It is pretty safe to say that we have never dealt with a situation like this ever. On a personal level, we have definitely gotten frustrated and annoyed at the idea of social distancing. However, while it has definitely impacted us in that way, restaurants and businesses have definitely been impacted greatly during this time.

As covid-19 infections continued to grow in almost every country, restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms and even shut down. The restaurants that did have the ability to remain open had to figure out new ways to market their services, not just to stand out, but to merely survive. It was definitely a good thing that services like Ubereats and food delivery apps have existed for some time because many restaurants that were already on those platforms just continued delivering food with heightened safety rules. For other restaurants that had not embraced the food delivery world quite yet, it was clear they needed to embrace that for continuity of business.

While some countries and cities are allowing things to start opening up again and restaurants have started opening dining areas at decreased capacities, some states are still not fully open. In the world that we live in right now, restaurants need to create a balance of public safety precautions, strategic marketing spends, and efficiency-focused targeting.

In this article we look at some marketing strategies that restaurants can use to stay connected with their existing customers and introduce themselves to new ones like:

  • Content creation ideas to market your restaurant
  • Ways to optimize your website and social media channels for the future
  • Ideas to partner with other restaurateurs and influencers
  • Marketing your restaurant reopening

Create compelling content

Creating unique content regularly has always been a great way to boost a brand and keep customer attention. Content can actually be very easy to create but you need to know exactly what kind of content you should use to boost your restaurant marketing efforts.

1) Behind the scenes

A big reason that people go to restaurants is not just for the great food, but also the experience and the service. So, to connect with your audience you can bring them along behind the scenes for them to understand the idea behind your restaurant. Some things you can think about are:

  • Telling them the story behind your restaurant and why you started the restaurant business.
  • You can ask your regulars and other members of the community to share information about your restaurant
  • Tell the truth about the positives and negatives that you have been through during this period

2. Share How You Are Coping

It is obvious that the past few months have been really difficult for restaurant owners and staff everywhere. Most of the time, restaurants shy away from sharing about the struggles of being in the restaurant business. However, this is a great time to show customers and loyal fans how you are coping with what is going on through social media.

A restaurant always starts with people wanting to showcase their food and skill to the community. Do not be scared to show that you have been struggling and dealing with hurdles because your audience might even be able to help.

3) Share Recipes, Tutorials, and Live Cooking Shows

People are very used to food delivery and even as restaurants start to reopen, they still just choose to stay home. So instead of just providing food delivery services, why not provide some online cooking classes? You can teach your audience about your top dishes. Help build equity in your brand and give them an appetite to eat your food by creating it themselves.

It may sound counter-intuitive to share your secrets and give your competition possible visibility, but you can just provide and publish a simple recipe that people can follow to make them feel more connected to your brand without divulging any secrets. That way you can show your audience every step to make a dish from your restaurant, but you are still the expert. You can go live on Facebook or Instagram. When customers attempt a few of your recipes at home, they will still want to come to your restaurant for the full experience.

4) Reach a New Audience on a New Social Media Channel

This is the perfect time to test different social media channels and features to be a part of your marketing strategy. You can connect with your regulars and reach potential customers through experimentation of other social media channels. In order to stay relevant to the restaurant industry, you need to embrace new channels like TikTok, among others.

With TikTok for example, many users have actually been creating their own recipe videos. This could be the best place to try and reach a new audience.

But do not forget to stay active on other popular social media channels.

Revisit and Optimize Your Online Presence

While people may not be going to restaurants and walking by like they used to, they are googling and possibly finding you on food delivery apps. So, you need to take some time to optimize your online presence and ensure that your social media channels are consistent so that when consumers look you up and they can find you. Since dining restrictions are lifted and people are looking up places to eat, these delivery apps help your visibility.

You can also set up a Google business profile. It is free, easy to use, and allows you to manage your online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. Along with your business profile, you should also be updating your website. The questions that you need to ask yourself when you are updating your website are:

  • Is all the information up to date?
  • Does your menu view well on desktop and on mobile devices?
  • Do you have a reservation system integration on your website for easy booking?
  • Are your images up to date?
  • Are you capturing email and building a mailing list?
  • What else can you add to your website that might be valuable to your audience?

You should also add online ordering (if you don’t already have it) to maximize your takeout and delivery business. Using website integrations for online ordering allows customers to place orders directly on your website and all the information about their order is processed through your restaurant POS. It benefits both you and the customers because it is easier for them to order from you, but your restaurant get to keep 100% of the profits instead of using third-party ordering apps.

It is also important that everything that goes onto your website is also updated on all your social media channels.

Find Partnerships and Influencers

Start some outreach to influencers in your city or state and ask them how you can possibly help each other in this time of need. Many restaurateurs are partnering around relief, lobbying, and charitable initiatives in this time of need. Even if you are only operating at a limited capacity, you should still come together to create some positive support for the industry.

While these relationships are great, you need to be mindful of cost. At the moment, they may be willing to volunteer some time and energy but many influencers come with a price tag so be mindful of your budget based on your current income before making decisions.

Lastly, get into media partnerships with journalists in your area or in the general travel and hospitality industry. Use Pressfarm to help you come up with a media list, great story angles and even pitch journalists on your behalf to tell your story. Pressfarm’s PR packages are affordable for most companies even during this covid-19 period.

Marketing Your Reopening

You should definitely be thinking of how to market your return to business. The plan does not have to be solid at the moment, but you should be putting some ideas together so that you can open more quickly. You need to consider a few things before your official reopening:

  • Communicate the new safety precautions that you are taking and the government rules and regulations you need to follow
  • Update your website with any changes to your operation
  • Beyond dive-in, provide information about other ways customers can order from you.
  • Share any major menu adjustments or changes
  • Publicize any deals or special promotions you’re offering as part of your reopening.

The transition to this new normal can be a long process, but you definitely need to take advantage of this time to give your marketing plan an update for the times. Let people see that you are tech savvy through creating content, optimizing your online presence, looking for partnerships, and preparing for your re-launch.

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.

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