Implementing new tactics to increase volume, attract new customers, or adapt to the evolving landscape is an important part of a restaurant's success — but they are only effective if your customers know about them.
While word-of-mouth and review sites will always be important in driving customers to your restaurant, developing your own restaurant marketing strategy is critical to driving business and creating loyal customers.
Here's the good news: you don't need to become a marketing expert or pour thousands of dollars into hiring an outside agency to create a winter marketing plan for your restaurant. Instead, focus on the following key building blocks.
1. Keep your website up-to-date
77% of diners look at a restaurant's website before deciding to dine in or order out. That's all the reason you need to make sure your website has your current menu, operating hours, online ordering platform, location, and any other critical information for customers.
If you already have a website, do a quick audit to make sure it reflects your current menu and operating hours. Then, add Storefront so visitors can place an order directly from your site. Storefront orders are free of commissions and monthly fees, so you can make your website your most profitable online ordering channel.
Basu Ratnam, founder of INDAY, advised attendees at the Main Street Strong Restaurant Conference:
Make sure that your delivery channels are up to date. Ensure that titles and ingredient specifications are consistent. If you have a new item, put it in the title that it's new, so your delivery customers can see the work you're doing to expand your menu.
2. Keep it social
Your website isn't the only place customers will go to get the latest information about your restaurant. Be sure to share your current hours and website on your social media profiles. You can also use social media to run special promotions, which drives engagement and can increase your following. For example, Instagram allows you to add an "order food" button to your Instagram stories which will enable followers to easily place orders for your restaurant on DoorDash. For more guidance on social media, download our free Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Social Media Marketing.
And don't forget about other marketing channels like email. "Find new ways to market to your customers," advised Ratman. His team developed their own restaurant email list in order to stay in touch with regular customers.
3. Promote your delivery offerings
If you're new to the delivery world or just stepping up your game, you'll want to make sure diners know that delivery is an option. DoorDash reaches 85% of Americans so customers in your area will be able to easily find you on our platform. Plus, as a DoorDash restaurant partner, you'll receive an in-store marketing kit with decals, stickers, and more to let your customers know where to find you for delivery when the temperatures drop or in-person dining isn't an option.
4. Offer discounts and promotions
More than ever, consumers seek out discounts before making a purchase. Different promotions achieve different results, so be sure to identify the business challenge you’re looking to solve. Are you trying to generate sales? Increase ticket sizes? Drive loyalty? Focus on one or a few key goals and choose restaurant promotions that align with them.
DoorDash has tried-and-true restaurant marketing tools to help you drive customer acquisition and retention. Choose from our built-in promotions to make the most of your DoorDash partnership by improving your in-app placement, lowering delivery fees, and helping you reach new customers. DoorDash partners can sign up for in-app promotions directly in the Merchant Portal.
5. Don't forget about review sites
Google and Yelp are two of the biggest search platforms for restaurants, so be sure to claim your business pages on those sites and keep them up to date with your current hours, dining protocols, and anything customers might want to know in advance. The more information diners can find before arriving, the more likely they are to choose your restaurant.
What's your winter marketing plan?
When navigating today's evolving restaurant landscape, it's tempting to stop focusing on marketing — but it is perhaps the most important thing you can focus on. The more you reach out and engage customers, the more your business will grow.
For more marketing tips, download our free guide Getting the Word Out About Your Restaurant.
Partner with DoorDash to offer delivery and pickup and make the most of the winter months.