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Why Local Restaurants Should Invest in Internet Marketing

  
  
  
austin local food restaurants resized 600

As a resident of Atlanta and self-proclaimed foodie, I have encountered the best and worst of both worlds when it comes to the digital presence of local restaurants. I am consistently disappointed with the way so many restaurants fail to properly use Internet marketing. There are many great experiences, and I am grateful for them.

However, it seems the majority of my favorite eateries are either too busy or just do not care. Even though I continue to dine at these places, I cringe when I try to Google search a menu using the official name or basic keywords/phrases and get nothing in return. Or worse, they have an inaccurate or dated web presence and lifeless social media, which is actually worse than having none at all. This persisting annoyance inspired today's blog. 

In this blog I have set out explain to restaurant owners why they should invest in Internet marketing and how they can get started or clean up their act. 

Lack of Marketing Causes Restaurant Failures 

FACT: Research shows that restaurant failures can be studied from economic, marketing, and managerial perspectives. ("Why Restaurants Fail" by H. G. Parsa, John T. Self, David Njite, and Tiffany King)

For the purposes of this blog, we are only focusing on the marketing perspective. Below I identified four marketing tools that are critical to a restaurant's success. Word of mouth is not enough. 

  1. Website

  2. Review sites and directories (Google places, Yelp, Bing)

  3. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare)

  4. Online deals/coupons (Groupon, Scout Mob, etc.)

Making your restaurant easy to find online by providing basic information in the above-mentioned forms is what your customers expect. People search online using their cell phones and desktops to decide on places to have their next meal. So who you are, what you offer and what makes you different from others restaurants should be easy to find. Not only that, customers want to know when are you open and when you host special events, promos, etc., where can they connect with you on the sites they frequent most like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Bing, Foursquare, etc. 

Because customers are searching online for lunch and dinner ideas. not to mention, the guy down the street does. Chances are that your competition already has a website and a marketing plan to gain and keep clients. If you are drawing a blank about what information you should put on your website, see the list below.

  1. The basics - location/address, hours.

  2. The food - menu with updated prices, details about ingredients (people need to know what is in it. For example, gluten-free, no msg, etc. It shows people you care about their healthy. 

  3. Show and tell - photos and videos of food, interior, happy customers

  4. Third party approval - reviews from Google, Twitter, Facebook, video testimonials. 

This stuff is not rocket science or brain surgery. I frequent a lot of places that have top-notch service and food, but put no effort into extending their brand to the digital landscape. I cannot figure out why. Other than not having the money or manpower to create and manage these sites. I am always tempted to reach out to restaurant owners and ask why they have let this very simple, yet essential part of their marketing fall by the wayside. 

Why Should Restaurant Owners Invest in an Internet Marketing Campaign? 

Because customers are searching online for lunch and dinner ideas. Not to mention, the guy down the street is doing it. Chances are your competition already has a website and a marketing plan to gain and keep clients. Take a look at the amount of Google searches that have happened over time for various restaurants. 

Google trends - interest over time for Italian, Mexican, Chinese, food trucks in Atlanta, 2010 – 2013

Google Trends Data for Restraurnat

If you are a local restaurant owner without a website or a Google places account, you could be earning a lot more revenue if you invested in an Internet marketing campaign. Download our free ebook below to get started.


Comments

Ron, 
your comments are spot on. I'm also an Atlanta resident. As a Internet Marketing Consultant I've targeted restaurants because they are the most searched for businesses by smartphone users.  
Google statistics show there are thousands of smartphone searches conducted each month for local restaurants. What should be noted is that a high percentage of those searchers are looking to visit a restaurant within hours after their search. As an owner why wouldn't you want to "Show Up" in front of individuals who are looking for your services on a daily basis? Sadly, most restaurants are unaware of the wide ranging benefits of having a solid web presence. 
Those benefits include higher revenues, better engagement with customers, higher retention rates of existing customers and lower marketing cost than "traditional" marketing mediums.  
As you've stated, marketing can make all the difference between success and failure. The Internet provides a dramatically effective and economically efficient medium to promote your brand and grow your business. All you've got to do is "Show Up". 
 
Drew Walker 
Walker Consulting Group 
404-434-8670  
Posted @ Monday, March 18, 2013 8:45 AM by Drew Walker
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