Article contributed by Brett Linkletter and Ariana Brajkovich, Misfit Media
We are currently in what may be the most challenging time for restaurants since the 2008 financial crisis. Possibly worse. Regulations on public gatherings— and simply walking outside— are being placed on cities and states across the country. People are panicking. Rolls of toilet paper are few and far between.
Amidst this chaos, what is your plan? Where do you stand? How can you continue to run your business safely and securely? In this article, we are going to talk about several ways you can adjust your restaurant’s marketing to focus on the only ways some stores are allowed to sell food: takeout and delivery.
Just to be clear, whatever form of delivery you use, whether it is in-house or 3rd party, will be completely compatible with the methods we explain.
Let’s start with some basic good news from 3rd party delivery services!
Uber Eats is cutting delivery fees for independently owned restaurants! Use this to your advantage! Grub Hub is also offering a cost break for select restaurants. Although it may not be as helpful as providing their service at no cost or a discount, GrubHub is offering to postpone collecting certain fees. They have not yet reported how long the delay will be. Check if your restaurant qualifies and is in one of the cities where Uber Eats and GrubHub are granting this flexibility. Obviously, this is not the panacea solution that every restaurant owner needs, but it can help ease some of the pain.
In addition, several services are promoting ways to increase customer— and driver— safety! Postmates, DoorDash, and GrubHub are all encouraging contactless delivery. Postmates is making it a direct, easy option where customers can choose contactless delivery with the tap of a button in their order. Other services are simply reminding customers that they can request contactless delivery in the “notes” or “special requests” section of their order. While recommendations may seem insignificant, they do help consumer confidence when ordering from any restaurant.
Now the real question is: how are you going to make up for your lost dine-in revenue?
The simple answer is: take-out (curbside, drive-through etc.) and delivery. Life throws us a curveball every once and awhile, and although it’s not always easy, we still need to find a way to make solid contact and hit it out of the park. Shifting the focus and purpose of your marketing is exactly how you are going to do that.
The first method we are going to cover is email. I’m sure you’ve received emails from other businesses updating you on how they are carrying out their standard practices and assuring you that they are taking the best precautions given the current health environment. If you haven’t already, we recommend that you reach out to your email list. You might not be quite sure what to write, so take these things into consideration:
- If your restaurant is taking extra precautions, let your customers know!
- Be sure to use a calm, neutral tone. Keep in mind that contributing to the panic mindset doesn’t make things better.
- Reassure your customers that their–and your/your employees’–safety is the top priority. This is a great opportunity to stand with and support your community.
- Make your customers aware of the services that you are offering i.e. encourage delivery and take-out! Not all restaurants are serving in any capacity, so make sure they know that you are a resource that they can depend on!
Your list of email subscribers is a prime resource, especially at times like these. People are spending more time than normal on their devices, so any digital message that you send out is even more likely to be seen.
Secondly, we have social media. When it comes to advertising online, now is NOT the time to pull back. In fact, now is the time to ramp it up! Aim your marketing specifically at what people are looking for–good food that makes them comfortable and feel good AND not having to leave their homes. Being stuck inside can take its toll on people, but nothing helps boost quarantine morale quite like a fresh meal from a favorite restaurant. And again, people are spending more and more time online. Social media usage has increased by up to 66% in some regions!
Ultimately, look to make life easier for your customers. Many challenges have been thrown in everyone’s face in the last couple weeks. Schools are closed, so kids need to be watched and nurtured. People are working from home and are presented with new distractions every minute. Try a campaign that combines dinner with an activity. One of our clients is seeing success with a family-sized, build-your-own-pizza kit. The kit comes with everything you need (besides the oven) to make a pizza. Kid-friendly entertainment AND dinner? Check.
Consider integrating your social media ads directly with your POS.
Eliminate the steps your customers have to take between seeing your brand name and ordering food. Make the buttons on your ads go directly to your ordering page. We’ve set up a number of our clients with a social media to online delivery system that also reduces their 3rd party delivery fees!
Life has never been easy, but for most people it just got a bit (or a lot) more challenging. People are looking for comfort and some sort of relief. It’s not a new thing for people to turn to food when seeking out those concepts. Don’t forget that your customers need you just as much as you need them. Food is at the center of most cultures and it brings people together. It still can when you adjust your marketing plan— even when social distancing!
Brett Linkletter is the CEO & CoFounder of Misfit Media. He has an aggressive willingness to take on new challenges and a strong understanding of scaling a business from scratch. His vision is to disrupt the restaurant marketing space by empowering business owners with predictable, scalable marketing strategies so they can grow their business based on insights and data, versus guesswork and course correction. Brett’s specialty lies in creative content creation, brand messaging, social media growth hacking, and business development. His biggest role model and lifetime hero is his great grandfather, Art Linkletter, who was a famous TV personality and businessman.
Ariana Brajkovich is Misfit Media’s in-house media buyer. She is a data-driven individual who loves to take the creative route to achieve results. Ariana studied business and marketing at the University of Southern California and has found her niche in the restaurant world. She thrives in competition and is inspired by Misfit’s drive to take restaurants across the world to the next level. Outside of the office, you can find her skiing, rock climbing, or baking.
To learn more about putting together a marketing strategy for your restaurant or foodservice business, contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 424-289-8648