Owning your own restaurant is a labor of love. Long hours. Low profit margins. A highly competitive market. And now, the aftermath of the pandemic. It’s not an industry that you get into unless it’s truly a calling.
But once you are all-in, there are few careers more rewarding, few sights more uplifting than that of a restaurant filled with happy dinners, few feelings more nourishing than that of feeding your patrons with the food you love.
That is what brings restaurateurs to the profession, and that is what keeps them there.
But as idyllic as the dream of owning a restaurant may seem, the reality is that it is also a business. And that requires you to make some smart and savvy financial decisions if your restaurant is going to survive and thrive for the long term. One of the first and most important of these business decisions may well be to enlist a food blogger to up your restaurant’s marketing game.
Why a Food Blogger?
Anyone who has spent even the slightest amount of time in the food industry knows that budgets are as tight as the competition is fierce. It’s imperative to make every dime count while at the same time ensuring your store does not simply fade into obscurity due simply to the lack of a sufficient marketing budget.
Partnering with a food blogger can be an ideal way to build your brand, drive name recognition, and capitalize on the tremendous and growing power of electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM).
After all, it’s not only restaurants’ budgets that are tight, so, too, are diners’. Now more than ever, consumers are looking to do a significant amount of online research before making any kind of purchase, and that includes selecting a new restaurant to try.
In fact, food blogs and vlogs are big business today, with some of the top food “influencers” commanding millions of loyal followers and lucrative contracts with major restaurants and food brands.
Striking a Deal
As lucrative as the industry may be, though, that doesn’t mean that you have to blow your entire operating budget on teaming up with one of these high-level influencers. That would defeat the purpose.
Instead, scale back, start small, and think local. Look for bloggers located in your area. Notice the kinds of cuisine they tend to write most, and best, about. Consider, as well, the hinds of responses they receive. Is the site active? Is the blogger reliable and consistent? Does he or she seem to have a strong and engaged following?
Once you have a strong sense of who the blogger is and whether their site would match well with your restaurant, then reach out to them. Tell the story of your restaurant, explain why you feel your restaurant might be a good match for their blog, and invite them for a complimentary meal.
The terms of your partnership will very much depend on you and your blogger. An established blogger, for example, may charge as much as $1,000 for every 100,000 “impressions” generated by the blog profiling your restaurant.
This can seem like a pretty significant expenditure, to be sure, but in comparison to the amount of new business it may generate, the potential return may far outpace the initial costs.
Take It In-House
As beneficial as a partnership with an established food blogger may be, however, it is by no means your only option. You can take the process in-house by establishing your own food blog for your restaurant’s website.
This can be the perfect way, for example, for prospective and established customers to learn about the menu, to keep abreast of new offerings, current promotions, and even special interest events. And, of course, having a strong in-house blog can also be highly beneficial if you do choose to reach out to a food blogger for a partnership that will potentially expand both of your readerships.
If you’re going to create a food blog, though, there are important factors to consider beyond the writing itself. Diners of all ages, and especially young adults, Millennials and Generation Z, don’t just want a feast for the tastebuds. They want a feast for the eyes. Half the fun for today’s diners is searching for food images and videos online, as well as snapping and posting pictures of their own meals before diving in.
So if you are going to create a food blog, the visuals are going to be as important as the text, if not more so. To ensure that your blog looks professional and will keep your discerning audience of foodies coming back for more, for instance, it’s a good idea to invest in a robust suite of editing tools and learn how to use them.
No matter how delicious your food is, how much your patrons may rave about your restaurant, or how witty and captivating your blog prose is, if your site is replete with poorly composed and badly edited images, then you may well lose a large portion of your target audience.
Food blogging is big business and, nowadays, it can be a powerful marketing tool for the savvy restaurateur. Such partnerships can form in myriad ways, from cultivating paid sponsorships with established bloggers to forging new relationships with up-and-coming food writers to bringing your own food blog in-house, maintaining a visually and textually irresistible blog on your own restaurant’s website.
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer from the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics and, because she spent over six years in the restaurant business before writing full-time, takes a particular interest in covering topics related to the food and beverage industry. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter.