Just because “everybody is doing it” doesn’t mean that you have to, but as a small business owner it is smart to pay attention to trends and keep up with the competition. In the 21st century, owning any successful business means having a web presence, and restaurants are no different.
By creating a web presence for your restaurant, you will keep up with the competition, increase your exposure, and gain access to cheap or free marketing methods that appeal to the millennial generation and beyond. Here are five tangible reasons why your restaurant NEEDS an online presence.
- Having an Online Presence Helps You Tell Your Story
If there is one thing that will kill your restaurant, it’s anonymity. When customers visit your business, they should have a good reason for doing so; a connection to your story and food that makes you stand out, and inspires customers new and old to choose you over anyone else near by. And having an online presence will let you foster this connection. By creating a designated website for your business and keeping up with your social media profiles, cultivating an online presence will give you a space to tell your story.
- Social Media Drives Customer Loyalty
Especially for your younger customers who live on their phones, “checking in,” posting comments, and engaging with social media is a big part of the dining experience.
By curating robust and active social media profiles, you give these valuable young diners something to interact with, which in turn will transform casual diners in to “fans” in a cyber and real sense. The importance of social media in creating loyal customers can not be overstated.
And keep in mind that if you choose not to run Twitter profiles, Facebook pages, and Instagram accounts to engage with young customers and convert these diners into long term fans, your competition probably is.
- A Dedicated Site Will Strengthen Your Brand Identity
Want your restaurant to be thought of as a family eatery with a touch of class? Dream of being the “hip” place for the after work crowd to grab a bite?
Whatever brand identity you wish to create for your establishment, having a designated website will affect the way that customers see your business. Crisp, clean, and well designed web sites will let people that have never eaten at your restaurant know that you are a professional and trustworthy establishment with an eye for quality.
Whatever identity you wish to convey for your business, a web developer and graphic artist can help you design your pages with a brand in mind. And beware: having no website for your restaurant at all may paint you as dated and out of touch, and may cost you customers.
- Adding Your Restaurant to Google Maps Will Increase Your Exposure
Google+ is an up and coming social network in it’s own right, but creating a profile for your business will have a lot more benefits than you might think.
By getting your restaurant on Google+, your business will be fully incorporated into the Google family. Importantly, this means that you will be linked in to Google Maps, leading customers who search for your business straight to your open doors.
And Google Maps has other marketing benefits too: when your future customers search for food or the specific genre of your restaurant in their area, your business’s name will come up and may turn into their future favorite place to eat.
- Adding Your Business to Yelp Will Deliver New Customers
Almost everybody has heard of Yelp these days, and an increasingly large variety of diners trust the mega-site to point them towards things they like.
By adding your restaurant to Yelp and opening the door for reviews, you give your loyal fans a place to rave about how great your establishment is, which will translate into more happy customers in the future. While the possibility of negative reviews can be daunting, you can learn and grow from criticism.
And the one thing that turns new customers off of a restaurant even more than negative ratings is no ratings or online presence at all.
The Bottom Line:
As a restaurant owner, you are a small business entrepreneur. You can make whatever decisions you want about your business, and don’t have to jump on board every trend that hits the restaurant industry.
But by not having an online presence, you cheat your restaurant out of free and cheap marketing, which in turn translates into future customers. You don’t give yourself the chance to develop long term relationships with young diners, who rely on social media and online interaction to build connections with their favorite eateries.
Most importantly, you give your competition the edge, as you can be sure that most restaurateurs are learning to benefit from getting online. If you want to give your restaurant its best chance of succeeding and continuing to grow, you need an online presence.
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