Growth Hacking Your Restaurant
What is Growth Hacking?
In a nutshell, growth hacking is a comprehensive marketing technique that combines analytics, product development, and consumer metrics to gain exposure and expand a business. It’s a technique oft-used by technology companies, particularly startups…but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of Real World growth hacking can help bring in new business, revive a tired brand, and generally expose new customers to a company or cause.
The restaurant industry is the perfect place to growth hack.
The restaurant industry is responsible for over $683 billion dollars in annual sales; there are nearly 1,000,000 restaurants in the U.S. alone. Seven out of ten restaurants are single-business operations (i.e. not chains) and although most restaurants are ‘discovered’ through friends and family over 22% of people find new eateries through online reviews. It’s a brave new world out there! If you’re a restaurant owner – new, struggling, or just stagnated – there are plenty of growth hacking techniques you can implement today to bring in new business and build brand awareness. Here’s a sampling.
Reach Your Customers
Of course, that’s the goal. One of the tenants of growth hacking is knowing your customers’ language. From there, you don’t just have to speak that language you have to say something interesting. As a restaurant there are plenty of ways to do this. The easiest growth hack in this regard is starting a blog right on your restaurant’s website. Post about trends, in-house specials, and generally anything you think your customer base would want to read (and ideally pass on to their friends!) Content is king when it comes to growth hacking. Also think about other content avenues: Guest blogging? Becoming a contributor to a local food magazine? Posting visual cooking lesson videos on YouTube? Branded content that taps into what your market already likes is a surefire way to attract new customers.
Speaking of Your Website…
Restaurant websites are notorious for being too slow, too plain, and difficult to navigate. Your’s shouldn’t be! Be sure all pertinent information like your address, phone number, and hours is smack on the homepage, and check your site speed with tools like this one. Spend some real time looking at competitors and businesses you admire to see if your aesthetics match up. Do you need a new logo designed? Should you reevaluate the entire design of your site to ensure potential customers understand your values and your vibe from the second they log on? Lastly, make sure your website is fully optimized for mobile – mobile is now responsible for more than a third of all internet traffic.
Your potential restaurant customers are more tech-savvy than you think they are. When you give customers more options when it comes to payment, receipts, and even in-house entertainment they’ll start to associate your eatery with innovation. One easy way to start is to install digital ordering stations up front if you’re a quick service restaurant; you’ll cut down the lines and eliminate human error when it comes to monetary transactions. If you’re full service, add digital table tents to your tables or bar to rotate through specials and bring in additional advertising revenue. Customers will be happy for the distraction and your coupon, QR code, or special offer will be directly in front of them right at the point of purchase. And many customers don’t mind the option of emailed receipts (particularly if you cater to business travelers.) It’s less paper and you’ll instantly have their email address for future marketing efforts.
Create Sharable Opportunities
Restaurants are highly emotional places for many people which makes them ripe for sharing. One of the easiest ways to encourage sharability (one of the core tenants of growth hacking) is to tap into the influencer community right in your area. That could mean food bloggers, restaurant critics, or even the millennial set. Reach them with your content and give them incentives to share your restaurant experience. Social media is another great resource for sharing. Facebook, Yelp, Instagram…choose one or two social mediums and own them: post regularly, engage often, and if necessary, pay for mobile ads that encourage direct visits to your restaurant (maybe by offering coupons?) Another good way to tap into sharing is to encourage your current customers to talk you up whether it’s online, by asking them to forward an email blast, or offering a deal-of-the-day coupon that gets cheaper as its shared.
Remember, growth hacking is all about digging into your current customer base to figure out how to tap into a new one. That may mean gathering data, hiring a brand new digital marketing firm, or even changing up your menu to meet changing tastes. Growth hacking involves myriad simultaneous techniques, all to their own end. There’s no one way to growth hack correctly but if you hit upon the right mix of strategies and marketing…you may just hit restaurant gold.
Have any good growth hacking tips for restaurateurs?
Share them with us in the comments.