COVID-19 is continuing to devastate the United States, leaving restaurant owners struggling to find the “right way” to reopen. While the majority of businesses have been granted permission to open their doors again, it's a continuous struggle to attract customers.
Even though we can't open at 100% capacity just yet, using creative marketing strategies will help you maximize on the patrons that do come to your establishment. So, how do you market your business during COVID-19 to get the largest return on your marketing investment? By following these marketing tips, restaurant owners can dramatically increase customer attraction.
1. Make it very clear to customers that you’re open.
Rather than repeating the same, “Come see us, we’re open,” message every day on social media, consider posting something like:
"Join us from [insert new hours here] for a romantic meal with your partner. Our tables are spaced six feet apart and we are only filling 50% of our capacity–allowing you to hear your partner and making for the ideal intimate date experience."
By elaborating and getting more creative with your “we’re open” messages, not only will you get your point across, but you’ll increase your engagement and attract more attention. As mentioned in our last post, it’s absolutely vital that you update your website, social media, and Google listing to show your new hours. These simple, yet effective, restaurant marketing strategies will also save you time answering phone calls about whether or not you’re open and what time you close.
2. Market your restaurant during COVID-19 by announcing the safety measures you’re taking.
Your customers are risking their lives every time they visit your restaurant. Given this fact, it’s important that you show them just how much you value their patronage by announcing the steps you’re taking to keep them safe on social media. So market your restaurant with COVID-19 safety in mind.
At this time, social media is more prevalent than ever given that most people are stuck at home on their phones all day. You should be on all platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. If a big portion of your consumers are Gen Z or Millennials, consider giving TikTok a try as well.
Equally promote your dine-in, takeout, drive-thru, and delivery options (if applicable). If you are temperature screening your employees, let your customers know. If you’re regularly disinfecting your restaurant, they’ll want to know that too. Most importantly, if you require customers to wear masks upon entering your restaurant, they should know this before they arrive.
The CDC has announced that there is no evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted through consuming or handling food, which is important to bring up in your marketing efforts. Linking to the CDC article will help your customers who are still skeptical feel better about ordering from you.
3. Consider offering discounts to market your restaurant during COVID-19.
Lots of restaurants are finding ways to offer free delivery despite the fact that they’re struggling. This is possible through third-party delivery companies like UberEats, Waitr, DoorDash, or Postmates.
Contrary to popular belief, there are ways to offer discounts without bankrupting your restaurant. For example, bundling foods into meal packages and offering “family packs” is a great way to help you generate more revenue and help people feed their families. By increasing the average check amount, you gain room to offer discounts.
If you decide to offer free delivery or some sort of discount, the best way to promote it is through social media. Google My Business allows you to create posts on your Google listing that are good for 7 days and are a great way to offer discounts to those searching for a place to eat. Consider creating Facebook or Google ads to promote your new deals as well, or simply spreading the word by regularly posting about them across your platforms.
4. Reach out to your consumers.
With boredom reaching new heights, your loyal customers are spending more time checking their emails, engaging with social media, and keeping up with their loyalty programs. Now is the time to ramp up your email marketing and social media campaigns, letting your loyal followers know what you’re up to. A marketing note to them describing the COVID-19-related changes you’ve made for their safety will go a long way.
Simple conversation can go a long way as well. With so many people struggling right now, responding to customers that tag you in posts or comment on yours may just be the highlight of their day. Enhancing your customer experience by making them feel heard is one of the best ways to build loyalty.
Keep up with the latest information on marketing your restaurant during the COVID-19 crisis by checking out the Bizzuka blog. Updated weekly with new information.