Article contributed by Annie Grace Wilson, East Coast Wings Franchise
When you own a restaurant, one of the biggest things you must do is market. You may have the greatest food and most pleasing inside decor the world has ever seen, but no one will know about it unless you market. Marketing on a local level helps inform consumers of your presence. It’s the main way to get bodies into your restaurant.
Your overall approach will vary depending on your restaurant’s branding, the food you serve, and the type of community you live in. But these five points on how to market locally can be used by any restaurant owner, whether they are a fine dining or a casual cafe, rurally located or in the middle of an urban area.
1. Reach Out
You need to have a good understanding of the local community. Your restaurant should, on some level, reflect the community’s needs. When you run a business, it doesn’t exist outside the community; instead, it becomes part of the community. Your potential local clients are more likely to accept you if you reach out to them.
You can participate in local business and restaurant fairs, giving people samples of your menu and coupons to participate. You might also want to put advertisements in your local newspaper, or see if a local coupon book would publish a coupon for your business.
One of the quickest ways to become known is through charitable work. If you have the financial capital to do so, consider donating to different community-based programs. You might offer catering for the local high school’s basketball championship game, or you might donate unused food to a local food bank. Also consider sponsorships for local sports teams that allow you a sign in their playing area.
3. Resolve Any Issues
Public relations is a crucial field. Word of mouth has always carried significant weight for businesses. In today’s modern world, access to online review sites means that every customer is a food critic. If a problem arises within your restaurant, it’s important that you address it and make amends as soon as possible.
If issues arise outside the restaurant, consider whether it’s a good idea to respond to them or not. For example, it’s not a good idea to respond to every negative online review of your business. But any serious allegations and rumors should be curtailed before they have a chance to start.
4. Consider Collaborations
When you connect with your community, you don’t want your restaurant to be isolated. You should consider getting involved in local community events and partnering with other businesses on projects. Local movie theaters often have collaboration opportunities, as do clothing stores. Some bookstores even have restaurants inside them! Get to know other local business owners and find out whether you can network through them.
5. Contact Food Bloggers
Food blogging is a career. Food bloggers cover a number of different culinary areas. Most commonly, they mix their own recipe knowledge with reviews of local foods and restaurants. You can look for local food bloggers on social media. Your best options are ones who have done reviews of other restaurants in the area.
Some food bloggers will fit certain niches: vegan food, gluten-free food, and low-carb food are three common trends. If your restaurant fills this niche, or at least has a section of the menu dedicated to it, you have double the reason to get the food blogger in the door.
You should treat food bloggers the same way you’d treat food critics for major publications. They are there to review the restaurant, and the local community will take notice of what they write. Make sure you’re conscious of that.
It doesn’t matter what kind of food your restaurant serves. Local marketing is an essential way to tap into your clientele. The importance of engaging in the community cannot be understated. You need to make sure your restaurant suits the community by offering something they want. Then, you need to make sure people know that you have the food they’re looking for.
Take control of your public relations with coordinated ad campaigns, coupons, and social media posts. Your local social media presence is a great place to start. Get in touch with different businesses in the community to integrate yourself.
Annie Grace Wilson is a Public Relations Specialist for East Coast Wings Franchise. She regularly produces content for a variety of blogs that cover topics on franchising startups and information.