Storytelling, Restaurant Marketing & You

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Engage with your customers by sharing your personal journey in the restaurant industry.

What’s the most compelling thing about your restaurant? Maybe it’s where you’re located. Or is it the name? It might even be the uniqueness of your menu.

What’s most compelling is the stories about all of those things that make your restaurant and the experience your customers will have there that is important.

Joel Cohen, speaking at the International Pizza Expo in 2015, put it best when he said, “give your guests something to talk about, and they’ll do your marketing for you!”

Use social media to tell your stories – from big to small – to create word of mouth, personal interest and intrigue. Kathy Klotz-Guest, of KeepingItHuman.com, says to keep it personal. Anchor your stories in a person (a customer or an employee and NEVER the company itself). Leave audiences feeling optimistic. Find the human need (reputation, community, belonging, creativity, etc.).

Were you or your chefs inspired by a family member to start cooking at an early age? Did you happen across a unique ingredient on a trip abroad for inspiration? Is your signature drink a special twist on a familiar classic?

Tell those stories across social media! It’s all supremely shareable content that will do wonders for your business. Have your staff pass those stories along to guests – those guests will then pass the word along to their friends, family and co-workers.

And of course, bring your employees and guests into that storytelling fold as well. Kirk Thompson, VP of Marketing at IHOP says “…there is an unlimited number of stories that are told by our guests, whether they are children or all the way up to seniors and everywhere in between. It’s just palpable the number of stories that we have that just organically come from those who have enjoyed coming to IHOP and everything that has happened over our history.”

Even if your restaurant isn’t as storied as an IHOP, your stories will still resonate with your audience. Just invite them in, show them what’s important to you and take them on a journey. Engage them early, engage them often and engage them in a credible way.

Your success will come down to more than the food that comes out of your kitchens and the drinks that slide across your bars.

As Scott Donaton said on fastcocreate.com, “Intrusive, interruptive, self-centered marketing no longer works the way it once did, and its effectiveness will only continue to diminish in the social age. The question is what will replace the legacy model. There’s a one-word answer: stories.”

Now it’s just up to you to find and tell those stories.

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 17+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
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