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Recipes and ROI: Restaurant Marketing Made Simple

Competition is crazy in the restaurant business. If you’re lucky enough to survive, it’s probably because you know at least a little bit about how to optimize your ROI. Even so, there’s always room for improvement. Here’s how to improve your marketing without making it more complicated than it has to be.

Use Local SEO

Local SEO refers to local “search engine optimization.” This is a fancy way of saying that you should focus on getting found by people in local search engines. Google, and many other search engines, help people find restaurants and other similar businesses, by listing local listings ahead of national ones. Think of it as the online version of marketing.

If you’re not in a local listing, get listed by claiming your Google business page. Then, hire a marketing agency to help you improve your listing through content placement and backlinks. When people search for your business name, you should come up first in the search engines. When they type in a food that you sell, ideally, you want to show up at or near the top.

Customize Your Products

Customize your products, and you might be able to get people to advertise for you. For example, if you’re a local ice cream shop, using these frozen yogurt cups can help you get the word out on take out orders, especially if your ice cream is fresh, you give generous portions relative to the cup size, and your cups and cones are customized with your brand name.

People will grab their ice cream and walk around with it, effectively advertising your company for you.

Grow Your Email Database

An email list seems like something an ad agency or publisher would have, but a restaurant can, and should, have an email list too. What should you send out to your list? Believe it or not, you can keep it really simple. Send out pictures of your menu items, stories and testimonials by customers, and discreet pricing.

Run More Promotions

You don’t have to run discounts, but promotions can improve sales. Before discounting a menu item, consider adding value by offering slightly larger portion sizes, a free drink, or maybe a free dessert.

By keeping your menu prices the same, you start conditioning your market to expect quality over discounted pricing. The more promotions you run, the more opportunities you have to demonstrate your restaurant’s quality.

Simplify Your Menu

Sometimes, what you need aren’t more menu items, but fewer. Try simplifying it if it’s gotten unwieldy. The sign of a good menu is that your kitchen doesn’t get overwhelmed or slowed down by orders, your chef knows how to turn out consistent meals, and you’re not over or understocked on any particular ingredient.

If you can’t remember the last time you sold a particular menu item, it’s time to ditch it. Good inventory tracking software, or sales software that integrates with your POS system can help you ferret out the winners and losers. Even if some customers say they love an item, if it’s not selling well, it’s time for you to retire it.

Seth L. Janssen is a real estate agent. He enjoys sharing his experiences on the web. His articles appear mainly on travel and vacation websites.

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