With the world slowly getting back up on its feet after the Pandemic, here’s how restaurants and cafes can continue doing digital marketing.
Yes, this is not an article about content writing, copywriting, or SEO like what I am known to write about most days.
What I’ve observed so far during this Covid-19 pandemic is that while the retail industry got a kick in the gut, so did the restaurant and cafe businesses. This is based on the fact that for the past few months, I’ve never cooked so many meals in my life. #lol
Just like any other retailers, if not more so, inventory and management of stock is a calamitic problem faced by businesses like restaurants and cafes.
As we tide over the Covid-19 Pandemic, there’s all the more reason to put a little more thought into ramping things up online for your establishments in preparation for the new future we might be looking at.
- Nearly 65% of restaurants rely on their social media activities to engage with their customers
- Approximately 40% consumers use social media to find restaurants, cafes, and eateries to sample new food around them
- More than half of social media users find ads or recommendations for restaurants on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
Having too much inventory costs your business. F&B outlets are always looking for ways to cut corners on their budget when it comes to keeping stock. An overall modern approach is needed to keep you in the game. Just be profitable, no matter how you slice it, keeping your new or your regular customers updated has to be on the cards.
So, instead of spending a truck-load of money on unnecessary items, wise up on keeping your inventory fluid, invest the money into branding your business.
The Playbooks and Textbooks from your H&C School Days May No Longer Work
This is just a thought, of course, but I have come to the conclusion based on the fact that I’ve had relatives delve into the restaurant business and…fail.
Nothing teaches you the wisdom of entrepreneurs like graduating from the school of hard knocks.
Yes, you give your menu a quick little revamp to stop stressing your chef and restaurant manager out. Limiting the items on your menu is also ONE of the ways to keep your restaurant and cafe profitable.
So, what else can you do?
Highlighting and Promoting Daily Specials
It’s time to go digital, folks! If you’re not already pumping things out on social media and utilizing your website, you’re losing out. So it’s time to put all hands on deck and get started with some social media planning.
Instead of seeing my friends’ and family’s drool-worthy #homecooked food, I am sure people are more than ready to start eating out now.
As I am scrolling through my Instagram and Facebook feed, I find myself wondering where all the restaurants went. Yes, I still see the occasional posts from my favorite bubble tea shops, Lazada, Watson, Shopee, Fave, The Body Shop, etc, but I found my thoughts wandering into the terrain of food.
- Social Media – Get a good camera, hire a photographer, use free online tools to tweak your smartphone-made pictures, use apps…whatever it takes, get your pictures, descriptions, and write copy that catches the attention of your customers and make their stomachs growl.
Spend a little bit of money (we’re talking about RM5 to RM10 a day to promote your content over a couple of months). You can afford that! The platform you choose has to be the one where you have the biggest and most loyal following.
If you have videos and interesting slideshows, don’t be shy of putting it up on Youtube or Instagram although Facebook remains popular with high roller spenders.
- Discounts and Promotions – As much as you, as a restaurant or cafe owner, are suffering from tightening your belt on spending, so are your customers. The win-win situation would be for you to promote your top sellers with discounts, coupons, and exclusive deals.
Work with your chef or hire a new professional chef (your business, your choice) who is innovative and ready to adapt to this ‘new norm’) (God, I hate that word) by using about-to-expire ingredients to whip up an irresistible meal for your customers and their friends/family.
Start with a Daily Specials that highlights something unique every day. Ask your customers to download and show the digital coupon upon arrival to enjoy the discount. Another way is to come up with a farm-to-table concept to reduce inventory. You offer only what you can make from what you find from the market during that specific time frame.
“By using video, you can promote new specials, feature your employees, give a “behind the scenes” look to your customers, offer cooking tutorials, or even do Q and A’s with your chef or cook.”– Modern Restaurant Management
- Tie-up with Delivery Services
In my personal opinion, even after bringing Covid-19 down to its knees (we don’t know when this is going to happen as of yet, unfortunately), restaurants and cafes should continue to tie-up with delivery services and apps.
I just don’t think this is going to go away. The delivery service industry has been creeping up on the Internetsphere for a long time but its trajectory just got a boost from the pandemic. In fact, emails and app usage has seen an unprecedented surge in usage!
It doesn’t cost a lot to tie-up with the delivery service providers and it helps you increase sales and managing your inventory. Every time you have something new in your restaurant, go through the motion of publishing it on your website, blog, social media and emails.
It’s Time to Get a Little More Petty
It’s time to be unctuous about the free stuff…at least for the next few months or the rest of the year. Take into account the things that we used to give away for free now that budget has a stranglehold on your profitability.
Yes, it’s skimping but as long as you’re not doing too much to the quality and quantity of your food, consumers generally don’t mind.
Customers still expect to have a bottle of soy sauce, ketchup, chilli sauce, and maybe even the extra sambal (this is a Malaysian thing, so, please ignore it if you don’t know what it is…but it’s DELICIOUS!)
You can still offer the free stuff but put you need to control how many free stuff your customers don’t need that you’re giving away. Let them know that they can ask for more from your staff if they require more.
I’ll vouch for the fact that some simply can’t live without ketchup with their grilled chicken breasts. Just saying.
It’s sad but the time to take control. Pre-portioning the unlimited condiments you offer, give your customers an understanding smile, and oblige when asked. At least, you’re still in control.
“First In, First Out (FIFO): Most food that’s thrown away is past its expiration date. Here’s a simple trick for cutting restaurant costs. Train your cooks using the FIFO method. Clearly label food with its expiration date. Put the oldest ingredients in front so they’re used first. Easy.”– BuzzTime Business
Say ‘NO’ to Food Wastage
This is a purposeful cause you, as a restaurant or cafe owner, can get behind on your website or social media!
I was personally aghast with the Youtube videos I’ve seen where restaurants, grocery stores, cafes, and other food outlets like markets throw away less-than-perfect-looking foodstuff even when the perfectly edible ingredients were still OK. Straight into the bin without as much as a backward glance.
I live my life by the principle of ‘waste not, want not’ and we are not shy about reusing leftovers. They’re perfectly fine after a couple of days so long as you’re not capricious about storage standards.
So, to me, throwing away those perfectly good scraps are creating a massive profit hole for restaurant and cafe businesses.
Train your staff to sift out ingredients and items into three zones:
- Green – Absolutely fresh off the market
- Yellow – Use it soon
- Orange – Use it NOW, it’s going, going, going…
- Red – It’s dead. RIP.
Blog About It and Connect with your Customers
Blogging is not dead. SEO is not dead. No matter what people are telling you, it’s not. As long as there are search engines around, SEO and content marketing is never going to die. The same goes for blogging.
No matter what options social media presents you, nothing can replace having a properly maintained and updated website and blog.
I understand that content marketing and blogging can be daunting for restaurants and cafes because who’s got time for that, right? But you can hire freelance writers, bloggers, social media influencers, or even hold a free sampling event to get the fire going.
Search engines rely on fresh website content to figure out who’s who, what’s what, and why they should rank you higher than your competitors. The blog and updated pages (including landing pages) give search engines an idea about what your business is about and if you’re worth what you say you’re worth.
Go ahead and share the following:
- Social media updates
- Testimonials from satisfied customers
- Staff celebrations
- Behind the scenes footages
- New menu
- New chefs or hires
- Events happening in your restaurant or cafe
- Food facts
- Staff/Editor picks
Remember to cater to the crowd. Write content in the voice that your core customers can jive with. For instance, traditional recipes are probably not going to work too well with customers who are mainly from the college crowd. If you run a sports bar, highlight a band you’ve hired to perform at your restaurant.
This is not an overnight thing, so consistency is key. Write consistently, post as much as you can (relevant content, please) and don’t half-ass your way with photographs and copy. Once you’ve established a routine or use a social media automation tool, it’ll be a walk in the park!
Finally, Monitor your Competitors
If you’re a business, I won’t underestimate your business acumen because you’re probably monitoring your closest competitors as it is.
What I am talking about is to monitor what’s hot in the market and get ideas from both search engines like Google and social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest.
Surprisingly, there is tons of stuff on Pinterest when it comes to food, restaurants, tea and coffee houses, brunch spots, bars, and cafes.
Also, did you know that you can set up alerts on Google to get the latest news about your industry? Yes, set that up.
Go to your Google account and set things up on Google Alerts. News and latest updates will be sent directly to your email every day (you can choose the frequency).
I hope more restaurants come back to business soon…I am praying every single day. #lol If you need help bringing your restaurant or cafe business back to its feet, contact me. I may be able to help you optimize your website with SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media management, and offer my personal insights about modern-day operations of your business.
There’s nothing to lose because you can book a Zoom, Meets, Hangout or Teams 15-minute chat with me and we’ll see where that takes us.
In the meantime, stay in touch by checking out (and hitting the like/follow buttons) on my social media pages like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram and Blog.
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