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Restaurant Marketing: Your Focus Shouldn’t Be On Social Media

I arrived in Madison, Wisconsin last week to do a restaurant marketing workshop for Sysco and was looking for a place to eat. Obviously in a strange town and no one around to make recommendations, I pulled out my trusty iPhone and downloaded the Yelp app.

Immediately, I got hundreds of restaurants with thousands of reviews. I searched for some restaurants in my area where my hotel was located—because Yelp is GPS enabled—read the reviews and made my choice. It was that easy … and thanks to those who had already visited that restaurant and submitted a review, I made the right choice and had a great dining experience.

This is how many will decide which restaurant to choose—online referrals from other people who have dined at your restaurant.

This experience really drives home the point that your guests can control your destiny. They can make you really successful and fabulously rich. They can create a buzz about you that no one else can. But it’s all up to you.

Ironically, as our guests are moving to “hi-tech” sources for their information and referrals, restaurants need to focus on “low-tech” marketing to be successful. That means, mom and pop marketing, the principles of mayor marketing; making connections, wowing your guest and their dining experience. The list goes on and for those who have been with me over the past years, you know what I’m talking about.

So, while other restaurants are focusing their attention or bragging about building the “largest” list of facebook fans—by attracting customers with discounts galore (that sounds familiar) and truly believing that these “fans” are the end-all and be-all of loyalty to your restaurant, (c’mon, who are we kidding here) … I urge you to focus your attention on your guests and their dining experience … from the nano-second they drive into your parking lot.

And what does this have to do with Facebook? Here’s the million dollar tip to having a winning social media program that you won’t find at any workshop (other than mine) or in any book—If you’re successful at Wowing your guests, they’ll handle your social media marketing for you.

Joel Cohen regularly blogs about  Restaurant Marketing. Through consulting and speaking, he focuses on specific principles of restaurant marketing, such as planning, differentiation and how to WOW guests to increase sales.

About Joel Cohen

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  1. Great post!

    Wanted to yell, “Preach it!” to your, ” I urge you to focus your attention on your guests and their dining experience … from the nano-second they drive into your parking lot.”

    That’s where you win over customers who then take your brand into “their” social zones of influence.

  2. Agreed! If restaurants truly focus on their customer’s experience, the rest will take care of itself. Have an attractive entrance. Comp an appetizer occassionaly. Give out unique after dinner mints. How about a hand wipe before dinner? And obviously great food and service.

  3. Very good post on the needs to focus on the basics … great service, great food, and great pricing will enable customers to do the “heavy lifting” of social marketing.

    Of course, it helps to have a good website, and Facebook / Twitter or other social elements that can be referenced as well. It’s always nice to thank a customer that writes a great review, or to be able to reach out to someone who wasn’t happy with their service.

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