We’ve talked about ideas for your Instagram page, your Pinterest boards, your Facebook page and your Twitter account. We’ve even talked about the importance of a blog and given ideas for some integrated content ideas across all of these mediums.
But what ties all that together and makes it work? An effective content marketing strategy. So, what is content marketing? And how can your restaurant use it?
Effective content marketing is about more than just having a blog or social media accounts. It’s a clear strategy with a clear target and a clear goal – drive profitable customer actions. But do so without selling your business.
The key to a successful content marketing strategy for restaurants is to create interest in your restaurant in an educational or entertaining way that answers a need your target market may have – even if they don’t know you are the solution. That’s how you sell your restaurant without selling your restaurant.
Example In Action:
Fictitious restaurant, Sarah’s Diner, in Mount Prospect, IL, has the perfect backroom and menu for a bridal shower, and Sarah’s Diner has held successful showers there, which are a big revenue driver. It’s a need many current and potential customers have, but Sarah’s Diner isn’t something that they will specifically research when looking for a place to hold a bridal shower in Mount Prospect.
With the objective to drive more events booked at Sarah’s Diner, a content marketing strategy would first identify which events are the best and easiest to market first. Sarah’s Diner has had the most experience with bridal showers, so they will start there, and also flesh out similar plans around book clubs, charitable luncheons and baby showers because of their target market/current customer base.
1. Identify the target: Mother of the bride, bride-to-be and bridesmaids
2. Identify their questions/needs: Best places to hold a bridal shower in NW suburbs of Chicago; bridal shower ideas; bridal shower menus; ideas for bridal showers; gifts for bridal showers; games for bridal showers; bridal shower favors; how to throw a bridal shower; how much do I spend on a bridal shower; bridal shower invitations; when to schedule your bridal shower; etc.
3. Plan content around these themes, without thinking of Sarah’s Diner first: The idea is to position Sarah’s Diner as an expert on the subject matter, a reliable source with great ideas. Then flesh out a content plan that is in tune with Sarah’s Diner’s general tone, target, and this subject. In this case, it would be helpful and heartwarming.
The best place to start with content which will be spread across channels is Sarah’s Diner’s own website blog. It puts the restaurant in control of the message, it drives search engine optimization (SEO) and drives inquiring minds to click through and land on the site for the full story – where Sarah’s Diner has other ways to sell them on having their bridal shower at the restaurant. But the content doesn’t have to be exclusively original – linking with and to other experts helps establish reach and credibility. Some idea starters would be:
- Blog article on how to best choose a location for bridal showers – using keywords that would be searched, write about what to look for in a location (of course Sarah’s Diner would have all these attributes but you don’t have to say so – but you can show pictures as examples), and what questions to ask/what to avoid to make it a successful event. This can then be shared on Facebook and Twitter, linking back, and can include a small “ad” at the bottom to inquire about bridal showers at Sarah’s Diner.
- Blog article on the “perfect bridal shower menu” – don’t just name off your menu, give ideas and advice on what types of food to order and why (i.e. not messy, will not leave green food in the bride’s teeth, won’t stain if dropped, etc). Not only can this be shared on Facebook and Twitter, but this theme makes a perfect Pinterest Board. The board can include Sarah’s Diner items as well recipes and photos from other Pinners, plus quotes and checklists (that link back to the blog article).
Running through the list of target questions and needs, get creative with how you answer them. Blog articles don’t always have to be fully written out articles – they can simply include an intro paragraph (with keywords) and then include a downloadable/printable checklist, a video (that is housed on your Youtube channel), or a collection of photos (from your Instagram account) as examples.
The idea is to focus on your target’s needs, even if they aren’t all overtly answered by your restaurant specifically – but can create a well-informed content marketing strategy that positions your restaurant as an expert in that subject and drives traffic to your website. Then, let your website do the selling with well-placed links, photos, and a clear navigation bar that would include an option that you are selling. In this example, it would be prudent to have a main navigation click-through (possibly highlighted) that says “Book Your Event At Sarah’s Diner”.
Do this across several objectives that fall under your main goal, map out an editorial calendar across subject matter and channels, and get to work on good content.