Here are four cost-effective tips to drive interest in your restaurant’s most important day.
As a restaurateur, you know all too well just how much time and effort you have put into hiring the right staff, creating an interesting menu, developing on-premise collateral, and selecting a location that is sure to drive butts in seats. Your team has countless hours invested. Don’t allow your hard work to fall flat by missing the last crucial step: telling guests you exist!
1. “Build” excitement
Just like your operations, your restaurant marketing must start long before your grand opening. Whether breaking ground on a new location or retro-fitting a building that already exists, make certain to post signage that your restaurant is coming soon. This can be in windows or on chain-link fences surrounding the construction site. Anytime a business closes or construction equipment makes an appearance, the community is curious. Use that curiosity to your advantage by sharing information.
2. Be a good neighbor
Your real estate team spent a lot of time and effort putting your restaurants in thriving neighborhoods and schools or on a street with easy access to a busy office park. Now take advantage of all their hard work. Attend events in your community, and go armed with information on your restaurant, opening dates and coupons that encourage trial.
3. Get social
Start creating a following on social media long before the opening. Set aside a modest spend for paid social to geo-target the area. Hint: 10.2 miles is the ideal proximity for restaurant marketing. Encourage people to LIKE/FOLLOW your pages and handles. Then, provide regular updates on the progress. And, depending on budgets, consider hosting a pre-opening event for social fans. This is a great way to engage fans, as well as a soft opening for your staff to identify any necessary operational adjustments.
4. Alert the influencers
Historically, the food and restaurant sections are among the most read in print and online versions of local papers. Given this, it’s smart to make friends with those reporters.
Invite these reporters and editors into your restaurant before you open, for a “VIP” experience. Treat them to a free meal or and the opportunity to check out your new space and take photos. Invite everyone personally, send an invitation and follow up with phone calls. If your restaurant has access to a local chef, offer a cooking segment on a local TV morning show to highlight the cuisine offered at your restaurant.
These small but effective tips will ensure that you’ve created the proper buzz necessary to drive interest before, during and after your opening.