A food writer can craft mouth-watering web copy that attracts customers
You have a successful restaurant. You’ve invested in beautiful décor. The food is delicious. And while business is steady, you’d still like to increase traffic. A restaurant copywriter who enjoys writing about food (a.k.a. a foodie) can help you grow your business.
Is your website as effective as it could be? It’s also often the first thing a prospective customer sees, so it needs to be top notch. Ask yourself these questions:
If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, you need to get busy. You’re potentially missing out on customers who are going to competing restaurants.
Restaurant operators and caterers know that strong marketing begins with a quality website. Establishing a presence online is crucial for a restaurant’s discoverability.
To generate foot traffic and continually reach new potential customers, people need to be able to find your website. And that applies whether you have a fine dining establishment, a casual fare bistro or even a food truck.
The copywriting on your restaurant or catering website needs to be original and creative in order to be effective. Create expectations that you are able to fill with fabulous fare.
Make sure you use the right keywords for search engine optimization (SEO). That is, if you’re a Mexican restaurant in Orlando or a steakhouse in Dallas, you want to be sure those words are featured prominently on your site because that’s what searchers on Google will be looking for and you want to be included in those search results.
Don’t forget to publicize your website. Make sure you write the URL (address) on all your restaurant’s advertising and marketing materials. Word of mouth is great, but don’t miss out on attracting new business via your online presence.
What makes your restaurant special? What is its best feature? What is its secret sauce? A restaurant copywriter can help you write the About Us story for your website and other marketing materials. Tell the world why they need to stop by.
Here are some quick examples of real restaurants and the focus of their stories:
Dino’s Restaurant in Miami back in the ‘70s and ‘80s was known for its authentic Italian cooking. Owned by two brothers, the entire menu consisted of recipes they’d learned from their mother and grandmother growing up. Buon appetito!
Tacos & Tequilas in Atlanta is a family-owned Mexican restaurant and catering company. Their “secret sauce” is actually a sauce! What makes their entrees so flavorful and unique is every single one has some kind of tequila in the recipe. Delicioso!
Victoria & Albert’s in Orlando serves different foods for each season, creating dishes for whatever is fresh on the market. With a wealth of resources from farmers, fishermen and artisans, the kitchen sources pristine ingredients for each of its dishes. “Flavors shine as tradition melds with innovation.” Sound yummy? You bet!
Think your restaurant doesn’t have much of a story? Of course it does. You might just need a restaurant copywriter to help you put it into words.
Are you keeping up with the latest food trends? Is your restaurant on the cutting edge? Your marketing should reflect your efforts to be hip and give customers what they want.
If you’re a part of any of the following movements, all recently cited as restaurant trends to monitor in 2020 and beyond, think about incorporating that message into your marketing copywriting and promotions:
Healthy Menu Options — Gluten-free, keto, paleo, vegetarian and vegan are all surging in popularity. Consumers want their favorite restaurants to offer healthy menu options that allow them to stick to their diets.
According to L.E.K Consulting’s 2018 food and beverage survey, 93% of diners want to eat healthy at least some of the time while 63% are trying to eat healthy most or all of the time. And the survey further showed that consumers are willing to pay more for food that’s healthy.
Consumers are clearly sending the message that unhealthful items, such as artificial preservatives, colors and flavors, as well as a growing list of questionable additives and genetically modified foods are unwanted. And they’re willing to pay for it.
In 2006, gluten-free and so-called “free-from” foods accounted for only about $0.9 billion in retail food sales. By 2020, Statista said its data indicated that sales of those same foods will total $23.9 billion in the U.S.
If your restaurant is embracing the trend toward more natural, organic, and plant-based meals, be sure to get the word out. That’s a key selling point and could help grow your customer base.
Sustainable and Ethically Sourced Materials — Consumers want to eat food that is good for them but is also part of a larger ecosystem that benefits their community and the world. They’re willing to support restaurants that offer menu items that meet these criteria.
A 2020 environmental survey found that 74% of consumers said they’d be willing to pay as much as 10% more for takeout packaging made with sustainable materials.
Restaurants that use ingredients grown locally and from sustainable food sources should promote their environmentally friendly practices to their customers.
Fast Casual Dining — People are busy but they don’t want to sacrifice quality for speed. Fast food has its place, but it’s not for everyone and it’s certainly not for every day. Offering delicious food in a timely manner and keeping it affordable will have customers coming back for more. If your restaurant meets that description, be sure to promote it as such.
CBD and Infused Products — The National Restaurant Association recently ranked CBD/hemp as its hottest food trend of 2019 in its What’s Hot report. Nearly 76% of chefs surveyed for the report said that CBD-infused foods concepts are going to be a huge emerging market in the near future.
If you’re offering CBD dishes as appetizers, meals or adult beverages, you have an opportunity to reach a wider audience. All you have to do is look for ways to let your customers know.
Post-Covid Practices — Nothing has managed to squelch restaurant success more than the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. According to the National Restaurant Association, nearly 1 in 6 restaurants (representing nearly 100,000 restaurants) is closed either permanently or long-term. The industry is on track to lose $240 billion this year.
Every restaurant needs to offer takeout or contactless delivery, as it could be years before people feel comfortable eating in close proximity with strangers. Al fresco dining with tables placed outdoors works as well, if you have the space.
Ghost Restaurants and Ghost Kitchens — Ghost kitchens (also known as dark kitchens and virtual kitchens) trim the costs of real estate, workforce and menu innovation by modifying the restaurant model to accommodate off-premise food sales without a traditional dine-in space.
Instead of seating guests indoors or even offering takeout, all food is delivered by the restaurant or by a third-party service like DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats, as part of the ghost kitchen business model.
“The booming foodservice delivery industry provided tailwinds for ghost kitchens to grow in recent years, but amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the model is more profitable than ever,” according to Restaurant Business.
A restaurant/caterer’s online presence should extend beyond its website.
According to Tint, a global marketing firm, “As consumers turn to the internet for dining recommendations, it’s more important than ever that restaurants have an enticing, engaging web presence to bring discerning diners through their doors.”
Social media presents wonderful opportunities for you to promote your restaurant or catering service. You can have a restaurant copywriter write about your cuisine, specials, promotions, even your sanitation methods post-Covid. You can also write about how some of your specialties are made and what inspired their creation.
Of course, your content on social media shouldn’t be limited to written copy. Post photos of your best dishes. Food porn is a thing, and it can be surprisingly effective in driving traffic to your door.
Video too is a great way to connect with your customers. Post video of your kitchen staff creating some of their signature dishes. They’re hard-working and deserve recognition.
Encourage your customers to post photos of themselves enjoying their time at your restaurant. Or, if they take advantage of your catering services, ask them to show off their event on your page.
Let your customers help with marketing. Encourage them to post photos on their social media accounts.
Is your restaurant part of the eatertainment trend? Do you offer not only a meal but an experience such as games like bocce ball, virtual golf, ping pong, and shuffleboard? Think of the fun photos and videos you can post of guests having a blast at your facility.
Post write-ups when you’re adding something new to the menu or offering some sort of special, especially if you can tie it in to an upcoming holiday such as Cinco de Mayo.
Create some buzz. Have fun! It’s okay to be quirky and friendly. Don’t hesitate to show some personality. If you’re able to create content that’s entertaining, you’ll attract a loyal audience.
With social media, you can build a relationship with your customers who support your restaurant in your community both online and offline.
To help grow your restaurant’s following and deepen the loyalty of your existing clientele, consider creating a blog for your restaurant. It’s a great way to stay in touch with your customers and be at the forefront of their mind when they’re deciding where to eat their next meal.
Not sure what to write on your blog? Here are some easy ideas:
New dishes — Adding some new entrees or appetizers to your menu? Your blog is the idea place to promote these yummy new offerings.
Recipes — What’s one of your best selling dishes? Of course you don’t want to give away any big secrets, but publishing a recipe every now and then can help you form a bond with your customers. Choose a dish that’s super complicated and time-consuming to prepare and you’ll also win your customers’ admiration for the work that goes into your food.
Special offers — Promote any limited time offers. These offers can be a way to entice customers to come in sooner than they otherwise might have.
New hires — Bringing on a new chef? Do you have a wine sommelier on staff? Tell your blog readers who he or she is and what skills and experience they bring to your restaurant.
Diet-specific dishes — Consider this idea from Next Restaurants, a restaurant marketing blog. “Gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, paleo — these are terms your servers are probably hearing time and time again from their customers. If you blog about dishes on your menu that meet certain dietary restrictions, it’ll help you turn up in search results for patrons looking for a dining experience that meets their dietary needs.”
Claim your listings on restaurant review sites. The most popular restaurant review site is Yelp. Having positive reviews written about you on Yelp can be one of the best forms of marketing you can have. You should know that even if you don’t have an account on Yelp, people can still post reviews about your restaurant.
The best approach is to set up an account, and make it as informative as possible. A restaurant copywriter can help you write a sumptuous description of your food. Be sure you also include your menu, location, hours of operation and photos, the more the merrier.
Other online websites where your restaurant can be reviewed include:
Survey data shows that 94% of U.S. diners are influenced by online reviews — particularly when they’re seeking somewhere new to eat out. “The more positive experiences listed, the better, in addition to boasting well-curated photos and menu information,” according to Lightspeed business tips.
The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a local business, so businesses with just a handful of reviews or negative feedback in their top reviews risk losing potential customers to competitors with better online reputations.
“It’s no longer enough to expect reviews to come to you,” according to Small Business Trends. “Every business needs a strategy in place to encourage happy customers to provide feedback, monitor across the different review sites, and respond to both positive and negative reviews quickly and professionally. And remember — if you don’t ask, you won’t get.”
When people seek out a restaurant, they’re looking for something local. Online advertising services like Google AdWords, Facebook and Twitter offer geo-targeting ad options at no additional cost. Using that feature you can target local customers in your geographic area and not waste money on clicks from people too far to stop by.
Of course, you also can consider marketing your restaurant in local publications such as newspapers (weekly papers are more affordable than big dailies), coupon books and magazines.
A food copywriter can help you create engaging copy that brings your food to life, perfect for effective restaurant ads.
It seems silly to have to tell people who see your ads or receive your mailers that they should come to your restaurant, but plenty of studies have shown that adding a call-to-action greatly increases results.
According to the copywriting gurus at Hubspot, regardless of how compelling your words, “if there isn’t a clear next-step, your copy is almost certainly going to fail.” Hubspot copywriter Eddie Shleyner suggests you “keep your call-to-action simple and direct. Don’t force your reader to think.”
For example: Come try our new BBQ baby-back ribs!
Or: Plan your next special event at our place!
Sometimes customers need that extra little push to make a decision. Your call-to-action could be that gentle hand on their back guiding them to your door.
The copywriting in your menu is as important as the copy in any of your ads or on your website. Plain and simple, when your menu descriptions are well-crafted, they increase sales. They tempt customers to order more items. And they create expectations in your customer’s mind that can, assuming your food lives up to those descriptions, increase customer satisfaction.
You wouldn’t try to sell a product on Amazon or eBay without a detailed narrative, so don’t try to sell your food without a compelling write-up.
A restaurant copywriter can help you create sumptuous descriptions that include a tempting name and mouth-watering description. Think what you write doesn’t make a difference? Given a choice, would you order Entrée A or Entrée B below?
Entrée A: Grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and side salad.
Entrée B: Citrus marinated chicken breast seared over a wood-fired grill served with our creamy garlic Yukon gold mashed potatoes. Your entrée also includes our signature house salad: mixed lettuce with Napa cabbage, cucumbers, red onions, grape tomatoes, homemade croutons, a generous sprinkling of Monterey Jack cheese and your choice of dressing.
Can you taste the difference between Entrée A and Entrée B? Can you see how the right words can create physical craving?
Work with a restaurant copywriter to develop drool-worthy descriptions that do your cuisine justice.
You wouldn’t offer a dish that was missing ingredients. It wouldn’t taste as good. For the same reason, you shouldn’t promote your restaurant without including the marketing ingredients discussed above. To do so would be to limit your success.
A copywriter who understands restaurant marketing and enjoys writing about food can help you generate interest in your restaurant and catering service, grow traffic and increase revenue. And, perhaps most importantly, that copywriter can free you from marketing responsibilities so you can focus on what you do best—creating and serving delicious food.