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Marketing Your Illinois Business

Bar and Restaurant Marketing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

May 12, 2020

Just because your guests have been forced into self-isolation doesn’t mean they can’t support and root for you in different ways. Regularly creating unique online content is a great way to boost your brand and keep customer attention, even while your doors are closed to the public. This type of proactive marketing can be an effective tool for restaurants during the COVID-19 crisis.

Use Social Media to its Full Capability

The best part of social media is that content is relatively easy to create just by using your phone. Sharing photos of your establishment is a great way to help remind customers of great times had at your establishment, and keep you top of mind when they can finally return. Use social media during this time of social distancing to connect with regulars and reach new potential patrons by experimenting with social media channels and features you have never tried before.

Keep your customer base in the loop on what cleaning measures you’re taking, what specials you’re running, and how you and your staff are coping at the moment with the ever-changing industry landscape. If you are looking for content ideas, here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Behind the scenes of your establishment
  • Honest messaging about how you’re coping during the Stay at Home Order
  • Ways patrons can support your establishment right now

Market New Services (delivery or otherwise)

If you are a restaurant that already had a carryout initiative, make sure to reiterate to your customers that you are open for carryout business during this closure. If you are new to the carryout industry, be sure to heavily advertise your new carryout menu to your customers on your social media sites or through other means. Many establishments are unrolling brand new services at their locations, and there has been a steep learning curve with these new systems.Download COVID-19 Graphics

If you have your own delivery team or are accepting pick-up orders, tell your customers exactly what the process will look like. Explain how your delivery drivers are practicing social distancing during the delivery at the customer’s home, or walk through specific instructions about pick-up orders like where to park and how to make a payment. Being transparent with new processes will help reduce miscommunication and stress on both your staff and the customers.

Revisit and Optimize Your Online Presence

Use this time to check on your establishment’s online presence and make sure you are getting the most out of your digital marketing efforts. A great place to start is by making sure you’re set up with Google My Business. It’s free, easy to use and allows you to manage your online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. This helps guests find you more easily – now through various marketing tactics to keep them engaged, and later when you open your doors.

Prompt Future Visits

With each delivery and/or pickup order it’s a good idea to include a coupon or gift card that can be used in the future only during a dine-in visit. This will keep your establishment top of mind for guests that cannot dine inside a restaurant right now but will be wanting to do so in the future. Encourage your customers to share their delivery experiences, post photos of the food, and generally support you to their own network. This is a totally free way that your loyal customers can support you during this time.

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