First impression is a lasting memory and we only have one chance to entice potential customers with the overall online and offline presence. It is crucial to start preparations 2-3 months before the launch to ensure by the time doors open and people start to talk, the ‘online shop front’ is just as prepared as the venue and its offering.
This includes the name, logo, branding guidelines (especially useful for press and third party affiliates such as events companies), the website, other artworks such as flyers, posters, business cards, online banners, social media and online presence, data capture and newsletter systems, as well as a database of local contacts of businesses and residents to target with a yearly marketing and events plan.
Here is a brief checklist for you to consider:
- The name
Even if you already set your heart on a name, it is good to sense-check against the below:
- What should it communicate?
- Who is it aimed at?
- Which name best fits your objective?
- Geographic names – avoid if you’re planning to expand in different areas
- Coining a name, made up names isn’t for everyone – it’s not easy to remember. Use new, different forms or spelling of existing names instead
- Google it, check on social media etc. to see if there are other businesses with the same or similar name
- Check if the domain is available
- Submit copyright application and trademark
- Logo, Branding Guide, Signage, Website, Photography
To create a strong logo and a branding guide is extremely important to ensure we stay consistent, especially once press and affiliates start to promote the venue. There are many books written on each of these subjects, but what you have to remember is to stay consistent with your branding on all online and offline platforms and to ensure anything from colours to fonts used will serve your business objective and it is competitive. Leave this to a professional agency or individual who has plenty of experience with restaurants. They will understand the brand applications much more and also can deliver better return on investment then agencies from other industries.
- Research the local target market and competition
Research must be carried out early on to ensure you identify the target market, so an appealing message can be defined and the appropriate media can be chosen to communicate it.
You can use government websites to find out more about the local demographics, local websites to find more businesses and even use local newspapers and third parties or partner websites who can tell you in their media pack about the local residents and businesses.
- Create a marketing plan with creative projects and an events calendar
Once you have your marketing tools and assets set up and know to whom you would like to communicate in your local area, you have to craft a marketing plan, aligned with your commercial objectives. Key performance indicators should be set and reviewed monthly. Marketing budget should be set against KPIs, then tracked and analyzed monthly.
This plan should include anything from national bank holidays, local events, seasonal promotions, to new product or menu launches, as well as creative campaigns prioritized.
- Set up your online presence
Once your website is ready and live, you have to ensure you are also present on social media with your fresh brand. For restaurants the most popular channels are Instagram to show off foodie photos, Facebook for check-ins, Google for reviews and Twitter for customer service and communication. Also remember to set yourself up with the most enticing photos and up to date menu, contact details and information on Tripadvisor and Google Maps.
It’s essential that automated and personalized communication is set before the launch. The overall aim is to reach out to customers, encourage them to visit the website, and if they don’t convert to bookings, they should at least sign up to your newsletter so you can keep in touch with them.
- Review third parties and partnership opportunities
There are many sites that can help you drive traffic to your website and footfall to your venue for free, or based on commission. You can read more about these sites here. What is important is that by the time your venue’s door open, you are already present on all these websites so prospects can easily become customers.
Approach press and third party affiliates. You can either hold a launch event or invite your key stakeholders individually to try your food and drinks and meet you to learn about your business, so they can become your advocates.
- Follow your plan
Continuous marketing work includes communication of creative projects and events via: website, newsletters, offline posters, flyers, newsletters, social media, press, bloggers and social media influencers. Review, analyze and evolve monthly.
Your venue and brand has to raise awareness and reach customers, then act to ensure they convert into bookings and engage afterward to ensure they return. The above brief checklist aims to do just that.
I hope you found this summary useful. If you have any questions or comments, please drop me an email, I would love to hear your thoughts.