I’ve developed an obsessive compulsive habit of checking the website of any restaurant I visit. On a normal occasion, I’ll kindly introduce myself to the server, order a drink, pull out my smartphone and stalk a restaurant’s website. It’s relatively easy to see which establishments are most creative in their online marketing efforts and those who fail miserably. After compulsively visiting many local restaurant websites, I’ve compiled many similarities among local companies and compared them with their well-funded corporate competitors.
One major difference between local and corporate restaurants is local restaurants are simply bad online marketers. Of course, it’s easy to assume that the corporate chains are much better in this regard because they have:
- Larger marketing budgets
- Educated marketing staff
- Access to pixel perfect imagery
- Are well branded
Not having access to these tools is certainly a disadvantage to the local guys (or gals), but that doesn’t excuse them for being bad at online marketing. It’s quite simple to see that corporate experts provide local companies with a blueprint as to simple (yet affordable) implementations to try for themselves. These corporations already spent tens of thousands of dollars in legwork (research + A/B testing) and local companies should pay attention.
Why they’re are bad at online marketing
Don’t spend money
Any investment requires spending money, however investing a dollar in online marketing should yield approximately $5 in revenue. So, why not invest?
It’s almost understandable that many small local restaurants don’t believe they have as much revenue as they’d like, so they cut costs and fail to invest in long-term success. According to Jose Vasquez, President, and CEO of QuezMedia, “A majority of small businesses neglect their marketing strategies, restricting spending and ultimately limiting their true potential.”
Investing money in online marketing is definitely a risk, but has a statistically proven profitable upside. Figuring out which channels to allocate each dollar is the part where time, patience and effort plays a key role.
Don’t put forth the time, patience and effort
Busy, busy, busy! Restaurants are freaking busy. I’ve worked in plenty, never owned one, but watched one restaurant manager’s eye almost explode out from day to day stress. It’s extremely hard for an owner/general manager to slow down long enough t0 put together a solid online marketing strategy.
An investment in digital/online marketing requires time and one should not expect immediate returns. Depending on amount + type of investment, could take 3 months (or more) of measuring data before getting a true understanding of which channels work best for the company.
Fail to engage with their audience
Failing to engage with an audience will create a disconnect with customers. Most customers want an experience, a feeling of community and involvement. I’ve noticed all too often (many servers will back me up here) customers spend more time staring at their phone than reading a menu or engaging with the establishment.
If customers are highly involved with their mobile devices, why not take advantage of it and find a way to engage with them?
Great business owner’s find opportunities, and here’s an opportunity. Don’t compete with their attention, drive it.
They just don’t do it
The best way to be bad at online marketing is to not do it at all. Some of the restaurants I’ve visited don’t even have a website and if they did, most were not mobile friendly. Having a website that’s not mobile friendly can be detrimental to any local restaurant. How can a restaurant have any type of online marketing campaign if they don’t even have a mobile friendly website?
According to Inc.com, every local business needs online marketing. All local restaurants should make an investment in online marketing, give the necessary time + effort to let it succeed, and engage with their customers regularly. If not, they will do what they’ve always done and continue to get what they’ve always got.