Competition is an engine for growth. No matter the industry, businesses that invest the time and money necessary to market themselves efficiently make the fiercest competitors. While every niche, market, and subset has its own challenges regarding advertising, the restaurant industry is especially competitive.
Differentiating your own restaurant, cafe, eatery, or other venues from the competition is essential if you want your business to thrive and grow. Launching an effective marketing campaign is a daunting task for any business owner trying to get their business off the ground. So where to begin?
Imagine sitting down and Googling "Explain the use of marketing strategies in food service" as a starting point. That is precisely our goal: to provide a concise explanation of hospitality-based marketing strategies so that you can move from learning to action and start strategising.
Restaurant marketing in today's world
What is food service marketing? The definition itself is fairly straightforward. It is the combination of tools, techniques, and best practices that marketing professionals use to attract business to their venue. It just so happens that the restaurant industry has its fair share of challenges when it comes to marketing campaigns.
How do you explain the use of marketing strategies for the food service industry given the temperament of today's economy, though? Let's take a look at the state of the world and how it impacts the industry's marketing efforts.
According to Fortune Business Insights, the global market for food service is worth more than 2.3 trillion US dollars as of right now. Experts expect it to reach more than 5 trillion by the decade's end. That tracks as consumer confidence has returned, with 67% of US citizens returning to public venues such as restaurants. On the bright side, metrics like this speak to a strong, surging market—but there's a hidden cost. The industry is a crowded space. Because the market is so full, eateries and cafes face two major challenges:
- Selling a service rather than a product
- Differentiating themselves from the competition
Unlike their retail cousins, restaurants have no concrete product to sell. Instead, they are selling an experience, which is a tricky thing to do. In order to appeal to potential customers, you have to hit upon universal values, as individual tastes are difficult to satisfy.
The second challenge applies equally to both food service venues and the industry at large. Advertising efforts have to be built around differentiating your hotel or eatery from the rest of the pack. Explaining the use of marketing strategies in hospitality and food service means asking the question, "What makes my business unique?"
Given the state of the world right now, cafe marketing is a subject worthy of careful consideration. Those willing to make the investment will see a near-instantaneous lift in their bottom line. In the next section, we'll take a look at that lift and answer the question, "Why is restaurant marketing such a big deal?"
Related: Research Reveals Key Challenges for Venues in Preparation for Peak Season
Why is food service marketing so important?
In the food service arena, your use of marketing strategies have to be on-point. You have to strategically plan all your marketing activities if you want to break free from the rest of the pack. When done right, hospitality and food service marketing can be a true game changer.
Let's go back to our sample query, "Explain the use of marketing strategies in hospitality and food service." We already know that restaurant marketing faces an eternal uphill battle. Whether you're a large-scale restaurant or tiny venue, you've got to separate yourself from the pack while simultaneously selling a universally appealing customer experience. Add to that the temperament of the modern customer.
In the post-COVID world, patrons and guests have come to expect certain conventions from the restaurants they frequent. They want a contactless, frictionless experience that speaks to their level of convenience. It's a tough task, but using a multimodal marketing approach that combines cutting-edge technology, industry best practices, and tried-and-true marketing techniques can help you make the most out of your operation's ad spend. Next, we'll give a crash course in marketing that can propel your venue forward.
Related: Mr Yum Joins the National Restaurant Association as an Industry Partner
Implementing your own marketing strategies
So far, we've given you a lot to think about regarding the overall hospitality industry and the implications this has on your marketing efforts. Now, let's talk strategy. Below are our favourite marketing techniques. Pick and choose the ones that are right for you, or meld them together into an ultra-effective pastiche of marketing acumen.
Build excitement around events
Whether you run a restaurant or own your own bed and breakfast, keep your eye on target by building attractive vacation packages aimed at your location's cultural strengths. This allows you to build a unique and signature customer experience based around local attractions and events. You'll find this kind of marketing speaks directly to your potential customers.
Foster local relationships
You can't build an effective business without forming deep and sincere ties to the community. Parlay with local vendors, attractions, historical sites, and restaurants in order to develop a killer end-to-end customer experience that will drive business through your door.
Lean into your web presence
According to PRE Newswire, an overwhelming amount of consumers (76%) conduct online research before making contact with the business in question. Online visibility is essential. Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is the art of improving your company's discoverability through major search engines.
It involves a mix of authoritative, high-value content, clever keyword usage, and digital community building, and it has a radical effect on your venue's bottom line. Lean in and take your "Name/address/phone number" visibility to the next level.
Don't forget traditional marketing avenues
Digital marketing methods are a must in modern-day advertising, but don't close the book on other, more traditional marketing modalities. Direct mail, TV, and even printed ads all play a role in a well-rounded marketing campaign. Pair them with email marketing or paid online advertising to propel your business even higher.
Implement modern solutions into your tech stack
Technology is the cornerstone of any marketing campaign. You have to use the tools available to you in order to extend your reach and present your brand in an attractive and enticing manner. With so many tech-based solutions on the market, how do you know which tools are absolutely essential additions to your tool belt? Let's look at a handful of tech that other industry professionals have put into play.
AI and chatbots
Customer service is the bedrock of a phenomenal customer experience. Customer care has to fire on all cylinders, 24/7, but that doesn't necessarily leave a lot left in the tank for your business's online services. The solution? Implementing machine learning, AI, and chatbots to help fill in the gaps in your digital customer service profile.
Restaurants have done an excellent job of using scannable QR technology to help streamline the customer experience. During COVID, QR code menus enabled contactless ordering, a practice that has persisted past the pandemic's reach. Through QRcode menus, you can truly give the modern patron the frictionless dining experience they crave. In other words, QR codes represent a minimal investment for maximum return.
Customer relationship management software
Imagine being able to anticipate the wants and needs of your patrons in advance. Imagine the calibre of customer experience that you'd be able to provide to your guests. Customer relationship management (CRM) software is as close to a crystal ball as you can get.
A CRM syncs with your ordering software, POS system, and all other links in your operational chain. From there, it is capable of pulling a wide range of information from each customer touchpoint, such as purchasing history and demographic information. As they say, information is power, especially when it's your job to sell the customer experience.
Start implementing your marketing strategy today
Adding tech solutions to your venue's operations is your ace in the hole when it comes to marketing strategy and elevating the customer experience. Unsure where to begin? Let Mr Yum do the heavy lifting for you. Contact us today to learn more about our complete array of services.