5 Tips for Restaurant Marketing with Location-Based Service Apps

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Restaurant marketing with location-based service apps is a great idea. The apps are hip and useful. Are you using them to your biggest potential?

The restaurant industry is booming again – by using restaurant marketing with Location-Based Service Apps like Foursquare, Facebook Places, SCVNGR, Google Maps and Yelp. No doubt the power of Foursquare is growing.  We see the apps heralded on news, business, and ad reports. We see our own “friends” sharing their location daily on Facebook. For the folks who like to share, the world is their literal oyster. Whitehorse.com shows the following stats. Amazing customer potential!

Restaurant Marketing with Location-Based Service Apps - Apps Pie Chart

However, with any new trend, come the important questions.

  • What happens after that first location “share”?
  • Are people going to keep using LBS, giving their friends  (and your potential new customers) leads to great dining adventures?
  • Are these service apps just another novelty and past time for the short attention span generation of tech users?
  • Will it last?
  • What is the potential for the restaurant business owners, and are we using it to it’s full potential?

Let’s find some answers and help.

5 Tips To Fill Your Restaurant Seats – Restaurant Marketing with Location-Based Service Apps

1. Utilize the Search Apps & Check Yourself Out.

These days, almost everyone uses the search services like Google Maps, Yelp and Bing. If we need to find the nearest Buffalo Wild Wings, we simply look it up. Yet many restaurant owners and managers assume that they are included in these services. Is your address, phone number, and website accessible, correct and up do date?

  • Ask
  • Never Assume
  • Ask Again!

2. Content Matters

Facebook pages work really well for local customers bases. Make a unique blog that caters to local fans who know your geographic area well and throw in some fun facts, creative characters or other interactions to keep them loyal. YouTube is a great way to involve the local diners using fun videos that showcase your restaurant’s unique menus, location or history. It’s also an easy way to invite new customers to your dining experience.

3. Coupons

Currently, Groupon is the most popular of social commerce sites and is gaining a large number of restaurants adopting this new form of electronic coupon marketing. Smaller businesses are dealing with some issues of being too overwhelmed by the discounts and heavy foot traffic, but perhaps many larger restaurants would love to have this complaint. In general we do not subscribe to the notion of coupons and discounts for restaurant marketing. In the long run the brand suffers. Heavy usage can train customers to only come to your restaurant when there is a deal. The pizza segment has their customers so hooked on discounts nearly 80% of all pizza purchases are from a coupon redemption. Yuck! Any given day of the week someone else, somewhere else, a competitor can run a better deal. In other words, you can’t build competitor proof relationships and win the hearts and minds of customers with discounts; you can only rent them at best. For now, the buzz and novelty of social commerce dampens some of the brand damage traditional coupon marketing can cause. So, if you’re hell bent on running discounts and coupons, use services like Living Social, Facebook Deals and Google Offers as they are leaders of the pack at the moment.

4. Reviews

Consumers are driven by word of mouth, but it’s too easy for them to simply use reviewer sites to decide on their next dining experience. Feel free to encourage happy diners to write a great review about you on these sites. Do regular scavenger hunts on these sites for feedback and even constructive criticism. Brace yourself though for the coneheads that can’t ever say anything nice. Anyone in the public eye is a target for criticism and the anonymity of the web can turn some people into cyber-vandals out to deface a brand online for the shear sport of it. Nonetheless, just as you would go out with a can of paint to retouch your restaurant facade if airbrushed by vandals, these days we have to also check for brand vandalism online. There are several reputation monitoring solutions available on the market today to help take the legwork out of it for you. And, on the positive side, be sure to reward those honest and well-intentioned reviews; whether glowing or critical something good can be learned from analyzing the reviews for recurring themes.

5. Reward the Customer

This tip seems obvious but may be overlooked (and herein lies the potential for you!). As the LBS apps evolve, stay ahead of the pack by offering rewards and benefits for your customers that use LBS apps. For example, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide recently offered a loyalty point bonus of 250 points per checkin (by the way, in general, the Starwood Preferred Guest program is hands-down the best loyalty program in the hospitality industry). Already, companies are thinking outside of the box for great marketing fun. Check out this major coup by SCVNGR and Buffalo Wild Wings which was a big success: http://mashable.com/2011/06/01/scvngr-buffalo-wild-wings-campaign/.

People are using Foursquare and SCVNGR, but what real benefits are they getting from you? Restaurant marketing with location-based service apps is smart. These LBS apps are not just a passing novelty, and savvy, forward-looking restaurant marketers are already finding new ways to fill their tables using creative partnerships and digital marketing campaigns. Why not your brand too?

In the end, we think the trend of LBS apps is not going away, but will evolve as every other tech trend does. Your time is best served by staying in the modern marketing game and start your own plan for restaurant marketing with location-based service apps, insert your restaurant brand into as many search avenues as possible, stay informed, and offer incentives for your diners to return. BE the location they will share with their friends, businesses contacts, visiting relatives, and their own customers. The importance of word of mouth hasn’t gone away; it’s just gone online.


“The only real valuable thing is intuition.” – Albert Einstein


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