Tag: restaurant marketing

Discover your Restaurant's Target Audience

Do you know who dines at your restaurant? I don’t mean take a look around and see whose butts are currently in your seats. I mean, are the people that you wanted to target when you first thought about opening your restaurant the ones actually dining there? More importantly, do you even know WHO your target market is?

Before I go any further, it’s important to define what I mean by target market:

A target market is not who YOU WANT to sell your food to. Instead, it’s the type of people that are EXPECTED to buy what you’re selling.

You can’t open a vegetarian restaurant, hoping to target steak eaters. Similarly, you can’t open a steak house and expect your customers to be women who are passionate about eating healthy. Make sense? So how do you decide who to target?

Start with the facts.

What is your unique selling point? What makes your restaurant different than anyone around you? Or anyone in your same industry? Your unique selling point will drive the type of people who will frequent your restaurant. Take into consideration the following:

  • Age
  • Income Level
  • Education or job status
  • Marital status
  • Size of household
  • Housing/Rental prices
  • Local Businesses

Begin to create a fictitious profile of your average customer based on the above criteria.

What defines your target market?

What are the values, opinions, culture, lifestyle and topics of interest that makes up this demographic? If you can’t hire a marketing research firm to find out the information for you, consider doing the research yourself. Get to know the people in your area. Frequent shops, other restaurants, local events, etc. where your proposed target market shops, eats or hangs out to observe their character and buying habits. Check the social media profiles of these shops, as well as competitors, to see what customers love about these companies. See if there are any voids that need to be filled, which could lead to opportunities for your restaurant. Add these findings to the profile you began to create in step 1.

Does your target market live or work close enough to your concept to help support it?

Once you’ve defined the demographics and characteristics of your target market, are they anywhere near you? The U.S. Census Bureau is a great resource to use to find out. Type in your locations zip code, and the U.S. Census Bureau will spit out frequently requested data about your community (population, income, housing, etc… all the criteria you used to complete step #1!) Why is this helpful? If your marketing to college kids, but the nearest college is 30 miles away, your restaurant might have a problem. The closer your target audience is to your concept, the more likely they will come.

But it doesn’t stop there…

What is the generational profile of your target audience? Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen X’ers? Each group has different needs and values, which will effect your marketing messages and the platform you use for your target audience. For instance, Boomers are more likely to visit dining-in restaurants, while Millennials opt for delivery. Millennials rarely look to Facebook to keep up with brands, while it’s the predominant social network for Gen X’ers. Speak the language that best resonates with your target audience, give them offers that align with their values, and seek to connect with them on the platform where they can be found.

Whether your restaurant is established, or your concept hasn’t been built, learning about your target audience is a critical step to developing the right promotional strategy… and it’s never too late to get started. Give us a shout if you would like some assistance defining your audience. TweetFacebook us, or comment below!

If you want your website to earn money for you, read on.

When I opened my very first business I just knew that the day that we launched our perfect (or so I thought) website, that we were going to be overwhelmed with business.

We launched.  I waited.  Crickets.

It didn’t make any sense to me.  We had spent hours coming up with the perfect words. The perfect colors. The 10 Restaurant Website Hacks [Infographic]perfect pictures…and I think we probably had a whopping 100 visitors 3 months in.  Disappointing results to say the least.

But the nice thing about failures is the lesson that you have the chance to learn if you’re open to seeing it.

And although my first colossal website failure was not a restaurant website, the lessons can be applied perfectly to restaurant websites.

I read a surprising statistic in a study SinglePlatform and Chadwick Martin Bailey conducted (I would recommend giving this a read).

The study found that out of 1,497 surveyed consumers, 92% searched a restaurant website through a web browser in the last 6 months.

92%!  1,377 out of 1,497 people searched a restaurant website through a web browser!  Those numbers are ‘nothing to sneeze at’.

Bottom line: you need to have a website – a good one for your restaurant.  It’s that simple.

10 Website Hacks To Get More Customers Walking Through The Doors Of Your Restaurant:

  1. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes.  Then go through every piece of your website and observe the experience.  If it’s not easy and intuitive to follow, change it.  View every action to be taken as an experience, and make sure it’s a good one.
  2. Keep the design clean and simple.  See hack #1…remember what your customer is coming to your website for. So, for example, if your restaurant doesn’t have any outside seating, then there is no need to place a weather widget on your home page.
  3. Make sure it’s responsive.  Responsive means that your website is built to detect what type of device your customer is accessing your website from and automatically “responds” to make the viewing experience great.  In other words, minimizing the acrobatics (scrolling, changing orientation, etc.) while viewing your site.  If you don’t have access to a web developer or designer,  you don’t have to worry. There are tools to add responsive functionality to existing websites like the WPtouch Mobile plugin for WordPress sites. Just remember to add tools that are specific designed for the platform your website is built in.
  4. Create a digital menu in an easily readable format (no matter the type of device it’s being viewed on). Remember, it’s pretty hard to view a menu as a picture from a smartphone or even a browser.  At a minimum, a pdf is an option, but actual dedicated, responsive pages on your website is a considerably better way to go.
  5. Make the access point to your menu prominent.  Access to your menu needs to be so obvious that even the most technologically challenged person can’t miss it.  That study that I mentioned earlier found that 80% of consumers think it’s important to see a menu before they eat there.  It’s pretty hard to argue with those types of numbers.
  6. Place your address and phone number in a very visible and intuitive location.  The main reasons that your potential customers are visiting your restaurant website can usually be attributed to 1 or a combination of these 3 things: 1) your menu, 2) your address or, 3) your phone number.  And don’t forget your hours of operation.
  7. Add links to your social media profiles.  No matter what you do, people are going to take to social media to discuss their experience at your restaurant.  The easier you make it for your customers and potential customers to access these other communication tools, the better your chances are to stay on top of addressing feedback – good or bad.
  8. Use photos wisely.  See point #2.  The best photos to have on your website are professional ones.  But for many operators, it’s not feasible from a cost perspective.  The good news is that with the right app and a smartphone, you can still put together some pretty decent photos.  We’ll be showing you how next month with our Photography for Restaurants course.  Be on the lookout for details.
  9. Anticipate customer questions.  But more importantly, make it easy to help them find the answers.  You already know the questions you get asked repeatedly.  Make this a part of your website and therefore the experience.
  10. Add an “order online” function.  Again, there are tools available to add this functionality to sites – platform specific.  Try a Google search like “online+ordering+plugins” and see what results are returned for the platform your website is built on.

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I remember it like it was yesterday.  The steaming hot melted mozzarella.  The banana peppers.  The sautéed mushrooms.  The perfect crust.  And this sausage that practically melted in your mouth, with a flavor that could make you ‘slap your momma’.

Well not literally slap my mom, because that would’ve landed me on the floor, probably picking up some teeth.  But the point I am trying to make as I remember this pizza is that the sausage tasted so good…that you might just think for one, fleeting minute about slapping your momma!

It was from Italo’s Pizza in North Canton, Ohio.  I was 5.  It was 1978.  And though I haven’t had Italo’s Pizza in well over 20 years (mainly because I won’t visit Ohio between the months of September through April – leaves me a very small travel window), I know that I would patronize that place in a heartbeat (regularly) if I lived closer.

That was a really long way to say I freaking LOVE PIZZA!  I could eat it morning, noon and night.  I’ve tried so many different types of pizza from different places that I could probably write a book on all of the little things that made each place unique.

It’s my love of all things pizza that made me sniff out this piping hot story about a new pizza place (Blaze Pizza) coming to the Fort Lauderdale pizza shop market.  Not only have these guys actually come up with a genuinely fresh pizza concept, but they’ve managed to get some great press with titles like “Lebron James-affiliated restaurant…”.

Should the 12 other pizza joints within the 3-mile radius around the upcoming Blaze Pizza Cypress Creek location be worried?

Let’s see…hmmm…that would be a big fat YES THEY SHOULD BE WORRIED!  Because Blaze Pizza – marketing juggernaut.

Personally, I think it’s a great thing.  Blaze Pizza is simply raising the bar.  And if the existing places want to compete, they’ll do something about it.  And if they don’t…well I hear old Pizza Huts make great morgues (this is not a joke).

6 Marketing Lessons to be Learned from Blaze Pizza

  1. Their website is 100% built for their audience.  These guys have clearly identified a primarily millennial audience and they’ve nailed the way to connect with them.  It’s interactive.  It’s responsive.  And it’s FUN!
  2. They have mastered using Facebook to engage with their audience (more on that later).  I’m not going to name any names (of the existing pizza places near where Blaze will be)…but a Facebook group started in 2011 with 34 members is not quite going to cut it.  With the saturation of businesses on Facebook these days, it’s damn near impossible to get much in the way of organic engagement.  But these guys know the secrets, and they’re using them.
  3. Their Twitter feed is alive with the sound of music…well, maybe not music, but it is definitely alive.  People love this place and it shows.  They are very logically using hashtags and photos instead of an endless drivel of their daily specials that nobody really gives two [insert your favorite descriptive word here] about.
  4. They get Instagram.  They may only have 42 posts, but it’s not their profile that should interest you as much as the 7,197+ posts for #blazepizza.  That’s a lot of ‘free advertising’ if you ask me.  Write that down.
  5. When they have a grand opening, their events are kick-ass!  Free pizza for an entire day?  Yes!  Now that’s the proper way to get some good press young grasshopper.
  6. They are very much in touch with where the trends are heading.  I read a staggering statistic the other day that something like 72% of the U.S. population is overweight.  Seriously?  Almost three quarters of the population?  Not good!  Pizza could very easily be placed in the “no-no” category, right?  Blaze has the answer for that too – How do I know that before a slice of this sure-to-be heavenly pie passes through my lips that I will know exactly how many calories, protein and other stuff I will be consuming?  Because of this.  BRILLIANT!

Here’s the bottom line: the energy that these guys are creating with their marketing is contagious.  PEOPLE WANT TO EAT HERE and more importantly, tell the world about it.  This is the best kind of marketing for a pizza shop.  Heck, it’s the best type of marketing for any restaurant.

Do the places already in business stand a chance?  Sure.  But if they want to ‘blaze with the big dogs’, they’re going to have to heat up their marketing efforts or get out of the kitchen.

Operating a pizza place and have questions about the ways that you can boost engagement from your marketing efforts?  Shoot me an email.  I’ll be happy to spend a few minutes to discuss.  derek [at] exaktmarketing.com

Come back next Monday, July 14th for number 1 in my 6-part series detailing the 6 lessons above.  Or subscribe below to receive the post via email automatically.

You know how they say, “Someone’s always watching.”? Well, that same idiom goes for social media and online marketing. And that person “always watching” is me (along with the rest of Team Exakt)! I wanted to put together a list of my top social media pet peeves so anyone out there who is also watching and perhaps, exploring and evolving can take a step back to look at their brand on social media.

  1. Unresponsive Brands- If you have someone capable of tweeting or scheduling tweets, Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 1.19.43 PMthey should be able to respond or at the very least, throw me a ‘favorite’. Push notifications make Twitter very user friendly! Red Bull Tampa rocks on social media.
  2. Untimely Brand Posts- If I’m checking my social media accounts in the morning (as I always do… morning routines FTW) and I see your happy hour specials at 7 a.m., I’m uninterested. Let’s see those specials 1 hour or less before they start. Like many others, I have a lot going on each day and I’m going to forget about your specials or event postings if they come earlier than your business even opens. Plus, those awesome happy hour specials that you’re posting will get lost in the abyss that is the news feed.
  3. Facebook Links on Twitter- You may have, at one point in time, scratched your head and thought, “My Facebook fans are much different than my Twitter followers.” And you thought right! Connecting your Facebook to Twitter may seem convenient but it is not attractive in the least. Facebook allows you to bare your soul and be as descriptive as possible with your posts while Twitter does not (140 characters or bust, baby). Twitter users are kind of like Jimmy Johns customers, they like it fast. Get your message out there and put a creative brain behind it so it sounds awesome and you can rack up those retweets! I solemnly swear to never click a Facebook link on Twitter, who’s with me??
  4. Automated Direct Messages on Twitter- I truly dread seeing a direct message notification pop up because 80% of the time it’s a spambot telling me how they lost 15 pounds (by the way, I report you!) and the other 20% it’s from an account that has a populated Followers list. Either way, I don’t care about that message and I know there are others who support the idea that this technique of thanking your followers is an annoyance. You know what will really say, “Thank you for following me, we think you’re awesome too!”? An interaction.
  5. Brands Stealing Photos- I know at this point in the Internet’s life, all photos seem “up for grabs” but something just makes me want to hide when I see a brand using a photo that isn’t theirs. First of all, copyrights do still exist. Second, many a time I see these photos they’re not even good quality or they’re in poor taste. Be honest: Did that stolen meme or “someecards” image really sell a bottle of wine at your restaurant the day of posting? I get that for some business owners who are also running their social media, it’s important to get your personality across so your brand doesn’t look dull. I just think there are better ways to accomplish that and social media is after all, a form of restaurant marketing.

I hope that these social media pet peeves have helped you or at the very least entertained you! If you think I’m way off or have a bigger pet peeve to share, let’s tweet about it.

P.S.- Red Bull Tampa Bay did end up bringing Red Bull to the office! Thanks again!

Lately, I’ve been focusing on the experience that customers have when at restaurants (stay tuned for some exciting news about that!) and when I saw a photo that a friend uploaded on Instagram, I was inspired!Check Presentation

The photo (featured to the right, thanks Xavier!) was taken at Founding Farmers, a restaurant in Washington, DC. The photo had a caption that read, “The check is in the mail! Please raise the flag when you’re ready.” How fun is that?

At Exakt, we’re always on a quest to find interesting and unique ideas for our Tampa restaurant marketing clients. When I saw this photo, it was like a light bulb went off and I thought back to a couple of unique check presentations that I’ve recently encountered. Hamburger Mary’s gives you the check in a stiletto; Oxford Exchange presents the check in an antique book. All small details that can improve the experiences that their customers have!  And hey, it probably numbs the sting a bit when a check is delivered in a unique fashion. Not so much focus on what the check says but more about how the check was delivered… 😉

So, restaurant owners, I ask you this…does your restaurant create a unique experience for your diners? If so, does that experience end abruptly with the check presentation? Think about it! Although a small detail, it’s something that your customers will remember and appreciate.

And for the diners out there, I’m eager to hear if anyone else has been to a restaurant with a unique check presentation! Please let me know either in the comments below or on Twitter!


P.S I’ll be the guest of #MediaChat this week on Twitter and we’ll be discussing the customer experience! Thursday night at 10pm, hope you can join!

It’s no secret … we at Exakt Marketing love food and we love to eat … which is why we love to design restaurant websites and to provide restaurant marketing! We have the honor of working with both national brands like Original Hooters and Hungry Howie’s as well as great local brands like Green Lemon and Green Iguana Bar & Grill to name a few.

And we also love working with new restaurants. Sitting down with other people that are passionate about food to discuss brand vision, menu planning, restaurant marketing approach, restaurant websites, social media presence, online reputation management and restaurant mobile apps really gets us jazzed up. So we were inspired to create a new product offering specifically for restaurants that are just starting out or those that have been around for a while but that would like to refresh their brand presence on a limited budget.

Introducing Out2EatLocal.com, the most affordable and complete restaurant marketing packages available! Whether you’re primarily interested in the do-it-yourself approach, or if you’d like us to handle all of the details, the team at Exakt Marketing is ready to help restaurant owners establish or refresh their online presence to drive business through the door. Our packages include:

  • Professionally designed, responsive and easy to maintain restaurant websites
  • Social media setup (details vary depending on the package selected)
  • Claiming and optimizing profiles on the leading review sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon, depending on the package selected
  • Table tents and business cards (depending on the restaurant marketing package selected) and lots of other a la carte items

Visit the following links for more information on Out2EatLocal.com, How it Works, Restaurant Website Designs and Restaurant Marketing Package Pricing, or give us a call at 888-949-5487 ext. 2 to speak to someone on our team. In the meantime, don’t forget to download our free white paper by submitting the form below: Restaurant Marketing 101: The Restaurateur’s Guide to Doing It Right.

Download the Restaurateur’s Guide to Marketing

Fill out my online form.

You won’t drive sales by posting on Facebook. In order to have a successful restaurant social media presence, you’ve got to lay off the sales push and focus on your relationship with your customers. Sure, on the surface social is a great avenue to promote upcoming events, specials, deals, etc. But it goes beyond that.

Your absolute main focus should be customer service and the experience that you’re creating for customers online. You’d think that this would be obvious to professionals in the restaurant industry, but it’s not unlikely to see restaurants on Facebook sharing their “daily deal” and then disappearing… leaving customers with unanswered questions, concerns, and even compliments – I can’t take it any longer! So, I had to share what must have been a secret. 😉

If part of your restaurant marketing strategy is to post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc., you’ve got to realize that getting word out there is just half of it; your response to those engaging customers is the other. Here are a few tips to keep in mind after that post gets blasted to the social media world.

  1. Acknowledge as many customers individually as you can. Whether it’s a “like” or a personal shout out, make them feel special and build that relationship! The stronger the relationship, the more likely they’ll think of you next time they’re looking for a restaurant to go to.
  2. Don’t let too much time pass. Let’s say you post a photo of one of your appetizers on special that night and a customer responds with a question and then no one replies… you just missed a huge opportunity to engage and influence that customer! (Example to the right is from the Green Lemon in Tampa.)
  3. Be human. Don’t be afraid to use “I” instead of “we” and let your personality come through. Customers will feel much more connected to you if they know a person is behind the scenes.
  4. Download social media applications so you don’t miss out on an opportunity! Facebook Pages, Twitter and Instagram all allow you to set up push notifications so you know what your customers are saying in real time.

Of course there is always the issue of time, but if you’re going to post, you better have a reaction plan in progress! If you cannot personally commit to looking after your restaurant’s social media presence, turn to a trusted employee or social media marketing professional.

And the thought I’ll leave you with tonight is… no one likes to be ignored, especially when it comes to an industry where customer service could make or break you. So, like your mama always said, “treat others the way you’d like to be treated!” and if yours truly could add to that… “this includes online!!”