This was a response for a questionaire a recent MBA student sent me. I took out some sensitive information, but I hope you find this useful.
Digital marketing is very important for the restaurant owner and the restaurant marketer.
Today I would characterize this as three main points
1) The convenience of delivery services and what they bring to the table. This is Uber Eats, Postmates, Door Dash, and others who are constantly marketing to the consumer. The restaurant owner has to do his homework, figure out how to price their menu correctly, and use these billion-dollar corporations to their advantage
2) The influence of social media. Instagram and to a smaller degree now Facebook are important for the restaurant owner to talk directly to their customers.
We must ask them questions, seek feedback from them, and take constructive criticism daily with a grain of salt. We must change our behavior to suit the needs of our customers.
3) The importance of having a great web site. Your restaurant web site is your hub. We don’t own anything we post on social media, but we do own our web site and email list, so it’s very important to invest in having the best looking and best performing web site possible. I also highly suggest restaurant owners to use either Constant Contact or Mail Chimp to have and maintain a great email marketing campaign.
Re-occurring Issues with Restaurant Owners
One main problem today is restaurant owners completely ignore digital marketing.
One survey suggested that over 80% of all restaurant owners completely ignore Yelp.
That is to say they don’t respond to customer complaints at all. They don’t say anything good or anything bad. They don’t make it up to customers who are angry at a bad experience they had with you. This is a lost opportunity
Often your angriest customers are very loyal people. If you make it up to them they will stay with you, whereas if you ignore them they will just eat somewhere else.
We routinely respond to customers daily.
The #1 rule of marketing is to ALWAYS listen to your customers
The Relevance of Small Business
If you are a small, family-based restaurant usually you don’t do anything with digital advertising.
Your budget is very limited. So, let’s say you’re a small restaurant in Israel or Lebanon or Egypt for example; I would take my profits and re-invest them onto the business.
I would open more locations, create a better patio, put better lights and TVs, higher a better team, a better chef, nicer staff. That is what will help you grow. Most small family businesses don’t do that at all, so they stay in the same place
The major barriers and limitations in regards to restaurant marketing.
The great barriers exist all over the world. Here in California it’s very expensive to hire people, provide insurance, health care, and take care of all the legal aspects of running a business which is why so few make it. Other barriers include government laws and regulations, taxes and fees, and red tape (also known as over regulation). Just as a simple example we have ridiculous ADA compliance regulation where people walk into your restaurant and sue you for ADA violations without even eating there.
Besides that, a great barrier is education. Old school people resist digital marketing because they just don’t understand it. And we all tend to hate things we can’t do or relate to (think of how most of us hated chemistry class in high school or trigonometry). The best antidote for this is the business owner to read books on digital marketing and understand it better, or at the very least work with a local marketing agency that can help fill in the gaps.
Restaurant owners have to fight back and support legislation that helps businesses grow and succeed.