Grand opening. The phrase is both exciting and terrifying. A new restaurant is full of potential and possibilities. But one of the first great challenges is to get the word out. The task is more complex when it’s an independent restaurant, because you may be going it alone.
Here’s some advice based on direct experience, straight from Cacie Waller, a veteran social media and email specialist with SM3, the full-service online marketing team at Fishbowl.
- Build buzz with consistent social media posts prior to launch. Regular Facebook posts about the progress of the restaurant are key to getting the attention of potential guests. Post pictures showing your progress: the sign on the front of the restaurant being put up, your servers’ uniforms, menu “reveals,” your team setting the tables the day before opening, etc. These updates may seem mundane to you, but they’re a great way to build anticipation for your restaurant’s opening.
- Leverage existing social platforms. A cross-promotional campaign can attract the eyes of those already committed to your brand, even if they don’t know your new restaurant yet. One restaurant successfully used a sister restaurant’s Facebook page to encourage “likes” for the new restaurant’s Facebook page; fans who joined the company’s new email list were entered in a contest to win a $25 gift card.
- Lock in revenue before your restaurant opens. Promote your restaurant’s gift cards prior to opening, through Facebook and other posts. Use a Facebook tab to enable fans to purchase gift cards right on Facebook.
Using tactics like these, one SM3 client was able to get more than 700 Facebook fans and over 225 email sign-ups in the four months before the restaurant even opened its doors. This provided a great base for starting marketing efforts. Remember: When it comes to new restaurant marketing, start early, but make sure you have something to say!
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