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In a world where developments succeed each other faster than lunch and dinner, one thing remains: people need to eat and drink. They also need the company of others in order to feel happy and they generally opt for convenience. It is not for nothing that the concept of a restaurant, café or market is older than the road to Rome. We love to be served, to drop in on friends when we feel like it and not have to do the washing up. Whatever form restaurants take in the coming period, they will continue to exist. The only question is: how do you reach your guests in this new world? What form of restaurant marketing will ensure an endless flow of reservations, orders and bookings? You can read all about it in this article. We take you along in the restaurant marketing of the future. Restaurant marketing in the year 2021 is the future, and the future is now!

Increase your turnover with restaurant marketing

Before we dive into the content, it might be good to examine why restaurant marketing is actually important. Why should you spend your precious time, energy and money on taking pictures, writing texts, creating advertisements and giving away gifts? We can imagine that you would rather be doing other things. Things that give you energy, such as creating a new menu, selecting delicious wines and spoiling the guests in your establishment. 

But just imagine: what would your business be like without guests? What would happen if you always remained a well-kept secret? Without guests there is no excitement and without excitement there is no restaurant. In other words: guests are needed to make your restaurant successful and the only way to get those guests excited is by telling and showing them how special your restaurant is! Only when guests know you exist can they decide to visit you. 

As a restaurant, you cannot avoid doing some form of marketing. With strong marketing you maximise your occupancy rate. The time, energy and money you invest in it, you get back in no time! With a tailor-made success formula, you create more turnover, profit and (perhaps most importantly) satisfied guests.

marketing for restaurant

Our 7 steps to successful restaurant marketing.

With The Fully Bookers, we have gained a lot of experience in marketing for dozens of restaurants since the start. In that time, we've seen what works and what doesn't. We've seen businesses fail and become successful. We've seen businesses go bankrupt and become successful. Companies that suffered losses and companies that were fully booked every day. Meanwhile, we work with a proven success formula and apply it to emerging trends and target groups. We distinguish 7 steps.  

  1. Dare to distinguish yourself
  2. Choose a target group and make a plan
  3. Make sure you have fun on social media 
  4. Start advertising via social media 
  5. Make money with a strong website 
  6. Become more findable in Google 
  7. Work with smart reservation systems

The marketing funnel: from stranger to ambassador.

These 7 steps in our success formula together form the ultimate marketing funnel for your restaurant. If you follow all the steps, you create a marketing system that works for you. That's good, because it means marketing for your restaurant no longer depends solely on you. You will see that more and more interested people will find their way to your restaurant's online channels, from your social media to your website, and that you will have to do almost nothing to actually welcome them as guests. What you need to ensure is a unique and positive experience in the business. If you can do that, then your restaurant is bound to create more and more attention, fans and ambassadors!  

Orientation, consideration, action, word of mouth.

Our marketing funnel follows the natural actions of a potential guest when looking for a restaurant. First there is the orientation phase via social media and Google. Then the consideration ('Is this what I'm looking for?') on your website. Sometimes the guest then makes a reservation straight away, but more often than not it takes some more thought. That's why it's important to repeat the marketing actions in the next phase of the marketing funnel, for example through personalised social media ads and a smart reservation system, until the reservation is made. Once the guest has made a booking and visited the restaurant, it's important to keep him or her excited. Think about making unique offers via e-mail or with social media.  

Are you excited yet? We hope so, because besides being super-efficient, online marketing is also a lot of fun! Especially when you see it working. We will take you through each of the steps below. Would you like to know more about a specific step? Or investigate what possibilities there are to attract more guests to your restaurant? Then send us an e-mail at contact@thefullybookers.com or call 085 - 303 82 63

Restaurant marketing guide

Dare to stand out in the hospitality industry!

Ok, here we go. The first step in our restaurant marketing formula has nothing to do with online. It has everything to do with honesty! And that is why it is super important. 

When we have conversations with restaurant owners of businesses that are not doing so well, we always ask them: "Would you go into your restaurant yourself? And if so, why?" You might be surprised how often owners admit they don't know. Even though they love their business so much. 

Marketing is all about getting noticed. It is therefore important to know what makes your business stand out. Is it the quality of the food? The unique location? Is it a good place to have drinks with groups? Does it have a super hip interior? These can all be reasons for guests to choose your establishment. 

In successful marketing, the trick is to unique selling points (USPs) highlight them to the right target groups (step 2). We would therefore like to challenge you to determine the unique qualities of your restaurant before moving on to the other steps in the marketing plan, so that you can articulate and sell them!

Can you easily list the USPs of your business? Or do you need some more time?

To make it easier for you to choose, we have written an article that takes you step by step through the process of determining your USPs. Read it here!

Choose a target group and make a plan

Now that you have determined your USPs, you can move on to step 2: choosing a target group and creating a strong marketing plan. One of the biggest mistakes (new) restaurant owners make is trying to reach and appeal to everyone. But in marketing it works like this: if you try to appeal to everyone, you're not really interesting to anyone. Therefore, you will have to choose a target group to make your marketing actions effective. 20- and 30-year-olds often have different interests than people over 60. And vegetarians will choose a restaurant differently from carnivores. 

You might think: "If I just show how cool my restaurant is, the right audience will find it". And indeed, to a large extent that's how it works. But if you have a clear picture of your target group, you can respond much more specifically to the needs and desires of your guests. You can develop marketing campaigns that appeal to them and motivate them to come to you again and again. By focusing on the lives of your guests and the things they are looking for, you will make your marketing campaigns much more successful! 

But how do you choose a target group? You can read about it here!

restaurant marketing

Make sure you have fun on social media

Research from the Restaurant Monitor (2020) shows that as many as 75% of restaurant visits are influenced by social media, and specifically the own social media channels of restaurants. This is good news, because it means that reviews on major platforms will become less important and restaurateurs will be able to control online what impression a potential guest gets of the restaurant. Social media, and specifically organic social media or free publicitysocial media is becoming increasingly important in restaurant marketing. That is why we put socials directly in step 2 of our marketing plan.  

Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn are important calling cards for your business. It is therefore a good idea to take a critical look at them. Do the photos, videos and texts reflect the atmosphere of your business? Would you make reservations at your restaurant if the impression on social media were leading? 

We notice that many entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry do not yet get the most out of their social media channels. They just post the occasional photo, while so much more can be done. Think of sharing recipes, organising online workshops and promoting a new menu. The choice is yours, and the great thing is: social media is totally free! The video below immediately shows what you can expect in this bar, therefore a perfect example of good social media content. Putting time into your content strategy will be rewarded by your followers!

Start advertising via social media

Once you have your organic content on social media in order, you can move on to step 3 in the plan: advertising on social media. These are paid posts on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. Where with organic social media posts you have no influence on the number of people who see the post, you do have that with paid content! For a few euros you can choose whether your message should reach 1,000, 10,000 or 100,000 people. By advertising on social media you ensure yourself of an audience. How cool is that! 

At The Fully Bookers we specialise in paid social media campaigns, because we see how effective they are. By advertising smartly, we can, for example, achieve more reservations and quote requests. Whereas with organic content you have to work hard for your audience for years, with paid content we can maximise your restaurant's occupancy rate faster. Besides the advantages of low entry costs, online marketing is the most transparent of all costs. You can see to the cent where the costs have gone, how many people it has reached and how many reservations have been made.

"Great personal service that suits us well. We are also hearing a direct increase in direct bookings." - Niels ten Cate, Hotel owner

Now that the restaurant world is in turmoil, we notice that guests book online even more easily than before. It is therefore worthwhile to investigate whether advertising on social media fits in with the (online) marketing of your restaurant. To help you on your way, we have written a free e-book. Please contact us to receive the free e-book. In the e-book you will find, among other things, inspiring examples and a step-by-step explanation of how to create your first advertising campaign. 

Do you want to immerse yourself, but not start working yourself? Then contact our professionals. We will gladly help you discover the online marketing opportunities for your restaurant.

Make money with a strong website

We are at step 5, the website. An indispensable step in our success formula for restaurant marketing. While you generate interest in your business with pleasant, busy posts and clever advertisements on social media, interested parties often only become paying guests when they visit your website. Your website is where the money is made! And if you know that, you suddenly look differently at the layout of your website.

For the vast majority of restaurants, the website acts as a business card. A very expensive business card indeed, because usually thousands of euros have been invested in its design and maintenance. And quite frankly, that hurts our marketing hearts. Because it means that those websites do not have the functionalities to maximise your occupancy rate. A portfolio website isn't going to help you fill your restaurant, generate more orders or realise quotation requests. A portfolio website is nothing more than that: a business card, when it should be acting as the online sales and cash register system of the business.

The big difference: A website that aims to maximise restaurant occupancy helps potential guests fulfil a need or desire and helps you realise it. Read along with us.

The website is there first and foremost for your guests. To determine whether your website is suitable for online marketing, it is good to put yourself in the shoes of the guest. If you are looking for a restaurant to eat at, to celebrate your birthday or to organise a wedding dinner. What steps do you go through? How do you look for a suitable location? And what helps you to make a choice? The answers to these questions are the indispensable components of your website. Ultimately, the website has to attract guests to your restaurant.

Secondly, the website is there for you. The website should help you give guests that loving push they need to make a decision. Think of 'accidental' advertisements of your restaurant on social media, if they have just been to your website. Or a pop-up with a special offer for them. These are the actions that earn you the money online. It is therefore important that the use and experience of the website is as smooth as possible.

To do this, you need to know who visited your website and what they were looking for. Making the actions on the website measurable is therefore extremely important. Only then can your online marketing machine really get going. When you start working with online marketing and hospitality, it is therefore important to also take a close look at the effectiveness of your website. For this purpose, we have created a handy free checklist. With this checklist, you can see in no time whether your website meets the requirements and what you would have to change to make it suitable. 

Beach club marketing

Become more findable in Google

Ok, let's take a breath. We know that steps 1 to 5 already contain quite a lot of information. Therefore, we will continue with a super fun step in our restaurant marketing success formula: becoming more findable in Google. In the office, we sometimes jokingly say to each other: "Social media is hot, Google is god! And even though it sounds funny, it's true. Let us take you through our thoughts. 

The best investment for marketing is one you make once and enjoy time after time. That means focusing more on long-term investments and less on short-term ones. 

Posts on social media have a short lifespan. One post gives you visibility for a day, maybe three, but after that, the message reaches no one. A good article or advertisement on Google will benefit you for years. Every time someone searches for 'Company outing with colleagues in The Hague' on Google and your website appears at the top of the search results, you have gained another interested party. 

In other words: Posts on social media come and go. Posts on Google will always exist. So in the long run, the investment in Google is worth more than in social media. 

Becoming visible on Google can be done in two ways:

  1. Via Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  2. Via Search Engine Advertising (SEA)

As with social media, option 1 is about organic visibility and option 2 is about paid visibility. In the image below you can see the difference: the first search result is an advertisement (SEA) and the second is an organic post (SEO). 

For the ultimate restaurant marketing formula, it is smart to immerse yourself in both possibilities and determine which form suits you best. You won't be the first to choose both! 

Read more here Google, SEO and SEA!

SEA example SEO example

Work with smart reservation systems

We have arrived at the last step in the marketing plan. You are almost there! What we want to discuss with you are smart reservation systems. After all, the days of restaurateurs sitting by the phone waiting for a reservation are over. Or at least, it should be. All too often, the only way to make a reservation at a restaurant is by phone. In a smart restaurant marketing formula, that's a waste of time. Why spend your precious hours on tasks that can be done by a system? And why run the risk of missing a reservation when the line is busy or you happen to be in the bathroom? 

Online reservation systems are getting better and better. In fact, we bet there is a system out there that will get you far more reservations than you could ever do over the phone or by e-mail. Why? Because these systems are getting smarter. Like smart websites, they can make your guest visible at a time when they are not physically visible. And that's good, because it allows you to help your potential guests even before they know they are looking for you. 

The reservation system we love to work with is Formitable. With Formitable, your guests can not only book online, but you can also reduce no-shows, optimise table management, create guest profiles and issue gift vouchers! 

Click here for examples of successful restaurants with smart reservation systems!

You made it! Your marketing funnel is worth its weight in gold!

You have now gone through all the steps of our restaurant marketing success formula. We've given you an insight into how we work, and you now have all the tools you need to make it a success yourself. But to really go for it you need one thing: time and perseverance. And maybe a little extra help sometimes. We see it happen too often that entrepreneurs start with marketing, but can't free up enough time for it because of all the other things going on. That's a shame, because the results are not there and they often stop altogether. 

We want to help you make your marketing a success, so that your business is full night after night. If you have any questions after reading this, or just want to talk to our professionals, send us an email at contact@thefullybookers.com or call 085 - 303 82 63. We would like to get to know you! 

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