These tips can help you keep your restaurant relevant to consumers and profitable.

Want to run a successful, profitable restaurant? We hope you have a strong stomach. Like many other new businesses, the failure rate is exceptionally high. According to CNBC, “Around 60 percent of new restaurants fail within the first year, and nearly 80 percent shutter before their fifth anniversary.”

However, if done right there can be huge returns. This year alone restaurants are collectively predicted to clear upwards of $783 billion, and it’s the seventh straight year of growth for the industry. 

With the new year upon us, now is a great time cut of the profit and make 2017 your most successful yet with these ten restaurant marketing ideas and strategies.

1. Take Some Foodie Photos

If you’re going to put your dollars toward one type of restaurant marketing collateral, make it mouth-watering, professional photos. Or, if hiring a photographer simply isn’t an option, take a look at Udemy Blog for advice on capturing dishes yourself, “Food Photography Tips: How to Take Mouth-Watering Pictures of Food.”

Whichever you choose, don’t forget to share the photos online. With every post, make sure your number one goal is unveiling pictures so good you can almost taste them.

2. Encourage Your Customers to Participate in Mobile-Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs have long been the darlings of successful eateries. Gamification apps are the 2.0 versions of these longstanding marketing initiatives, making it easy for customers to find your restaurant in the apps they’re already using.

The most popular apps include:

  • Belly
  • LevelUp
  • Loyal Blocks
  • Perka

Not only will these mobile-loyalty apps grow your business, encouraging your valued customers to ditch the punch cards, but they will also save them money while making space in their wallets.  

3. Don’t Forget Yelp in Your Social Media Strategy

Since its launch in 2004, Yelp has gained a reputation as the number one Internet rating and review site. This means you’re guaranteed to get reviewed even if you don’t create an account.

Make sure you’re listening to and participating in the conversation by responding thoughtfully to all reviews, both positive and negative.

If you need some help figuring how to get more Yelp reviews, check out Wordstream’s suggestions, “The Complete Guide to Yelp Reviews: Power to the People!”.

You’ll also want to make sure your profile is complete. This means adding information like:

  • Photos
  • Store hours
  • Location
  • Menu
  • Price range
  • Amenities (Wi-Fi/Outdoor Seating/Parking/etc.)

4. Respond to Both Positive Press and Negative Reviews

The moment you get a press hit, you should immediately share it with your followers on social media. If you can get your hands on a physical copy, it’s also a great idea to frame it in your restaurant.

Negative online reviews call for timely, polite, and public responses. Always thank customers for their feedback and make an effort to win back their business with a gift card or free meal if there’s a problem.  

5. Engage Your Audience by Sharing Their User-Generated Content

If you really want to make your customers feel special, share the pictures they take and like them on social media. 

By doing so, it shows how much you appreciate your customers and also adds a personal perspective to your brand. If you decide to share, just make sure you credit them accordingly!

6. Be Clear About Your Restaurant’s Brand Identity

All effective marketing strategies begin and end with one thing: your target audience.

Once you’ve identified them, build your restaurant’s brand with these folks in mind. Every post you publish should engage the vegans who flock to your eatery or reflect the interest of the families who are dining with you week after week.

7. Make Sure Your Most Updated Menu is Online

When it comes to decision time, the majority of families use menus to help them select where to dine.

It’s critical yours is easily found on your website and other online platforms. Don’t forget to include high-quality, mobile-friendly options across multiple sites.  

Make sure to update your seasonal menus and use tools like Open Menu if you need help with the design and social promotion.

8. Partner with Delivery Services

In today’s instant gratification-based society, delivery is a non-negotiable. But you don’t need a dedicated delivery staff to start fulfilling to-go orders.

Consider partnering with popular delivery services like:

  • Favor
  • Seamless
  • Eat24
  • Foodler
  • GrubHub

9. Show Off Your Staff

Don’t keep your staff relegated to the kitchen or banish them behind the bar. Regularly incorporating your employees into your social media content adds a human element to your brand.

Let customers “meet” the chef and feature employee profiles to help your customers get a better feel for your company culture and brand. It can do wonders for your reputation and sets the tone for a friendly, familiar dining experience.

10. Conduct a Quality Control Check to Make Sure Your Online Information is Correct

It’s no surprise that 89 percent of consumers research a restaurant online prior to dining.

Now is the time to ensure the information they find is correct. Double check your contact information and conduct a quality control check of other essential information, such as your address, phone number, hours, your current menu, and more.

Ready to turn up the heat and push past the five-year mark? Don’t become a statistic, satiate your hunger for business with these 10 savory restaurant marketing and branding strategies

Expert Takes, Feature, Marketing & Promotions