It doesn’t matter who you are (okay, maybe this doesn’t apply to José Andrés), you can’t swing open the doors to your restaurant one day and expect to have a flood of clientele right off the bat.
First, you have to take the right steps to make sure that people not only know that you’re opening, but that they have plans to pay your restaurant a visit in its opening weeks.
Here are the four crucial restaurant pre-marketing tasks to make that happen.
1.) Setup Your Website’s Landing Page
Before you ever put up the sign for your restaurant, you should buy your domain and set up a simple landing page.
Think about it, as soon as someone knows the name of a place that’s going to fill the new space in their favorite town or near their work or home; they’re going to look it up online to get an idea of what it’s all about.
By giving people an online destination to land with a simple description of your cuisine, atmosphere, and any other pertinent info (like your grand opening date), they’ll be much more likely to remember and anticipate your opening.
Also, be sure to have an email capture area or pop-up encouraging people to sign up for your list so they get first dibs on opening week specials, pre-opening events, etc.
2.) Secure and Setup Your Social Media Accounts
Securing these accounts also ensures that your name doesn’t get taken while you’re waiting for your restaurant to open. (Hard to believe, but some people will snatch up social media handles/URLs upon hearing of a new business so that you’ll pay them to get your official name on social media. Weird and scammy, but true.)
Also, when you set up your social media accounts, you can begin posting updates leading up to your opening and linking those accounts to your landing page so people can keep up with you on their social media feeds.
3.) Get Buzz Going in Local Publications and Online
A landing page and social media accounts alone won’t drum up enough buzz to predict success. Next, you’ve got to start spreading the word far and wide within your local area so that you’ll effectively drive people to your landing page and social media accounts.
When it comes to local publications, look to larger, regional magazines, like the Washingtonian, as well as niche, neighborhood publications or blogs, like PoPville and BadWolf DC. In addition to those publications, also look into online influencers in the foodie and food blogger spaces, they’ll have an audience chomping at the bit to be the first to Instagram your menu.
4.) Get Visible
Once you’ve set up your online presence and have begun to generate buzz within the area, it’s time to get active with posting your own content online.
Because although the PR you’ll get from regional publications is beneficial, you’ll still want to give the people who find you something tantalizing to consume before they ever get a taste of your menu.
Some of the ways you can get visible include posting on your social media accounts (sneak peeks of your restaurant and menu), running highly-targeted Facebook ads or getting physically visible by holding a booth at a local food fest with samples.
By taking all of these steps, you’re setting up the funnel you need your potential customers to go through to have a successful launch.
With these steps your audience will learn about the upcoming opening of your restaurant and take action whether that be signing up for your list, following you on social media, or setting a reservation, which then makes them much more likely to visit your restaurants in its opening weeks.
From there, you’ll have to let your service and food do the talking!