Thinking about doing something about your business’ digital marketing? You’re a little late to the party! If your restaurant, hotel or guest house’s properties are limited to its bricks and mortar, its staff and its stock, you need to be doing less thinking about it and more doing it – and for ‘doing it’ read: ‘hiring professionals to do it for you.’
“Why?” you may protest. “A moment ago I wasn’t even sure whether I wanted to do it myself, now I’m outsourcing it?”
Yes, you need to be outsourcing your digital marketing to professionals. And if you need convincing, here are four reasons you need to be doing exactly that, and fast:
You’re Already Behind Your Competitors
If it’s taken you until now to improve your digital presence, then you’ve already given your competitors a massive head start. Food and drink-related accounts garner huge followings on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You could set up a Twitter account and a Facebook page right now, sure – but do you know how to build a following, or what kind of things you should be posting and sharing?
By the time you’ve figured out your audience and what resonates with them, your competitors have pulled even further ahead.
Bring in digital marketing professionals with fresh eyes and you’ll be amazed at how quickly they get to the hub of what your USPs are, who your target audience is and where your efforts are focused.
They’ll spot the most shareable (not that kind) dishes on your menu, construct vibrant, engaging blog posts on subjects like the specialist techniques used in your kitchen. They will figure out where you sit amongst your local rivals in the battle for a high Google ranking within a couple of days – then the growth begins.
Investment Equals Quality
Just as you don’t have time to make mistakes, learn from them, apply that and move on: you also don’t have time to trudge forward with a sub standard site and social presence.
This post is titled investing in digital marketing professionals rather than hiring digital marketing professionals for a reason – you’re investing in your business and if you do it properly, it will pay for itself with ever-greater returns.
You need a slick site that showcases your premises and makes users aspire to become one of your diners or guests. Also needed are fun, timely and reactive social media posts that show off your delicious dishes and passionate staff. You need to make sure as many people as possible know that it’s two-for-one dining tonight, or your restaurant’s Twitter followers are entitled to a free starter.
And you need these things to be actioned quickly by professionals, who will generate a much stronger buzz around your business than an exhausted restaurant manager can.
Hospitality is your business. You shouldn’t need to know the ins and outs of search engine optimisation (SEO), or which are the most authoritative food and drink blogs you need to be guest posting on. You also don’t always know whom you should be targeting with your sponsored Facebook posts – and an educated guess says you don’t want to, either.
If you hire professionals to deal with these digital marketing issues then you just need to concern yourself with running your business, watching your footfall steadily increase and your profits grow – thanks to the fine work of your digital team.
Whether independent or part of a franchise, the most successful restaurants and hotels on social media probably spend less than half of their time directly trying to convince customers to spend money with them.
Modern audiences are savvy to marketing tricks and resent being seen as commodities to be exploited. But if you can only spend an hour a day on your digital marketing efforts, what are you going to do?
Spend time engaging with communities, contributing to discussions and creating and sharing useful and valuable content for your audience, or try to get diners and/or guests through the door? Another educated guess says the latter – and that’s perfectly reasonable. If you’ve got limited time then obviously you’re going to focus on driving a provable, tangible, positive business outcome.
Paradoxically, this is one of the worst approaches you can take. Nobody follows a hotel’s Twitter feed which only promotes itself and has regular downtime when the person running it is needed elsewhere.
Nobody shares a Facebook update which brings no benefit to their network, only to a hotelier’s wallet.
Having real success online is a two-way street. To grow your audience, you need to bring value to your audience. That means demonstrating your authority on hospitality related topics, providing content that potential customers will enjoy and share and posting in a timely fashion at times when most of your followers are online. All while sharing topics that interest them.
This requires significant time investment. It’s not something that you can take on yourself or task a receptionist with. If you don’t have the time to give your digital presence that kind of attention, then outsourcing is the way forward.
If you’re a technophobe or have just been too busy running your business to pay it any attention, you may look at digital marketing, social media, and building your brand online as easy or straightforward. It isn’t.
Going it alone and attempting to run your business’ digital marketing in-house will be just as difficult as attempting to take over from your head chef for an evening with no prior training (albeit with less chance of fire).
Shape Hospitality has both the digital and hospitality expertise, so if you are ready to outsource your social media and content marketing efforts in full, check out our packages here. You may find that digital professionals look at your business and think of ways to connect with your audience that you could never have dreamed of.
If your budget is a little tighter, hire a consultant for a few hours a month, or concentrate your efforts on one social media channel; Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Either way, when Facebook likes, Twitter followers and content shares start translating to customers through the door and money in the till, you won’t be sorry that you did.