COVID-19 has been the most devastating disaster to hit the American restaurant and hospitality industry since the Great Depression. With restaurants across the country forced to close their doors in an effort to keep guests and employees alike healthy, billions of dollars in potential revenue has been lost. Many restaurants have already closed up shop for good, with more likely to follow as the fallout from COVID-19 continues. Only the restaurants able to adapt quickly will survive.
Fortunately, the restaurant businesses that rise to the challenge and win back grateful patrons with stellar service will have the opportunity to thrive when concerns about the virus recede. Is your business ready? Based on our past work with businesses following disasters such as Hurricane Harvey as well as our work with restaurant brands during the COVID-19 crisis, we know there are a few marketing must-dos in order to build excitement around your brand in difficult times. Here is where you must start:
- Keep the lines of communication open.
The worst thing a business can do right now is go silent. Whether you’re offering a limited menu, incorporating delivery service, completely shut down, or totally ignoring the problem, it is critical to communicate what you’re doing to your target audience. If you want them to spend money on your restaurant, they have to be sure of what they will find when they visit. Use your social media and email channels to communicate what your restaurant is doing, when it’s open, whether you have carryout available, and more.
- Amplify your voice.
A few Facebook posts and emails are a good start to get your message in front of people, but you’re going to have to go farther in order to recover from this disaster. Use any way you can to spread your message beyond your social media followers and email contact list. A great way to do this is by spending money on digital advertising like social media ads, boosted posts, search engine advertising, and even traditional-media ads. If you don’t have the funds, however, you can still reach out to local reporters to talk about your post-COVID plans and invite local social media influencers to experience those changes first-hand.
- Give people a reason to return.
The unfortunate truth that many restaurants are learning is that it’s going to take more than simply opening your doors again to fill your dining room up after this crisis is over. You must devise creative ways to build excitement in your target audience about what you’re offering. It could be something as simple as a special offer, a new menu item, or just reminding people why they love your restaurant. Recognize that people now see your business as a risk. Give them something exciting or special enough to outweigh that risk.
- Focus on what you do best.
In order to get your restaurant up and running again, it’s vitally important that you and your staff focus on what you do best—creating amazing experiences for your guests. We know from our market research that amazing customer service is what restaurant patrons expect from their favorite brands. So, don’t waste any time on tasks that do not enhance the customer experience at your restaurant. That’s where Studio Brand can help! Restaurant marketing is our specialty—let us focus on what we do best so that you can concentrate on what you do best. No matter what’s on the menu, partnering with the pros is a recipe for success is the restaurant world.
Studio Brand is currently working hard to help restaurant clients across the United States adapt to rapid-fire changes and business challenges in the hospitality industry. Are clients are sticking with us through the beginning, middle, and end of this crisis because we have the expertise to craft effective campaigns to keep customers informed and enticed. If your restaurant business could use some help getting back to business in a post-COVID world, contact us today. We’ll offer a free consultation on how we can meet your needs.