Online Marketing Strategies For Restaurants

Aaron Hoos

It was Saturday afternoon. I was looking for a restaurant to go to with my wife for the evening. We reviewed our mental short-list of places we’d driven past and said, “oh, we should eat there.

And now we were in decision-making mode. So we checked online to see when the restaurant was open ’til and what was on the menu.

And that’s when we discovered it: restaurant websites are terrible (if they exist at all).

Now, granted, I’m not an expert restaurant marketer. But I am a marketer and strategist for a wide variety of businesses, plus I am a restaurant customer, so that gives me a bit of a perspective and some value to share.

Restaurants are missing important information on their websites—information that a customer like me is looking for to choose YOUR restaurant over the thousands of other options.

In the past few months that I’ve been paying attention to the general crappiness of restaurant websites, I’ve encountered sites with the following glaring errors and omissions…

  • No clear directions about how to get to the restaurant
  • No idea of when the restaurant is open or closed
  • No menu
  • No pictures of food
  • No prices
  • Old specials
  • No idea of what the atmosphere is like inside
  • No idea of whether reservations are needed, or when
  • Restaurants that didn’t have any online presence at all
  • Heck, one restaurant had a “Update: we’re just making improvements to our website”… but the date was more than a year old!

Maybe it’s me but it feels like these things should be the bare minimum when running a restaurant’s online marketing!

A Few Simple Fixes

The solution is simple. You don’t have to be fancy, just start a simple website and a few basic social media accounts, and then put the following information on it:

  1. The menu. (Oh, and don’t just make it downloadable, as many restaurants do, because I want to view it on my phone and downloading a PDF is a hassle).
  2. Mobile friendly website. (After all, I’m often deciding where to eat while I’m driving around… so why not meet me part way with a mobile-friendly site?)
  3. Directions from key places in the city. And don’t just say “north” or “south” but give clear directions (“one block past Fairview park—look for our big yellow sign”) and a link to Google Maps.
  4. Tell me where to park and if I need change for the meter (and how much that change should be).
  5. SHOW ME WHAT THE FOOD LOOKS LIKE!!!
  6. Give me an idea of the experience of your restaurant—What does it look like? How should I dress? Is this a great restaurant for an intimate dinner or a loud raucous group or a sports enthusiast?

See? simple.

Of course you can do more if you want, like…

  • Post frequent videos.
  • Maintain a blog with testimonials, messages from the chef and waitstaff, and yes, even recipes!
  • Keep your website up-to-date.
  • Give me ideas of when your restaurant is the perfect place to eat, and why. (Your restaurant is not perfect for every occasion but tell me why it’s perfect for entertaining out of town guests.)
  • Integrate social media and invite me to participate in the social conversation by helping me to find and tag you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
  • Tell me what beers are on tap.
  • Tell me the busiest times of the week and the slowest.
  • Tell me what your most popular foods are, and the surprise secret dish that the chef is most proud of.

I love experiencing new restaurants. I like trying to new foods and discovering restaurants I’ve never eaten at before. There are a million restaurants in my city and if you own one of them then help me choose your restaurant with these simple changes to your online marketing.

Hilarious update: I wrote a draft of this blog post and then left it for a week while I went to visit a friend in another city. He was getting married and I was his best man, so I’d planned a stag party (a pretty tame one, at his request), which included a few friends at a local bar. I checked the bar’s website and it said they were open from “11AM until Close” which is vague but whatever. But while we were eating there, the waitstaff came over and told us they were closing… and it was only 10:30 at night!!! We were shocked! In fact, by the time we left, the waitresses were outside smoking, waiting for us to be done. (#classy) Fortunately there was a bottle of whiskey back at the hotel that we could drown our sorrows in but that information would have been helpful if placed on their website. I just checked Google and their hours in Google are incorrectly listed as being open until midnight. It just reinforced the general crappiness of restaurant websites.

I WANT to discover YOUR website… help me out here!!!

Marketing, Simplified

Aaron Hoos

I talk to a lot of business owners.

Many are baffled by marketing.

It’s not their fault. The world of marketing seems complex… to the point of being confusing and even overwhelming to some.

It’s made more-so by the constant barrage of gurus who promise that if you “hustle” hard enough and use [whatever their specific method happens to be] you’ll win the game.

But that’s BS.

Want to win at the marketing game?

Here is marketing, simplified…

MARKETING, SIMPLIFIED

Step 1. Find the people who have the problem that you solve.

Step 2. Build a relationship with those people.

Step 3. Tell them about your solution.

Step 4. Get better at telling them about your solution.

That’s it. That’s marketing. Four simple steps.

Just do those things, and get progressively better at it, and you’ll master marketing.

The key points are NOT which platforms to do it on, or how often in a day you should do something, or how much you should spend, or what keywords to use.

Those are factors but the most important pieces are: (1) the solution you have, (2) the relationship you build, (3) the act of telling others, and (4) your progressive improvement.

Boom. There’s your marketing plan.

MARKETING MASTERY IN DETAIL

Let’s dig into those four steps in greater detail…

Step 1. Find the people who have the problem that you solve..

First, this presumes that you have a solution to a problem—something of value that other people want or need.

Next, you need to find the people who need help. I can’t tell you how to easily do that in this blog post since it’s often specific to your audience. Building a presence on social media is a great start. Advertising on social media is also a smart move. It won’t hit every potential audience but chances are you’ll find some.

And no, there is no panacea. A viral video or SEO optimization or retweeting memes is not going to do it.

Step 2. Build a relationship with those people.

As you find your audience, connect with them. Use empathy and establish rapport. Don’t be weird, be a human being and connect with other human beings as if you were at a social gathering. People don’t like being marketed to in a gimmicky way; they want human interaction.

Step 3. Tell them about your solution.

Use a compelling promise, urgency, risk reversal, and other copywriting strategies to tell your audience about how you can help them.

(Want to make sure they really get what you’re offering? Use this Value Gauge to help them understand the return on the investment of their purchase.)

Step 4. Get better at telling them about your solution.

Now, go back and look at how you are telling them. Use analytics to understand the answers to questions like:

  • Are people buying?
  • How many people are buying?
  • How much are they spending?
  • When and where are they buying?

That’s it. That is marketing.

If you want to take it to the next level, draw it out in a simple chart (called a Sales Funnel) and look for ways to do more of each step, and to get constantly get better. (You can master your marketing by mastering your sales funnel. Do yourself a favor and check out my short blog series called Sales Funnel 101, or pick up a copy of my book The Sales Funnel Bible.)

Here’s the best part: you don’t need to do anything extra or invest in anything more. You can start marketing right now (even before you have a product or service). Just go out and find someone with a problem you can solve and strike up the conversation with that person about their problem. Ask them questions. Listen. Engage. If they ask you how to solve the problem, tell them. Even if they don’t ask right now, that’s okay because you have gained a great contact and invaluable information about the problem.

SUMMARY

Marketing is not magic. It’s not even that complicated. Marketing is simple. It’s just these 4 simple steps done over and over through trial and effort, without tricks or mystery… simply to connect with other humans and to tell them about how you can help them.

A marketing master is not someone who has more tricks up his or her sleeve; a marketing master is simply someone who has figured out how to do the four steps listed above and does those steps increasingly well.

The Most Interesting Branding Lesson In The World

When I say “The Most Interesting Man In The World,” what do you think of?

Maybe you think of beer.

Maybe you think of Dos Equis beer.

But you probably think of a well-dressed older man surrounded by beautiful women and adventure.

C’mon. I don’t even need to write a caption and this picture evokes all the images and words, right?

The Most Interesting Beer Campaign

Since 2007, actor Jonathan Goldsmith was the spokesperson for Dos Equis beer, playing the role of The Most Interesting Man In The World. (source)

I loved that branding effort (a lot!) and his commercials continue to be some of my favorite commercials ever made. They are charming, funny, memorable, sharable, and re-watchable.

And here’s anecdotal proof that marketing works: I never drank Dos Equis before seeing those commercials but I spent a lot of money on Dos Equis after seeing them! (I don’t always spend money on Dos Equis. But when I do, it’s because I just spent an hour binge-watching a bunch of Dos Equis commercials.) I know I’m not the only one swayed by this marketing campaign.

(Want to read more about branding, marketing, and beer spokespeople? Check out this blog post I did from way back in the day!)

Even Goldsmith’s sign-off tagline — “I don’t always drink beer. But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis” — has become a meme, which I guess is some kind of indicator of how embedded into our culture The Most Interesting Man really is!

Then something changed…

A NEW Most Interesting Man?

In 2016, Goldsmith’s contract with Dos Equis ended and they chose to replace Goldsmith with a younger Most Interesting Man In The World.

The “new” Most Interesting Man In The World continues to represent Dos Equis in commercials that feel very similar to Goldsmith’s commercials. His replacement does similar things and sounds similar…

Looks familiar, right? The commercial has all the same beats/storylines/messages. On the surface, it was the passing of a baton and we should all continue staying thirsty because of this new guy, right?

But does anyone care anymore?

Look, I’m not trying to be an old curmudgeon by saying that I hate change and can’t tolerate a new face on an old campaign. I get that companies have to do that. There are probably many legit business reasons why Dos Equis chose to replace Goldsmith. And maybe Dos Equis is continuing to see success with the new guy. Awesome.

BUT… Goldsmith was the original Most Interesting Man. Dos Equis assumed that the mantle of “The Most Interesting Man In The World” could be moved from one person to the next, simply by creating similar commercials.

Goldsmith proved them wrong. He proved that HE is The Most Interesting Man In The World.

Want to know the true power of the brand? Want a lesson in being a legend and in brand portability?

Fast forward to 14 seconds into this video to watch Goldsmith say less than 10 familiar words and instantly transport the full cache of HIS brand over to Astral Tequila…

Or go over to AstralTequila.com and skip all that fast-forwarding nonsense.

In less than 10 words, Goldsmith shows us the true power of a brand, brand portability, and how HE continues to be The Most Interesting Man In The World.

(Bonus reading: Does anyone remember in The Dukes Of Hazzard when Bo and Luke Duke were gone for a season? They were replaced by weirdly similar cousins… Coy and Vance Duke… The show sucked and the original actors were brought back on.)

 


Aaron Hoos, writerAaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He’s the author of several books, including The Sales Funnel Bible.

Use this strategy if your customers are going offshore instead of buying from you

A new client came to me recently because they were seeing many prospective customers moving their business offshore. The price disparity between buying from a North American supplier (my client) versus buying from a foreign (offshore) supplier was dramatic.

Although there is a lot going on here (in terms of economics, pricing, domestic-versus-foreign suppliers, shareholder pressure among customers, etc.), I want to focus on one simple strategy that can be used to help address this problem of buying from an offshore provider.

In a lot of industries companies used to buy locally because that was really the only option. Then the internet eliminated many of the cross-border buying barriers and suddenly countries that have a cheap labor market can underbid many domestic providers on nearly everything.

You see it in manufacturing; you see it in services. I noticed it when I was starting up my freelance writing business: I was bidding at a much higher price against freelance writers in India.

If you own a business that is facing the challenge of prospective customers who are going offshore for cheaper products and services, how do you win back that business?

YOU GET BACK INTO THE CONVERSATION

I recommend that you get back into the conversation. Specifically, you find a way to position yourself within the sales funnel of those offshore providers as a “checkpoint” that your customers will have to or want to cross before buying.

In my situation as a freelance writer years ago, I was able to get onto the same job-bidding platform and I used a variety of tools (especially pricing strategies and added value) to become a preferred service provider even if I wasn’t the cheapest. But another really helpful strategy was my book The Sales Funnel Bible which helped to demonstrate the importance of great marketing and sales copy all the way through the sales funnel. Prospective clients would read the book and come to understand that those offshore service providers might be cheap but they were just “order takers” – doing whatever work was assigned to them – while I always took my customers’ sales funnel into consideration when thinking about the work I was doing for them.

For a manufacturing client, I recommended that they do something similar: They need to investigate the offshore outsourcing marketplace in their specific industry and write a report on it. The report needs to be THE go-to resource on strategies and best practices to effectively outsource (domestically or internationally) and the report should implicitly position my client as a superior option. (There are many ways to do this effectively and ethically).

This helps put my manufacturing client back into the conversation: They become educators and advocates within their industry of effective outsourcing and they get back into the conversation – ultimately giving themselves a chance to show how their higher-priced product is still superior.

If you run a business that faces stiff competition that seems to be stealing away all of your customers, how can you get back into the conversation?

The brain-dead simplest way to sell absolutely ANYTHING, anywhere, anytime

It doesn’t matter what you sell, I’m going to show you the easiest way to sell it:

Seriously, this is the simplest way to sell ANYTHING. Ever.

Here it is…

Solve a problem.

That’s it.

Yes, it’s that simple.

Marketers and sellers try to make it more complicated than that. They try to find tricks and gimmicks and clever jingles and compelling stories and sales techniques to close the deal. Sure, those tactics can help. They might sell a product now and then.

But absolutely NOTHING in the entire sales universe can sell products as well as solving a problem.

People learn to live with problems and annoyances and they might not even think of buying something because they develop unconscious workarounds. But their most pressing problems that smack them in the face are the ones they happily throw money at to solve. Everyone willingly spends money to solve their biggest, most burning problems.

“But I do solve a problem and no one buys from me,” the contrarian might say. (Actually, I know someone who has said this very recently to me about the struggling business they run). So maybe I should clarify: You shouldn’t just solve a problem. You should solve their specific, most pressing problem. That’s a huge difference.

Do your research, find out what problem/need/pain that your prospects faces, and then solve it with your product. Boom. Easy.

And here’s the best part: The more acute the pain, and the faster and more effectively that your product or service solves that pain, the easier you can sell (and the more money you can charge).

So, if you want to sell something, figure out what burning problem your product or service solves. And then show your prospect how it’s solved.

And if want to make more money, figure out when your prospect’s problem is at its absolute worst. Then offer to solve it.

And if you think you’re solving problem but you’re still struggling to close the deal then you’ve failed to either identify the most deeply felt problem, or, you’ve failed to show how your product solves it.

Selling is simple. Just solve a problem. It’s easy, fun, and feels good.