Cafe and restaurant owners need to be jack-and-jill of all trades - staying on top of everything, from ordering to staff management to menu development. Often, marketing is one of the last things on your mind as there are so many things to take care of in the day to day management of a hospitality venue.
You might receive a good inflow of custom from local residents, but without marketing, it will be difficult for your business to reach its full earning potential. Don't let your immense investment into operational efforts go to waste - just a little energy placed into the three marketing tactics below will help expand your customer base and ensure a steady and constant stream of new business.
1. Social Media
It's a must have these days - all companies, no matter how big or small, need an online presence. Social media is the new Google - so many restaurants and cafe patrons use Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook to find new venues to visit.
Done correctly, you can harness the power of social platforms by getting your customers to help promote your business online.
- Use videos, stories, reels to showcase unique and exciting parts of your business. Maybe share some behind the scenes videos, or mesmerizing videos of coffee brewing.
- Research hashtags that other popular cafes and restaurants in your area use, making sure to include generic hashtags like #*yourcity*foodies etc to make yourself discoverable to people looking for new places to visit.
- Keep your information up to date, and advertise specials and events on your socials to encourage your customers to follow you online. Use the platforms to show new fun things that are happening on a consistent basis to encourage repeat custom.
- Encourage customers to share posts about your location or products online, by offering discounts for posts or VIP benefits for those who join the Facebook group, etc.
- Engage with and nurture your community actively by posting regularly and replying to messages and comments promptly. This includes reviews on platforms such as Google Maps - remember to respond professionally to both positive and negative!
2. Organic and Word-of-Mouth Strategy
Many people think of organic or word-of-mouth marketing as something you have no control over, or something that just develops with your business over time. Happy customers will bring new customers, and word about your business will slowly spread.
But many small hospitality business owners don't realise that it is possible to tactically strategise organic marketing approaches, and harness the strength unpaid marketing techniques to naturally grow a loyal customer base.
Marketers have clear data - organic marketing builds trust, loyalty, and engagement for a hospitality venue. Some ways you can help your brand reach a wider audience:
- Ensure your website is easy to navigate and is optimised for search engines, using keywords in your copy that align with the most used search terms by your customer base. Use websites like Google Trends to see what people are searching for in your area.
- Leverage customer loyalty by offering referral programs, or buy one get one deals to encourage customers to bring their friends.
- Reach out to local bloggers, influencers, or journalists who have influence in the food scene, and ask if they'd like to come and try your offerings.
- Use a POS system like Square App that collects and shares customers email addresses, and allows for newsletter sign up at checkout. Then, you can begin to build a mailing list that will allow you to market specials and promotions to your customers for free.
3. Collaborate with other local businesses
Networking with other local businesses can help you both to reach new audiences by collaborating on cross-promotion, special partnerships and limited editions, holiday promotions, and more. Besides, it's always great to build a local community so that you can share news and ideas and support each other.
There are a million different marketing techniques you can use, but once you have a good website, social strategy, and have built up a good community, you'll have the three key elements in place. Then, you can explore and experiment with other strategies to find additional marketing techniques that work for your business!