Opening a quick-service restaurant (QSR) can be a lucrative business venture. The quick-service industry led the growth of overall restaurant spending in Q1 of 2018, which increased 6.6 percent, according to First Data. But, building a customer base from scratch can feel like an uphill battle. Whether you're just now taking ownership of an existing QSR or your restaurant is entirely new, it's necessary to focus your marketing efforts on establishing a brand image and attracting new customers.
Here are three marketing strategies that you can use to achieve these objectives.
Focus on Local Audiences
Paid digital marketing efforts, such as advertising through Google Ads and social platforms, are great ways to get in front of new audience segments. However, if you fail to set the right parameters, your spend can quickly exceed your budget with little return.
The best way to ensure that you're spending wisely is to only target your local audience. Consider your local audience to be those located within a convenient distance from your establishment. On average, most people drive less than 12 minutes from home for casual dining, and under nine minutes for fast food, according to data from Marketing Profs.
Strategically Use Organic Social Media
Similarly, while organic efforts don't require advertising spend, they can quickly deplete other valuable resources, such as time and energy. To maximize the value of your social media efforts, keep these three tips in mind:
Only post exceptional images. Sharing low-quality photos is a surefire way to lose potential customer attention. When posting images to Instagram, Facebook and other social platforms, make sure they're well-composed and visually pleasing.
Capitalize on loss aversion. Everyone loves a good deal, especially if you're only offering it for a limited time. Given Instagram and Facebook feed algorithms only display recent content, these platforms can effectively be used to spread the word about any limited-time offers. The shorter the window of opportunity might be, the more urgency will be felt by customers. For example, consider posting an enticing photo of your most popular menu item with a limited "lunchtime only" offer.
Use your unique brand voice. Brands that leverage emotional appeal using voices that convey humor or hope often drive higher rates of engagement than brands that don't.
Provide a Mobile-Focused QSR Experience
Marketers spent nearly $50 billion on mobile advertising in 2017 alone, according to data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. In other words, even if you aren't leveraging mobile, your competitors probably are.
But it's not enough to simply invest in mobile ads — you have to make sure your entire customer experience supports a mobile-first QSR experience. Take advantage of location data to meet your customers while they're on the move, searching on their mobile for a place to eat.
"Mobile isn't simply a different device, but a separate user experience," says Dava Guthmiller, chief creative officer at Noise 13, in an article for Forbes. "Drop the banner ads and start thinking of your digital advertising as experience-based with contextual placements that are social in nature."
Building a customer base for your new QSR can be challenging, but these three marketing strategies will help you establish brand recognition and earn a loyal following within your community.