It’s no secret that we love to go online (or, “on-the-line” as my Nanna says). We’re doing it more often, and we’re doing it for longer too. Kiwis and Aussies have increased their online time by 30% since 2009. Today, Kiwis are spending about 2:15 hours online per day, while our Aussie counter-parts are spending even more at 2:28 hours. See, you’re even online right now reading this. Sorry, I mean “on-the-line”, Nan.
So, the whole online and digital space is kind of a big deal in the Trans-Tasman. If most of New Zealand and Australia is online, there’s a good chance your customers are online too. They get hungry when they’re browsing, and you want to make sure your restaurant is on their radar while they’re stalking their exes on Facebook or making regrettable purchase decisions on Trade Me.
So how do you do that without paying big bucks?
Here are some free online channels you can use right now to connect and engage with your customers on a regular basis to grow your restaurant business.
Lets get the basics sorted first. Got a website? Websites are still rated as the most important tool for attracting and retaining customers, with 76% of food industry executives rating the company website as the most effective marketing and sales tool in a recent Grant Thornton International Food and Beverage Report.
If you don’t have a website yet, don’t worry. We can get you set up with a website for free today. Get started here.
Social media is no longer that new-fangled thing all the kids are on these days. 2.8 million people accessed a social media site in NZ in Nov 2013, reaching 94.6% of the total Kiwi internet audience. Facebook was the most popular site.
Social media has also overtaken traditional print advertising as the most effective method for connecting with customers in the food and beverage industry. A recent Grant Thornton International Food and Beverage Report highlighted that nearly half (49%) of food executives prefer social media over print advertising (46%) when it comes to attracting and retaining customers.
Writing your own fresh content and posting it online, known as blogging, is one of the best things you can do to build your customer audience, generate more traffic to your website and increase sales for your business. It’s also a great opportunity to share stories and create an emotional connection with your audience.
The more content you post, the more likely you are to show up in search engines, which means you’ll be easier to find to existing and potential customers. You also increase your chances of being covered by a news site. Consider blogging to be your DIY press release tool, and your new best friend.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Your brand story – history, vision, people and growth
- A new menu or menu item you’ve released
- A new store opening
- Developments or changes in the hospitality industry
- Promotions, like 2 for 1 meal deals
Try a free blog site like wordpress.com if your website doesn’t have a built in content management system for posting articles.
And remember, you don’t have to be a great writer. The most important part is getting something out there so people can find you, and keeping active with your blog posts.