There’s no doubt the restaurant industry has been hit hard by inflation, labor issues, supply chain disruptions and the far-reaching aftershocks of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even the most established eateries are scrambling to recoup losses and move forward in cost-saving but innovative ways. For those entrepreneurs who are just starting out in this wildly competitive industry and are attempting to navigate the immense workload of acquiring capital, scouting locations and hiring staff, adding the task of restaurant marketing to the pile may feel overwhelming. To help ease this marketing stress, (spark) has compiled a tried-and-true list of restaurant content marketing ideas for your restaurant to adopt in 2022.
Restaurant marketing isn’t just about driving new customers through your doors on a Friday night. It’s also a strategic approach to building customer loyalty with your regulars. Whether you’re trying to attract new customers, maintaining loyal patrons or hire great employees, establishing unique creative restaurant marketing ideas can help breathe new life into your business. While marketing can take many forms, today’s digital age has opened the doors for new waves of marketing strategy, specifically in the form of content creation.
To succeed and grow within the industry, your restaurant marketing strategy needs to include authentic content creation that communicates your brand, your voice and the fantastic experience you can create for your diners. If you’ve been searching for an effective way to grow your restaurant marketing strategy, digital content creation is key.
RESTAURANT CONTENT MARKETING IDEAS TO OPTIMIZE YOUR BUSINESS
1. Update your online presence to enhance customer experience. A 2021 compilation of restaurant industry statistics notes that 90% of guests research a restaurant online before dining, making restaurants the most-researched establishments of any other industry. Today’s patrons want more than an online list of menu items and open hours; they’re searching for the atmosphere your restaurant embodies and the experiences you create there. Consider updating your website content to promote your menu with gorgeous photographs, or to encourage online ordering and reservations with streamlined one-click options. Another fantastic way to update your online presence is by adding a blog to your website design. Blogs are great tools for content creation that can highlight your restaurant’s atmosphere, food and service. Informing customers about your restaurant through updated web content can elevate their experience before they ever step foot through your door.
2. Identify best-sellers to inspire social media content creation. With 77% of the U.S. population actively using social media, it only makes sense to promote your restaurant’s best-sellers within the social media space. One simple way to identify top-selling menu items is to examine POS (Point of Sale) reports and then build photo or video content featuring those items. While it can be tempting to promote in-house favorites or items with the lowest cost margin, noticing which dishes your patrons repeatedly purchase is a great restaurant marketing tool to promote food your customers already love. Consider investing in a professional photographer or partnering with a content marketing agency that can generate high-quality, “instagrammable” photos of your best-selling menu. You can then repurpose these photos in a variety of ways across multiple social media platforms.
3. Highlight your food through video marketing. Since the pandemic has thrown wide open the world of live-streamed and recorded cooking shows, consider utilizing this trend to help include your own customers in your restaurant’s food preparation process. Video marketing can captivate audiences quickly, promote consumer interaction, and encourage viewers to share your videos on their own media channels. One example of video marketing is to create short videos—or livestream just a few moments from your busy kitchen! —to make customers feel like insiders. You may decide to highlight the special touches your chefs add to favorite menu dishes, showcase your interesting take on vegan or dairy-free options, or choose to jump wholeheartedly into video marketing and build a cooking show for your audience! And because video channels like YouTube allow viewers to follow and subscribe, you could extend your video marketing to give subscribers extra perks or access to your restaurant.
4. Use content to tell the story of your restaurant. Today’s consumers love to connect with the story behind the brand, and hungry customers searching for a restaurant are no different. People are intrigued by the how and why behind a business, so consider developing content that highlights the origin story of your restaurant. Draw customers in with a rich narrative to help them feel connected to not only the dishes on your menu, but the chefs creating them. You might choose to tell your story through a blog series on your website, on your social media platforms, or through paid ad campaigns. Remember that the driving force behind this content should be connection and giving customers a behind-the-scenes peek at why your restaurant began—or where it’s headed in the future—could be just the thing that attracts them to your business.
5. Try Talk Triggers to develop new restaurant marketing content. Talk Triggers are strategic events created by and experienced within your restaurant. They may be small and nuanced, such as serving customers with exceptional levels of empathy or speedy service. Perhaps your staff could deliver a unique flair or personality while delivering appetizers, or outstanding generosity and kindness along with dinner. The key to creating successful Talking Triggers is that they should always leave customers excited to tell friends, family and their online community about their experience in your restaurant. One example of a great Talk Trigger is to build a food challenge. Whether it’s your spiciest wings or your largest hamburger, creating a food challenge will draw people from far and wide who will want to participate and tell their friends about how they fared in the challenge. When harnessed, word of mouth can be an incredibly valuable restaurant marketing tool. It can even lead to customers producing user-generated content, which is free advertising for your business!
6. Create giveaway or sweepstakes content. People love a go-to spot to celebrate, and one way to establish your restaurant as a hot spot for your patrons’ major life events is to offer giveaways centered around life events. Consider creating content that highlights milestone giveaways, like free dessert for anniversaries, a free appetizer for new graduates, or a free drink for 21st birthdays. This is a simple way to show your customers that you care about making their special day even more memorable. You could also choose to run online promotions or sweepstakes events. This could take the form of a hashtag sweepstakes that gives customers a chance to win a free menu item simply by liking and sharing your digital content and hashtag.
7. Partner with a food influencer to share your content with a wider audience. Food influencers are a niche group of influencers that many social media users turn to when making restaurant choices. They often have large followings, create their own content and provide their opinions about restaurant ambience, dishes and service. Building a strong relationship with a food influencer could be a creative way to extend your restaurant marketing content to a wider audience. Consider partnering with an influencer who is local to your business or is an existing patron. To take the influencer relationship a step further, you might invite him or her into your kitchen to experience afternoon prep time or promote a one-night event where the influencer can meet and greet customers as they dine!
8. Engage with customers about your content. And lastly, after you’ve created and posted your brilliant restaurant marketing content, don’t neglect the very important step of engaging with your customers. Great content inspires conversation, and this conversation should include your responses to customer comments, questions and reactions. While it can be tempting to shy away from negative reviews, try using those moments as opportunities to showcase your exceptional customer service and care about each patron’s experience in your restaurant. Showing up in that virtual space and allowing customers to see how deeply you value their business will go a long way in building trust with new customers and increasing loyalty from existing ones.
If you’ve been searching for your next step in restaurant content creation, check out how (spark) elevates our food industry clients’ digital content. As a platform-agnostic, data-driven agency, (spark) knows exactly how to create, analyze and manage content to get the best possible results for each and every client…and that includes you.