Running a restaurant is, above all things, a people business. You’re selling more than just food: from the hostess to the chef, the staff at your restaurant work to create an ideal atmosphere for your customers. Quick, friendly service, attentive waitstaff and responsive management can sometimes make up for even a mediocre meal.
An online presence is now an essential part of reaching out to customers: through your website, you can attract new customers, engage with regulars, and help develop your brand. Using just a few simple tips, you can make your piece of online real estate produce real dividends for your restaurant.
Your website is your front door—open it!
For many eateries, a website can serve as the restaurant’s front door; make sure yours is easy to find and easy to enter. A website doesn’t have to be elaborate: a page with your restaurant’s name, business hours, menus and contact information is a great start. Other restaurants use their websites to reflect their business’s atmosphere, to give customers news about upcoming events and specials. Creating a pleasant interactive experience online can make it easy for customers to take the next step and visit you in the real world.
Get friendly with social media
Using social media platforms like Foursquare and Facebook is becoming second-nature for younger computer and smartphone owners. People use these programs to find their favourite food joints and to tell friends about new ones—so Twitter chatter and Facebook posts can translate to more traffic through your doors.
Use social media to reach out to your customers: the traffic you can generate on social media sites is a great way to increase your online visibility. Use your social media accounts to connect with your customers—even a quick exchange on Twitter can make potential customers feel like they’re getting special attention. You may have to invest in a little online training for your official social media person, but it’s worth it to have someone devoted to it full-time.
Reward your regulars (through Facebook deals, e-mail lists, etc.)
If you’re lucky enough to have a group of regular customers, show them they’re appreciated! Use some B2B (business-to-business) marketing strategies to give your best customers a little special treatment. While programs like Groupon and Living Social can get people in the door, you’ll still need a way to reward the people who help maintain your bottom line. Consider a special VIP e-mail list, or maybe even hosting a weekend lunch or dinner for hardcore fans of your restaurant.
Marketing for a restaurant can be tough, but using the Internet to advertise is one of the best ways to get noticed. It seems simple, but internet marketing can take a lot of time, effort and persistence. Stick with it and you’ll see the benefits revealed in happy, satisfied customers.
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