Our digital landscape has been changing at a rapid pace for over ten years, and more and more, we are watching the evolution of consumer behavior and the actual evolution of the human brains' ability to process digital messages.
One industry that is falling behind on this digital communication evolution is restaurants. Don't get me wrong; not all restaurants fail at this, but a fair amount is caught in this trap, whether it is due to resources, budgets, or understanding.
I have had the privilege to work with some incredible restaurants and restaurant groups over the years. No matter how successful they seem, I will often hear the same story, "there isn't money for marketing," "one of the servers or the manager does the social media posts - it's fine," "we don't need to how to advertise," "how do I know that even works." I could go on forever.
One of the many unfortunate issues that plague the restaurant industry, especially those that operate single location establishments with small margins, is an inability to invest in marketing.
These issues aren't necessarily the restaurant's fault; besides being incredibly busy, Facebook doesn't typically disclose to businesses that only around 5% of their followers are likely to see their organic posts. Google doesn't send emails informing owners that CPC for local or brand search campaigns are cheap and a useful tool to drive business.
For the restaurants that are fortunate enough to come out on the other side of the COVID19 crisis and begin to rebuild, making the time and finding the resources to invest in a real digital marketing strategy is going to essential. These are a few of the first places to start to make sure that your restaurant can be successful in the digital age.
1. Google MyBusiness:
You MUST keep your Google MyBusiness page up to date. During a crisis like COVID, it's incredibly important to keep your hours and contact information accurate and up to date. Don't rely on your Facebook page to communicate your hours, this isn't a place everyone will check, and you could lose business quickly if it's too difficult to get in touch with you.
2. Digital Platform Security:
I can not emphasize this enough, as the business owner, you and exclusively you should own all of your social and digital platforms. You can grant access to your dedicated marketing person or team, but ultimately ownership should lie with you. Besides it being essential to be able to access these platforms, you don't want to lose these vital channels to an employee who leaves, or a disgruntled former web designer (I've had to help clients in the past remedy issues like this, many times, many many times).
3. Search Marketing Campaigns:
Unlike the hotel and travel industry, where advertising campaigns have to go up against large flagship brands, Airbnb and OTAs - costing hundreds of thousands of advertising dollars, restaurants have a very low-cost barrier to entry. The data surrounding how few restaurants use keyword search or social campaigns is astounding. Google has reported that only 26% of restaurants advertise on their platform, but 83% of users rely on mobile search to make dining decisions. For a relatively small monthly budget, something as simple as local keyword campaigns can help your business reach potential customers exponentially more than before. According to Google, for the last five years, "restaurants near me" consistently ranked as the most popular "near me" search.
Fun Fact: 81% of consumers include (attribute) terms like 'takes reservations', 'has outdoor seating', 'drive-thru', or 'gluten-free options' in their search query. These can easily be translated into your campaigns and drive much business to your location.
4. Technology | Online ordering & Reservations:
The current crisis brought into even sharper focus the technological weak points restaurants face. One of the most glaring was online ordering platforms. If you haven't found an easy to use online ordering solution, that integrates well with your website, it is time to get one! Even as restaurants reopen, it is vital to consider the possibility of a second wave or guests not being ready to return. Creating ordering windows or limited availability menus that your kitchen can handle as in-dining operations resume also accommodates to go guests.
These are starting points with enormous potential. If you are feeling overwhelmed or don't have the time, that's okay! But don't miss out on this digital revolution that can severely impact your restaurant's success. At Lumi Hospitality, we are more invested than ever in helping our clients and the restaurant industry rebuild. So let us know if you need help with your digital strategy, don't worry about the budget, let's see how we can help!
And stay tuned for our more in-depth restaurant technology recommendations, coming soon!