‘We aim to please’; ‘be our guest’ — whatever your soundtrack may be for reopening your doors, promoting your venue has never been more important and it involves more than having a website and social media pages.

There’s plenty of strategies that can be implemented to bring the community back in. Here are a few ideas that might be helpful.

1)  Highlight your venue’s strengths

Before you start promoting, figure out what you’d like to promote. If the venue has newly renovated interiors, consider focusing on its space and fresh dine-in experience. If you offer speedy service and are in a central location, it might be worth underlining the venue’s value as a quick lunch spot with pre-orders for office workers.

If the venue is targeting health-conscious clientele, emphasise the nutritional benefit of certain meals. Before spreading the word, consider the venue’s strength, and what unique qualities the venue can promote.

2) Communicate your COVID-Safe plan

Going the extra mile to remind patrons you have COVID-Safe protocols in place at your venue could make the difference when it comes to a guest choosing between you and your competition.

In an environment where restrictions change all the time, you may have the option of declaring your choice on which patrons are welcome.

If checking vaccination status is a state mandate or it’s a requirement of entry into your business, ensure you have a reservation software (such as ResDiary) and website booking widget that capture the information so you can safely operate without the worry of becoming a hotspot.

3)  Cross-promote

If a particular shopping strip has high foot traffic, everyone benefits. It’s likely to be in every business owner’s best interest to support each other, and work together so all parties achieve collective success.

Consider highlighting neighbouring businesses on social media, displaying their posters inside your venue, and asking them to reciprocate on-site and online. A café adjacent to a bakery could collaborate on a discounted deal, say, a coffee and a croissant.

There may also be an opportunity to get involved in the local chamber of commerce, tourism drive from a trader’s association, or street precinct to help promote the area. It adds to the community vibe which may encourage customers to dine at your venue, as part of a shop-local initiative.

4)  Promote local produce where possible

Customers want to buy from businesses that utilise local markets, shops and suppliers, so talk about where your venue is getting produce, and how it is being used. Upload videos and photos on social media which discuss the buying, preparation and cooking process. It’s a great way to introduce the team, and demonstrate the care that goes into the decisions being made – from the shops to the final plate.

5)  Offer targeted discounts and deals

People want to support businesses that are outward-facing, and engaged in what’s happening outside their walls. A great way to reflect this is through specialised deals for specific members of the community: for example, discounts and pay-it-forward initiatives for healthcare workers, teachers, other frontline workers and vulnerable members of the community.

It might also be worth considering incentivising staff to advocate for these initiatives. The goodwill generated by these deals may be the thing that wins a potential customer over.

6) Get listed

Being seen is the name of the game. Many third party platforms can offer free listings such as on Reserve with Google or Dish Cult, which are commission-free per booking. Ensure you research and maintain these listings where it aligns with your brand so you can keep your venue top of mind with consumers.

Editorial and providing giveaways go a long way with readers on these platforms too. It may be an option to try these avenues to fill your venue before offering a discounted deal straight away.

The scope to promote a venue is basically unlimited, but it may require some lateral thinking. If possible, consider offering samples, discounts, vouchers and/or loyalty cards. Introduce a new dish or cocktail on the menu.

Incorporate local art in some form, and encourage customers to tag your business on social media. Tell friends to tell their friends to tell their relatives. Keep discussing different ways to get the word out. It might be one idea, or the result of 10 that brings a line of customers outside your door. 

Learn more about ResDiary and how it can help you promote your business.

Disclaimer: This guide is general in nature and does not take into account your individual circumstances. Before acting on any information, you should consider whether this is right for your businsess.