The last 10 years have changed restaurant marketing.
Think about it. Ten years ago restaurant marketing and advertising was a whole lot simpler. Web sites were nothing special. They hosted our menus and a quick bio on what to expect. Social media was an unorganized technological wild west, filled with mostly students. Facebook and Twitter were just a newborn, social media baby. In fact, Facebook had only opened up to non-students in March of 2006. Yelp was only 2 years old and far from the review juggernaut it is today.
The norm for a new restaurant opening was still mainly an ad in the local newspaper, a submission to the local phonebook, and a ribbon cutting ceremony with the chamber of commerce. The norm for an existing restaurant was keeping up an occasional newspaper/TV/local magazine ad to drive new customers and working tirelessly with our regulars to keep them happy.
Five years ago things started moving rapidly.
Five years ago social media for business existed but many businesses still used Facebook “profiles” as businesses with no real form or figure. We friended our regulars and they requested our friendship to gain an “in” with their favorite spot. Advertising was still primarily print, TV, and mailers.
Advertising was still primarily print, TV, and mailers. New customers still found us through the phone book, local newspapers and an occasional search via the internet. But things were starting to change. Smartphones started to become the norm. iPhone released it’s 4th generation phone and was no longer a rich person’s phone.
The world of marketing and maintaining a restaurant began to be more than just a business of human connections and started to be a multi-faceted digital process intermixed with websites, online reviews and customer opinions online.
Today, we battle the restaurant marketing world in brand new ways. Google, Bing, and Yahoo set the parameters for ranking our restaurants when people ask their mobile phones where they should eat. They don’t simply set this and forget it. Their algorithm is updated 500-600 times a year. (Moz Local) The search engines sell information and a restaurant without proper information is not sold first. If we’re not near the top of the maps or organic listings, we’re not found. Page 2 of a SERP (Search Engine Reports Page) can be costly to even the most well-organized restaurant, no matter how good the food.
Yelp is a behemoth of unsolicited advice from foodies and amateur critics that can make or break a restaurant for things sometimes uncontrollable by the owners and managers. But Yelp is not the only place for critics to build up or break down a good restaurant. Food Blogs, Facebook posts, Google My Business profiles, and everything going “viral” can take down a tasty diner, drive-in, or dive with no regard to the lives at stake.
So where do we go from here?
Here are some basic steps every restaurant can take:
- Find where your audience hangs out (E.G. Does your local audience hang out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
- Actively post on those social media tools
- Make content pieces (text, photos, videos) that are alive and exciting. Draw the audience in like tasty food to a hungry stomach.
- Save the headache of managing your restaurant’s local presence with Online Restaurant Manager.
- Worst case scenario if you can’t afford ORM, check your local listings like Yelp, Google My Business, Bing for Business, etc at least once a month for bad information. Everything from your menu to phone number is being aggregated from sources outside of your control. Take all necessary steps to avoid customer confusion and lost income to ensure your business is setup as best as possible.
If you need help getting started, the best place to see how well your restaurant can be found online is to utilize our complimentary location scan. This will give you a snapshot of where and how well your restaurant’s contact & location information is currently being found online.