Is Your Restaurant Marketing to the Right Target Audience?

When marketing a restaurant, it can be a challenge to define your demographic and hone in on your target audience. Restaurant owners tend to focus too closely on who they want their customer to be instead of focusing on who is going to be their customer. This can be problematic because when you do not focus on your target audience, you often miss the mark when marketing your business.

Marketing to the right demographic using the right channels can help bring more customers through your doors. But, how? We discuss ways to boost business by marketing to three common target audiences.

Millennials and Post-Millennials

The “Younger Crowd” of Students and Young Professionals

According to Pew, millennials are part of the generation born between 1981 and 1996. Post-millennials are those born thereafter. This age group is currently 37 and younger, tech-savvy, and have some pretty serious spending power. According to Forbes, in 2017 millennials had $200 billion in spending power. In 2018, they have more buying power than any other generation.

If your target audience is made up of millennials and post-millennials (think young career professionals and students), you need to market to them in a way that they’ll listen. It can be a challenge to cut through all the noise streaming through Airpods and the social content being scrolled through, but if you market start, you may just win a millennial over and turn them into a loyal customer.

Social Media

Let’s first discuss the younger portion of the millennials and post-millennials – those that are “students” either in high school or college. If your restaurant is located in a college town or near a high school, building an online presence is key. According to a study by Johnson & Wales University, 45% of college students spend 6-8 hours a day browsing social media sites. As a restaurateur, you have to use this to your advantage.

Create social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram for the restaurant. College and high school students are constantly scrolling through these social channels, so they’re a perfect outlet to target millennials. Social media is an easy way to get the word out about new dishes, happy hours or special events your restaurant is hosting.

Consider running paid ads on social media as well to reach a more targeted audience. When doing paid advertising on social, define your target audience so you can reach this specific age group in your surrounding area. If your advertisement is relevant to them, they’re more likely to check you out online.

But, millennials aren’t just young students. People well into their thirties are part of this generation as well. By this time, they’ve established a career and may even have families of their own. They’re still tech-savvy and active on social media, but most likely have different wants when dining out.

Young families with young children are also excessively using the Internet to find dining options and deals for their families. Be sure to use social media platforms and publishing sites to your advantage. Parents are busy and they do not have time to open up a hundred different tabs and pages to figure out where to go. In this age group, convenience is key. Make finding a restaurant an easy step in their hectic day.

According to the National Restaurant Association, nearly 6 out of 10 diners take into account a restaurant’s child-friendliness when choosing where to eat. Promoting your kids’ menu on social media or having a “kids eat free” night every Sunday are simple ways to market towards your target audience.  Coupons and loyalty programs are other great tools to use with this demographic. App-based loyalty programs, like Belly, digitally give families an incentive to come back to your restaurant time and again.

Customer Interaction

When it comes to interaction with your customer base, social media and review sites are great places to do so. 62% of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. College students and millennials want to be seen and heard, so make sure you are replying to their comments on social media and addressing concerns or issues in their reviews. They will appreciate that you took the time to respond and will feel like their voices were heard.

Online Presence

Besides these platforms, you need to make sure your menu and business information are listed on sites like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare as well. Sites like these are places that college students and other young people are constantly searching to find new restaurants and places to eat. Make sure you are searchable, but on top of that, make sure any information a student could be looking for is readily available. Do you deliver? Are you BYOB? How late are you open? This is all essential information that people want to know before choosing to dine with you.

93% of diners look at a menu before going into a restaurant.  And this is 93% off all diners meaning you better believe that college students are of vast majority. You also have to remember that college students don’t have an endless amount of money to spend. A great way to maximize your customer base is by running specials or discounts specifically for students. Half off appetizers with a student I.D. or a student loyalty program can easily attract more business to your restaurant. If you have a deal geared toward students, they’ll be more likely to visit you (and tell their friends!)

Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation

The “Older Crowd” of Working Professionals and Retirees

Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 and range in age from 72 to 54. They were a hugely influential generation and make up a large percentage of our overall population. The silent generation, also known as the greatest generation, came before them; that group is made up of people born between 1925 and 1945. They are currently 72 and older. Marketing tactics will be different for people in this age bracket than those that we’ve just discussed.

Social Media and Online Presence

If your restaurant is in a town of a dominantly older crowd, tactics used with college students and other millennials won’t be as effective. Tweeting and ‘checking in’ won’t attract the same buzz that it does with younger diners. This doesn’t mean you should ignore social media altogether; you just have to handle it differently.

The millennial generation uses all social platforms interchangeably, while baby boomers and older diners primarily use Facebook. According to Forbes, baby boomers are 19% more likely to share content on Facebook than any other generation. This means it is imperative that your restaurant has a strong Facebook presence to create a buzz and keep customers informed about current happenings. Update your followers on daily specials, happy hours, and weekly events. If your customer base knows what type of entertainment and deals you’re offering, they’ll be more likely to dine with you if something catches their eye.

Baby boomers also aren’t as attached to their phones as younger people are. Pew Research finds that 94% of people 18-29 own smartphones, while 73% of 50-64 year-olds do. When it comes to 65+, the amount of smartphone users drops to 46%. So, running paid advertising on social channels will not be as effective when targeting an older demographic. However, since Facebook is the most popular among that crowd, you can try Facebook paid advertising as a tactic.

Despite not being as active socially, this generation of diners is still viewing menus online (93% of all people are, remember?) They’ll appreciate the fact that you’re putting your essential business information and your menu online across search engines and travel and review sites. Although this generation may be more inclined to give you a call to make a reservation instead of using OpenTable or Resy, they’re still doing their research to find the best spot to eat online before dialing your phone number.

Local Advertising

Instead of being social-focused in your marketing efforts, local radio and newspaper and magazine ads and flyers are ways that can help market your business to older diners. Although older generations aren’t on their phones as much, they still use other devices like desktops and tablets. Local news websites can be great opportunities for advertising.

Attractive Events

Running specials and events that are specifically targeted to your audience is also important. Early bird specials and senior citizen discounts are examples of promotions you should be running when targeting this demographic. Loyalty programs, like punch cards, can also work well.

Consider hosting events at your restaurant that can become weekly or monthly traditions. Canasta and Bingo nights are great ways to get customers in the door to enjoy good food and good company. Live music offering popular “oldies” tunes can also be of interest to baby boomers looking for a social night out.

Mixed Demographic

If you truly have a mixture of demographics that dine with you, first focus your marketing efforts on the largest crowd. But, don’t leave the others out. Implement a mixture of the strategies we discussed above so you can reach different audiences with different tactics.

Demographics play a huge role when it comes to marketing your restaurant smartly. Understanding your target audience can help you market more effectively in order to bring in new business. Conversely, marketing towards the wrong audience can be a waste of time and money.

Instagram posts and tweets are not going to have the same effect on the older generation as millennials, just like how promoting a kids menu is going to attract young families instead of college students. Focus on the demographic that is your largest customer base and use the proper marketing tools and techniques to stand out to your target audience.

Restaurant Content Marketing 101: Definitions, Ideas, and Examples

As a restaurant owner, you’re always thinking up new ways to market your business. You want to attract new customers and keep them as loyal patrons. You want to stand out from the competition and show diners what makes your restaurant special. Have you considered content marketing as part of your overall marketing strategy? Content marketing is a great way to keep your brand presence top of mind and give diners valuable information.

What is Content Marketing?

By definition, content marketing is:

[a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.]

I know, it may seem strange to use a marketing tactic that isn’t totally self-promotional, but it’s actually a really smart strategy when your goal is to organically invoke interest in your business.

People don’t want to be constantly sold on why they should buy a certain product or visit a particular business. Persistent self-promotion of your restaurant can be overwhelming, contrived, and even irritating to potential customers.

Instead, you want to inspire people to want to visit you because of the content you’re sharing with them.  Maybe your blog post stirred up an emotion or made a reader laugh. Maybe a video taught them something new or inspired them. This type of response is far more memorable than a generic sales pitch or overly-persuasive gesture. The ability to provide people with useful and meaningful information is why content marketing has been an increasingly essential part of many companies’ overall marketing strategy.

How to Market Using Content

Blogging

So, where do you begin? Start off by creating a blog on your restaurant website if you don’t have one already. 53% of marketers say blogging is their top content marketing priority; consider making it a priority of yours as well.

A blog is an easy way to share content that can also be re-shared on your social media platforms and in email newsletters to customers. Not to mention, having a blog helps to boost your website’s SEO, which we talked about in another article. Featuring a blog as a key part of your website will give you a 434% better chance of being ranked highly on search engines. Why not put in the extra effort to get some valuable content on your website?

When beginning your blog, map out a content calendar. You can start off with a list of topics you find relevant and then decide where on the calendar you’ll place them for publishing. Be strategic about when and how often you’re posting your blogs. Of course, the more content the better, but don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s better to produce high-quality content less frequently than it is to push out blogs that are rushed just to fill the page.

When it comes to topics, make sure the content is relevant to your audience. As a restaurant, it’d be pretty silly to write blogs about hardware advice or the current trends in fashion. Produce content based on the history of your business or recipes, put a personal opinion spin on current restaurant news, and write employee spotlights about your staff and customer spotlights about your loyal diners. All of these topic ideas are relevant to your industry and your audience but aren’t just selling diners on why they should come to your restaurant.

Three quick blog content ideas:

  • Meet the Owner: Learn About the Guy Behind [Insert Restaurant Name]
  • Recipe Corner: Learn How to Make July’s Dinner Special – Lobster Bisque
  • The Plastic Straw Debate: What Our Restaurant is Doing About It

If your blog content is compelling, you’ll inspire people to want to dine with you because of the information or entertainment you’re providing. Maybe they really love the history and uniqueness of how your restaurant got its name or want to meet your outstanding staff in person. These personal connections through content can not only give your restaurant a unique voice, but can help bring more people through your doors.

Examples

Starbucks has their own “Starbucks Channel” for exclusive content. There, they share in-depth blogs about the locations where new coffee is sourced, video content, and even a “behind the green apron” series that highlights Starbucks employees.

Mei Mei of Boston also has a specific blog page, where they post content about their employees, food, and even share recipes with readers.

Costa Vida, a Fresh Mexican food chain, has a blog dedicated to ideas around holidays, ingredients, and more.

Quick Tip

Blogs should strive to be at least 1,000+ words, depending on the content. Google looks for quality over quantity. It wasn’t always this way, but with changes in algorithms, more is actually more!

Video Content

Video is big right now. With the attention span of the population decreasing, this shift to video can prove to be beneficial for your marketing strategy. Animoto’s Social Video Forecast suggests that 76.5% of marketers and small business owners are getting results with video marketing. So, why not give it a shot? (pun intended)

Although video may be somewhat difficult or time-consuming to produce, it can help you gain traction with a digitally-driven audience. The statistics support the fact that video works! Video posts on Facebook alone have 135% greater organic reach than photo posts.

You can produce both short-form content for social media (Instagram allows for up to 60 seconds of video, Instagram TV can be longer), and longer videos to be placed on your company website and on YouTube.

When it comes to any content, recycling is key. You can repurpose your blog content to produce videos on the same topics (for example, do video-based employee and customer spotlights).

Other ideas include:

  • Restaurant Tour
  • Recipe of the Day Reveal
  • History Lesson of Your Restaurant

Publishing similar content in several different forms allows you to reach a larger audience and cater to people with different preferences. Although one person doesn’t want to read through your 2,000-word blog, they may be more inclined to view a two-minute video on the same topic.

Branch out to discover new resources when looking to create new content. If you get in touch with food and restaurant influencers, you can even invite them to do a guest-video on your page where they taste and rate some of your top dishes (spoiler alert: you can turn this into a blog as well!)

Brands like Insider Food have made a name for themselves by posting viral videos of restaurant hotspots and trending food dishes. Take some cues from their successful content and apply it to your own.

Once you’ve created videos, experiment with paid advertising in order to boost the video visibility. The call-to-action on the videos can drive viewers to your website so they can learn more about your restaurant and what you offer.

Examples

We really love the footage captured in this video about the Gordon Ramsay Restaurant Group. Just from the video content, you can see that the restaurants all have a different flair to them, but work together to form one cohesive restaurant group.

Fire & Vine Hospitality is doing a great job with employee spotlights. This video showcases a captain at their restaurant, El Gaucho, which adds a personal touch and lets viewers get to know the staff.

Quick Tip

Typically, you can hold a video viewer’s attention for up to two minutes. After that, interest tends to drop off. So, try keeping your videos around this length (and produce shorter snippets for social media channels that have time constraints).

Social Media

We’ve talked about social media in a few other articles, but we’ll discuss it here as well. Chances are you’re already putting some effort into social. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and Pinterest are all great avenues to explore for restaurant marketing.

Of course, not all of these channels are going to be a smash hit for your business – a lot of social media is made up of trial and error. Experiment with different types of posts, different social channels, and a few paid advertising campaigns to see what works for you.

Establish a Brand Persona

Establishing a clear brand persona on social media is important. Once you’ve gotten your feet wet, create a voice to go along with your restaurant’s brand, determine your restaurant’s unique style, and post consistent content that aligns with your brand.

An ultimate win would be for someone to open up their Instagram, scroll through, and know that your restaurant posted a certain photo without even looking at the name of the account. This can be achieved through your unique style, the content within your post, and the language you use to describe the photo.

Be Consistent

Social media is also all about consistency. Posting an update once a year isn’t enough to keep followers engaged. Use a social media calendar to plan out your posts. An easy way to stay consistent is creating a cadence based on popular social topics.

Some examples are:

  • #WednesdayWisdom (does your staff have any wise words of advice?)
  • #ThrowbackThursday (you can post old photos of your restaurant and staff)
  • Updates on daily specials, weekly events, or any other happenings

Be Choosy with Channels

And don’t spread yourself too thin. If, after experimentation, you’ve discovered that Facebook and Instagram are the best outlets for your business, focus on them. Putting too much effort into social outlets that don’t give you any return is a waste of your time.

Get Visual

Of course, high-quality, enticing photos are key (stray away from taking pictures on a flip phone). Studies have shown that people can recall 65% of the visual content that they see almost three days later. In comparison to about 10% of written content three days after it’s read.

Draw people in with strong visuals, but with purpose. Do you offer a deal on pizza on Tuesdays? Post a hard-to-resist photo of your signature pizza pie on Monday night to let people know about the upcoming special. Adding a new item to the permanent menu? Photograph it in its most flattering light and update your followers on when the new addition will be released. People will be excited to learn about your restaurant updates through your creative posts.

Examples

Playa Bowls

Playa Bowls started off as a one-location pop-up on the beach in Belmar, NJ. They serve up delicious, colorful, and healthy acai bowls along with other healthy food and drink. Since 2014, they’ve grown into a 50+ location chain. Their social media sticks to the laid-back beach vibe that was a part of their humble beginnings all those years ago.

What We Love

Playa Bowls’ aesthetic exudes a beach vibe mixed with customer appreciation. We also love the way they write their captions. The language is true to the brand and full of fun. Their social posts make you want to grab a friend & grab a bowl!

ShakeShack

ShakeShack has more than just amazing burgers, their social media is pretty great too. As if the drool-worthy food photos weren’t enough, they have pictures of dogs!

We love the “dog days of summer pun,” and this campaign is part of a series of “Shack pups” that they’ll be sharing for summer.

They also make it a point to be vocal about causes they care about – which shows the human side behind the burger!

And of course, the burger and fries images basically speak for themselves…

Quick Tip

When creating a social media strategy, let your brand speak for itself. Don’t try to mimic other restaurants just because they have a large following or great pictures. Of course, you can take cues from brands who are #winning, but don’t forget who you are. You always want to show off your business’ uniqueness and let that shine through.

Wrapping it All Up

Content marketing is a powerful tool for any business. This form of marketing is educational, informative, and less “salesy” than other traditional marketing tactics. Providing your potential diners, loyal customers, and social followers with valuable content helps to establish your restaurant’s credibility and trustworthiness. Plus, it helps you stand out from the competition; you’re giving people more useful information than they may have expected from a restaurant.

There are many ways you can accomplish successful content marketing, from blog posts to video and social efforts.

Make sure you have a solid plan in place before executing; take advantage of content marketing and social calendars to help you plan accordingly.

Be original and get creative; if you let the true colors of your unique brand shine through, you’re sure to make a memorable impression.

Restaurant Music – How to Build the Perfect Restaurant Playlist

Atmosphere is a huge part of why people go out to eat at a restaurant.

Within your restaurant, the color scheme, décor, menu design, and even the background music should all blend together in a way that represents your brand and creates a memorable experience for your customers.

All too often, owners and managers neglect the audio element of atmospheric design in their restaurant. They let their employees choose music from their phones, put on Pandora, or shuffle popular songs, unaware that they’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to influence their customers behaviors.

The Power of Music in Restaurants

Multiple studies have been done on the influence music has on consumers.

In restaurants, music can be used to influence consumer behavior in many different ways. For example:

  • Louder, fast paced music causes consumers to eat faster and spend less time in your restaurant, which can increase table turnover.
  • If your goal is to increase the average check size, then soft, slow paced music can get consumers to stay longer.
  • Genre can affect how much consumers are willing to spend. With the presence of classical music over top-40, consumers spend more on wine.

The right playlist can cause your customers to behave in ways that help increase check size, increase table turnover, and create an overall better experience.

Your music selection shouldn’t just be limited to these factors, however. It’s also important to select music that’s specific to your brand.

In this post, we’ll discuss in detail how to put together a playlist that’s right for your restaurant.

How to Legally Use Music in Your Restaurant

A common problem among small business owners is that many of them are using music illegally and don’t even know it.

As a result of expensive copyright lawsuits from music licensing organizations, many of these restaurants need to shut down.

Even if you’re using a music streaming service like Pandora, you may be at risk of being sued for copyright infringement on the songs that have been played in your restaurant.

This makes sense – the music copyright owners for the songs need to be properly compensated.

To become compliant with copyright law in a way that lets you use any song you’d like in your business, you need to get licenses from the Performance Rights Organizations (PROs) BMI, ASCAP and SESAC (yes, all three).

The reason you should get licenses from all 3 is because each organization represents different songwriters, and many times, a single song can have multiple songwriters.

To save on music licensing fees, you could get a license from one of the organizations and only use songs written by the songwriters they represent, but this can make for a very time-consuming playlist creation process, as you’d have to look up the information for each songwriter in the copyright database, and the individual databases of the PROs.

If you’d like to learn more about the details on how music licensing works, check out some of these music licensing questions.

Consider Live Music

If you have a high-end restaurant, providing a classy experience involving live musicians might be a good option to consider.

Expensive restaurants require attention to detail to justify the cost. This doesn’t just go for food, but also the design of your restaurant.

Due to the quality of live music over that of a recording, live music can add an increased perception of attention to detail that recorded music just doesn’t get.

Pulling this off can be difficult, as you may need to buy the instruments and sound equipment, as well as find talented musicians, but it can be well worth it if you want to go the extra mile.

If you choose to go with live performers for your background music, you may still need to pay licensing fees to BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC if the performances consist of cover songs.

How to Build the Perfect Playlist for Your Restaurant

If you’re fully compliant with copyright law and have a brand strategy in place for your restaurant, you’re ready to get started crafting your playlist.

When building your playlist, you want to focus on a few different things. Let’s discuss them each in detail.

Style and Genre

The genre of music can have a huge impact on how consumers perceive your restaurant, and how much they spend on food and drink items.

Certain types of music influence purchasing decisions by creating an atmosphere that increases the perception of value. For example, multiple studies, like this one, have shown that the presence of classical music causes consumers to spend more on high-end alcoholic drinks such as wine.

Music can also influence our perception of taste. Softer music, like some forms indie rock or pop, can cause us to perceive certain flavors in a stronger way, while more intense music such as hip-hop and dance can have a negative affect on our ability to perceive taste.

It’s most important that you choose a genre that goes well with your restaurants’ image.  If you’re running a coffee shop themed around local art, music from local indie rock musicians is a great fit.

The takeaway: Don’t just put on the top 40 hits playlist. Choose a genre that goes along with the style, culture, and theme of your restaurant.

Volume and Tempo

Volume and tempo can have a positive or negative affect on your restaurant, depending on how it’s used.

Setting the music louder can help increase table turnover, but may give customers an unpleasant experience.  Too quiet, and the diners aren’t influence by the music because they can’t hear it.

Tempo, on the other hand, can affect our heart rate. With an increased heart rate, we tend to move faster.

The best way to set the volume and tempo of the music is different depending on the time of day.

If you’re in a slow period, setting the playlist to a low volume with slower songs may keep people in your restaurant and give you time to encourage them to buy desert or stay for an extra drink.

During the dinner or lunch rush, turn the volume up and play some faster paced songs to increase table turnover so you can get new customers seated quickly.

The takeaway: Adjust the volume and tempo of your music throughout the day to influence how much time customers spend in your restaurant.

Major vs. Minor Songs

Usually, major key songs sound happy, perky, or enthusiastic, while minor key songs sound sad, mysterious, moody, or melancholy.

When choosing what types of songs to play in your restaurant, it’s important to consider what emotional message you want your brand to deliver to your customers.

It may seem like you’d always want to go with the major key (happy sounding) songs, but minor key songs have much more emotional intensity.

Take the time to consider what sort of emotions you want your brand to convey, and choose music that compliments this message.

The takeaway: Choose music that matches the emotional descriptions of your restaurants’ brand.

The music playing in the background at your restaurant has an effect on people’s mood and even their decisions. You want your customers to have a positive, memorable experience of dining with you and music can have an influence on this. Be conscious of the music you’re choosing for your restaurant and of course, make sure the songs you’re playing are legally sound as well.


About the Author: Nick Rubright is the founder or Dozmia and guitarist for the band Days Gone By. He’s passionate about all things music and marketing, and writes to bring these together.

3 Awesome Real-Life Restaurant Marketing Examples

We’ve discussed how to market your restaurant. Now, we’ve compiled a list of three restaurants (or restaurant groups) that we think are doing a really great job at marketing. In this article, we’ll talk about what these restaurants did right and how you can take inspiration from them for your own restaurant’s marketing strategy.

Dog Haus

 via Gothamist via Gothamist

Dog Haus certainly isn’t in our dog house when it comes to restaurant marketing. In fact, the national burger and dog chain employs a number of effective marketing strategies.

What it does right:

Showcases its Personality

First, the restaurant infuses its cheeky personality into all of its copy. For example, its restaurant signs and hot dog dishes read, “The Absolute Würst,” a play on the German word for sausage. Clearly, Dog Haus is not implying that it’s hot dogs are the worst. Rather, it’s marketing the restaurant—and its culinary creations—as creative, fun, and unpretentious.

http://gothamist.com/2018/06/19/dog_haus_soho_review.php#photo-1

According to Toast, establishing your restaurant’s personality is essential.

[The personality of your brand, the way you speak and act, make up your restaurant identity and is what attracts and retains customers.

Start by describing your brand (as if it is a person) with three words (ie. Bold, Fun, Authentic) and then elaborate on each until you have a good understanding of the personality of the brand. Once you know this, the rest should be no problem; when knowing what type of “person” your  brand is,” you should be able to easily figure out how they would speak to your customers.]

While we don’t know exactly how Dog Haus developed its personality—or that it would use “creative, fun, and unpretentious” to describe itself—we do know that its personality effectively attracts customers.

Next, the restaurant’s yearlong chef collaboration series incorporates three effective restaurant marketing strategies.

Forges Celebrity Partnerships

First off, the series takes advantage of celebrity partnerships. For 2018, Dog Haus recruited eight “Kick-Ass Chefs” to dream up special hot dog or shake creations that will be served in Dog Haus locations for two months. For example, in May and June, the restaurant served Top Chef season 2 winner Ilan Hall’s Huli-Huli chicken and pork sausage topped with sweet ginger glaze,  pineapple and jalapeño relish, crispy fried onions, and scallions.

Hall promoted the dog on his personal Instagram and Twitter accounts, which have each amassed over ten thousand followers.

Dog Haus is currently serving James Beard award-winning chef Alex Seidel’s “Lambda Lambda Lambda” featuring a lamb and pork sausage, topped with tzatziki, feta, diced onions, tomato, and pickles, which Seidel promoted on his personal Instagram account.

According to Franchising USA, there are some definite perks to partnering with celebrities. Celebrities can introduce their fans to you and add an overall “wow factor” to your restaurant.

If you don’t have major celebrity chefs in your contact lists, consider reaching out to other local chefs or food bloggers. They’re somewhat of “celebrities” to target customers in your area, and all it would cost you is a meal on the house (and who wouldn’t want a restaurant dish named after them?)

Leverages Limited Time Offers

Second, by changing the special dog every two months, the series effectively uses limited time offers to increase sales. Studies show that applying urgency and scarcity to menu items can increase sales by as much as 332%!

Donates to Charity

Finally, the campaign is for charity. Every time a customer orders one of the LTOs, Dog Haus donates one dollar to No Kid Hungry.

Not only does contributing to charity benefit worthy organizations, it also benefits your restaurant’s bottom line. According to a 2012 study, 72% of consumers recommend a business that contributes to charity over one that doesn’t.

If you’re not interested in donating a portion of your proceeds to charity consider catering a local charity event (it’ll make you feel good and you’ll only pay for the cost of the food). If you don’t know of any upcoming charity events, Restaurant Engine recommends reaching out to your local chamber of commerce.

Domino’s  

Domino’s has had a good year. In Q1 of 2018, the pizza chain outperformed its competitors and saw a 6.4% increase in same-store sales (which control for any new locations that opened during the quarter). Q2 resulted in the company’s 29th straight quarter of domestic same-store sales growth.

We would wager that Domino’s success is due in part to the successful marketing campaigns the brand has launched over the past decade.

What it does right:

Emphasizes Transparency

We’ll start our exploration of Domino’s marketing techniques by taking you all the way back to 2010. Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” dominated the airways, Apple introduced the iPad, and “Domino’s Pizza was known as the poor man’s Pizza Hut.” Faced with negative reviews and claims that its crust tasted like cardboard and its sauce like ketchup, Domino’s launched its famous “Pizza Turnaround” campaign. In the self-deprecating campaign directed by marketing guru Russell Weiner, Domino’s released a series of honest ads that admitted to its pizza’s flaws—and even highlighted negative reviews like “worst pizza I ever had,” “the sauce tastes like ketchup,” and ‘the crust tastes like cardboard”—and detailed the process of creating their new and improved pizza recipe.

Domino’s candor paid off. Q4 profits in 2010 rose to $23.6 million, more than twice 2009’s number. Store sales were also up 1.4% in 2010. Over the next four years, Domino’s opened 1,800 new stores in 10 countries.

Evidently, transparency can boost restaurant revenue. In 2010, Entrepreneur’s Tracy Stapp Herold reported:

[The honesty of the commercials succeeded in capturing not only customers’ curiosity but their sympathy as well. There’s something quite appealing about a big company willing to admit to its mistakes and put in the effort to correct them—especially amidst the corporate scandals and big bailouts that dominate the news nowadays.]

Values Customer Feedback

Not only was Domino’s “Pizza Turnaround” campaign honest, it also called upon consumer feedback to inform its business decisions. Clearly, customers were excited to taste the new recipe to see if Domino’s listened to their complaints (continued sales growth indicated that it did).

Domino’s emphasis on customer suggestions holds strong today. Currently, the company is asking for customers to recommend delivery hotspots, popular places without specific addresses that Domino’s should add to its delivery map.

Gathering customer opinions is a smart restaurant marketing strategy. Not only does it show customers that you care, it also gives you valuable insight into how you can improve your product.

You should always respond to feedback, whether that means reworking your recipes like Domino’s did or simply responding to reviews on Yelp and Tripadvisor.

Stevens et al.report that ignoring customer complaints is one of the worst things businesses can do. They say that, at a minimum, a timely, personalized apology should always be issued to minimize the impact of a complaint.

[When a customer receives a generic automated response from the firm, it gives them the impression that the firm does not value the customer. Many customers complain because they feel a need to be heard, and when an automated system is used—or even perceived to be used—they end up feeling like no one is truly listening.]

Launches Lighthearted Campaigns

You can read more about Domino’s lighthearted campaigns, like its wedding registry, that have generated buzz about the brand here.

Big Daddy’s and Duke’s

‘80s style diner Big Daddy’s and southern-influenced pub Duke’s are all over Instagram. In this day and age, that is a great way to be found online by new customers.

What they do right:

Reach Out to Influencers

Many restaurants that whip up “insta-worthy” concoctions are frequently tagged in Influencers’ posts. However, not all restaurants reach out to influencers directly to request that they post about their restaurants.

Branded Restaurants, the group behind the casual NYC eateries started reaching out to Influencers last year in order to increase brand awareness and drive restaurant sales.

Julie Zucker, the director of marketing and promotions for Branded Restaurants, talked about choosing the right Influencers for your restaurant.

[There are people who have millions of followers, and they’re not really the people that we’re looking for. We want Influencers who have around 10,000 followers or 20,000 followers. The idea is that we’d rather have somebody whose followers and the people they influence are in New York. That’s number one. Secondly, they’re all people that would, in fact, like you come to one of our restaurants.

We also want people that kind of fit in with our brands, we want people who are fun, and we want people who are colorful. We decided to institute an “Instagram account takeover program, in which we would have influencers come in, we’d give them a meal, and then, we’d have a manager log them into our Instagram account, and they would take a story for their visit and they would also take photos of their dishes.]

Use User Generated Content

The restaurants encourage the rest of their followers to post their pictures of their experiences as well. Big Daddy’s tells customers to post their pictures with the tag #bigdaddysnyc or #followthetot for a chance to be reposted by the restaurant.

Influencer marketing posting user-generated content are great ways to boost restaurant sales. I know that I check Instagram before deciding where to eat and research shows that I’m not alone. WordStream sites ‘foodie porn” as “arguably the very best way to promote your restaurant online.” As of July 20, there were 285,145,625 posts with tagged #food and 166,498,669 posts tagged #foodporn.

If you’re not located in a popular city like NYC and you can’t find any local Influencers, Medium suggests looking for local businesses that have standout social media presences and seeing if you can do some type of collaboration on your account. Another option is to ask the kids in your city if there is a particular person in the area with a mega Instagram following.

These restaurants used a wide variety of restaurant marketing techniques. They leveraged brand personality, celebrity partnerships, limited time offers, charitable contributions, transparency, customer feedback, lighthearted campaigns, Instagram Influencers, and user-generated content to grow their restaurant sales.

Whether you have 1,000 locations or just one, you can implement Dog Haus, Domino’s, Big Daddy’s and Luke’s marketing strategies on a scale that fits your restaurant and your marketing budget.

School’s Out for Summer: 7 Useful Tips for Providing a Kid-Friendly Dining Experience

School is out for summer, which means more time out on the town with mom and dad. Over the next few months, parents will be looking for kid-friendly restaurants that welcome their hungry children. Is your restaurant prepared?

Now is the perfect time to ensure that your restaurant fits the bill. We’ve compiled a list of 7 ways you can make your restaurant more kid-friendly in time for the influx of young diners that will be occupying seats and high-chairs.

1. Make Sure You Have the Proper Equipment

This first one is pretty obvious. If you plan to serve families with young children, you will need the proper furniture and equipment. For example, all kid-friendly restaurants should be equipped with changing tables, clean high chairs, and kid-friendly cups. If you do not have sippy cups or plastic cups with lids and straws, avoid spills by serving kids’ beverages in short glasses that are less likely to tip. Providing extra napkins just in case can’t hurt either!

2. Give Kids Something to Do While They Wait

Many parents will agree that one of the most difficult parts of dining out with kids is making them sit still for the duration of the meal. To make the dining experience easier on parents—and to prevent kids from running around your dining room—offer tabletop activities to keep kids busy. Recently, some restaurants have added walls of iPads pre-loaded with educational games (perfect for keeping kids sharp over summer vacation!) However, splurging on tablets isn’t necessary. You can also keep activity books to lend to diners or give kids activity placemats complete with things like mazes and word searches. You can either customize placemats to include your kids’ menu items or purchase pre-made placemats for as little as $15 for 1000. Additionally, paper tablecloths are a huge crowd pleaser because they allow children and adults alike to doodle while they wait for their food (and make cleanup easier too!).

3. Keep Up With Food Trends

Kids these days will eat more than just chicken fingers and buttered noodles. According to the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot 2018 Culinary Forecast,” diners are increasingly interested in healthy, ethnic-inspired, and gourmet options on children’s menus. These interests are consistent with the biggest food trends of the past year (in 2017, healthy kids’ menu options ranked in the top three overall trends in full-service restaurants, 70% of diners said they were more likely to choose a restaurant with healthy menu options, and 52% of adults were looking to try a greater variety of ethnic cuisines). This means that your children’s menu does not need to stray too far from your main menu. Instead, turn dining out into a fun summer activity by offering children new, exciting dishes to try.

4. If You Don’t Have a Kids’ Menu, Make Sure There are Kid-Friendly Options on Your Main Menu

While offering a kids’ menu is an obvious way of showing potential diners that your restaurant is kid-friendly, you can also cater to young diners with your main menu. Aya Tanaka, who writes the “Kids Welcome” column for Serious Eats said that she often looks to appetizers and side dishes to build meals for her young daughter. To that end, if you’re hoping to attract more families to your restaurant, you should make sure that you have a few menu items that can easily be simplified to satisfy children’s palettes and prep your servers on kid-friendly options that they can recommend to parents if they ask.

If you choose to create a menu specifically for kids make sure to post it online. Diners with hungry children will be looking up places to eat before choosing where to go. Online menus are particularly useful for parents because they allow them to check if restaurants have menu items suitable for children. Online menus also allows parents to plan their meals ahead of time, which makes the actual restaurant experience more relaxing. If they see that you have a dedicated children’s menu, or even kid-friendly options, you’ll have a better chance of bringing them through your doors.

5. Make Nutritional Information Readily Available

According to Webstaurant Store, parents are more concerned about childhood obesity and what is in their kids’ food than ever before (this explains the healthy kids’ menu trend). Therefore, you can cater to health-conscious parents by making nutritional information, calorie-counts, and ingredient lists available upon request. It is also helpful for parents if you denote which dishes are suitable for diners with common allergies or dietary restrictions.

6. Bring Food Out ASAP

Kids can get impatient when they’re hungry, and slow service can make them irritable. Therefore, you should try to get food on the table as soon as possible. If you do not already offer complimentary bread, consider bringing it or another snack like cut-up vegetables (perfect for hot summer days!) out soon after families are seated.

You can also have servers ask parents if they would like their kids’ food to be brought out first instead of with the rest of the meals that could take longer to prepare. According to one commenter in a Serious Eats forum about what parents look for in kid-friendly restaurants, Southpark Seafood in Portland, Oregon offers a unique serving order that minimizes the wait time for children.

User NWcajun wrote, “Round one comes FAST; Drinks for the parents and appetizers for the kids. Second round: the main course for kids, appetizers for parents. Third round; kids get dessert while parents have the main course. This works very well and the only sacrifice is no dessert for the grownups (that may be considered another benefit).”

7. Offer Special Deals for Kids

At some restaurants, kids eat free. This is a great way to draw more families to your restaurant. If you’re not interested in offering completely free meals for children, try offering special deals during “kids’ happy hours.” Choose a block of time before peak hours when kids’ meals are half off or when kids get a free dessert. Not only will these happy hours attract new customers, they will also encourage families to visit your restaurant earlier in the day. That way, children won’t disturb other diners during your peak hours.

Summertime is an exciting few months for people everywhere – especially kids! You’ll probably see an influx of younger diners in your restaurant soon, so be prepared. Use these 7 tips to help make the dining experience more kid-friendly and fun! 


Running a Restaurant vs. Marketing One. What’s the Difference & How Can You Achieve Both?

At SinglePlatform we have the privilege of speaking with thousands of restaurant owners on a daily basis, learning about each of their businesses on our phone calls. Each owner we speak with has a unique business history and interesting background. They come from across the globe; some are one-shop operations that have been serving their community for decades, some are new franchisees who are fulfilling their lifelong dream to be a business owner. The cuisines they offer are diverse, from traditional Northern Italian fare to trendy Asian/Mexican street food.

They also tend to have different approaches to restaurant marketing. Some are old-school and believe word of mouth is the best way to capture new business, while others recognize the need for technology, a website, and social media. Some choose to invest in local advertising efforts, while others rely heavily on online advertising.

Although these restaurant owners don’t have the same strategies when it comes to marketing, every single one of them relates to a common theme: they love their business and they work hard to continue to make it thrive (which often means wearing many different hats in order to get the job done). You’re a restaurant owner too, so you can relate. Since opening up your restaurant, you’ve probably acted not only as an owner, but as a waiter/waitress, a cook, a busboy, a hostess, an accountant, a grocery shopper, and a bartender. You do it all in the name of helping your business to prosper, which is what any dedicated owner would do! But, when you’re busy having a hand in every aspect of the operation, you don’t have time to take a step back and look at your bigger picture. Unless you have designated staff members, elements like marketing and advertising in order to drive new business can often fall by the wayside.

But, marketing is essential when you’re looking to grow your business. If you can rely on your repeat customers to keep you afloat, that’s great. But, most restaurants need a steady influx of new customers in order to enjoy a healthy profit. Of course, you’ll want those new customers to turn into loyal ones, but the first step is getting the new diners through your door.

We talked to real restaurant owners to get their opinions on the most important marketing tactics in the industry. We’re discussing 3 of them with you today.

Getting Involved in the Community

Owning a restaurant shouldn’t be just to prove you have the town’s best pizza. As a small business owner, your community is what helps you thrive, so giving back in any way possible is wise. One restaurant owner suggests, “find a way to give back to the community. Donate to nonprofits or school PTAs within the community your restaurant is in.” We love this idea! Find opportunities to get involved with school events, fellow small business efforts, and town celebrations, markets and street fairs. Donate food and/or your time to local charities and causes. Putting the faces of your staff and a personality to your restaurant’s name helps build brand recognition and customer loyalty. Attending events and giving back shows that you care about the community you serve.

Although there are plenty of ways to promote yourself online and in traditional advertising, old-school word of mouth is still an extremely useful tactic and can be achieved by attending events. One restaurant owner said, “word of mouth has been really great ahead of my business opening. I’m in a small town, so many people already know me, and they’re excited about what they’re hearing about my grand opening.”

Getting involved locally is a win-win for you as well; share high-quality photos of the events on social media to build your brand presence online. You can even offer exclusive discounts when sponsoring or attending events to encourage locals to dine at your restaurant.

Leveraging Social Media

Social media is free (unless of course, you want to do some paid advertising), and easy to set up. Not to mention, mostly everyone is using it! As a restaurant owner, you should at least one social media platform for your business. But, it’s key to know your demographics when deciding which ones you should be using. If your average customer is a woman between the age of 45-60, Facebook is probably the way to go. 68% of adults in the US are on Facebook (two-thirds of the country!) Post weekly specials and events to your page and engage with followers whenever possible. If your demographic is on the younger side, let’s say you attract after-school high school kids for dinner, you may want to try out a different channel. Some 78% of 18-24 year olds use Snapchat and 71% use Instagram. These social media outlets may be better in reaching those younger customers. If you’re having a daily special or exclusive menu item, update your Instagram or Snapchat story. You can see who views your story and follow them to increase your social community.

One restaurateur said “I started using social media and quickly noticed how a community was created within my small town. It was great to see people coming into my weekly happy hour event because they saw my reminder on Facebook. It’s an easy tool to interact with my customers on these platforms too. Social media keeps the conversation going and helps build those important relationships.”

To take it a step further, you may want to try out small paid advertising campaigns to reach a targeted audience. As we always say, make sure if you’re posting photos that they’re clear, enticing, and attractive. If you’re publishing blurry or unappealing photos, chances are people will scroll on by. It’s also important to note the correct dimensions for posting on different social accounts.  This is a great guide for determining what size your photos should be to achieve the best quality. Your social media may be the first taste of what you have to offer for some potential diners, so make sure it accurately reflects your brand.

Prioritizing Online Menu Management

We’ve said it before & we’ll say it again, online menus are crucial! The majority of people (93%) are looking at online menus before dining out. SinglePlatform data shows that certain holidays, like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, are proven to show spikes in online menu views as people plan celebrations. You can post beautiful photos of your restaurant and food, respond to reviews, and keep your website fresh, which are all things you should be doing as part of your restaurant marketing strategy, but the information people most want to know is what food you’ll be serving them when they walk through your door.

We talked to a restaurant owner who realized his missed opportunity when it came to menu management. When asked about marketing his restaurant he said, “I knew I needed a better plan for getting more people into my restaurant for holidays and occasions like Mother’s Day. I also knew I needed a way to communicate to diners that I was offering a special brunch menu for the holiday. But, my staff is small, so in the months and weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, I was busy taking orders, greeting guests, cooking in the kitchen, and doing all of the ordering of supplies. I simply didn’t have the foresight or the time to plan ahead. I’m sure as a restaurant owner you know the feeling. Needless to say, when Mother’s Day rolled around, my restaurant was almost empty and I lost out on the opportunity to make a ton of money. I wish I had thought ahead about marketing and getting my menu online earlier to make the holiday a success for my restaurant.”

Menu management allows you to get out there past just your business website. People are looking for places to eat on websites like GoogleTripAdvisor, and Yelp. You want to be there, and accurately represented, on all of these search engines and review sites. And menu management can get you there.

You’re a restaurant owner, and maybe you’re too focused on the day to day operations of your business to think about marketing. But, getting the word out there about your business is crucial if you want to get new customers and make more money! There are a ton of marketing strategies to try, but some are more beneficial than others. These three marketing elements we shared are simple, effective ways to help you build your business that don’t require countless hours or tons of money to get the job done. Choosing your marketing mediums wisely and being consistent with them will go a long way.


About the Author: Joe Sclafani is a Sales Training Manager here at SinglePlatform. He has the privilege of teaching new sales talent the importance and benefits of getting restaurant owners’ menus online. He enjoys interacting with business owners on a daily basis and even has prior experience in working in restaurants as well.

Create a Spark: 3 Tips for Your Restaurant’s July 4th Event

Independence Day is the only federal holiday in July, an official day dedicated to celebrating our country and our patriotism. When I think back to my past celebrations of July 4th, I can smell charcoal as hamburgers and hot dogs cooked on the grill, I can hear the laughs of family members, and I can see fireworks over the lake in my small hometown. Everyone’s nostalgic memories of holidays are different, but a common thread is the food and revelry we enjoy. As a restaurant owner, you want to offer a memorable experience for those choosing to celebrate with you on July 4th. Here are 3 ideas you can utilize in your own restaurant for Independence Day.

Host a Brunch

The holiday falls on a Wednesday this year, which is smack-dab in the middle of the work week! Many people will probably be looking to celebrate early in the day so they can prepare to finish out the rest of the week at the office. The solution? Host a brunch! You can get people through your door early by offering an event early in the day. Designate a time period when brunch will be served to give it a sense of urgency (for example: Brunch will be served between 11 am & 3 pm, last seating is at 2:30 pm).

Make a holiday-specific menu or offer some items that coordinate with the theme of Independence Day. BBQ-style food, fresh & bright summer flavors and refreshing desserts are all great options. If you’re offering alcohol as part of your brunch deal, create a holiday-specific cocktail, like a sparkling punch or red sangria with blueberries and apples. If you have an outdoor space, you can even organize a picnic-style event so guests can enjoy the favorable weather. Lawn games, like cornhole and giant Jenga, can add an element of fun as well to make it seem like an authentic summer barbecue.

Give your decor some patriotic flair with red, white, and blue touches, like napkins and streamers, and even consider running a contest or raffle for a giveaway. Adding an element of fun to your brunch event is a great way to help guests celebrate the holiday. (Just be careful if you’re incorporating sparklers!)

Test Your Guests’ Knowledge

Hosting a trivia event is always a great way to get guests in seats. Independence Day commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence way back in 1776! Since then, a lot of historical events have occurred in America, which means there are tons of questions to include in your trivia contest. You can focus topics on politics, American history, pop culture, and even famous Americans to keep the crowd on their toes. The Encyclopedia Britanica has a great quiz that you use as inspiration for questions.

Trivia night isn’t complete with some sort of special, so think up an exclusive menu with select drink and food deals. Of course, you also need a prize for the champion. Some options include a patriotic-themed gift basket, a free dinner on the house, or even some baseball tickets (it is America’s sport, after all).

Market your trivia night ahead of time so people are informed of the event. You can send email blasts, post on your social accounts, and even consider paid advertising on some social sites. Make sure your website also highlights the event (including date and time, as well as any other necessary details).

Provide Transportation

Unfortunately, July 4th isn’t the safest holiday for celebrators. It proves to be one of the highest for car crashes, with many accidents involving individuals over the legal alcohol limit. Of course, as a restaurant that may serve liquor, you want your guests to arrive home safely. Setting up a taxi service or offering a credit toward Uber or Lyft rides is an idea that you can incorporate into your Independence Day event. Guests will appreciate your effort to provide safety precautions and will be able to enjoy themselves without the worry of having to drive home. Cheers to that!

Independence Day is quickly approaching, and it’s a popular holiday for revelry around the country. Is your restaurant hosting a patriotic event? Consider incorporating these ideas when planning your July 4th festivities.