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7 marketing tips to boost your food or drink business post-lockdown

Hospitality marketing expert from YesMore Agency, Tom Harvey, shares his top advice on how you can increase footfall and boost customers’ confidence when you re-open your food or drink business.

1. Social media is your best route to a new market

I’ve had so many conversations with bars and restaurants who’d relied far too heavily on the luxury of passing footfall to fill their venues. Social media was an afterthought. But the recent crisis has been a wake-up call. When you need to diversify, social media can, and does, drive revenue. Use it to raise awareness of your venue and consider online orders for delivery and collection if you don’t offer this already.

2. Talk about your safety credentials

All venues need to do a risk assessment – so let your customers know you’ve done one in an easy to understand format, such as “5 things we’re doing to keep you safe”. The government’s Health and Safety Executive has also designed a poster for you to print out.

Covid accessible

3. Expand your outdoor options

It’s still summer. The clocks don’t go back for another two months yet. Think about picnics and takeaway pints (make sure you have the off-trade permission on your alcohol licence to do this). Bars and pubs that can offer hampers and grab-and-go drinks will do well. Get ahead of it by working out a deposit/return scheme with multi-use glassware, and spread the word about more outdoor seating and frequent cleaning.

4. Think about booking – and deposits

Restaurants with outdoor seating will thrive – but they’ll need to ensure these tables are bookable. As long as you communicate why you have to do this, consumers won’t mind paying a deposit on booking either. If you explain that you have less tables due to  social distancing, and ‘no-shows’ cost you money, they’ll be more likely to understand, and appreciate your honesty.

Reserved Table

5. Give your customers what they want. Ask them.

Treat reopening as a relaunch. Ask your audience what they genuinely are looking forward to, and keep reviewing and asking them again and again. Build it into the sales process of every takeaway pint for example. Have bartenders ask customers what they think of your processes, and improve as you go.

6. Diversify – and keep doing it!

Mixing up your offer needs to become a long-term part of your business planning from now on. Don’t think of reopening as ‘switching back’ to your previous model. Things will be different for a long time, and there will likely be continued demand for alternative ways of engaging and buying. So, if you started doing deliveries or pick up and it has worked, continue. If you’ve opened up more of the pub garden or pavement outside and your profits have grown, continue.

Beer being served in the beer garden

7. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers

Venues should recognise that they don’t need to have everything ironed out. No one has all the answers yet. So be upfront. Do as much as you can, and let your customers know what you are doing to keep them safe. Make it a conversation: “We’re developing our plans for re-opening our venues, we are following the government guidelines, here are some examples of what we are doing, etc.” This earns respect and loyalty.

Read more about YesMore here.

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