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Top Marketing Ideas for Cafés, Restaurants and Bars

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The hospitality industry is built on a simple premise. Everyone wants to eat, drink and be merry. Not only are these things fun, they are somewhat mandatory. If you aren’t eating, drinking, and being merry, life can get pretty hard pretty quick.

But an industry so essential brings with it a truckload of competition. The fight to be the “it” place in town is a constantly challenging one. If you’re not prepared to put up a marketing fight, you could soon find yourself wading through the hospitality backwaters, staring forlornly at your empty tables while you sip a house red.

Thankfully, being proactive in your marketing can avoid such a bummer scene. By taking on board a few of these hospitality marketing ideas, you could find yourself with a velvet-rope-bound queue in no time.

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Do Your Market Research

Trends come and trends go in the hospitality industry. Whether they be as simple as how you order, to as complex as how you’ve Feng-shuied your entire space, you need to keep an eye on consumer trends and what gets people excited.

Whether inspiration is taken from the internet (Pinterest is great for market research), or simply by visiting some of the most popular places in town, getting a feel for what works and what doesn’t is vital to keeping your business fresh and at the forefront of people’s minds.

The Necessity of a Solid Website

Think of your website as on online shopfront. Just like your actual shopfront, you want those windows spotless, that pavement swept, and a welcoming feel when people look in. If your website doesn’t look great and work well, you’re losing out on an inordinate amount of business.

Things that you want to aim for when it comes to your website include, but are not limited to:food-1050813_960_720

  • Solid local search engine optimization (being on the first page of Google when “café/restaurant/bar [your area]” is typed)
  • A mobile friendly site – a huge percentage of drinkers and diners look for new places on the run
  • An events tab, to give customers a fun reason to come
  • For eateries, an online reservation tool

Monitor review sites

Word of mouth is no longer limited to chatting to your friends over a coffee. Review sites have changed the game – now reputations are built and destroyed on word of mouth advice from total strangers via the internet. Sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp are the first stop of a large chunk of people who are thinking about trying somewhere new.

While you can’t control what a person writes in their review, you can control your response to it. Monitor restaurant review sites, thank those that leave positive reviews, and for those that leave a less than glowing review, always treat it as an opportunity to improve. Engage with the disgruntled party and try to fix what they called you out on. I can guarantee you that there is nothing more off-putting to a potential diner than when an establishment gets defensive about a negative review.

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Get Social Online

Who can say no to free marketing? It’s as simple as creating and maintaining a social media account. You’re on Facebook 75 percent of the day anyway, why not add another page?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram; all free to sign up and a terrific way to engage with customers. It’s not as simple as throwing up a simple profile though – you need to entice people to follow your account. Putting up exclusive offers or running competitions will give potential clientele value from their “like” or “follow.”

You can also leverage your followers’ email addresses for even more direct marketing opportunities. Why not use that super fancy Word invitation template and throw a special email-invite-only soiree for those loyal followers?

Get To It!

There is always something you can do to better your position in the hospitality market. Those that fall behind are those that sit on their hands, waiting for something to happen.

So be proactive! Carpe diem. Seize the freakin’ day.

That velvet rope is begging for company.

Michael Catford

Michael has a love of travel that quickly developed into a love of writing while he was trying to document his adventures. A bearded Australian with a taste for sport and beer, often simultaneously, the web content knowledge gained from running his own travel site has allowed Michael to expand his fields of expertise. We look forward to him sharing his thoughts as part of The Social Savior content team!

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