3 Digital Brand Tips for Restaurants in the New Year

Embedded Storytelling

2014 will mark the year that brands shift from “selling” to “telling” their story by integrating native ads, branded content – whatever you may call it. Now, with almost every major brand present on a social platform of some kind, the vehicle to deliver content to thousands or millions is easily approachable by almost any size business. As marketers address this amazing shift in strategy, it will take creative thinkers with a highly credible and disciplined approach, one that will prove to be challenging for the fainthearted marketing that’s gotten so used to action-based tactics for the past two decades.

1. Stop selling. This will be difficult, but is a must for content to be truly consumed in a way that people never forget. Ads are easy to forget, stories are forever. If you are a great story teller, then you have the edge over your competition.

2. Understand your audience. I know everyone says this today, but the reality is that metrics from social, in-bound marketing and email all have the ability to provide you a new understanding for who your audience really is. Additionally, spread your content in a way that yields a breakdown of what content audiences are engaging with. Many social and email platforms offer multi-variant testing to determine best response on programs such as this.

3. Learn how to measure. This is the tricky part, but location-based actions for restaurants are the very best way to measure ROI. Our own VenueTrak product does this seamlessly with integrating to digital media and social campaigns. If you don't have VenueTrak then use the power of impressions, social reach and new audience acquisition as your key measurements. No matter, you need an ROI in 2014 or you are toast!

Responsive Shift

Mobile is huge. In fact, mobile actions in social have skyrocketed 850% in just the past year, according to the Restaurant Social Media Index. Not only are there more mobile users (a 40% growth), but the real secret is that websites and apps are now being designed to meet the mobile audience faster than ever. Responsive is the shift we will see in web and microsite design develop into a mainstream program for every business of all types. Preparation around mobile and tablet responsive will be as standard as registering your business on Google Maps.

Mobile is driving most of this shift, but understand that the future of interface from a mobile perspective will be key in your business. This means integration of online ordering, social sharing, content consumption and overall brand awareness and delivery. Keep all of these items top on your list.

Designing Outside the Four Walls

You no longer have the ability to half-ass design your business, app or website. Digital design, video, photography, and interaction flow is an absolute must for 2014. Consumer and B2B market acceptance for mediocre design is narrowing, thanks to an expansion of choice for every type of business. The look of your business in every digital dimension will be critical in spearheading a quality experience that consumers will embrace, remember and become addicted to. Just take a look at websites like Sweetgreen.com or apps like QuizUp, and you’ll get the design picture very quickly.

This is probably the most difficult of the three since it moves your brand outside the comfort and approachable retail location that you have developed so well. However, this could be the future in how your brand interacts with guests the remaining 162 hours per week when they’re not in your business. The opportunity is huge to interact based on design.