Regenerating interest and awareness when your restaurant has been closed for any length of time is a unique marketing challenge. And as many successful business owners will tell you - when facing a challenge, it helps to get creative!
So, to inspire you in wooing back your old customers and charming a whole host of new ones, here are three creative approaches to modern restaurant marketing from leading marketing professionals.
Revive your USP
What makes your business special? Of all the restaurants in all the world, why should your target audience walk into yours? As a business owner, you probably have a good idea of that perennial marketing essential - your Unique Selling Proposition. But if your restaurant has been closed for a while, you're going to need something extra special to entice back old customers.
Time to dust off your old USP and give it a new lease of life! You might even feel inspired to use this opportunity to reinvent your marketing message. One way to do this is to give some thought to your favourite patrons in the past - what did you like about them? And more importantly - what did they love about your restaurant in particular?
Brainstorm the many aspects that make your business different, then look for the ones you feel the most excited about, that will also appeal to today's discerning customers. And get specific - for example, if your USP is vegan food, go a step further and highlight the low food miles or the homegrown produce. Tap into the values and qualities that modern customers care about, and reveal how your business is unique in providing the experience they're looking for.
The power and precision of digital advertising is unprecedented. Thanks to modern technology, it's possible to hone in on highly targeted and specific audiences and reach them in new ways. For example, today's online advertising channels have evolved sophisticated ways to track and connect with people who have already visited your website or social media channels.
These tracking pixels (placed on your website) allow you to identify potential customers who are already familiar with your business, allowing you to communicate with them in a more intimate way than the general mass-advertising that used to be the norm.
If you give some thought and attention to enticing these 'warm leads' in creative ways, you can make the most of the staggering potential of online advertising. The most popular, powerful and effective channels are undoubtedly Google Adwords, also known as Pay Per Click (PPC), and social media advertising, eg Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest etc...
Though it may take a little homework to implement your ideas effectively, highly-targeted online ads can be a fast-track to a buzzing and bustling restaurant, no matter how long you have been closed. (And if you prefer to leave the technical side to the experts, hiring an Adwords specialist can be a highly profitable investment.)
Go Old School
Although online marketing seems to be where all the action is these days, there's still a place for Old School strategies. Offline promotions used to be the only option for businesses to reach their customers and many thrived using the age-old techniques.
A tried-&-true way to create an offline buzz about your restaurant is with on-street promotions. Actively engaging with your audience in person - IRL - is a rarity these days, so it could well give your business the edge in wooing customers old and new into your restaurant.
What are some fun and catchy ways to run an offline or on-street promotion that reinforces the heart of your unique brand and message?
Though the modern marketplace can be noisy and challenging, refreshing your approach to both online and offline strategies can be an effective double-whammy of success. If you approach both avenues strategically and creatively, you should find that your online efforts will support your offline strategies, and vice versa.
So, whether you're starting a new restaurant business from scratch, or you're re-opening after a period of closure, with some ingenuity, awareness and experimentation, you can harness the best of modern technology, as well as adding a creative new twist to age-old practices.