How to Differentiate Your Restaurant from the Competition
- Knowing your target customer and their interests will help you create relevant promotions and marketing strategies.
- Analysing what your competitors are doing will help you improve your own services and save money learning from their successes and failures.
- Identifying your Core Principles and Unique Selling Points (USPs) gives you content for your marketing strategy and shows you where you need to introduce changes.
- Promoting the highlights of your Customer Experience (CX) and making a feature of what your restaurant does incredibly well encourages trust, customer engagement and orders.
- Using mobile technology and ordering apps gets your restaurant seen by people searching in your area and improves your brand recognition and reputation.
How do You Differentiate Your Restaurant from the Competition?
Before you can begin marketing your venue, you need to identify what it is that you’re offering your customers that they’ll appreciate, that they can’t get anywhere else, and how you’re taking care of their needs.
You need to ask yourself, what makes a restaurant special, and how are you meeting those standards?
Think of Marketing as your Front of House – it can only work when it’s supported by a team behind the scenes providing the content to serve up, and with the right prep work done ahead of time.
To create a differentiation strategy for your restaurant, you need to consider these key factors:
Understanding Your Restaurant Customers
This is the absolute basic, and it might seem obvious – but it’s vitally important; if you don’t know who your target customer is, what they’re interested in getting from you, and what channels you can find them on, you’re not going to make any headway.
No restaurant, no matter how diverse, will appeal to everyone. Look at your sales data – which dishes have been the most popular? When taking bookings, are they mostly for individuals, couples, groups, etc? Then look at your social media channels; there are tools, such as Meta Business, that allow you to see the different demographics that engage with your content.
Once you’ve got this information together, you’ll have a good idea of the type of people who frequent your pages and establishment, what they like and what you need to focus on.
For example: If most of your guests are couples, and your online visitors engage the most with posts detailing specific dishes or multi-course offers, then it would make sense to combine the two and create a campaign that appeals to couples looking for a special night out.
Competitor Analysis & Your Restaurants’ Position in the Market
Once you’ve completed your customer analysis, you need to look at who your competitors are and what they’re doing, especially other restaurants in your local area. Carrying out competitor analysis will allow you to see what’s working for them and what isn’t, asking – how competitive is the restaurant industry. Then finding the answer for your local area will allow you to adjust your own strategy accordingly.
For example, A local competitor is offering delivery, but they’re getting a lot of negative feedback from customers complaining about how long it takes and that their food is arriving cold. Before you offer your own delivery, it would be valuable to check what size their delivery radius is and whether their estimated delivery times are considering local traffic conditions.
By identifying their problems, you can save money and improve your reputation by ensuring your service fixes these issues.
Evaluating your competitors will also help you determine where you stand in the market. Are you customers’ 1st, 2nd, 3rd or worse choice?
Improving your market position will require an evaluation of your reputation, so you’ll need to look on review sites and social media to see what people are saying about you. It’s a valuable opportunity to discover what people are praising you for and to identify issues that need fixing.
Identifying Your Restaurant’s USPs
Standing out from the crowd doesn’t mean you must make wholesale changes and completely flip what you’ve been doing. If your restaurant is known for having a relaxed atmosphere, a consistent core menu with weekly specials, and a ‘customers are family’ approach to serving; these are all core principles and values that you can highlight as part of your differentiation strategy – especially if you’re comparing your business to chain restaurants that are more focused on get in and get out the style of dining. If you support and give back to your community, you should highlight your good works – although this needs to be done considerately so it doesn’t detract from the fact that you’re doing it because it’s right. You don’t want people assuming you’re only making a difference to attract more sales.
When looking at your USPs, don’t limit yourself to the menu. If you get a lot of praise for your décor or accessibility for disabled patrons, for example, promote it!
By examining what you do and how you’re doing it, you will be able to identify areas in which you excel, stand out by being unique, or can offer something that customers will be attracted to.
Then, if you want to introduce changes or you need to highlight changes you’ve made, for example, table seating with social distancing in mind, you should create positive and upbeat content.
People don’t want to hear, “We’ve had to do this…” or “It’s just got to be like this…”. If you’ve made a change for a negative reason, don’t dwell on it – extoll the virtues and express the benefits.
By telling your customers how you’re helping them or what you’re doing to improve their experience, you’re creating a positive environment and expectations that they’ll be excited to experience for themselves.
Creating Unique Selling Points for Your Restaurant
Do you have an incredible Customer Service team? Can you offer various experiences like dine-in, curb-side collection, delivery, and drive-through? When putting together your marketing, list the different ways you can get your dishes to your customer and compare it to what other restaurants in the area are doing. If there’s anything you’re doing on that list that no-one else is, promote this as a USP. Even if you’re not doing anything different to your competitors, you can still promote them as a USP if you’re doing it better than they are.
The better customer experience you offer your guests, the more likely they will talk about your restaurant, recommend you to their friends, family and social peers, and keep coming back.
Research from Restaurant Engine has found that, on average, a satisfied customer will visit a venue 4.3 times per month for 4.4 years, but a highly satisfied customer will visit 7.2 times per month for 8.3 years.
Highlighting Your Tech Advantage
Technology is constantly being innovated and updated to help improve processes, give new experiences, and change how diners interact with restaurants.
Customers who order online with a restaurant will visit that restaurant 67% more frequently than those who don’t. Upserve,
It’s essential that you are making use of up-to-date and speedy technology to make your customer’s ordering experience a smooth process.
You need a website that is easy to use, displays correct information, such as your opening times, social distancing or health requirements, and the most recent menu, and allows customers to reserve a table or place an order quickly and conveniently.
Whether you use a 3rd party service such as Just Eat, UberEats or Deliveroo or have your own mobile app, it’s important that you highlight this to your customers. Let them know they can find you on their mobile.
It’s also important that your website is responsive, meaning it displays correctly on mobile and tablets because a large number of people use their phones and mobile devices to search, check their social media, and make purchases.
By making technology and ease of ordering a highlight, you’re giving your potential customers good reasons to check out your menu.
Restaurant Marketing Success
You’ve got all the ingredients you need to make your restaurant marketing a success; it now comes down to mixing them together and finding the right balance for your business.
Take the time to carefully evaluate your offerings, serve up exceptional content (treat this like you would your dishes – if it’s just ‘good enough’ then it’s not fit for consumption), and promote the best of your restaurant to attract customers.
If you’re not sure where to start or how you should be prepping your materials, we’re here to help.