sure to respond in a timely manner with a thank you. Replying to customer reviews can be especially helpful for negative reviews because it shows other guests that you take customer feedback into account and provide concrete solutions.
Reach out to local influencers. If there are social media influencers, especially food influencers near your restaurant. Call and see if they want to come over to experience the food and atmosphere of your restaurant.
Once you’ve implemented these local restaurant marketing tips, don’t lose momentum. A successful local marketing strategy requires consistent monitoring, updating, and engagement to achieve effective results. While your approach will take time to gain traction with customers, an effective local marketing strategy will help you build customer loyalty, attract new guests and deepen your ties within a related community.