Samir Khadepaun, CEO, Mobikon
Gone are the days when only decorating your restaurant with colourful LEDs and lanterns to attract customers during the festive season was an amazing marketing scheme. People do not visit restaurants to show their excitement over the fancy decoration you do, but to enjoy the ambiance and scrumptious food.
Restaurant marketing has come a long way from all that jazz. And, since the festive season is at its advent, restaurants have started gearing up with new ways to market themselves. While traditional marketing strategies have always helped restaurants attract more customers, the result could have been better with an improved marketing plan.
You might be already using the following vehicles to market your restaurant, here are some ideas to improve your engagement with diners -
• Website: Make it mobile friendly. Have an online menu and take online orders as well as reservations.
• Blog: Have an effective content marketing strategy. Start small with one blogpost at a time. It all adds up.
• Print media: Give ads in newspapers and magazines. Distribute brochures and business cards. You must be doing this already :)
• Broadcast advertising: Some can even opt for ads on radio and TV. Try barter deals.
• Social media: Find platforms that work best for you. Be socially active and try paid social media ads.
• Email marketing: Sending informative emails with effective CTAs. Do you have a list of loyal customers? Customer database building is most neglected yet most important exercise. Start making it fast.
• Pay-per-click:Make Google AdWords your favourite vehicle for promoting your restaurant. Every business or industry should use the above mentioned vehicles to market their respective ventures.
However, what about those extra efforts that you should be putting in order to make it big during the festive season? With more and more people turning to restaurants for their lavish lunch and dinner celebrations, especially on festivals, there is a lot more potential for restaurants to reap huge rewards. Giving away gift vouchers, heavy discounts and other offers is not sufficient. You need to break the ice and try something different. So, get above the usual ‘avail up to 30% on your total bill this Diwali…’and ‘participate in our online contest to win exciting gifts’, and rather:
1. Organize special events in the restaurant during the festival week
Karaoke nights, ghazal nights and costume parties at restaurants and clubs are a success among people. Organizing similar special events in your restaurant during the entire festival week will pull more crowd. Have a folk dance performance or stand-up comedians entertaining the customers.
2. Conduct a food festival that showcases the dishes relished during that particular festival
People love to be a part of food festivals. Come up with the best of your chefs and their classic festive dishes that interest customers. Try to tickle their taste buds by giving the traditional food items and sweets a contemporary twist. The essential elements of your dish being its looks, taste and smell, you cannot compromise on them when trying to be creative.
3. Have festival theme buffets
Buffet breakfasts, brunches, lunches and dinners are becoming popular as people prefer spending quality time with their friends, family and colleagues at restaurants relishing a variety of food items from the menu. So, why not incorporate this strategy in your restaurant marketing plan during the festive season? Have theme buffets that represent the culture and rituals followed during the festival. For example: a Diwali buffet dinner can comprise of food items and sweets made during the festival. Decorate the restaurant with floating candles, LEDs, lanterns. Use artificial crackers as décor items and props.
4. Get behind the wheel
The concept of food trucks has not completely taken over the current time. There are still issues faced when it comes to getting licences and fulfilling other legal formalities involved in starting a food truck. However, you can get behind the wheel during the festive season as a part of your promotional activity for a day or two. Getting permissions for that can be comparatively easier. Have fancy decorations on the food truck depending on the festival and theme.
These restaurant marketing strategies for the festive season cannot be a flop as more and more people today are attracted towards such quirky activities and concepts. And, good food is an add on. The benefits of these could be goodwill, more loyal customers that leads to increased recommendations and thereby more ROI. So start planning for an upcoming festival well in advance.
5. Start a customer engagement program
Start this Diwali with a contemporary way to listen to your diners in real time. Surprise them when they get a ‘Thank You’or‘Sorry’message with their personalised names as soon as they submit a feedback after their dinner. Delight them with a quick call or message post dinner having a real conversation based on the comments they would leave with their reviews. Bring the ‘Happy’customers back with automated marketing and learn more about your customers in an easy and seamless manner. One can make use of many tools available in the market.