Studies prove it’s much easier for the brain to comprehend a grouping of three compared to two or four. So when it comes to the perfect marketing mix for restaurateurs, look no further than this powerful trio: digital presence, offline presence and memorable dine-in experience. Find the sweet spot between all three, and your marketing efforts will keep the customers coming in the door.
1. Digital presence
It’s hard to believe, but nearly half of the small businesses in the United States still don’t have a website. For dining establishments, in particular, it’s absolutely crucial to have a digital presence: 80 percent of people look up a restaurant online before visiting the first time. And with a growing number of people searching from their mobile phone, your website needs to be mobile-friendly, too.
Deluxe built a custom website for Harry’s Old Kettle Pub & Grill, a bar and restaurant in Wabash, Indiana. To make sure the website got customers through the door, the designers included three key elements:
- A mobile-friendly layout. The entire website was designed to look great and be easy to navigate on computer screens and smartphones alike.
- A robust menu. Most diners want to peek at a restaurant’s menu before stopping in. To help hungry customers see the variety of mouthwatering dishes available, Harry’s website included a comprehensive menu.
- Important info, at a glance. The address and phone number for the restaurant are prominently listed on the website, making it easy for visitors to get what they need.
Once you’ve got your website humming along, what else can you do to get the word out? If you’re not promoting your business through email, then you’re not communicating with customers the way they want to hear from you. More than 70 percent of customers like to receive email updates from companies they do business with, more than all other forms of communication.
Online listings are yet another way for customers to find you. To make sure your business is listed on the top websites, use a free scan to uncover all the online directories, social networks and search sites. For Harry’s, having this information was essential to finding the areas that needed improvement in order to increase awareness.
There is true power in social networks. To harness it, try posting to your networks regularly. If you find yourself frustrated by not having enough time to build out and manage social media, consider consulting with an expert or digging into what types of content your competitors publish. No matter your industry, focus on the quality of your content and not quantity.
2. Offline presence
Your offline presence complements your online tactics, and vice versa. Harry’s reinforced their brand by placing their logo on carryout boxes, coasters and new menus. Getting these menus right was absolutely vital for their restaurant as it gave them a chance to communicate the quality of food and atmosphere. After all, a menu is something that customers see at every visit. Use them to make a lasting impression.
Another way to take advantage of print is to consider your flyers, postcards, brochures and other printed materials as “offline landing pages” — treating them much the same as online landing pages by offering instant gratification, a limited time to act and unmissable calls to action.
Promotions are often a bankable idea in any industry, but especially for restaurants. Happy hours, trivia nights, game days, “kids eat free” and buy-one-get-one specials are only a few ways to pique the interest of various audiences. Bonus: They help keep a steady stream of customers on different days of the week or month.
Partnerships may at first seem a little trickier to pull off, but the advantage for restaurateurs is their ready-made event space. To attract the attention of your community’s key influencers, offer your establishment to local groups for events, parties and meetings.
3. Memorable dine-in experience
Make the dining experience even more memorable with rewards programs, free samples or special treats for customers. As Harry’s demonstrates, warm and friendly service always helps. Providing a satisfying and memorable experience that customers want to talk about afterward is the best way to build a business.
When used together, the trio of online marketing, offline marketing and memorable dine-in experiences has incredible power for your restaurant. Finding the sweet spot where all three are perfectly balanced may take a little time and fine-tuning. But ultimately your restaurant will rest on a sturdy three-legged stool of marketing: each equal to the other two, and each contributing its integral part in elevating your business.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in March 2017 and has been revised for accuracy and relevance.