Franchised QSRs have a worldwide value of over half a trillion dollars. And that’s not even counting small businesses, like local coffee shops, bakeries, or other quick-service restaurants. It’s a crowded market, to put it mildly. But there are also a lot of opportunities to run a successful and profitable quick-serve business. In such a competitive field, an SMB’s QSR marketing strategies are an integral part of future success. And it’s important to adapt to the rapidly evolving world of quick-service restaurant marketing. Targeting the right audience at the right time can mean a lot of business and a more successful QSR.
Table of Contents
- Focus on Your Social Media QSR Marketing Strategies
- Make Your Quick-Serve Restaurant Website Great
- Improve Your Business’s SEO
- Email Marketing Isn’t Dead
- Print Advertising Isn’t Dead Either, Especially for Local Small Businesses
- Keep an Eye on Online Reviews
- Offer Convenient Delivery and Get Listed on QSR Food Apps
- Consider Paid Social Media Marketing
- Amp Up Your Loyalty Program
1. Focus on Your Social Media QSR Marketing Strategies
Whether you’re a quick-serve establishment or full-service bar or restaurant, you must have a strong social media presence. Food and drink related photos and videos have been trending upwards for the past several years.
There are a lot of platforms to share your content, but the most important place to start is with an Instagram account. Of course, posting beautiful and creative photos/videos of your food and drink is necessary. But you also want to encourage user participation. Incentivize tags and check-ins from your followers through contests or giveaways. This is a fun and easy way to advertise. Basic marketing through Instagram is free and an invaluable place to reach more eyes to show off your delicious menu.
But that doesn’t mean that you should ignore the others. Facebook is still a great place to share quick videos and Twitter is good for keeping up with industry news, sharing relevant stories, and offering time-sensitive deals.
Make sure that all channels are branded well and keep your QSR identity and image consistent. Reaching so many eyes is great, but it requires hard work to make it engaging and productive content.
First of all, make sure that you have updated menus, prices, and hours for your quick-service restaurant. And make it easy to find! It’s still way too common to have inaccurate information on your website. Nothing will frustrate a customer more than to arrive and find out that the item they wanted is no longer on the menu.
A QSR website doesn’t have to be complicated either. It can be as simple as a few photos, a brief history/bio, and the menu. It’s always nice to highlight your team as well. Most people going out for food and beverage value service and friendliness. Show that you have a great group of people at your business.
Modern platforms such as WordPress make this easy for even the least tech-savvy people. And if you want to hire someone to put it together, a simple but sleek website shouldn’t be expensive.
Once you have a website, optimize the pages for a few basic keywords. For more competitive locations, a blog might be a good addition to your website. Writing simple posts about new recipes or other cool retailers who are not direct competitors can provide potential customers with valuable information. You can also reach out to bloggers who cover your industry and ask that you be featured.
In addition to your on-page SEO, make sure that all information on Google is accurate, again particularly your store’s hours of operation and menu. You should also register your QSR with Google Business. This will improve your visibility and accessibility when you appear in a search. Rather than having to dig for additional information, once you register your business with Google, your location, hours, reviews, photos, and videos will all be visible immediately at the top right of the results page. This is free and simple. It adds convenience for your potential customers and will encourage new business.
Even though social media and websites are where you’ll put a lot of your quick-service marketing efforts, these email marketing ideas are still a great tool for businesses of all sizes. Email marketing still has the best return on investment of any marketing avenue.
Take the time to gather existing customer information through surveys, loyalty programs, or contests. Once you’ve compiled a good email marketing list, you can use it to promote new products or menu items, sales or promotions, holiday specials, or even just general news about the industry. You can also use it to highlight initiatives or just things that you care about. A farm-to-table place might want to feature one of their local farmers, for instance. Again, make sure that whatever you send is useful and not too sales-focused.
While you probably won’t be sending out mailings to thousands of people, some minimal print ads will be worth your while.
For quick-service establishments, the best way to market through print is to partner with other local businesses. Dropping off branded postcards, pins, or business cards with a few neighboring small businesses can help your word-of-mouth marketing and shows that you are locally-minded and involved in the community.
Speaking of the community, always attend any local festivals, food events, or community days. Rent booths and serve your food. It’s a wonderful way to show off how much you care and to engage with people in person. Plus, they’re always a blast!
Whether you like it or not, review sites are here to stay. And people check them. A lot of people. For QSR businesses, the most crucial is Yelp. Customers can review any business on Yelp regardless of whether or not you’ve registered with the site. So it’s important to be proactive and create a profile.
Yelp and other review sites also offer you the opportunity to receive valuable feedback, even it comes in the form of complaints. Of course, we all want great reviews, but try to turn poor experiences into better experiences for future customers. Also, take the time to publically address and bad reviews. Stay polite and offer whatever compensation you deem appropriate for the situation. Though this doesn’t mean that you have to respect any bullies. Watch out for the jerks. Google Reviews, Eat24, Zagat, OpenTable, and other platforms are taking some of Yelp’s market, so don’t ignore those either.
Convenience is king, and delivery is the king of convenience, at least when it comes to food and drink. Uber Eats, Seamless and GrubHub are growing incredibly fast. And most are pretty easy to set up and manage. Depending on the business, you may have to supply the delivery drivers or bikers, or they may be employees of the service. Typically, they will also send out a representative to get you comfortable with the operation and answer any questions you might have.
Again, be sure that ALL information is organized and current on each of these apps. Orders for items that you had on the menu six months prior are not going to be pleasant to deal with.
You must also be considerate of what items you include on the delivery menu. Anything alcoholic clearly cannot be added to that. But neither should items that don’t travel well. You want your food to be as good delivered as it is in your coffee shop, bakery, or sandwich spot.
Paid quick-service restaurant marketing on social media sites is often a great option for bigger companies, such as chains or franchises. Ads on Facebook or Instagram provide you with more exposure and useful marketing analytics. You can also pay for top results on various searches on Google, Yelp, and other apps. These can get much more costly, but a few new regulars will make up for that quickly.
Look into any relevant influencers that you might want to represent your product as well. This doesn’t mean you have to pay Kylie Jenner a quarter mill to advertise a botched music festival in the Bahamas. You can simply invite them in for a free meal or drinks or send them some product to try. Again, social media is a remarkable way to get massive media exposure quickly.
Loyalty programs are great for many reasons. First and foremost, they reward your best customers and encourage them to keep giving you their business.
But loyalty programs also serve as excellent marketing tools. With a robust loyalty solution, you can collect valuable data on your customers: order histories, average amount spent, frequency of visits, emails, phone numbers, and much more. This can help you better gauge future business decisions so as to make more customers satisfied. A great QSR loyalty program is meant to benefit both your business and your clients.
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