“You’re the duopoly! You love marketing and you love food!” That’s the best type of call. A mutual contact recommended BrillMedia.co to an entrepreneur who is looking for marketing efforts immediately.

This business owner opened up his second business, a cheese shop. The first was a wine bar. These are two very fine delicacies that stoke my passion for marketing. When the end result is groups of people enjoying the fruits (and cheeses) of life, and I can help connect these business owners to their customers I’m happy.

For restaurant marketers there are a number of different approaches, and it all starts with a strategy.

Take inventory of your innate skillset, marketing infrastructure and interest to participate in marketing activities. Develop a digital strategy that takes into account all the cool tactics that are readily available in the marketplace. Spend a little time looking at your competitors, and other establishments that aren’t direct competitors. Define a strategy, a marketing message and a scope of work. Finally, find a partner who you trust to run your marketing efforts effectively. Make sure you have rapport, shared vision, complimentary knowledge and time to devote to the work, even if you aren’t the person who is “doing” the marketing.

From there, here are a few of the easy-to-achieve marketing tactics that you can deploy. Run without a cohesive strategy these efforts are simply ad-hoc tactics.

 

Facebook Ads

Run ads within 5 miles of your business address to get people who are likely to be driving by your store, or who are willing to come to the store once they are enticed by your messaging. You can narrow the targeting down to a mile radius if you like. If you have video of your food use that. If not, use pictures. If you don’t have that (which you really should), you can use food stock photos, though this path is not recommended. Target for clicks to get people to review your menu, make a reservation, or checkout your foodporn pics on your page. Target ads by time of day and interests to reach people who are interested in specific types of food at during times when people typically eat.

 

Social Media Marketing

Define your channels. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are all great because there are communities on these platforms specifically for people to swap pictures of good food. Your restaurant should be in that mix. Post content regularly after creating and adhering to a content schedule. You don’t need to get fancy. Interpret your core messaging values through your social media accounts. Post pictures of food. Connect to your local community in ways that are organic. Ensure that the content you post speaks to your audience, and that your content is a reflection of your engagement with your audience. Be part of the community of food lovers, of restaurant goers and of your geographical area.

Work with programs like Crowdfire and Instrack to boost your following on Twitter and Instagram. Use allowed folllow and unfollow rules on these platforms to ensure new users find your account and follow back if they like the content you are posting.

 

Influencer Marketing

This is a bit like public relations and a bit like buying advertising space. Connect with people in your area who have lots of followers on social media. Offer them a free meal in exchange for coverage on your social media accounts. This way you’ll get in front of thousands of people who can discover your restaurant from a person whose opinion they trust and from whose content they engage with. This is similar to celebrity endorsement. When actors like Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Denzel Washington or Matt Damon endorse products you kind of just make the association between liking an actor for the roles they play. Because there’s affinity there you are more likely to pay attention to the commercial, and once you pay attention it’s more likely to resonate with you. If it resonates with you then you are more likely to buy the product. Influencer marketing is the same type of thing, except the fans of the influencer like the person they see in social media. Whether that’s the “true” them or not is a whole other story, though in many cases what you see is the real life of these people. Fans will take recommendations from influencers because there’s a connection. Influencers are the new celebrity, so make good use of them before they discover how valuable they really are!

 

Hyperlocal Advertising

This is a simple and straight forward proposition. Reach people when they are on mobile apps like Pandora and CNN, and when they are in or near a point of interest, down to 100 feet. For restaurants target people who are sitting at your competitors’ restaurants, or waiting in line. Reach people who live within half a mile of your restaurant at peak eating times, or when your business is slow. Offer a locals discount. Ads are served based on the latitude and longitude coordinates that we pickup on a phone and the ad call that’s being made. This means that we can identify a specific radius around a location and only serve ads to people when they are in that space. This is enterprise level marketing scaled for small business (meaning you don’t have to spend very much money to run these ads and make them work)!

 

Postscript

The photo in the header is epic food blogger Michael Walsh, of EatingAroundSoCal.com, and Miss Amber Wilson of Wilson’s Guide taking a photo at Bianconi in Los Angeles. Photo credit goes to my alter ego – Dudeletseat, taking a photo of a massive tomahawk steak.