Do you find yourself allocating increasing amounts of budget to marketing every month and are still getting results not proportional to the increased spending? The problem may not be the money. The problem may be that you are making some marketing blunders that are costing you more than you realize.

It’s not enough to have a marketing plan; you have to make sure that it is flaw-proof so that you can drive your marketing ROI to the peak.

Here are some such mistakes to keep in mind:

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Ignoring your website

One big mistake many restaurants make is that they think websites are optional and often underestimate their value. Here are a few examples of amazing website designs for restaurants.

Websites may have been more of a side dish 10 years back, but now they are a part of the main course! Before choosing a restaurant, people usually get on the website and explore; they will then logically pick a restaurant that has a functional and informative website.

That’s why you need to pay attention to your website design and keep constantly updating the information on it. Here are some tips:

  • Hire a good website design service that has worked with restaurants before.
  • Make sure it is mobile-optimized.
  • Place pictures of all your specialties on the landing pages.
  • Also, quote your customers and showcase your ratings.

Neglecting the power of upselling and peripheral sales

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Often there are a number of opportunities lying around that can help you improve your business and they don’t cost much. You are loosing a lot of easy money when you ignore such opportunities.

For example, you could allow people to rent the place for private parties during your off-seasons or you could expand into catering, you can also sell some retail items such as t-shirts or toys for kids etc. You can also choose to offer online delivery services, in such a scenario, having an effective online customer support system is important.

Such peripheral sales can really boost your revenue and can also help you market yourself better.

Another tactic is upselling the items on your menu. You can train your waiters to do this. For example, when a waiter says, ‘Why don’t you try some fries with the burger, sir’, there is usually a higher chance of the customer ordering the fries as well.

All your marketing efforts will come to naught if you don’t know how to maximize your profits and make the most of the leads generated by your campaigns.

Not building a strong customer base

Marketing is most effective only when you have an audience. When you don’t have programs and strategies in place to build a customer base, you don’t know whom to center your marketing efforts on.

First, define your target audience and then work to build a customer base. Restaurants have the opportunity to interact with customers face-to-face and that is a definite advantage.

You can start by building an email list, starting loyalty programs, issuing membership/privilege cards etc. You can also use simpler tactics like using feedback/comments cards to get information about your customers. Especially, repeat customers are more ready to connect, so start from there.

Putting no effort into driving word-of-mouth

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Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool for restaurants. But it is not as simple as providing excellent service and hoping that a good word will spread around. While that could happen, often you need to take steps to make it happen.

The solid execution of your operational activities is not going to guarantee anything. There are many tools now to facilitate word-of-mouth marketing such as Facebook, Twitter etc. If you don’t have a Facebook page, for example, even if a customer was impressed by you, they may find it hard to leave a review.

You can also use good well-planned PR campaigns to trigger a good word-of-mouth, but you must make sure that you really are doing a great job, otherwise your customers won’t spread the word and the PR campaign will die out.

No communication back up plans for crises

One single badly-handled crisis is enough to completely destroy your reputation, yet, most restaurants don’t take the time to have a plan in place for when a crisis arises.

Say, for example, some of your customers who ordered a sushi called back next day complaining about food poisoning, or a drunk customer is annoying others, or a newly-hired chef messes up the recipe etc.

There could be a number of ways for things to go wrong and upset customers and without a contingency plan, you are going to find yourself blacklisted.

Planning for the worst is always a good strategy. Either learn the skills needed to manage such crises or hire someone who can articulate and persuade people well.

Not utilizing the potential of social media

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More than half the world is now online and so are most of your future customers. Not being engaged on social media is probably costing you a lot of money.

When a customer has to choose between two restaurants, it is more likely they will choose the name that they have seen a once or twice in their FB feed, rather than an entirely new unknown place.

Social media is a huge chance to increase your business. You can not only implement social media campaigns but also obtain reviews from customers which will serve as social proof and good word of mouth for the others.

Wrapping up

Undoubtedly, marketing when done right can be a big game-changer, which makes it all the more important to not slip up and make silly mistakes in this respect. True, a restaurant business must focus a lot on providing great food, ambiance, and service, but the impact of all these will be realized only if you get your marketing right.