Making the Brand: Restaurant Edition
New restaurants come a dime a dozen, and for a good reason: many of them don’t work out. One of the main reasons there is so much turnover in the restaurant business isn’t because of the market itself, but because the restaurant industry is saturated with eateries that fail to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. When consumers have a handful of options for eating any given type of cuisine, successful restaurants have to develop their brand as a tool for attracting clients, or they’ll fail.
Burger King is the “Home of the Whopper.” Dairy Queen serves up “Hot Eats and Cool Treats.” And if you can’t identify a branding or niche for your own restaurant, you need to re-envision how your business plans to build a reputation with its customer base. Developing this brand can be done in a variety of ways. Between the traditional mediums of print and television advertising, plus the new marketing offerings of social media and the Internet, restaurateurs have a variety of outlets available to help them connect with a diverse customer base and emphasize the unique qualities that sets their business apart from the rest of the competition.
Capitalize on Trends
When a new restaurant opens its doors to the public, one of the best ways to attract new clientele is to implement features that are trending in popularity. For example, developing a health-conscious menu or menu section can be attractive to individuals who want to enjoy a meal out without taking on the heavy doses of calories, fats and sodium that are often piled on to entrees. Depending on what demographics you are targeting, developing menu sections for seniors or children can also be advantageous, showing that your business is willing to accommodate these individuals.
Also trendy in this day and age are green-friendly restaurants that adopt energy-efficient cooking methods. Many businesses are able to lower their operating costs by adopting these eco-friendly methods, such as purchasing energy efficient equipment from places like Food Service Warehouse, and they may even pass those savings on to the customer. Regardless of how energy efficiency affects costs, many customers are eager to bring their business to companies that try to reduce their carbon footprint.
Employ Introductory Specials and Coupons
Naturally, marketing is a no-brainer, but with so many diffuse distributions channels, it can be a challenge to carve out your own niche. One interesting phenomenon is that of food trucks utilizing Twitter to essentially broadcast their menus and hourly locations to their followers. Food Service Warehouse is something of an authority on all things restaurant, and a visit to their marketing page will like address any entry-level questions you could possibly have about marketing your restaurant.
Another strategy promoted by FSW and others is the use of coupons, introductory specials and seasonal menu items to bring in business. When you are just opening a restaurant, a good way to infuse your restaurant with instant traffic is to provide a big economic incentive for customers to roll the dice on your establishment. Because many consumers display brand loyalty and habitually frequent the same businesses, many restaurants find success in spurring them on to go outside of the box.
Coupons can be distributed a number of ways, including through direct mailings, print advertisements and as vouchers passed on social media. For example, consumers can be rewarded with a coupon for choosing to follow your business’s Facebook profile. This rewards them, but also helps you build an online audience through which you can promote future deals and specials.
Promote Happy Hour
Many businesses are able to draw in clients by offering happy hour specials outside of peak hours. This is a tried-and-true approach to boosting revenues during slow time periods, such as before and after the peak dinner hours. Businesses can publicize happy hour deals through social media and other outlets, and the increased traffic can also increase alcohol sales — a vital component of most successful restaurants.
No matter how fast the Internet moves, it takes time to develop a brand. If you can’t create a marque that piques interests within the first few years of existence, chances are you may never get there. There is room for mistakes, but the first few years of a restaurant’s existence should be devoted to building and cultivating that brand for the long term; nobody wants to be the owner to that cool place that used to be on 21st and Broadway.
About the Author:
Felicia Baratz is an avid branding and marketing guru living in Indianapolis, IN. As a frequent contributor to Technected.com, she discusses branding and marketing tactic examples similar to that of Food Service Warehouse , and other nationally recognized brands.