10 Steps Every Restaurant Owner Should Take to get Started with Marketing

Guest: Mr. Chip Klose https://www.linkedin.com/in/chip-klose-56880424/

Chip Klose Creative http://www.chipklose.com/

Restaurant Strategy Podcast  http://www.chipklose.com/podcast

For me so much of this starts with shifting your mindset. Yes there are things we can do… tactics we can put into practice, but none of them will work very well without a strategy. So that’s why my podcast is called RESTAURANT STRATEGY… and in fact I very often say on the show: “marketing of the thing can’t make up for the thing.” Real marketing work begins at a foundational level. You can’t have a mediocre product and then tell people through marketing that it’s great. It might work for a little while, but eventually people will learn the truth. The best way to market a business is to create a product or service that is so remarkable that people can’t help but love it and talk about it. Certainly we can think of a hundred examples of this. 

So to get started I think there are 10 things people can do right away. But we’re going to go through this list and you’re going to want to ignore the first 5. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve seen it happen over and over… but the last 5 are worthless without the first 5. We have to start by shifting your mindset. 

  1. Shift your mindset from selling to serving… Operate from a place of generosity. The late Zig Ziglar had this saying: “You can get anything you want in life, as long as you help enough other people get what they want.” Marketing isn’t about tools and tactics; it‘s about solving problems… creating a product that answer’s someone’s prayers. 
  2. Armed with that,  you’ve got to figure out who your audience is and what problem you’re solving for them. Identify a problem and then craft a specific solution to that problem.
  3. Figure out who your competitors are. Who else is trying to solve the same problem you are?
  4. Figure out ways to differentiate yourself from the competitors. (What are the stories only you can tell?) First, Last, Best, Most, Only. GO TO THE EDGES. No one remembers a “so-so” meal… be remarkable.
  5. Look around and make sure everything about the dining experience helps tell that story. Your lighting, music, menus, decor, service style, food, beverage, signage, website, social media pages, etc. is everything aligned? Every choice is an opportunity to communicate something to a potential customer.
  6. Identify all of the different areas of your business and sketch out a SMART plan for achieving them. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based.) For example, if I was a restaurant owner I would want to identify ways to attract new diners… and then find ways to build repeat business. I might want to build a strategy for private dining, and off-peak nights like Mondays and Tuesdays, and holidays, and takeout, and catering. You get the point. They are all different and thus require different plans.
  7. SEO and Citations… In fact, on episode #77 – with Kelly Cooper of Moz.com, we took a deep dive into SEO. The number one piece of advice she gives small business owners is to claim your Google My Business Page and fill it out. Then make sure your NAP information and hours match across the entire internet. So Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare… but then also your website and social media pages. You’d be surprised how often these don’t match. This is especially true during COVID-19. Hours are changing, services are changing. Stay current.
  8. Build out an e-mail marketing strategy. Yes I know this is #8 on the list, but right now I believe an e-mail list is a restaurant’s #1 asset! And it’s an easy 3-part plan. 1) Start a MailChimp account – it’s absolutely free for the first 2,000 people on your list. 2) Start building your list… I did an episode on my show – Episode #51 – where I shared 11 different ways to gather e-mail addresses from your customers. Maybe we can include that link in the show notes?  But the easiest way is to just ask them. Add a spot on your website to collect e-mails. Give comment cards at the end of the meal where you ask for e-mails. Add opt-ins on your reservation system. Those are just three ideas. 3) start sending e-mails once or twice a week… and I’m going to loop this back around to the very first thing: shift your mindset from selling to serving. Provide value to your list.
  9. Get organized… create a marketing calendar and use it. In fact I have a template that’s available on my website. Visit restaurantstrategypodcast.com and scroll down to the bottom of the page. You’ll see a spot to enter your e-mail address… fill it in and I’ll send you the template I’ve used for the past 10 years.
  10. Create a vision for the company and make sure everyone understands it. How many of your customers do you actually interact with on a daily basis? To make this point I’m going to use a sports analogy… Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this in a New Yorker piece like 10 years ago and then talked about it on one of the early seasons of his podcast, Revisionist History… but basketball is a superstar game. You can anchor your team with one or two GREAT players and win a title… it’s because with so few players on the court, they can get a lot of touches over the course of a game. They can have a bigger impact on the outcome. Compare that to a game like soccer… much bigger field, twice as many players… and a team is only as good as the worst player. There’s data to prove it. Go check out that episode of Revisionist History. And the thing is… Restaurants are more like soccer… Again, how many of your guests do you actually get to interact with on a weekly basis? Your staff are the ones you’re actually entrusting to execute that vision. So if you think the people in your organization don’t matter, you could not be more wrong. Your reservationists, hosts, servers, bussers, managers… all of them are on the front lines with the guest. And then in BOH, the line cooks are the ones actually executing the pickup. Yes, the chef hopefully gets eyes on everything before it goes out, but it’s the staff… right? They are the ones you are trusting to execute the vision. Hire carefully, train thoroughly, and build an environment where staff will want to work and customers will want to dine. Set a vision for your company… why do you exist, who are you here to serve, what problems do you solve, and how can you invite your team in and make them integral to the organization


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