No matter whether you're a restaurant manager, a friend of the owner or you otherwise convinced someone that you can do the marketing for their restaurant, there are a few must-have tools you need at your disposal.
- An affordable, simple and slick website (this one is a no-brainer)
- A menu and other print materials that go together well (aka good branding)
- An email marketing platform (this one will bring you the most $$)
- A presence on social media (this is my least favorite one)
- A Google business listing (don't underestimate this one!)
That's it. Now of course there are other things you'll probably need to solve for, but the 4 above are probably the most crucial. Let's talk about each one in more detail, and then look at a few other tools you'll probably need to consider, too.
1. An affordable, simple and slick website
Let's cut the small talk. I've designed countless websites for businesses both small and large, and by far the easiest platform to use is Squarespace. I'm sure you've seen the ads. Don't even bother with any other tool. Don't use Wordpress, Wix, GoDaddy or any other site builder out there. My only exception is if you're selling physical products - then please check out Shopify and Square too. Squarespace does the same thing Shopify and Square do, but Squarespace doesn't lean into e-commerce quite as well as Shopify does. And Square is a great option because they have a really good point of sale, which you can seamlessly sync with your online orders and inventory.
2. A menu and other print materials that go together well
This one requires some creative design capabilities. I use Adobe Creative Cloud to do all of my creative work (specifically InDesign for menu layouts). If you can't cough up the monthly fee for Adobe's product suite, then Canva is your next best option. Canva is a fully-online creative design platform for brands and businesses. You can create brochures, business cards, social media advertisements, cover photos, and really anything that you'd ever want to print. It's also super cheap, the templates are fantastic and the drag-and-drop editor is crazy easy to use.
3. An email marketing platform
Like everything else, there are a million email marketing platforms out there. MailChimp is a hugely popular option, but there are also platforms like Campaign Monitor, ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit. Each one has their pros and cons. If you're looking for something simple but flexible, Campaign Monitor is the main platform I've used for a long time.
What I love about Campaign Monitor is their agency whitelabel option. If you have multiple clients, you can apply for their agency program to get a discount on their plan fees, and you can mark up the prices and pass the bill on to your customer, pocketing you with the markup amount. Easy recurring revenue - woohoo!
4. A presense on social media
Yes, you need a social media presense. Do you need a presense on every platform? Probably not. Generally, Facebook is a great first choice. It's the world's most popular social platform, and Facebook makes it easy to set up your restaurant's page with hours, links to your website and menu, and lots of other features.
Aside from Facebook, the rest is up to you. Unless you have something interesting to post every single day, there's probably no sense in having a Twitter account. And unless you'll be equally good at taking photos every day and posting them, you probably don't have a need for an Instagram either. Stick to the basics. Keep your Facebook page nice and polished, and absolutely do not forget STEP FIVE!
5. A Google business listing
This one is so often overlooked by first time business owners. You need to get your business listed on Google. When people search your business, they need to see the Google card pop up that shows key information about your business. Your Google listing also powers the information that shows up in Google Maps. If you don't take action and create and update your Google listing yourself, someone else will do it for you and that can cause all sorts of issues.
As soon as you have a physical location and are getting ready to open your doors, you've got to have this listing. Google makes listing's easy to claim, so as long as you can get mail at your business's address and verify that you own the business, you'll have no trouble getting set up.
Once you've verified ownership, you'll need to add photos to the listing, ensure the right business category is selected, make sure the business hours are correct, and make sure your website is listed, along with any call to action you'd like to have on there. As of today, Google supports nice calls to action like a direct link to order delivery from your restaurant, see your restaurant's menu, or call your business. The majority of your traffic is going to come from Google searches, so again, it's vital that you keep your Google business listing up to date. To manage your Google listing, visit Google My Business.
Other Tools to Consider:
- If you offer public WiFi, an access page so you can capture email addresses
- A way to take customer orders online, or fulfill delivery service orders
- An in-restaurant POS (point of sale) solution to take payment
- A simple way to manage your employees' schedules
If you need help with any of these steps above, we would be happy to point you in the right direction. Whether you just need a one-time consulting session or would like to explore our marketing solutions, get in touch with us.