OK, new restaurant owners, if you’ve been following along, you made the right deal, opened your doors and designed a creative and delicious new menu. Now, you’re left with a bigger challenge — how to get people to walk in, and how to make the phones ring.
Spend, spend and spend. It’s nice to throw around percentages and say your marketing budget should be X% of your sales, but let’s be honest, how can you spend X if you don’t have it?
Personally, I spend the most I can while not affecting my other necessary expenses. If I have the cash for marketing, I spend it. I’m always open for something new; it only comes down to whether I have the money for it. But this isn’t a spending spree with no rhyme or reason. As quickly as possible, I want a nice stable of marketing assets, campaigns and promotions to implement.
Go online. You need a website, not only to give customers a space to find your menu and order online, but to be found through searches when people type, “Best Pizza in my city.”
For starters, find examples of other websites you like, hire a good designer, and give this person free rein to build your restaurant’s online portal. Make sure they pay attention to SEO and keywords to make you easy to find.
Be social. Create accounts on as many social platforms as you can actively manage. I’d recommend beginning with Facebook because its Ads Manager helps give you a wide reach on a massive platform. While it is relatively easy to use, you can find great free tutorials on its use through YouTube. Just remember, the key to social media marketing — and all marketing, really — is being consistent. If you can only manage one platform, that’s OK as long as you’re using it regularly.
Hit send. From day one, collect an e-mail every time you come in contact with a customer. You can then use a service like Mailchimp to send out regular communications, such as a weekly newsletter featuring fun information and news about promotions. It takes time to build a large e-mail list, but from personal experience, I can guarantee you will wish you started it from the moment you opened.
Send ‘snail mail’. Don’t forget about direct mail, especially if you offer delivery. Organize a weekly program, sending a set number of menus or postcards. I’m partial to standalone pieces because they are not grouped in with flyers or pages of coupons. This method is more expensive, but it is worth it to stand out in a stack of competitors.
The next step is knowing what content to put on your website, social posts and mailers. That’s right, next month we’ll talk about your brand and messaging.
NICK BOGACZ is the founder and president of Caliente Pizza & Draft House in Pittsburgh. Instagram: @caliente_pizza