Restaurant marketing tips during COVID-19

Restaurant marketing tips during COVID-19

July 21, 2020, 03:15 PM UTC

COVID-19 has completely changed the way independent restaurants do service. So, it’s no wonder that the pandemic has also shifted the way you market to your guests. As history tells us, now is the time to be more vocal than ever. Here are some tips on how to create the right channels and strategies to connect with your guests in this new normal.

Establish Your Goal

Times have changed, which means maybe your reasons for communicating with your customers have too. Take a moment to establish why you want to be marketing to your guests at this time. Goals can include things like:

Establishing a goal helps you identify what you are working towards and allows you to define what metrics of success you want to be tracking. When you can track your progress you’ll be more able to adapt your marketing strategy over time.

Keep Customers Informed

As you begin to reach out to your customers during COVID-19, start with the basics. Make sure to cover:

  • If and when your restaurant is open
  • What type of dining services you’re offering
  • How you and your staff are doing

If your restaurant is open, it’s also incredibly important to share what safety precautions you are taking to ensure the safety of your staff and customers.

Pro tip: If you don’t have these measures and communication in place, you are not ready to reopen. Trust20 offers tons of useful tips and resources for restaurants looking to set the bar higher for staff and diner safety.

All that being said, make sure your rotate your content and messaging to balance between the pandemic, interesting stories going on at your restaurant, and the everyday food or interactions you are still able to offer. Switching around topics will keep our feeds fresh, but never stray too far from the reality of your day-to-day.

How to Communicate with Guests

Once you’ve sorted what you want to be communicating with people, it’s time to get your message out there. Here are some of the best channels to market to your guests through:

  • Social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter—maybe even TikTok! Use the platforms that fit your business, and leave the rest behind. These are all social media channels where you can share photos, videos and links to share your announcements and stories. (And yes, maintaining a social media presence is worthwile even if you have a website!)
  • Email: If you’ve been collecting your guests’ emails, put them to good use! Email newsletters are a direct pipeline into your customer base.
  • Your website: Your restaurant website is where your customers come to you. Make sure all your COVID-19 related information is up to date and use your website as another place your customers can stay informed. For example, check out what Chicago's All Together Now is doing.

Pro tip: Coordinate your messaging. If you are posting about your new online ordering options on your website, be sure to push them to your social and email the same day or week for maximum impact.

Best Practices for Outreach

You have enough to navigate as an open restaurant during a pandemic. Keep these tips in mind to get maximum impact from your restaurant’s marketing efforts:

  • Be transparent and honest with your customers. If they know they can trust your restaurant, the safety practices you have in place, and the care you are giving to your staff, your guests will be even more invested in your restaurant.
  • Stay empathetic and informed. Your customers are having an equally crazy time getting through COVID-19. Stay on top of the news and what’s going on locally and nationally so you can be mindful in your messaging.
  • Diversify your advertising. Are their like-minded bakeries, breweries or distilleries you want to partner with? A local influencer who could help introduce you to a new audience in your city? Make those connections to reach a wider range of people.
  • Don’t act like it's business as usual. If big holidays roll around, think about pulling back big celebrations and instead focusing on well-being. Handle these national moments with care before doing what you have always done.
  • Highlight your community. Shout out what other restaurants are doing around you. Give some social media love to your fellow industry colleagues on your street. See if there are ways to do a promotion together. Remember, at the end of the day, we’re all in this together.

[Photo: Norma Mortenson via Pexels]