The food business is a very competitive marketplace, and for every hot new opening there are lots of other independent restaurants and takeaways struggling to get sales moving in the right direction.
At FOODit we’ve been working with independent restaurants long enough to know that those that don’t keep on top of their marketing are often far less likely to survive. This is perhaps one of the key reasons why independents are missing out on sales that the big chains are attracting.
But the tools to compete effectively are readily available to independents, and it’s not necessarily a question of big budgets. Some of our most prosperous clients have shown us that Facebook can be a cheap and relatively easy way to fight for local market share.
With the help of these successful restaurants and takeaways we’ve identified some simple steps that independents can take to build loyalty in their local area - making the most from their website, their Facebook site, and their existing customers to grow their sales.
Here’s our 4 steps to effective restaurant Facebook marketing:
- Make a Facebook page for your business and encourage local friends, family and regular customers to like it and check-in.
- Ensure you have your own professional website with a nice simple online ordering or table booking system
- Keep posting a variety of interesting pics, videos, links and messages to your Facebook page, about your restaurant and food as well as other topical subjects, with links back to your website so people can place orders or book tables. Post promotions on your website too and remind visitors to ‘like’ your Facebook page.
- Once your Facebook page has over 30 'likes' run a regular low cost Facebook advertising campaign to your FB followers AND their friends. A good topic for the ads could be new dishes on your menu, or a discount promotion.
So... how does Facebook advertising work for restaurants?
Facebook ‘native’ advertising allow you to post advertising messages to the timelines of your followers, and their friends, or people who fit specific criteria. You can set a geographical range and other restrictions on who sees your ad, to keep costs down and make it more effective.
You may only have 30 or so followers for your restaurant page, but by advertising to these local people AND their friends, your ad will reach a much bigger chunk of your local community. For example, if on average each person has about 50 local friends, this means your ad is going to reach 1,500 local people (30x50).
The cost of such a carefully targeted ad will not be high and can be scheduled to run up to a fixed budget, once a month for example. Every time your ad is seen you are simply reminding this local audience about your restaurant and your food, and when these people decide to order a meal in future they will be more likely to think of your business.
As orders increase from this targeted group of Facebook users, you can expect more of them to ‘like’ your page. This can be encouraged using messages in your restaurant, on your website, and on your Facebook page. You can even run special promotions just for Facebook followers, to give them an incentive to follow you.
The holy grail of Facebook marketing - a free marketing channel to your customers
Over time, your number of Facebook followers will increase to the point where you may hardly need to pay for advertising at all - just by posting news, promotions and food pics to your timeline you will be reaching all those followers and reminding them of your business for free.
It’s important to be creative and post interesting or entertaining content to your timeline. You can also offer rewards to your followers occasionally to keep interest up. It is very important to learn to manage negative feedback that gets posted to your page too - there are lots of help guides available for this online, so be prepared.
Although Facebook is not going to reach every potential customer, it does have a very wide reach across most demographics - plus the great advantage of allowing highly targeted advertising, and the potential to give you your very own free marketing channel.
We’ve seen small independents that mastered Facebook marketing take and retain significant market share in their area (eg: Golden Cod Takeaway in Thorne DN8). If your restaurant or takeaway is getting the food right but getting the marketing wrong, our 4 steps to Facebook marketing success could be just what’s needed to turn things around.