So, you’ve graduated from a culinary arts program and set up your very own restaurant. You may be an expert at dicing vegetables and grilling lamb steaks, but do you know how to attract customers to your newly minted place of business? You can’t rely on cooking skills alone, and you need to be able to market the eatery to potential customers.
“Diners want something human and genuine in their culinary experience.”
Here is how to bring in crowds with just a few simple marketing techniques:
1. Stay connected
In this day and age, people rely heavily on the Internet and social media for almost every aspect of their lives, including finding that new favorite restaurant. As a result, you’ll need to ensure you maintain a continuous online presence. First and foremost, that means having a functioning website, one that is not only attractive and engaging but also easy to navigate. As for social media,Twitter and Facebook are your most obvious choices. Regardless of the application, though, it’s important to remember that you’re talking to people in real-time and that success often boils down to how savvily you network with other chefs and customers.
2. Generate some press
Social media may be one of the most popular forms of communication these days, but it’s not the only way people get their news. Even amid the rise of Twitter, standard newspaper outlets still hold influence over the public. Reach out to these papers and invite a food critic in to critique your establishment. A good review can go a long way in drawing in customers, and it’s important to try and set up as many reviews as possible. Of course, your work’s not over after the ink has dried. When more people come in for dinner, encourage them to place their own reviews on sites like Yelp, OpenTable and Urbanspoon. In turn, these reviews will create an even greater promotional buzz.
3. Establish partnerships
No man is an island, and that rings doubly true for restaurants. Truly successful eateries don’t operate in isolation, and instead they work with neighboring businesses to bring in throngs of potential customers. Some of these partnerships involve deal-sharing setups. For instance, if a customer buys one thing at business A, then he or she saves 5 percent on desserts at restaurant X. Or, the two businesses can work together to promote one another and send customers between shops. You may also want to explore the idea of sponsoring a charity event. Not only are you doing a good thing for your community, but you’re bound to elicit plenty of promotion via press releases and local media coverage.
4. Display your personality
On the one hand, people come to your restaurant for great service and delicious food. Yet so many diners want much more – they want something human and genuine in their culinary experience. That’s why it’s important to have a presence during the actual meal. Beyond that, you can rely on the Web and social media to help show more of your personal side. Instagram is the perfect venue to entice people by sharing photos or videos of your various menu items. Twitter is a great way to talk about the process of cooking, which is of interest to food enthusiasts. A personal blog is another way to connect with people and put on display the person behind the chef’s hat.