Between getting your kitchen finished, finalizing your menu, and hiring your new staff, posting a picture on Instagram is arguably one of the last things you’re concerned about.
It might seem trivial to spend time marketing your restaurant when you’re not even close to opening, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the more time you have on your side, the better.
You’ve heard the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and neither is the excitement for your restaurant. You’ll need to first set up a beautifully designed website, develop an email marketing plan, and then you’ll want to engage a social media strategy to drive people to your site where they can sign up to receive news of your restaurant opening. And that’s before any buzz gets created.
It’s clear that a simple post on Instagram a few months prior to opening does a lot more than garner likes, it begins to build up the anticipation you need for not just a successful opening night, but your long term success as well. Here’s why:
“Build It and They Will Come” Doesn’t Work
Let’s get this part straight right off the bat, there is too much happening in people’s everyday lives for them to randomly notice that a new restaurant is opening down the street. And it’s not because people are oblivious, it’s because there’s too much noise out there.
People are bombarded with hundreds of ads and marketing messages a day, so we have all naturally learned to put blinders on. Now before you throw your hands in the air, hear us out. Just because people have blinders on doesn’t mean they won’t notice your marketing efforts.
It just means it’s going to take more than one impression for someone to take notice. In reality it’s going to take more like 5 to 7 impressions before someone recalls that they’ve seen your restaurant’s name before.
So with that being laid out on the table, we can both agree that it takes more than a week or two of pre opening restaurant marketing efforts to get people to 1.) take notice and 2.) take a closer look at your restaurant. The more time you have to market your restaurant prior to opening, the more impressions you have the opportunity to make.
And we both know that you want good business and sales starting from day one of your doors being open, not on day 90.
Pre Opening Restaurant Marketing Offers an Opportunity for Deeper Engagement
Beyond letting people know about your restaurant so you can ensure a full-house on opening night and many nights thereafter, pre opening restaurant marketing also gives you the opportunity to truly get engaged with your target audience.
You can do this several ways, for example, invite people over for a back-in-the-kitchen menu testing session so they can have input on your menu before it’s finalized. You could also pull in small groups to take a tour of your restaurant during the building process, or hold a few soft opening events with your new staff so people can get an exclusive sneak peek before you open.
These are just a few ideas, but there are a number of other ways you can use your online presence to drive in-person engagement before your restaurant is officially open. No matter how you choose to execute your pre-marketing, know that creating relationships with potential customers before your opening doesn’t just build buzz, it also helps you build a circle of influencers that you can call on to be your go-to messengers in the future of your restaurant.
Pre-Marketing Creates Sustainable Buzz
In the same vein as creating an “insider circle” of people who can be your messengers in the future, building up buzz well in advance also helps build momentum that extends beyond your opening night.
This happens in a couple of different ways:
1.) There’s a group of people who are considered early adopters. They like to be the ones that are the first to try something and they like to be trendsetters. These people don’t need to necessarily be a part of your “insiders circle,” but these people are key in helping to mobilize and create buzz about your restaurant to their peer groups and network. You have to effectively pre-market in order to get these people in to your restaurant in its opening weeks so they can spread the word, which brings us to our next group…
2.) Pre-marketing is done mostly in the effort to get people aware of your opening, but many diners like to wait until the opening rush of a restaurant dies down or to get opinions from their peers (aka their trendsetter friends) first. These are month two and three first-time customers, so if you don’t successfully market your opening, they’re going to think you’re not worth the visit because there isn’t much buzz surrounding your restaurant, or they’re not to going to know people they can get opinions from because those early-adopter diners who like to be the first to try things didn’t know your restaurant opened.
Now that you see the value in pre opening restaurant marketing as it relates to your long-term success, you still might be thinking you don’t have time for all this buzz building.
That’s fine, no ones says you have to be the one doing it, actually it’s better that you don’t because maintaining consistency in your online presence is crucial, but that’s a blog post for another day. The bottom line is that if you invest in the value of pre opening restaurant marketing now, we promise you’ll be reaping the rewards later.