Depending on where you live, bars and restaurants are beginning to open and the excitement levels are beginning to build. In the UK, pubs, bars, and restaurants will be allowed to open on the 4th of July. In the U.S.A it this is being dictated on a state by state basis as the intensity of the virus varies depending on where you love. New Zealand has opened some of their bars and Switzerland are allowing nightclubs and other music venues of up to 1000 people to open without any social distancing measures. No matter where your business is based, re opening after the intense lockdown period is a big deal and you will need to ensure your digital marketing is of high enough quality to get you noticed amongst the chaos. Here’s Probella’s tips on how bars and restaurants can ensure their digital marketing campaigns bring back trade with a bang.
Move as quickly as possible
Though planning and careful reflection is often an integral part of any marketing campaign, those things are something of a luxury at the moment. You will obviously need to ensure you still conduct standard quality checks and avoid rushing something out for the sake of it, but you will also need to be aware that due to the unpredictable nature of lockdown easing, you need to act fast. If necessary, involve a professional digital marketing agency to help you. Very few businesses are in a position to be spending on money on promotion at the moment but without investing in a robust and well-planned campaign, you are putting yourself at a severe disadvantage. If you definitely cannot afford to employ somebody to take over promotion duties for you, at least dedicate as many members of staff to things like content creation, design, social media coverage and email campaigns as you possibly can. Though you might be forced to operate with limited space, the more people you can reach, the better.
Explain how you are going to make social distancing work
There is no option to ignore social distancing if it is still in place in your country and failing to adhere to your local laws regarding this practice will inevitably result in a fine, or worse, enforced closure. Though your food, drink and overall product should be the main focus of any campaign you run with, customers will need to know what you are planning to do in terms of working with social distancing measures. Many bars in the UK are planning to offer pre booked time slots for customers to avoid overcrowding and queues. They are also taking the temporary measure of asking customers to refrain from speaking with raised voices or using background music. This kind of measure presents a significant challenge in terms of how can frame it positively in a piece of marketing copy, however, it is possible. Explaining that you value the safety, comfort and overall experience of every customer should be standard practice and reminding your clientele that these restrictive measures are temporary will help them to focus on something other than Covid for a while.
Display Your Menus Online
This can sometimes be seen as a little crude by those who consider themselves trendy epicures but in the current situation, it is one of the most effective ways of encouraging your customers back through the door. Whether you’re returning to old favourites or have been able to use your lockdown time to rejuvenate your culinary selection, a clear, attractively designed and easy to understand menu that is prominently placed on your website or social media page is key. This will drive clicks and engagement, but it will also mean that customers can potentially order before they arrive on the premises, streamlining and speeding up the whole process.
Consider an online ordering system
This may be easier for those who have already been providing takeout and delivery services over the past few months but even for those who are opening up from scratch, online ordering can be an extremely effective way of minimising staff contact with customers and also predicting how many covers you are likely to be doing on any particular day. The downside of this style of system is that it does detract from the traditional spontaneity of the restaurant experience. Again, it is worth explaining that this is likely to be a temporary measure and is something you chose to do in order to adapt to the challenges presented by Covid 19 so you could open up and trade. Customers will generally be more accepting of these measures if you explain them clearly, rather than trying to gloss over the fact that the world looks and feels almost unrecognisable when compared to just six months ago.
Reassure Customers with Quality and Professionalism
People are still understandably extremely nervous about going out into the real world due to the continued risk of infection. They may also be anxious about picking something up from poor hygiene standards in the kitchen. This is a time to show off your cleaning processes and sanitising routines in detail. You may not need to include a detailed breakdown on your website or social media page itself but offering to provide details to any customers who need a little reassurance is a good idea.
When it comes to managing customer flow, explain how you are planning to provide an enjoyable experience for everybody, without letting the current restrictions interfere with the experience too much. People will be more forgiving than they would have been pre Covid, but they will still expect a certain standard of quality and service. Train staff to monitor social distancing and to alert a member of the management team if any customers are seen breaching these rules and also consult the local authorities on any support, they can provide for you.
This will be the beginning of a potentially intense period of business for all restaurants and bars, providing they can adjust to the ever-changing demands of the Covid 19 crisis.