It cannot have escaped your attention that the world has changed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The restaurant industry has arguably hit hardest of all. Financial challenges, nationwide lockdowns, and a general sense of trepidation have left consumers less likely to eat out than ever before.
With appropriate marketing, you can still attract customers. Despite understandable concerns, consumers are looking for normality and reassurance that life will go on. Before launching a marketing campaign, however, consider your approach. The techniques used before Coronavirus may no longer be relevant. Think about what matters most to your customers and channel your marketing efforts into these areas.
Many diners will be risk-averse, so prove that you are taking their safety seriously. Building evidence of this into your marketing approach will reassure visitors that your restaurant remains a safe haven.
Personal hygiene is always important in the restaurant trade, but now more than ever. Customers will not consider visiting you if they doubt your safety protocols. Emphasis on hygiene is more impactful than pretending its business as usual: make it clear that all staff will wear protective face coverings, insist upon customers using hand sanitizer upon entry, and consider taking the temperature of any visitors. Most critically, build a marketing campaign around these steps, this will reassure people that they will be safe visiting your restaurant.
Before COVID-19, the sight of a busy, bustling restaurant with every table full inspired confidence. These days, the same vision is likely to spark fear and panic. Limit how many diners you will accept at any sitting, leaving empty tables between each party. Use photographs of this in your marketing strategy, this reassures customers that you are not prioritizing profits over safety.
In addition, consider embracing online ordering of food and drinks, this minimizes the time that waiting staff needs to spend near diners. Also, make it clear in your marketing that tables must be booked in advance. No drop-ins will be permitted, thus reducing footfall.
Does your restaurant offer outside dining options? If not, maybe it’s time to consider terraced tables and alfresco eating. Many people feel more comfortable outside at the moment. Weather and temperatures will obviously have an impact on how realistic this is. Simply offering the opportunity can make a big difference.
Focus on Existing Customers
As customers are taking a safety-first approach, they will likely prefer to stick with what they know. The immediate aftermath of a global pandemic is not the time for experimentation. This can play to your advantage. Customers will seek to return to which previously brought them joy. Personally contact your regulars by text message or email. Explain that you are open for business and will welcome them back with (metaphorical) open arms. Remember the golden rule – customers always want to feel valued.
Even existing customers may need convincing to return. Make it worth their while by offering a discount. The pandemic may have impacted your bottom line, but some business is better than none. This will bring a smile to the face of your customers, who will welcome the opportunity to be reunited with an old friend. The impression of a personal, bespoke discount will make the occasion even more special. You can see here how our Snappmeal app can help you to promote your exclusive discounts to your new and existing customers.
Offer Healthy Eating Options
Eating habits have been a common casualty of COVID-19. Many people have struggled to maintain a healthy lifestyle. People that ate out regularly before the pandemic likely struggle to prepare healthy food at home. This could be the crux of a marketing campaign. Tempt customers into returning by offering nutritious food, the general public is already more health-conscious than ever before, by making it clear that your restaurant offers wholesome eating options, you’ll pique interest.
Reconsider Your Marketing Message
Marketing is tough in 2020. You need a balance between avoiding upsetting conversation without burying your head in the sand. Ignoring COVID-19 is not reassuring, it will become an elephant in the room that makes potential visitors uncomfortable. Make it clear that you understand the impact of Coronavirus on your customers – both physically and emotionally – and that you are doing all you can to manage this. A little humor may go a long way, just avoid causing offense to those personally impacted by the virus.
Ultimately, keep things positive. Market your restaurant as a safe place for customers to relax, enjoy a good meal, and escape the four walls of their home. Make this your brand’s core purpose. At this stage in human history, safety and comfort are more important to consumers than exclusivity and elitism.
Where to Advertise and Market a Restaurant in a Post-COVID World
Focus on free marketing, such as social media. There is little point in spending on billboards and posters, very few people are outside unless they need to be. This leaves many experts predicting a sharp upturn in the importance of social media marketing. Use relevant hashtags, including those related to COVID-19. Be careful what you are attaching your brand to, though. You do not want your restaurant associated with arguments or antagonism. Locate trending topics and draw the conversation into cheerier terrain.
If you need more help and advice with your marketing campaign post-COVID, Snappmeal is ready to help. We can offer a one-month free trial, and we’re confident that we can work together to achieve great things in these challenging times.