Restaurant Marketing: Something More Powerful Than Social Media

Restaurant Marketing: Too many restaurants have jumped on the social media bandwagon believing it's the road to riches.  Fact is – it's not. There's something more powerful than social media that actually drives sales and that's local restaurant marketing – marketing your restaurant inside and out in the community.

With word of mouth being the number one way to increase sales, why haven't more restaurants focused on that? Possibly it's harder to come up with somethng that's talkable, versus pounding out a "discount" post on Facebook. And while you may have plenty of fans, unless you've converted them to customers, their value is zero. 

The most successful restaurants put their prime energies and dollars into educating their staff on how to provide their guest with the best dining experience possible. They put their dollars into creating Wow moments that become talkable amongst their customers. They create a dining environment that's just perfect. And with that perfection, your customers become marketing ambassadors who will automatically do your restaurant's social media marketing for you.

So, how "Wow" are you? Does your restaurant include memorable experiences? Is there a story to tell? What makes your restaurant different and famous from the others?

With less then .05% to 1% of sales (if you're lucky) attributed to Facebook, when you've got the answers to the above questions, then you've got something more powerful than social media.



Restaurant Marketing & The Social Media Dilemma: Time Dump or Money Winner?

Restaurant marketers and owners are faced with the dilemma of how high they should jump onto the social media bandwagon and roll the dice whether or not it's going to increase profits. That's profits, not sales!

 Where do you focus your most valuable marketing assets? In areas that have a more reliable and sustainable track record of returning profits, or in platform that, albeit communicates or broadcasts to your customers, is more difficult to attribute a contribution to your bottom line?

With social media marketing and mobile marketing expected to be mainstays in our fast forward economy, it's imperative that the decision to integrate elements of social media into your traditional marketing plan, is done seamlessly.

The following are 9 elements to help you ensure your success:

  1. Make sure every single aspect and customer touchpoint of your restaurant, from the outside on in, is "remarkable." If you're able to WOW your guests, they'll be more receptive to participating in your social media marketing endeavors, by influencing their own fans and followers about your restaurant. A restaurant that is not "prepped" to enter the social media arena has the potential of being dropped to its knees by viral negative comments and publicity.
  2. Have a clear understanding of why you want to enter the social media marketing space. What are your expectations? What are your specific goals?
  3. How will you determine if your social media marketing efforts are a success? Are systems in place to determine the ROI of a shift in media dollars from one source of advertising to a specific social media platform within a specific time frame?
  4. Who will be responsible for sustaining the social media efforts of your restaurant? Are they proficient at writing stories rather than just writing about discounts? Are they prepared to post three to five times a week with content that is fascinating and constantly fueling conversations and comments?
  5. Do you have a "Social Media Employees Policies" document in place that encourages your employees to "talk" about your restaurant – to share and promote the values, yet protect the privacy and integrity of the restaurant and its current and former employees?
  6. How will you convert Facebook fans and Twitter followers to paying customers?
  7. Which social media platform is best suited for you to communicate to your customers and how does it fit into your sales-building marketing plan?
  8. Who will be responsible for monitoring online "talk" about your restaurant and respond within 60-90 minutes? Who is trained and accountable to handle customer remarks and problems that may go viral within minutes?

  9. Who has the "creativity" on your staff to implement Facebook programs that WOW your customers and keep them interested in being a fan forever?  Do you have a list of 50 topics that would be relevant to post on your wall?

The lure of entering social media is extremely attractive. The programs – Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and now Pinterest – and the various others, are all free to use, but the key is how you communicate with those following you and how to make these programs work for you.

While it's easy to train your fans to expect discounts, there are many other ways to keep their interest level high – which means the key to success is going to be your content.

Content is the key. Without original, creative and engaging content that includes a call to action – elements that are no different than what you'd use for traditional media – your efforts will go wasted. And social media will become a time dump.

The dilemma that faces restaurants is understanding that using social media marketing is difficult and may not be for everyone and with all of the hype of it being the "next road to riches," it has created a "silent enemy" – the illusion that diverts focus and time away from what really makes you successful.

While social media, if used properly, can complement your existing sales-building efforts, the fact is the restaurant business will always be a people business, run by people serving people. And without people, your restaurant simply becomes a vending machine.







Social Media For Restaurants: Managing, Budgeting & Itemizing

Restaurant Marketing: Social Media marketing activities for restaurants need to be itemized and allocated to the Public Relations category and separated from advertising/marketing. Why? There's always an expectation and justification of an ROI with advertising/marketing, but not with PR. To prevent an expectation of results from Social Media, don't lump the two together.


Restaurant Marketing: Is Social Media & Mobile Turning Customers Into Coupon Addicts?

Restaurant Marketing: Are a number of the social media platforms, mobile technology platforms and POS systems encouraging you to do more discounting? While I appreciate their product innovations and there are other ways to utilize these programs other than discounting, I ask you these questions…

Why discount your product? Why prostitute your bottom line?  If you need to discount to keep the doors open, then you need to change your strategy. The best way to get away from couponing is by delivering a great WOW experience.

Take caution because it's easy to fall into the trap. Don't let the new-fangled social media or mobile programs that encompass discounting turn you and your customers into a coupon-class addicted society. You CAN think differently.