How to Market Your Culinary Career

If you run, or are thinking of opening a restaurant, bar or café, try these tips to make your place the best hotspot in town.

If your dream is to serve quality food to the masses, be it a restaurant, café, or bar, there are a myriad of ways you can market it to the people. Word of mouth is an invaluable marketing tool, and most reliable, but it can always be prompted by other means, like creating a website with WIX’s easy-to-use restaurants and food website templates. Try these tips to make your place the best hotspot in town.

Use the internet

Every business venture will need a website if nothing more than to show an air of professionalism. Creating a professional-looking website can be as easy as creating a good meal. It can store all your basic restaurant information as well as your hours, the menu, offers available and a booking option.

However, to market your establishment well will take a little more know-how. It is entirely possible to do it yourself, but it will take more work than to just keep an Instagram account running. Look into things like SEO, keyword research, and affiliate marketing to understand how to effectively get your name out there.

These methods will allow you to understand the importance of the data being collected in real-time, and how to implement effective changes. For example, SEO (or search engine optimization) will allow you to climb the ranks of Google’s search engine, so that when your customers search for “restaurants near me” your website will be the first thing they see. Keyword research allows users to find you by searching for certain keywords, so it is important to have the right ones associated with your site. Affiliate marketing allows you to pay for a mention in another brand’s content, be that a website, social media account, or blog.

And don’t forget the importance of engagement. The main difference between digital and traditional media marketing is that digital marketing allows for a two-way conversation. Social media, email newsletters, reviews and chat boxes all allow you to gain feedback and make changes in real-time.

Create a Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google My Business and OpenTable account to make it easy for your potential guests to find you and gain your restaurant information as well as offering a reviewing option that will increase your authority and appeal.

Aim for a demographic

One of the perks of online marketing is that you don’t have to cast the widest net possible. It’s actually more useful to hone in on a demographic and keep your target on them. Algorithms have whittled people down to a list of marketable identifiers, but you don’t have to be so precise.

Think about what you want your restaurant to represent and adapt everything about it to that. Location, menu, décor, etc. For example, is your restaurant near a university or a town full of students? Then perhaps rethink the fine dining menu full of expensive cuts of unheard-of meats in tiny portions and the upscale glamour aesthetic?

This extends to your marketing as well. If you are aiming for students, for example, social media will be a great friend. Design your website and social media profiles around the aesthetic of your restaurant and market offers that will appeal to them. Perhaps offer a takeout option for those who don’t want to leave their dorm or are hosting a study session, offer social events like quiz nights or date nights, etc. For a more adult target demographic, maybe play up the family-friendliness of your restaurant, if that is what you’re going for, or offer a limited menu for less money at quieter times during the day.

Host events

If you aren’t open yet, consider a soft opening. It acts as a trial run with a limited number of guests and a trial menu, meant to work out any kinks in your service. The experience will have your guests talking about their time at the newest spot in town.

And then there is the grand opening. Create buzz around your new restaurant or bar by inviting local social media influencers, critics or reviewers and a healthy mix of regular Joe’s just looking for a good night out. Add some extra entertainment to make it an event to be talked about and offer promotions while you market the night.

Think about your demographic again when going forward with events. What will entice them to stop by again? If it’s a more chill environment or a bar, would you be willing to offer live music or live comedy? Themed nights for bars? Or couples deals for more fine dining experiences? You can host charity events or sponsor local teams or businesses? Or dedicate a weekly night to trivia? Make sure you choose events that fit the demographic and aesthetic of your establishment.

The restaurant, café, and bar industry will always be around, but it doesn’t hurt to boost your voice above a crowded industry.

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