The success of any online marketing campaign lies in your content. It doesn’t matter if you hire the most talented web developers or invest in the most expensive search engine optimization tools if you don’t have thoughtfully planned and carefully prepared content that engages, informs, and entertains your viewers.
Content marketing is the heart and soul of all forms of marketing online. At its very core, content marketing is simply creating and promoting relevant, valuable content with the goal of drawing in audiences, capturing their interest, and building long-term relationships that will ultimately lead to better sales and profits for your restaurants.
Whether you choose to build a blog, post YouTube videos, or engage people on social media, you will always need to create content that captivates your viewers and keeps them interested. The old adage “Content is king” is true for as long as businesses are around.
But creating content for your restaurant’s digital assets can be overwhelming, especially if you haven’t done it before. You can’t just randomly decide to write a blog post or share a photo on Facebook and hope people will see what you’ve posted. You need to have a well-thought-out strategy that provides a detailed picture of the 5 Ws and 1 H:
- Who are you writing for?
- What are you writing about?
- When will you publish your content?
- Where will you publish your content?
- How will you create your content?
- Why are you doing this?
The last question is extremely important. You need to know the reasons why you are creating content for your restaurant in the first place. If not, you drift through the process aimlessly like a piece of plastic floating in a vast, endless sea. By having a clear content strategy, you can create specific, measurable goals and a solid plan for how to get there.
1. Define your goals.
Before you create a content strategy, it is crucial to know why you want to engage in content marketing in the first place. Any marketing strategy has the ultimate goal of bringing in better profits for the restaurant, but there are many ways to get there. Ask yourself this question: What do you hope to achieve with all the content you plan to create? Plenty of answers are available, but you have to choose at least one objective to help you create a more focused plan.
For instance, content marketing is a powerful way to increase traffic to your website. If web traffic is your goal, then you will also have to take a second look at your website and make sure it provides all the relevant information that your audience will come looking for. Having great content also brings a human voice to your brand, helping you stand out from the competition and build relationships with your audience. If relationship-building is your goal, then you will have to clearly define how you interact with your viewers and make sure all your marketing channels use the same voice across the board.
2. Identify your audience.
No marketing strategy is complete without creating a clear picture of who you are writing for. Demographics or psychographics will not suffice. The best way to identify your audience is to create a specific customer persona that drills down to every last detail. You want to have a specific person in mind. If you are creating a content strategy for a restaurant in a five-star luxury hotel, you will be addressing a very different person than if you were promoting a family-friendly fast-casual restaurant. Having a specific person in mind will help you create a message that is extremely targeted to your ideal customer.
Take a look at who frequently visits your restaurant and create content for that particular person. The location of your restaurant is one factor that determines who your most loyal visitors are. If, for example, you’re located downtown, you can expect more business people and office workers to come in for lunch. In contrast, a restaurant in the suburbs will usually find more families or couples dining in. Your menu, price points, and restaurant theme also influence who your visitors are. For example, a rowdy sports bar isn’t a place for young families with toddlers in the same way that a gourmet fine-dining restaurant doesn’t usually cater to college students. By looking at these factors, you can better get in touch with who your customers are and what to write for them.
3. Build an editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar is a tool that can help you organize the content you plan to publish in the future. Having an editorial calendar also helps you plan content around certain seasons, holidays, and events that are happening in your local area. It’s one of the easiest ways to make sure you have content that is ready for publishing and that you stick to a certain publication schedule.
Building an editorial calendar starts with conducting an audit of your current content. What content have you already posted? What specific blog and social media posts are doing well, meaning what posts have the most views, likes, and shares? Which of your existing posts can be repurposed and which of them can be deleted? Are there any posts that need to be updated with fresh, new content?
When identifying what types of posts you want to create, remember the 80/20 rule. This rule states that 80% of all your content should serve your viewers in one way or another while the remaining 20% can be devoted to promoting your business. The reason here is obvious. Audiences are not interested in content that serves no other purpose than to take their money. They are after content that can help them meet their needs or, at the very least, keep them entertained. Keep the majority of your content helpful, relevant, or entertaining.
You also want to determine how often to post and when to post. Different digital marketing resources have different takes on the matter. Some will say that posting every day or several times a day a day will get your name out more often in front of people. Others disagree and say posting too much will turn viewers off. There is also the matter of how users of different social media networks have different preferences. There is no simple answer to this. Instead of going with this expert or that expert, analyze your online data (obtained through Google Analytics or the analytics tool of your social network of choice) and find out the best times to reach your specific audience.
Typically, editorial calendars are created as spreadsheets. If you’re planning content to be posted on multiple channels, such as your blog, Facebook, and YouTube, you may want to create separate sheets for each channel. You may also want to add a column where you can assign each entry to a specific person on your team.
4. Pick your channels.
There is an almost endless array of channels that you can use to market your restaurant, but let’s focus on the most popular ones.
Social media is a powerful way for restaurants to engage customers and potential customers alike. There’s a plethora of social networks that you can join, each one catering to a different demographic and offering different tools that you can use to promote your business. LinkedIn, for instance, is best used for business networking while Snapchat is where most teenagers go. You don’t have to create a presence in all social networks. In fact, it’s not recommended for you to spread your efforts too thin across all channels. Choose one or two social networks that your customer persona can be most frequently found in and focus on that.
YouTube is another channel worth looking into. With more than 3 billion searches done on this video platform every month, YouTube has overtaken Bing, Yahoo!, and AOL and has now become the second biggest search engine in the world. It’s not difficult to see why. Video is a highly engaging form of content. In a world where people’s attention spans get shorter and shorter, using sound and moving pictures is one of the easiest ways to grab their attention and keep it. There are many ways you can use video to engage your audience. You can create quick recipe videos or mini cooking shows that feature your chefs. You can also create behind-the-scenes footage, such as footage of food prep. You can interview your best customers or feature local events you’re participating in or special events at your restaurant.
Blogging is another powerful way to share your content. Blogging is a great way to attract traffic to your website. Your blog posts can also be repurposed for posting on other channels. There are many topics you can write about on your blog. You can blog about dishes specific to certain diets, share your best recipes, or discuss special events and local interests. And don’t forget to add blog images. Do your best to use real photos. Stock photos are convenient, and there are plenty of services that offer high-quality stock photos at an affordable price. However, stock photos do not lend the same air of authenticity that real photos of your staff, customers, and restaurant can.
5. Create content that people can relate to.
What makes great content? The answer depends on who your audience is, but there are a few things that most people look for in content they would love to consume. Authenticity is one of those things. People can tell if you’re just in it for the money or if you truly care about providing good value. Being authentic doesn’t mean you have to bare your soul to your audience. It simply means being genuinely willing to create interesting, relevant, and entertaining content for others.
One way you can do that is to keep telling stories that your audience will appreciate. Everyone loves stories. Humans have been telling stories since our ancestors could build fire. Research shows that stories engage the human brain in the same way as real-life experiences do. In other words, the mind can’t tell the difference between a well-told story and something that happened in real life. So don’t be afraid to infuse your story into your content. Stories don’t have to be over-the-top and dramatic. Light, entertaining stories about the day-to-day lives of your staff or customers can also be powerful enough to engage your viewers.