When you own a restaurant, you spend a lot of hours working hard and no two days are ever the same. Partnering with a restaurant marketing company so you can take some of the work off your plate makes a lot of sense—it saves time and produces a better return. But, make sure the company you choose is a good fit for you and your business. If it’s not a good fit, your relationship will be hard to maintain, and your time and money will be wasted.
You’re busy. We get it. Let’s save you time.
Here’s the list of questions you need to have on hand when you “interview” potential marketing companies. Use them to get the information you need to make an informed decision about the restaurant marketing company you want to hire.
Just like people, all agencies are different when it comes to how they communicate. Some will communicate primarily via email, others through phone conversations. You’ll also find agencies that do a lot of their communication using video chat. Some may be available for impromptu calls or meetings. Others may want you to schedule each conversation as a formal meeting.
You want to partner with the agency that fits your communication style. If you want your agency to be available whenever you want to pick up the phone and call them, you need to look for an agency that takes that approach too.
Restaurant marketing agencies specialize in different areas, even though there’s a lot of overlap between firms. However, it’s important to understand what the marketing agency you ultimately hire will do and what they will expect you to do.
For example, usually they’ll expect you to provide graphics, consumer-research, creative briefs, and other information. Basically, you’ll be expected to provide the inputs. Your agency will use those inputs to publicize your business.
If you lack consumer insights, don’t know where customers come from, don’t have a vision of where you want to go, and don’t have a sense of your brand, it will be very difficult for any agency to help you. If this is the case, you’d be served best by working with an agency that can help you lay this foundational groundwork by collecting consumer insights through market research.
If you do have this information, then you need to make sure the agency you hire specializes in what you need. For example, some agencies will be great content creators but lack the experience necessary to execute a live event.
With this question, you’re essentially asking who does what. It’s very important to know what role you’ll play in the partnership as well as what you can expect the restaurant marketing agency to do.
Try to get specifics here, because it’s easy to think you’re both on the same page when speaking in generalities.
For example, if the restaurant marketing firm says they’ll create a new website for you, make sure you know what that means. Will they come to your restaurant and take photos to put on your site or do you need to hire a photographer and submit photos to the agency? Will they create custom videos for your site or do you need to pay a third party to create them for you? Will they revise your site and everything on it until you’re satisfied or are there are set number of revisions? Will your new website be truly custom (i.e. built from scratch for you) or will they customize a pre-made template?
It can be helpful to create a list of items you need a marketing agency to take over for you before speaking to them. That way, you have a clear idea of what you need them to do—from large tasks like creating a new website to small tasks like making revisions.
If you want a restaurant marketing agency to explain the decision-making process behind every deliverable and teach you how to execute the strategies they suggest using tools you have, you need to make sure the agency you hire will do this. So, ask.
A lot goes into digital marketing for restaurants, so if you’re one of those people who will only feel comfortable with a strategy or deliverable if you know exactly what decisions were made and why, you need to make sure your agency is okay with sharing such details.
It’s not uncommon for restaurant owners to have someone that manages their social media and website. If you already have relationships with independent contractors and you want to involve them in the work that a marketing agency will do for you, ask your agency if they will honor this request. Some will. Some won’t.
Obviously, a restaurant marketing company will have experience in restaurant digital marketing. But, you’ll still want to vet them. Ask to see their portfolio so you can gauge the quality of their work.
You should also inquire about their experience with local SEO and online reputation management as these are two essential components of restaurant marketing. You want to appear on the first page of local Google searches and you want to acquire lots of favorable reviews on sites like Yelp.
Of course, you also want to get ahead of bad press if it were to occur. So, if online reputation management is something that you’re looking to have an agency take care of, you’ll want to make sure they have experience in public relations.
An online marketing agency will help take your business to the next level. You work hard to create and maintain an establishment that people enjoy. You deserve to get your name out there!
Now you can go into meetings with potential restaurant marketing agencies with confidence. This set of questions will help you acquire all the information you need to make an informed decision about which agency to hire. It will also help you avoid a bad match and the inevitable disappointment that would ensue if you were to enter a bad partnership.
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