Are you using your restaurant menu as a marketing tool? If not, here are some ways to help you get started.
When a new guest steps into your restaurant for the first time, they’re highly impressionable. And while general decor, superb customer service, and an enticing atmosphere hold a lot of weight, nothing is quite as important as a menu. Before heading out to eat, many potential customers check out websites, reviews, and online menus first.
Your online menu, therefore, should make a good first impression. Menus that are sloppy or ugly may turn customers away before they even have a chance to try out your food. Physical menus also play a huge part in the first impression and should be equally as thoughtful.
However, the importance of a menu goes far beyond first impressions. It’s much more than that, a marketing tool.
Online Menus for Local SEO
Adding visibility for local searchers is incredibly important for your restaurant. A large population of people searches for restaurants before actually heading out the door or making a reservation, so you’ll need to make sure you’re among those results.
In fact, 82% of smartphone shoppers search locally before deciding to make a purchase, and that includes dining! To ensure that your restaurant appears in local searches, you’ll want to do a few things.
First of all, you’ll want to make sure that you have your GoogleMyBusiness (GMB) listing set up. This listing shows up on the righthand side of Google when your business is searched for, as well as in listings on Google Maps. Within your GMB listing, you’ll be able to link to your website and online menu.
Adding an online menu that’s optimized for local search will help your restaurant appear higher up in local search options. To do this, you should include relevant keywords in your descriptions, such as the type of food you’re offering, your location, and more relevant details. By optimizing your menu for search engines, more customers will be able to find you when they’re looking for places nearby.
Highlight Your Specials & High-Margin Items
Now let’s talk about physical menus. There’s more to them than meets the eye. You can use your physical menu (and your online menus, for that matter) to drive your customers’ attention and choices. For example, when you list options with images or highlight options in larger text or a different color, customers are more likely to go for that option.
You should use this tactic to ensure the sales of high-margin items or items that you’re worried you won’t sell. For example, if you run a seafood restaurant and you need to sell a certain number of fish, you may want to list it with an image or highlight of some kind, to ensure that it gets the attention it needs in order for you to break even on the dish.
This tactic also works with specials. You can use a specific specials menu in order to highlight high-margin items or items that include ingredients you’re trying to get rid of. In either case, you can use these highlighted sections and images as a way to trick your customers into ordering what you want them to.
Don’t Forget About Design
The content on your restaurant’s menu matters, but so does the design. Menu design is a vital pillar in the success of your restaurant. The menu is often the first thing that customers interact with, whether online while searching, or in-person upon being seated. Having a well-designed menu will entice customers, making them more likely to choose your restaurant over others. If your menu is boring, crowded, or otherwise poorly designed, customers may turn away from your restaurant before they even step foot inside.
Not only that but having a stellar menu design that reflects your restaurant’s brand helps to promote authority and brand recognition. By having a cohesive brand that your customers recognize, they’ll be able to spot you anywhere, and they’ll remember you.
Good design should also guide your guests through the restaurant experience. You can do this by listing appetizers at the top, entrees in the middle, and desserts last. Or, you can opt for a multi-menu system that’s delivered throughout the experience by a server.
It all depends on the vibe you’re going for. Because your menu is such an integral part of the restaurant experience, it’ll play a huge part in whether or not a customer chooses to return in the future or not, helping you retain long-term customers, or not.
Take Your Menu to Social Media
Another great way to use your menu as a marketing tool is to advertise it on social media. You can break up your menu and share your favorite selections on different social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can even show your staff creating the dishes by using short-form content platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels. By showcasing specific dishes, you can build up interest. Again, this is a great way to direct your customers’ attention toward high-margin or seasonal dishes.
Take Your Menu to Social MediaYour Menu isn’t Just for Food
Use these tips and tricks to turn your boring menu into one that stands out, giving your restaurant a sense of authority. With a well-designed menu, you can create a marketing strategy on and off the page.
Level Up Your Restaurant
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