With hundreds, if not thousands, of places for customers to eat, why should they choose you?
It’s a tough question, but it’s one every operator needs to think about, and have modern foodservice marketing strategies ready to address it. Otherwise, you’re missing a huge opportunity to get your menus and offerings in front of the right people.
So how do you do this? We’ve put together a list of ten modern ways you can more effectively market to hungry guests beyond simply printing out a menu and posting it outside your venue.
You’ll want to make sure your menus and foodservice offerings are…
With the internet available to anyone with a cell phone, modern consumers are used to getting the information they need at their fingertips, right when they want it. As such, when they’re looking for a place to dine, they want menus to be as easy to find as possible so they can make an informed decision.
Putting your menus in as many places online as you can helps boost the chances of guests finding your offerings and choosing to dine with you. Post your current menu to spots like Facebook, Yelp, Google, and more. Add your menu to your own website; it can have its own section, or you can add a slide-out menu option to any page of your website.
Arguably one of the most important steps in modern foodservice marketing is making menus mobile-friendly. Many of your potential customers are using their phones to find you; in fact, over 50% of all global website traffic comes directly from mobile users.
When you put your menus and offerings on sites like Yelp and Facebook, you don’t have to worry about mobile readiness. However, your own site and menu pages will need to be assessed for mobile usage. Nutrislice menus, for example, adjust to show daily vs. weekly views for ease of reading on a phone.
Making your menus both discoverable and mobile-friendly touches on the idea of convenience, which in and of itself is another aspect to consider when promoting your offerings. Menus that are convenient to find, read, and use are more likely to be seen than those that aren’t!
Think about other ways you could make your menus more accommodating to your guests. How about giving them a way to save their favorite meals or preferred allergen filters? Physically, digital screens of your menus within your environment can provide convenience for menu browsing at the door, the counter, or even at serving stations. Or, what if your customers would like to hear menu options spoken out loud to them via a digital voice assistant like Amazon Alexa? Bring your menus into modern, convenient solutions like these for an extra boost in reach.
It’s not always top-of-mind when promoting your offerings, but accessibility features are important to ensure ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance, and ensure your offerings are easy for every potential customer to understand. ADA standards require websites to be readable, scannable, and usable by any person on the internet; for example, it’s recommended that sites are viewable on any size screen, alternate text should be included for all images, and even language translations should be considered.
While you can add aftermarket plugins or overlays to your menus to meet these standards, it’s best to use software that designs menus with ADA compliance as a primary concern, not as an afterthought. Nutrislice has built-in ADA compliance for all of the above (including translating into 40+ languages), so you can ensure anyone who wants to can read and access your offerings online.
This is where the “marketing” of foodservice marketing really comes into play! Don’t assume customers will find your offerings on their own; actively pursue ways to get your menu in front of them that goes beyond just adding it to your website and online review sites.
For example, use promotional materials like 1-page PDFs describing what you have to offer and distribute these in person or via email. Delve into social media by regularly publishing images of your menu items, and consider distributing coupons or discounts to first-time guests. Check out this post for a few other ideas you can use to promote your menus!
We get it: keeping up with weekly – often daily – menu changes can be a lot of work, so much work that you just don’t have time to do it. But the reality is customers are looking for menu accuracy and transparency. For example, college students recently told us that 75% of them have doubts about the accuracy of menus they see at college dining locations, while 30% of them would opt to eat elsewhere because of wrong information.
Worried about managing and keeping all your data up-to-date? It doesn't have to be difficult. With an integrated solution like Nutrislice, you can manage menu and food data in one platform and push updates out to every place your connected menus are live instead of having to manually or individually update print menus, online menus, signage, and pricing or nutrition labels.
In addition to making sure your menus are accurate, you can also generate interest in your foodservice offerings by thoroughly providing as much food information as possible. It may seem easiest to just list the basic information like the item’s name and price, but for modern-day, conscientious customers, that’s not enough.
Customers really do want to know all the facts about the foods they’re considering, including ingredients, calories, allergens, descriptions, nutrition facts, and more. And this isn’t just due to diet restrictions; many guests hold specific values about the foods they choose to eat and how these values align to their dining choices.
By providing as much information about your foods as you can to your customers, you’re not only helping them make decisions easier, you’re being refreshingly transparent. And as we saw above, being transparent with food information builds confidence and trust in your customers, and also demonstrates the time and care your operation takes in making thoughtful, delicious meals.
So add all the food information you can to your digital menus in a way your customers can easily access it. Bring information in close proximity to your items onsite; for example, adding a QR code next to food items that opens an online nutrition label would allow customers to access information about those items right when they consider them.
You make amazing food, so why not show it off? One of the best ways to provide a consistent customer experience is to invest in digital signage and labeling solutions. These screens won’t just list your menu items, but they’ll also display helpful information about your food and make an engaging, visual connection with your guests.
Digital signage and labels provide a modern, attractive method of marketing your menus and offerings in a way consumers are used to seeing in top-end restaurants. They can catch the attention of people passing by, and are a perfect option for saving your operation time by pushing food changes live, all while reducing the paper waste that comes with ever-changing print menus.
Digital signage isn’t the only way to generate interest in your menus. You can make your offerings look enticing and desirable with a few creative changes to the way you present your menu information, with the added bonus of making your operation look passionate and competent about your food.
For example, it goes without saying that you should include high-quality, eye-catching images of your food items. Who isn't enticed by mouth-watering food photos? You can also consider graphics like station banner images, images placed along-side your online menus, and online menu homepage banners. Finally, creative descriptions of your items that use sensory words like “decadent” and “crunchy” make your meal selections sound appetizing and help customers decide what type of food they want to eat.
Keep customers coming back for more! Your foodservice marketing plan should include ways to keep your guests constantly informed about your menus and offerings, and make them interested in dining with you again.
In addition to strategies like social media posts and printed promotional materials, consider collecting customers’ emails so you can email them with news from your operation, or let them opt in to push notifications. Use sidebar/banner images to promote weekly specials or new items alongside your regular menu fare, and make your digital signage always work for you by displaying communications and announcements during off-hours.
It’s no longer enough to print out your menu every day and set it at the front of the line. Customers want a modern, more digital dining experience that delights them and makes them want to come back for more.
This is why marketing your menus and offerings is so important. Fortunately, with all the foodservice marketing techniques covered above (and probably more), you have a greater chance of attracting customers and wowing them with your food.
And that’s a win-win for everyone!