28 Nov Fine Dining Restaurant Marketing Strategies
We’ve seen an uptick in fine dining restaurant clients this year and are looking to expand on what we’ve been doing when it comes to marketing food for an upscale clientele. It sure is a fun sector of the luxury world to be working in, and we’ve learned a thing or two along the way.
I wanted to share a few marketing strategies we’ve had success with and share them with you all as we like to help, even if we’re not getting paid. Why do I give away so many actionable marketing strategies and ideas on our luxury marketing blog? It’s quite simple actually. We know that you’re busy running your restaurant and don’t always have the time to tackle the marketing end of things. Once you know how we think and operate, it often leads to new clients giving us a shout.
I tend to write more than needed, so for your sake and mine, I will be keeping the actionable marketing strategies short and sweet so you can bookmark and comeback for easy reading. I will also be updating this restaurant marketing guide over the years with fresh strategies that will continue to work as time goes on.
Fine Dining Restaurant SEO
The first area is the most sought after topic when it comes to what we’ve dealt with over the past decade. Ranking high on Google is still an extremely viable and lucrative area to dominate. The playing field however has got a lot tougher over the years mainly due to review websites, and they can be extremely hard to outrank. We’ll be taking a look at the strategies we employ that can help you gain ground against these sites, as well bury the competition leaving them little room to catch up.
We recently worked with a well known fine dining restaurant in NYC who wanted to outrank its competition, as well rank for search terms outside of the typical “large ones” that bring in most of the traffic. While we cannot name our client, we can share with you how over a year we employed the following tactics to gain natural backlinks, develop content that engaged and drove a 47% increase in reservations through the website.
Restaurant Link Building & Acquisition
Google can be quite finicky when it comes to “link building” but one thing is for sure, they still play a major role within the search algorithm and we don’t see that going anywhere soon. While our agency tends to steer clear of the building aspect of links, there are still ways via outreach and general B2B reasons to build links to your restaurant.
These links typically build that strong foundation that brings authority to your domain, they are also the most time consuming to acquire. We will also go over ways you as a restaurant can acquire links through clever viral and content marketing. The most common issue we’ve seen in this area is that most restaurants haven’t tackled much of either. Since so many restaurants rely on tourism, you’ll still find so many visitors searching for fine dining options so don’t miss out on this golden opportunity.
Broken Link Building For Restaurants >
What: – Broken link building is an old strategy that I don’t think will ever die out. It involves getting your hands a bit dirty and scouring the web for pages that have either mentioned you but forgot to link, or you can find a competitor who has closed down and recoup all their fantastic backlinks. For our NYC restaurant client we managed to score several dozen high quality links with this method.
How: – We’re going to look at a couple methods that are quick and dirty, but if you’re in a large city be prepared to have a lot of work on your hands. First is using OpenTable to find closed down restaurants in your area with ease, and the other will be via a bit of Google sleuthing.
Head on over to Google and copy this query into your search bar site:opentable.com “citynamehere” “permanently closed” and be sure to replace “citynamehere” with your city. This should quickly give you a list of all the restaurants in your area that are done and gone, now you just need to find one that is on par with your style of restaurant.
From here you can easily check their listing, find their domain name out and then run it through a backlink analysis tool of your choice to find all their links. We’ll take PONOMA NYC as an example since they are still mostly closed down and only do private chef experiences now. I’ve used Neil Patel’s free backlink tool in this case so you can try it out for yourself, however we recommend something like AHREFS if you’re serious about link building.
While they don’t have the largest link profile out there, you can quickly see a few websites that would most likely welcome a broken link fix and a new suggestion(your restaurant) to fill in the gap. The other benefit from some backlink snooping also can show you other websites that write about restaurants like yours and you can start building or adding to your PR/Journalist list…don’t have one going? Keep on reading because we’re getting to that.
Listacles & Resource Pages
How many “Top X Restaurants In City” articles are out there? The answer is often dozens upon dozens, and this is just another area to find broken links quickly and easily. You’ll be surprised as to how many outdated articles now have broken links to restaurants that are just waiting for you to scoop in on. Most publications and websites are typically grateful to hear about a broken/dead link, and if you ask nicely, your chances of replacing that mention are quite high.
For this case, I use a free Chrome extension called Broken Link Checker which you can get and use to quickly scan a page for broken links. If you’re using a tool like AHREFS this is a lot easier to do in bulk, but for this post I’m sticking with free tools anyone can use.
PR & Viral Marketing >
The easier and most effective link building method out there for a fine dining restaurant is easily a sound PR and viral marketing strategy. There are endless ways you can get creative with your marketing efforts here and with a team of talented chefs and bartenders, the sky is the limit.
Standing out in any business is key, especially here in the restaurant industry, and keeping on top of this is easier than you think. There will always be a new trend wave to ride, the seasons are always changing and the room for endless creativity allows for a lot of PR play. We have pitched hundreds of restaurant stories to our private list of food journalists over the years and certainly know what it takes to get that article written.
- Dive into a trending topic, ie newsjacking, by creating a special dish and or cocktail around it.
- Creative influencer marketing partnered giveaways that instantly tap into a large targeted audience.
- Create dishes with local products that are aimed at gaining press, backlinks from partner pages such as farmer markets and organic meat vendors.
- Announcement of partnerships and awards.
- Create lavish private events that aim to entice journalists to write about.
- Utilize restaurant industry wire services such as TheTakeout.com and Food Dive
- Target travel blogs and magazines as they often love to right about fine dining in cities, as well share trending news related to travelers.
- Last but not least, have that fantastic content created and ready to go as that only enhances your chances of getting picked up.
The importance of food based journalist relationship building cannot be stressed enough when it comes to the success of your news pitch. It’s good to keep in mind that these people receive so many pitches per week, so you better be bringing something very exciting to the table or expect little to no results. The more success you have, the more of a relationship you will build with journalists who want to hear from you again and again.
While we provide our clients with pitching access to over one hundred food journalists across the globe, its best they hear more directly from the brand in question. There’s no press release service in the world that can touch this method, nor do you have to pay huge retainers to PR companies. This can be done in an efficient and smart manor that makes everyone involved happy.
Low Hanging Fruit(aka LHF)
A lot of low hanging fruit link opportunities restaurants either miss out on, don’t bother getting and or were just too damn lazy to do all that outreach for. Setting aside a small budget and or bit of personal time aside per month can get a lot done in just a few month’s time.
- Whenever your restaurant wins and award or scores great reviews from prominent influencers make sure you’re getting links from the sources issuing them.
- Put together a monthly plan for food bloggers of prominence to be constantly coming once or twice a month. This provides relevant local links, as well dips into social media marketing if done right.
- Get backlinks from partner pages such as vendors, hotels and related resources. Most fine dining restaurants don’t realize the extend of possibilities with this angle. Just think of how many potential partner companies you could and can work with. Examples being Uber or local car hire services, local luxury hotels and travel agents, furniture and food suppliers and so forth.
- Get links from menu listing websites such as Menu Pages and Sirved.
- Get links from quality local business directories specific to your location which can also help with Google Local Map Pack ranking.
- Make your next job listing into part of your link building efforts by getting links from job hunting websites both national and local.
- Submit your events to local sources that not only accept them, but link back to your restaurant website.
- Local tourism websites often list the best restaurants so use Google operators to find link opportunities.
Fine Dining Restaurant
& Social Marketing
Social media plays a very important role within fine dining restaurant marketing, that is obvious to anyone in the industry. There however many ways to get success, as well just as many ways of wasting your time day after day. We’ve had nearly a decade of experience crafting social media marketing strategies for restaurants based on data and this is what we find works to this day.
We employ a system based on successes and results from previous campaigns, and I will break down most of them here. What it all comes down to though is first and foremost great content, and that followed up with a bit of a paid media budget to play with. Organic social views are few and far between, so make sure you cut the noise and reach an audience that converts into customers.
Great Restaurant Content >
Instagram and Facebook have taken over the food advertising world and this is where most of the focus will be. Here it’s all about great content and visuals, especially well done videos and photography. We see far too many restaurants relying in low quality content that doesn’t perform well with viewers. Make sure you hire a professional, as well are putting out several new creates every month or two.
Take a watch as to what Daniel Schiffer does.
Paid Social Advertising Budget >
Organic reach has plummeted in recent years due to social platforms wanting to increase their advertising revenue, thus increasing the need for brands to spend a little. Well that sounds scary to a few restaurant owners, it’s not if you’re producing the right content and targeting the right audience. Your advertising spend can go a long way if done correctly, especially since it can help push that organic reach to new heights.
Influencer Marketing >
Working with influencers and food bloggers is another way to build your social follower numbers. There is more to this than just paying someone to come eat at your restaurant. While reviews are always great to get, you can work with influencers for events and unique experiences to go even more viral. Make sure you get your advertising spend’s worth when working with an influencer, so make sure you try and push for a viral angle that benefits both parties.
Social Media Giveaways >
Social media giveaways for a restaurant have to be done correctly as you want to make sure you’re targeting the right market. Sometimes though, you can use a giveaway in conjunction with paid, influencer and viral marketing. This is the sweet spot because you just get so much more bang for your advertising buck. The tricky part is figuring out how you can combine all three to make for a very effective giveaway that gets new followers, scores backlinks for SEO value and perhaps even a bit of press along the way.
Restaurant Apps &
There are a dizzying amount of restaurant apps and methods for lead generation that we have to be careful as to where we spend our time and effort. I wanted to share what we think are worthy of a look and perhaps become a part of your overall restaurant marketing strategy.
Restaurant Reviews >
A good review and a recommendation from someone can lead to and endless supply of new customers through that door and seated at a table. Make sure you encourage reviews from customers because too many people will forget within 24 hours of eating at your place. Another way to ask is to follow and engage people who took foodie photos during their trip and drop a comment thanking them, as well, ask them to drop a review on any platform.
Most people will have Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp and Google so make it easy for everyone to find you business there. The more top quality reviews will also help propel you up in Google Local, as well on listacles found all over the web that keep a tally of the “best and top” restaurants in your city.
Delivery Apps >
While most fine dining establishments don’t put a lot of focus on takeout, the “Netflix Generation” certainly loves to stay home and order in. I wouldn’t limit any high-end customer and say no, so why not open up a bit and let the food delivery companies help you out a bit? Align yourself with trusted services such as Uber Eats and GrubHub to open up to more revenue.
Tour Guides & Concierges >
Reaching out to local tour guides and hotel concierge services are a great way to tailor what kind of client comes your way, and work out a deal with more trusted local travel resources. Just think of how many potential customers they come in contact with on a weekly basis, and then figure out what that could do for your revenues this year.
Foodie Apps >
I continue to be more and more impressed with a few foodie apps out there that seem to be a great lead generation addition to the restaurant marketing arsenal. Steering away from food delivery apps, these are more for those who love to look at pretty dishes and learn a new thing or two. Definitely the target market for people who tend to spend more on going out for food, as well splurging once a month on a fine dining meal.
These mobile apps are usually tied into larger websites, so your brand value goes up getting noticed on these apps. I”m a big fan of ChefsFeed app which you see in the picture above. It’s shown a lot of promise getting restaurant content in front of hungry wealthy diners, as well as local food experts and other chefs.
there are constantly new ones coming out but some of the notable mobile apps with an actual user base worth mentioning is Zomato for its business app, the Zagat App is still going strong for fine dining and I recommend also checking out OpenTable and getting active on there.
Unique Dining Experiences
The most important fine dining marketing strategy, well in my mind anyway, is the need and lust for a unique dining experience. This is what will set you apart from the the others, but the benefits don’t stop there either. Putting on something extravagantly unique can provide you with content for social media, a means to do a PR campaign, score high quality backlinks from the media and food bloggers, connect with local business and overall build your clientele.
This this Thanksgiving “dining experience” is perhaps a bit over the top, you get my point right? People are always looking for something to do, and affluent diners are certainly looking for new ways to spend their money on unique experiences. Food is just the best way to do this in my opinion, and there really are endless possibilities when it comes to creating a unique dining experience.
We’ve helped a few restaurants do very cool things like long table dining in the rainforest and on beaches, and going even more on the trends with Cannabis infused dinners and celebrity guest chefs at popup locations. It all just comes down to coming up with a plan and executing it with your team. When done right all the marketing value comes together along with you further cementing your restaurants reputation within the culinary world.
That’s Just The Start
There are a lot more things that can be done but we’ll save those for our clients and private luxury marketing forum groups which you can join. We hope you find some and or all of this fine dining marketing and SEO guide useful and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email, Skype, Facebook Messenger or in the comments below. I will keep this guide updated as the years go on as the marketing strategies change with them.