Does Facebook Marketing Work for Restaurants?

Amy Foxwell, Win Win Restaurant MarketingI’ve been watching a conversation on Linked In about a question if using Facebook is a good strategy for restaurant owners and managers. What strikes me about this conversation is twofold: 1) everyone in the conversation (restaurant marketing consultants and restaurant owners and managers alike) seem to be focused on being right, rather than listening and learning from others, 2) no one is talking very much about using clear metrics to decide what the answer for each individual establishment is. Now, the reason I have decided to write a restaurant marketing idea post is that these are two points that are very close to my heart as a restaurant owner, restaurant marketing company, and the creator of an effective restaurant marketing system: learning from others and measuring everything we do.

1) Learning from others – One of my dearest and brightest mentors always told me to watch the people that were truly listening in a meeting – they were the intelligent ones. You see, when we speak, we only say what we know, but when we listen we have the opportunity to increase what we know. Using other people’s knowledge, not reinventing the wheel and learning from experienced mentors that have already had success are some of the most important actions that the super successful restauranteurs carry out. Why spend hours and a fortune reinventing the wheel when someone already knows exactly how to market a restaurant? So, next time you are in a conversation, don’t make such an effort to be right. Make an effort to listen and learn. And the first thing you should do to kick off the new year is to find someone experienced in the restaurant business to help you grow your restaurant business in the quickest and easiest way.

2) Measure EVERYTHING you do. Make sure there is a way to measure every program you have in place, even ads (have customers bring in an offer, etc) and have a clear and standard way of measuring the ROI (return on investment). I don’t let my restaurant managers or my clients put a restaurant marketing campaign in place without a way to calculate ROI. Make your own ROI calculator or find one already done for you (there is one in the Win Win Restaurant Marketing Kit).

So, what is my take on whether facebook is a good marketing strategy for restaurants? As with everything, it is essential to have a mix of marketing activites, and in some cases Facebook is a good part of the mix. But every restaurant owner or manager needs to know concretely if it works for their own restaurant business. So put a program in place (a free glass of wine if you mention Facebook, for example) to test if it really is bringing in customers. It’s worth the budget to test and see if Facebook is something you should continue, cut or even more importantly – give the right amount of time and resources relative to its performance.

No matter what you decide for your restaurant, one thing is sure – make sure to get the tried and true restaurant marketing basics (comment cards, referral campaigns, etc) in place before you branch out into clearly slower burn and less effective restaurant marketing like social media restaurant marketing.