It’s that time of year again, the time when you earnestly commit to a list of New Year’s resolutions that are typically forgotten by February. Here at Restaurant Insider, we want to make sure you follow through on those goals–at least the ones that pertain to bettering yourself professionally and growing your business. We’ve compiled some of our best strategies to help get you on the right track–and stay there.

Dive into Social Media

Social media is the best free marketing you can do for your restaurant. Whether you’re embracing it all, or just a specific platform, here are some helpful tips to get you on your way to becoming a marketing maven.

  • Enlist your staff on social

Leverage their distinct talents, expertise, personalities, passions and personal networks. Not only does this boost the reach of your post, it’s a great way to provide well-deserved recognition.

  • Use your most popular social channels to promote the other channels

The more touch points you can build with a customer outside your restaurant the better, and social media is the perfect way to do it.

  • Be creative with posts

Some ideas: Highlight seasonal menu items; share news of an award you received; congratulate the newest employee you brought on board, sharing their background and what they’ll be doing at your restaurant; and build buzz about an expansion by announcing you’ll be sharing big news soon.

  • Try something new

Have you experimented with Facebook Live? Facebook lets you broadcast for up to 90 minutes, and they advise at least 10 to give your viewers time to catch you live. You don’t need a hard script for these, but do enough planning so that you have an idea of what you want to say and what the goal is. Remember, this is live! It’s fine to be a bit casual and let your personality shine. Another great idea? Consider adding your online ordering integration to your Facebook page so snowed-in customers can still enjoy your latest specials.

Another great marketing strategy to maximize your spaces exposure and increase your restaurant’s sales would be to work with a digital marketing platform that will actively increase the visibility of your space for free. Companies like DropDesk operate like an Airbnb for workspace, allowing local professionals to work from your restaurants, retail spaces, or even loose cubes at your office by converting unused space, slow, or closed hours into vibrant pop-up coworking space. Expanding the types of clients you service, will not only increase your customer base but also your revenue opportunities.

foodstagram posts using Instagram

Run Promotions

Marketing is an everyday process, but there are times when you want to promote a particular event or change things up to bring in new customers. Here are some tactics to try.

  • Partner with an influencer

A quick internet search of “wine influencers” or “food influencers” along with your city’s name will turn up at least a handful of people you can reach out to and eventually partner with. Perhaps you treat them to a free meal in exchange for them posting about their experience.

  • Put a prize on the line

If you own a sports bar, there’s nothing against running sports-based wagering for a bar-sponsored prize or reward. All that would be required is that customers be in attendance and place an order to claim a particular prize. The same could apply if you host a trivia night or a karaoke contest.

  • Introduce a loyalty program

When done well, a customer loyalty program can boost your business and offer you personal contact with your guests. It can help you turn satisfied guests into loyal guests, and as any restaurateur knows, regular guests are the best (and most lucrative). The ultimate goal of a loyalty program is to learn more about your guests. When a guest enrolls, you are able to capture information about them that you might otherwise not have. You could offer VIP experiences, a referral program, and more. Let Upserve help run your loyalty program. 

  • Have fun with theme nights

It could be a viewing party for an award show or popular TV series return, with a theme menu. Or you might turn back the clock and have an ‘80s party. Some restaurants also host networking events, and charity meet-and-greets.  

guests at a restaurant on social media

Ace Real-Time Marketing

There are moments when you are called to communicate with customers on the spot. Often, you will have to respond to feedback within seconds, especially when it’s negative and you have a narrow window to resolve it. These situations become marketing and customer service moments, as well, especially when they happen on the internet, where everything is magnified, public and often permanent.  

In order to be prepared for engaging followers spontaneously, you should have a “real-time” mission statement. Spend some time considering the experience you hope your followers take away from every interaction with your business online. Try to get this summarized in only a few sentences. Once you have it written down, it’s easier to carry that “mission statement” with you through all your content and communications.

Next, imagine some common, real-life scenarios or even some extreme ones: For example, how you might react to the worst review or insult for your business that you can think of. Imagine some potential responses.

So many businesses don’t realize that service, not lip service, but real old-fashioned service is the best form of marketing you can do for your bottom line.

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Be More Visual

A few prominent images on a page are more eye-catching then many insignificant ones. Keep things fresh with timely updates, and change up your photos for new arrivals or seasonal offerings promotions and events.

On Facebook, take advantage of the option to create albums so you can group products like “New Arrivals,” “Holiday Eats,” or “Cocktail Menu.” When new photos are added, your followers will be notified.

And don’t forget about video. Short video clips of your staff reviewing their new favorite products and giving recommendations are perfect for your blog or social media accounts.

Add More Voices

Whether you are able to delegate and share the responsibilities of creating and managing your online content, or you find ways to feature or enlist guests to contribute, there are ways to make it a more balanced group effort. This helps you avoid burnout and is more interesting and engaging for your followers.

Embrace Community Marketing

One way to maximize your restaurant marketing power is to join forces with other area small businesses in your community.

It’s a proven strategy that has seen businesses thrive through cross-promotion, community spirit and overall good business karma. Pub crawls, open arts and gallery nights, block parties and seasonal events are all ways that your restaurant can be featured in some kind of event or group promotion, working with other businesses to draw in large crowds from your community or area.

social media for restaurants

How Upserve Can Help

For your restaurant marketing to have the most impact, time and expertise are required. With Upserve, you can easily set up a marketing campaign. Just pick the start and end time and Upserve does the rest to reveal the impact your campaign had on total sales, visits, average sale as opposed to your typical averages, and a day-by-day breakdown of sales performance. Some services offered include:

  • Social Monitoring

With a customized restaurant GuestBook feature, Upserve allows you to search for matching social profiles for guests you already have in your customer database, displaying a set of online profiles that are possible matches, then allowing you to select the one you’d like to connect to a customer profile.

  • Loyalty Program

With this added understanding from your GuestBook, you can focus promotions on the highest value customers. With Upserve, it’s easy to understand which guests are prime for an upselling opportunity table-side, and which should be invited to join your loyalty program.

  • Consolidate Your Reviews

Upserve gives restaurateurs the ability to monitor reviews on multiple social sites (Google, Yelp, OpenTable, and TripAdvisor), and respond to those reviews from within Upserve.

  • Link Reviews To Campaigns

Restaurants that use Upserve can monitor their reputations within the context of their sales results. Want to know how your trivia night performed? Upserve can overlay that data with sales information and tell you.

By using these features, you can figure out what works (what doesn’t) and decide which knobs to turn up or down and continuously improve your ROI.

There you have it! A solid restaurant marketing plan for 2019. Use your holiday downtime to consider some of the strategies above, and hit the ground running in the New Year.

Check out Upserve’s guide to restaurant marketing strategies!

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Megan is always adventuring. Whether it is simply wandering around Newport, RI or venturing off across the world, she is constantly looking for a new travel destination. While she may not be able to tell you the exact cities she has visited, you can expect a play by play of everything she ate.