Everyone knows the restaurant industry is a difficult one to thrive in, but there’s no doubt that there are thousands of restaurants that are constantly in demand and doing well. But besides great food and better service, what should you be doing to successfully market your restaurant and develop a successful strategy?

And, perhaps more importantly, how can you develop a marketing strategy to help you bounce back after lockdown?

I reached out to Cherry Consultancy to ask for some of their top tips for restaurant marketing strategies post-COVID. Here are 6 points to consider for your post-coronavirus lockdown strategy:

6 Marketing Strategy Tips for Restaurants Opening After Lockdown

Embrace New Technologies

We’ve had to adapt to new practices, embracing technology and food delivery in a way many of us never had before, and just because we’re starting to serve customers in-person doesn’t mean we have to return to old ways of working.

Over the next few months, we will have to serve smaller numbers within our establishments, but the use of apps can help us not only continue to serve customers eating out but offer order-at-table apps which keep employees and guests safe (Eagle Eye found that 40% of consumers would like to avoid physical contact within restaurants) while encouraging them to order more.

Use Visuals to Show Customers What They’ll Get

Take full advantage of local advertising and social media marketing to show people what they’ll get. It’s common to send out menus or put up local advertising for deals, but don’t forget that people largely eat with their eyes.

Show your potential customers exactly what they can expect when they eat at your restaurant. Use a mixture of candid shots (it’s always a good idea to encourage customers to show your food by tagging you or using a hashtag) and high-quality professional food photography that gets the shots just right. After so much time at home, diners are going to crave an exceptional restaurant experience.

Move with the Trends

Keep your brand in mind, but always keep an eye on the trends and consider which ones you can take advantage of. Whether it’s vegan desserts, gluten-free pasta, or keto salad burrito bowls, it’s always worth giving people what they want. More people now than ever are adopting alternative diets, and you will only benefit from catering to those people.

Remember that friends and family will want to meet up to eat together in the coming months as lockdown eases, and just one vegan person can make a whole group choose a different restaurant if you don’t have adequate options.

Encourage a Community Feel

25% of consumers will favour an existing brand, so you must cultivate that feeling of community with your customers if you haven’t already. Make the in-restaurant dining experience exceptional and make them feel valued. If you can, encourage diners to come back with incentives.

Make Dining Exciting Again

When we first went into lockdown, many people’s diets and healthy eating habits went right out the window. Why? Because when people are worried or stressed, they care much less about the quality of their food, only about the ease of eating.

Fortunately, now that we’re coming out on the other side, people are ready to enjoy food again and start connecting with loved ones over meals as humans have done for thousands of years. So why not make dining an exciting experience again? Be the first to have a theme night and do a special menu. Give diners something they can’t get at home (even from your takeaway menu) and promote it locally with great quality pictures and let the local media know what you’ve got going on.

Don’t Neglect Your Online Presence

When a potential diner wants to eat at your restaurant – whether that be eat-in or takeaway – they’re going to head online for information. You must ensure your information is easy to access. Show them exactly where to go to find out what their dining experience will be like (so they know your safety measures), and make your menu/s easy to access. An interactive menu with beautiful professional food photography for your meals will make you stand out against your competitors.

Also, don’t forget to update your social media profiles regularly. If you’re finding it overwhelming to manage more than one, focus solely on the platform you prefer for now. The key to succeeding on social media is consistency, so update daily when possible.

The changes to your marketing strategy don’t have to be huge – they just have to be intentional. The difference between simply marketing and advertising and a marketing strategy is deciding to send out leaflets locally because you see everyone else is, and moving the placement of your menu and booking buttons on your website so they’re super easy to find, and guiding people through what the dining experience will look like.

Don’t forget that in times of uncertainty, what makes people feel like they can trust you is knowledge, so provide that additional information for diners – that is part of your marketing strategy. If you need help developing your marketing strategy in this difficult time, reach out to Cherry Consultancy. For all your food photography needs, I’m here to help. You can find out more about what I do here.