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By Dana Krook
The pandemic has been tough on all restaurateurs. One of the biggest challenges (aside from the sheer financial burden), has been atmosphere – the absence of guests’ conversation and laughter as they celebrate an occasion, reconnect with friends, or simply wind down their day in your cafe, dining room, or bar.
Dine-in service has started up again at many restaurants, but with safety concerns at the forefront of everyone’s mind, the relationship with your guests look a little different now. This means your restaurant marketing strategies need to change to reflect how your guests feel about restaurants today, which can range from very nervous, to excited and eager to support you.
Putting yourself in the shoes of your various customer segments can help you create and implement a plan for reopening that will let your guests know you understand their mindset and that you’re committed to delivering an outstanding – and safe – dining experience tailored to their needs.
In this article, we’ll cover how you can adjust your restaurant marketing strategies for five new types of diners:
Let’s dig in!
The pressure is on for restaurateurs to recover lost profits, which means you can’t afford to neglect any guests. For example, if you only focus on your eager customers, you might cause more hesitant diners to think you’re not taking the public health crisis seriously, or to lose trust in you and take their business elsewhere.
Spend some time assessing the different types of guests you have, and think about their concerns and expectations when you’re creating your new restaurant marketing strategies. The key to achieving restaurant recovery is to find ways to serve each group so they all have a good experience.
While safety should be your top priority when serving any guest, your marketing efforts can emphasize various elements of your new offerings for different guests. For example, some of your messages can highlight dine-in safety measures like a new floor plan, while other messages can focus on contactless delivery options.
Before you get to work on your new restaurant marketing strategies, you need to understand how to position your brand and create marketing campaigns that will resonate with each type of guest. This requires digging into your data to categorize your diners into groups. Or, if you don’t have any data yet, you can gather information directly from your guests.
Technology is your friend in this process. You can use customer relationship management (CRM) software – which could be part of your reservations platform or your loyalty program – to collect and organize information about your restaurant guests.
Once you have some information at your fingertips, use your software to build customized guest profiles, which can include everything from a guest’s name and contact details, to notes on their dining preferences and food allergies. You can use this valuable data to deliver a personalized restaurant experience to each of your guests, putting you on their “know, like, and trust” list – as well as in their calendar for a coffee break tomorrow or dinner next weekend.
Want to know how your guests feel about your restaurant in the wake of COVID-19 so you can market to them effectively and offer great service? Don’t underestimate the power of simply asking them! Send a survey to your email list to find out what’s top of mind for your guests. This will further help you categorize them into distinct groups.
This group of guests has been feeling cooped up at home over the past few months, and they’re eager to reconnect with the outside world. They’re missing in-person connection and craving the familiarity of pre-pandemic life. While most of these diners do care about safety, they want the world to return to normal, which means they’re more than ready to dine at your restaurant again.
Restaurant Marketing Strategies for The Eager Beavers:
This crowd is cautiously optimistic. They’re eager to dine out again, but still a little wary of dining inside a restaurant. These guests want to balance social interaction with safety and enjoy a delicious meal in the process. Plus, who doesn’t love a good patio session? If your restaurant has a patio, you’re well positioned to wow this group. Even if you don’t have an outdoor space, you can still use some of these tips.
Restaurant Marketing Strategies for The Patio Lovers:
These guests are tired of home cooking and want to enjoy food from their favorite restaurants, but they’re not comfortable dining in while COVID-19 is still a threat. This group cares about supporting local businesses, and they’d rather pick up their order from you directly than use a third-party delivery service. Here are a few ways you can show these guests some love.
Restaurant Marketing Strategies for The Takeout Enthusiasts:
This group is also craving restaurant food, but they want to interact with restaurants and staff as little as possible during the pandemic, which means they prefer delivery over takeout. You can show these guests that you’ve got their back by focusing on creating a great, contactless delivery experience and promoting it widely. Here’s how to make it happen.
Restaurant Marketing Strategies for The Delivery Die-Hards:
These folks haven’t really been enjoying restaurant food in any way lately because of fears about the spread of COVID-19. They want to wait and see how the pandemic plays out and if a second wave is likely to hit before they venture out into the world again. These diners will be some of the last to return to your restaurant. So, how do you get them to come back?
Restaurant Marketing Strategies for The Extra Cautious Crowd:
If you take the time to put robust health and safety measures in place at your restaurant and invest in smart technology like reservation software, you can better market your restaurant reopening. By taking these steps, you can promote a safe and comfortable experience for guests of all kinds – even those that are still wary of dining out.
Check out the TouchBistro Restaurant Reservation System to learn more about how you can welcome back dine-in guests with ease.
Dana is the former Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, sharing tips for and stories of restaurateurs turning their passion into success. She loves homemade hot sauce, deep fried pickles and finding excuses to consume real maple syrup.
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