A Little Marketing Can Cook Up Wonders for Your Restaurant, Café, or Coffee Shop
It’s been said that tough times don’t last — but tough people do. If you’ve survived this long in the restaurant business and hung on through an economy-shattering pandemic, you can add “scrappy” and “resourceful” to your proud list of adjectives.
But heaven knows the dust is far from settled, so by all means, you want to keep that resourcefulness flowing.
A resurgence of coronavirus infections this fall took their toll on restaurants in November, as the industry saw job losses for the first time since April. More than 17,000 jobs were lost at food and drinking establishments during the month, bumping the industry’s unemployment rate up to 13.8%.
And yet, there’s hope.
You don’t need to wait for a full vaccine rollout to boost business. Aside from the commonly explored options of outdoor seating, curbside takeout, and delivery service, consider a few solutions that have helped keep eateries cooking.
Among the creative tactics employed by world-renowned chef Daniel Boulud was a partnership with Goldbelly, an online store known for its high-end food selections. The arrangement enabled Boulud to package his famous recipes into meal kits that customers could prepare in the safety of their own kitchens.
Show Off Your Safety
Through your social media channels or your website — preferably both — emphasize the efforts you’re taking to keep your establishment clean, safe, and in strict compliance with all health protocols.
COVID-weary patrons are mixed in their comfort level when it comes to eating at restaurants or cafés, especially indoors. A consumer survey showed that when it comes to safety measures, a sizable majority especially want to see properly distanced tables, frequent sanitizing, and protective equipment worn by the staff. Show them how safe it is to sit down at your eatery.
Not every effort will directly pull in revenue. At least a piece of your focus should be on keeping your name fresh in the minds of consumers, so you’ll be at the top of their list when they’re ready to go out to eat again. Supporting your local community is an excellent way to do it.
Aside from his meal kit venture, Boulud also partnered with Food1st, a nonprofit group that seeks to combat New York City’s food shortage. Through this partnership, Boulud worked to create up to 2,000 meals a day while offering job opportunities to workers who had been laid off. The charity gained some much-needed help, and Boulud’s business earned greater public recognition.
Virtual Cooking Classes
If you haven’t experimented with Zoom or YouTube yet, there’s no better time. The popularity of online cooking demos offered by renowned chefs and celebrities — Antoni Porowski, Emma Bengtsson, and Tyler Florence, among others — has taken off during the pandemic.
But you don’t have to be famous to capture the attention of foodies and potential future customers online. This can be a fun and effective way to engage with your audience and keep your brand fresh in people’s minds, even as the dining-out crowd is mostly staying in.
A Quick Marketing Campaign
You may have gathered a sizable list of customers’ emails for your restaurant or coffee shop, but the COVID shutdown has thrown off their usual dining-out routine. So you haven’t seen them for a while, even if they loved their experience at your eatery.
Email campaigns like those offered by Luminaite have proven that they deliver great results. Of all the digital marketing options out there, email still offers the best return on your investment — especially with a strategy that personalizes the content and sends targeted campaigns.
A simple, quick, year-end campaign may surprise you with how effectively it can capture your customers’ interest. It could be just the jump-start you need.
More than ever, your establishment not only needs to connect with customers, but it also needs to target the specific groups that are most likely to boost business. Geofencing allows you to target those precise demographics with your ad campaign — and in specific spots like a popular shopping center, a competitor’s location, or at home. This helps you reach the exact people who fit your customer profile.
More Ways to Serve Up Digital Marketing
The list of ways to engage with customers online is virtually endless, but consider at least a few others that can pay dividends:
Social media is one of the top restaurant digital marketing trends that isn’t likely going away. About two-thirds of restaurants advertise on social media because it’s easy and cost-effective. The image-heavy Instagram in particular is a popular and powerful avenue — people love photos of delicious-looking food or coffee. A billion people use Instagram every month.
A rewards program, through an app or email list, can offer incentives for patrons to visit your establishment for dine-in or takeout. Discount deals and freebie offers tend to catch the eyes of shoppers and diners when they peruse online. A chance to gather rewards keeps them coming back.
Online reviews are still a big factor, even amid a takeout-heavy age of reduced dine-in numbers. Encourage your happy customers to leave reviews on Yelp and other popular listing sites — the effort can pay dividends well down the road, long after life climbs back to normalcy. While customers still rely primarily on recommendations from friends and family, online reviews are their next-biggest influence.
Deals to Help You Ramp Up
Indeed, everyone loves a deal. Take advantage of a sweet offer on a scroll-stopping, animated display ad you can use on social media or other online ad spaces. Or get a discount on a mini-billboard geofence ad that lands on the laptops and phones of customers in the precise area you want to target.
Even as the pandemic tries to limit your opportunities, you can succeed if you focus on where to look and what to say to potential customers. Luminaite can help with your marketing strategy — starting with an awareness of what consumers really need right now.
Especially with a focused, strategic effort, your business can weather the storm and experience a resurgence. Viruses and rough economic waters eventually go away — but appetites always come back.
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