The Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Restaurant Marketing

Getting your marketing message attention today can seem like you are throwing rocks into the ocean, trying to make a splash. While social media has made it easier than ever to reach a global market, it also has become saturated with millions of posts and videos all vying for users' attention. Those rocks you are throwing hoping to make an impact in the ocean of social media are sometimes not doing anything except making you frustrated.

How do you create a marketing plan that gets your brand out in front of the rest? How can you be the leader and not a follower on social media? How can you parlay those likes into people in your restaurant?

Let’s break it down in this Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Restaurant Marketing!

Become Obsessed

Getting to the top of the social media game is about getting serious about owning your space! That means you are going to have to get busy making bigger waves across your social media channels. In order to do this, you’re going to need a couple shifts in your mindset.

Post consistently. Nothing quite confuses people like the hot and cold relationship! One week you are steady and sharing the love of your brand everywhere and then you disappear for a couple weeks. People crave a little consistency in their lives. If you fail to remind them you’re there, they soon start going to another restaurant that shows them a little more love than you have. Shame on you for not being more committed to the fragile guest-restaurant relationship.

Post more often. Yeah, the restaurant marketing gurus will argue that you can post too much. It’s a safe bet that you are not posting enough.

The best way to see how far you should go with your restaurant is to push the edge and see how far you have to go to start getting some pushback! If you are not getting complaints about posting too much, then you are not posting enough! Do you think McDonald’s runs only two commercials a week? Oh hell no! They want you singing that jingle in your head when you are driving and they want you dreaming of Big Macs!

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Shutterstock

Play to Emotions

If you stroll through any social media stream right now, it would be easy to say that 95% of restaurant posts are one-dimensional pictures of either their food or a beverage. If, your hungry or thirsty at that moment you might take some action and head to the restaurant. The odds are that you’ll just keep scrolling.

Stop to think about the emotions behind your posts. What emotional heartstrings are you pulling on? The real secret to marketing anything is to transfer emotions. The same if you want to sell luxury cars, real estate, or getting people to come to your restaurant. Emotions are the meaning behind the message.

Ruth's Chris Steak House doesn’t just sell steaks, they sell status and an image of being the best. Chipotle doesn’t sell burritos, they sell food that is hormone free and their guests identify with that lifestyle. Same for Whole Foods. Consumers don’t shop there because it’s the best price. They shop there for the status that you can afford to shop there!

What are some emotions behind your brand? Local? Sustainable? Are you a status brand? Are you a convenience brand? The trick is to find your tribe and then speak to them.

Video Is King

If you haven’t looked at the calendar lately...it’s 2019. If you want to stand out in the crowded social media ocean, you must start putting out video content. A few years ago, it was a nice addition to add to your marketing message. Today it is required if you want to get a hyper attention deficit audience to listen!

Video is the dragon slayer to the big brands. You have access to a noble video studio in the form of your smartphone or tablet. The cameras on these things are incredible and they get better every year! You also have apps that you can download to edit your videos and then make them public with your own channel on YouTube. You don’t need a fancy website or thousands of dollars in professional video equipment to get started. Just get started!

It’s shocking that most people know the power that video can play in marketing and yet they don’t use it. If you’re one of them, let’s break down a few reasons you still might be on the sidelines about using video.

You're afraid it might not be good.

Okay, it’s a legitimate fear, however, people are more interested today about the message. Look at some of the videos shot on smartphones and the millions of views they get! If you speak from the heart and share your story with the world of why you do what you do, someone will listen and they will share that to someone else, who will share that with someone else. That’s how things get viral.

You don’t like the way you look or sound on camera.

Okay, you’re not going to like this...no one really cares. Seriously, stop worrying about how you look and refine what you want to say! The message always beats out over looks. They are plenty of actors in Hollywood that are not the definition of good looking and they find a way to get their message heard.

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Use the 80:20 Principle

Gather close because here is the biggest secret to social media marketing...it’s about being social! Not much of a secret is it? The sad thing is that too many get stuck on the “all about me” wavelength that they fail to see it.

Social media needs to be more about others than yourself. That’s not only smart marketing, but it’s also smart business! People might pay attention to a self-centered brand for a few minutes, however, it won’t last long term. You need to show people you are interested in them too if you want staying power. Brands that last always put others first.

A good rule of thumb to follow is the 80:20 Principle or also known as Pareto’s Law. Basically, 80% of your efforts come from just 20% of your activities (or actions). On social media, that means you should be liking other people’s post and commenting on their stuff 80% of the time. The other 20% is about you and your restaurant.

This small shift in attention will have a huge impact on your marketing. Why? Because people want to know you are listening. They want to see you engage with them. They want you to be human. They want to know you care.

Drop the pretentious bullshit and just be authentic. Be you. That is your number one marketing advantage. There is only one person who is you.

The moment you stop marketing and start sharing your story with the world is the day you stop competing and you begin to dominate!

Be Different

For the love of all that is holy, please (and I really mean please): stop posting the same boring stuff! Yes, the majority of the population just go along with the crowd and don’t rock the boat. If you want to stand out on social media then your only option is TO ROCK THE BOAT!

Playing it safe is like aiming for third place in a race. It doesn’t really get too much! You want to make it a goal to get a little edgy in your marketing. That is how you get attention today, by being clever, being unorthodox, being different, being memorable!

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Shutterstock

Food posts, specials, and reminders about your happy hour just are so commonplace that the majority of your followers just tune out. Replace that boring stuff that everyone else of doing with:

  • Video at the local farmer’s market.

  • Volunteering at the local food bank.

  • Rave about your team.

  • Rave about your guests.

  • Showcase the ingredients you methodically select for your restaurant.

  • Take us behind the scenes of a catered event.

  • Let us see your menu planning session with your chefs.

Just stop posting the same things that 99% of your market is and dare to be different.

As it was mentioned earlier: with the advancements in technology today, you can shoot a video, edit, and upload it all from your smartphone. The only excuse you have is that you don’t want to really market your restaurant effectively and would rather just complain about business being slow. Complaining gets you nothing and nowhere in today’s market. Taking immediate action does.

Are you going to always hit a home run with each post! Of course not. That’s why you must track your data to see what sticks and what people ignore. Then all you do is create more along the lines of what they like!

Social media isn’t a science, it about connecting with people on their level. That’s critical to remember, marketing is about how your guests see you. Too many times we think marketing is about us. No. You want to connect with people to what is important to them. When you can get past the it's “all about you” mindset, you’ll finally have the real secret of social media marketing down.

Want more tips from Donald Burns on how to improve restaurant? Check out the recent episode of The Barron Report below where Burns breaks down some of the psychological principles that get in your way from building the restaurant and life you truly desire. Stay tuned for more insights from The Restaurant Coach in an upcoming episode of The Barron Report releasing soon.

Why You Should Forget About Improving Your Restaurant

Your restaurant is a composition of thousands of details. All those details contribute to what your restaurant is today. The good and the bad.

Here’s the problem: With the New Year comes new plans to improve your restaurant. Usually, it's the same plan. You start off strong and around March the best designed plans start to fall to the wayside.

By June, those plans are pretty much forgotten. In November, you start to make plans for next year and the cycle goes over and over, again and again, year after year.

Perhaps it time to get off this masochistic treadmill and get some real results?

The first thing to do is stop trying to improve your restaurant. Wait? Did that last sentence say stop trying to improve my restaurant? Yes. It’s not a typo. Improvement to a thing is like throwing new paint on a rusted out car. It looks nice on the surface, but underneath is still a rusted out piece of junk. Instead of trying to fix temporary issues, how about we dig down to inspire real lasting change. That starts with you as the leader.

Your restaurant is a direct reflection of who you are as a leader, owner, operator, or chef. When you’re the one who is driving the brand you have to know where you want to go!

Too many leaders focus on temporary solutions that just compound the real problem lurking under the surface...you might just suck at running your restaurant.

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But here are a few things that lead to this situation of mediocrity:

You Focus on the Wrong Things

There are probably days when you think that your restaurant would be awesome if it wasn’t for those other people just messing things up day after day. You know it’s all their fault. Let’s just invite a few more people to this pity party and turn it into a total bitch fest! Get a bunch of unhappy people together and it ramps up pretty quick.

There was a restaurant owner who said to me the other day, “My cashiers are a bunch of idiots!” My reply was rather calm, “Well, who hired them?”

“I did”, he said.

“Well, maybe the real issue is who allowed them to work here in the first place?”, I said.

Yes, the truth will set you free. Yes, it’s going to piss you off. After a minute of silence, the owner replied, “Yeah, I haven’t done a very good job of screening people. I get desperate and hire anybody with a pulse!”

I said, “When you panic hire you only solve a temporary issue and create a long term problem in the growth of your culture.”

What are you doing to improve yourself to become a better leader?

What are you doing each week to recruits and search for better people to join your team?

The answer to these questions will lead you to start focusing on the one thing you truly have control over and that is you. Restaurants get better when the people in them become better people. You don’t tolerate mediocrity in others, so why do you accept it for yourself?

You Don’t Schedule Time to Work on Your Plan

Let’s talk about being busy. You’re busy, I get that. The question is what are you busy with? Are you blocking time out of your day to move your brand forward? It’s easy in the restaurant world to fill a day up with minutia tasks that have little long term impact on growth.

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Growth is not just about increasing sales. It’s about becoming better. Better at marketing. Better at guest relations. Better at cultivating a team that lives your mission. Better at being a better person.

Time has the ultimate “I don’t care what you do” attitude. Seriously. Time does not care what you do with the 14,400 minutes you get gifted with each day. Waste it or invest it, it’s always your choice.

Remember that...you choose all day what is important by where you place your attention. So, the "I’m too busy excuse" is really a bunch of BS. You should be honest and say that it’s not important to you.

Taking small blocks of time and putting them on your calendar is the one sure way to ensure your agenda (your life) moves forward. Take a tip from the most successful people on the planet...use your calendar to schedule EVERYTHING! Don’t take random meetings. Don’t allow people to control your day by not having your calendar booked. White space on your calendar is the lazy person’s life. Multimillionaire Grant Cardone is found of saying, “If you want to meet the devil, have white space on your calendar.” Your productivity will come to a halt when you have too much idle time on your hands.

So, what do you scheduled? Everything! Gym time, breakfast, time with family, meetings, phone calls, pre-shifts, computer time, reading time, meditation, and whatever else is important to you. I do block off open time for things that might need my attention. I tell clients to contact me during this scheduled blocks of time. If you want to really improve the quality of your restaurant and your life, then take control of your calendar and schedule everything!

You Get Discouraged and Give Up

Life loves to throw curve balls at you. Persistence and perseverance are required if you want massive success. Hey, things are not going to work all the time. Even if your restaurant started out with a Big Bang, as the time goes by (and more restaurants move into your market) you’ll start to become a little less appealing to the shiny new restaurant brands popping up.

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You’ll try something new to get your brand back on top. Maybe some video marketing on social media. You’ll get a few likes and then it seems to die off. You throw in the towel and throw out the excuse that your guests don’t want that. You could be so wrong.

Marketing is not a one time thing. It’s a consistency thing. Throwing out that video and then not really promoting it is your downfall. You made a half-ass commitment and the results show. If you want to play the social media marketing game, you will need to put in the energy and effort to get the results you want. Is everything you put out there going to stick? Of course not! Then you try something else. If that doesn’t work, you try something else. If that doesn’t work, you try something else. If that doesn’t work, you try something else. If that doesn’t work, you try something else. If that doesn’t work, you try something else. If that doesn’t work, you try something else. Get the hint?

You keep working and refining your message until you hit the nerve that gets a response from your guests. Then you market it relentlessly! Marketing is about keeping your brand in front (top of feed) to your market. If you don’t want to spend the time and invest in promoting your brand, your competition will.

I think it’s safe to say that almost everyone reading this know who McDonald’s is. Do you see them backing off on the amount they market? Hell no. They keep their foot on the marketing accelerator all the time! When you see McDonald’s slow down on marketing is the time you should slow down. Until then keep your brand at the top of social media feeds to keep your name top of mind.

Stop throwing caution to the wind. Stop playing it safe. Stop playing small in your market. Stop trying to improve things that won’t really improve your restaurant. Focus on becoming the best version of yourself. Control your calendar. Keep your marketing fresh and frequent. Refuse to surrender to complacency and mediocrity!

Want more tips from Donald Burns on how to create a better restaurant? Check out the recent episode of The Barron Report below where Burns breaks down some of the psychological principles that get in your way from building the restaurant and life you truly desire.