Do you want to stand out from the competition and persuade prospects to choose your restaurant? Do you want to promote your eatery effectively and crush nearby competitors? Here I’ll reveal how you can set your restaurant apart and make it profitable.
So, you’ve got yourself a fabulous location with great staff serving mouth-watering food at reasonable prices.
You don’t have any chance of setting your restaurant apart with only these three elements. There are other tonnes of restaurants providing the same food quality at competitive prices with excellent service.
So far, you are not offering anything special.
Yes, you read that right. You are not special! And I know you’ve landed on this page to find the magic formula to smash social networks, create a flyer distribution plan whereby you spend 50$ and get 100 starving customers daily, or ideas to create promotional events able to pile people into your business.
Without a unique selling proposition, you are nothing mixed with nil.
I have both good and bad news. The good news is that you can still promote your restaurant through creative and low-budget ideas. The bad news is that you can think about your promotional plan only after realising why you’re special.
Answer this question: Why should customers eat at your restaurant and not at the one down the street?
I won’t accept explanations like the following:
- My food and service are good
- My location is beautiful
- Excellent value for money
Let’s play a game. Pretend that the best advertising agency in the country calls and offers you the opportunity to advertise your restaurant for free by spending a $1,000,000 coupon on the principal means of communication, for example the Internet, TV, newspapers and billboards.
You won’t shell out a penny; the only thing you must do is provide them with a message to spread out everywhere. What would you shout out? Would you say to your potential customers to come to your restaurant because you have good food and service in a beautiful location?
Would you invest $1,000,000 to say something so trivial? All customers take it for granted that you offer a good product and service. They expect to eat well and receive good treatment; it’s not added value.
I’ll tell you a story. Antonio is a young restaurant entrepreneur who opened an American Burger in Rome. Growing up in the Internet era, he learned how to do Facebook marketing and efficiently use its ads system.
One day he called me to find out why no one was responding to his targeted ads on Facebook. After a one-month campaign, no one came to his burger restaurant from the social network. I checked his page and noticed that the guy had created many nice posts with excellent professional pictures.
Only the copywriting was wrong. Every post said things like “Come to the greatest American Burger,” “The best American burger in town,” and “Nice location, high-quality hamburgers for all budgets.”
I invited Antonio to reflect on what made his restaurant different, and it turned out that he used only Italian high-quality meat from a local supplier. Besides this, he enhanced the taste of his burgers with local Italian cheeses and hams.
I added a payoff under his logo saying, “American burgers in Italian sauce.” I built the restaurant communication around the concept of the “greasy” American burger but with high-quality and healthy Italian ingredients.
I targeted his Facebook posts to an older local audience (from 30 to 60) who are more quality-oriented and thus willing to spend a few dollars more on a burger. I also increased Antonio’s prices by 20% to give “more quality” to the products.
Antonio started to receive on average 15-20 new bookings per week by investing only $50. He was able to show to the RIGHT PEOPLE that although he was selling American burgers like many others in town, he was different!
You are smart enough to understand that to make your restaurant business stand out from the crowd, you should appear different and unique in your prospects’ eyes. This special offering in marketing is known as Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
If you want to be special in your customer’s eyes, you should have a USP.
An effective USP takes the core ‘special’ elements of your business and put them together in a few words. It must be clear and intense.
It must sell your restaurant, not be cool. Look at how Domino’s Pizza has become the leader in pizza delivery by creating a killer USP: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less, or it’s free.”
The unique selling proposition is the secret ingredient of the recipe for success. I will explain how to find a USP for your restaurant business, and become the next Scrooge McDuck in the F&B field.
All you need to do is sit down, take 10 minutes and ponder with me. I’ll run you over the process to identify your uniqueness that will give you a competitive advantage over your competition and differentiate your business.
Once you get it, you can go wild with social media marketing, billboards, website, flyers, events, and so forth. When you have what set your eatery apart from competitors clear, you will be able to wrap persuasive messages to attract new customers and make them return.
Developing a restaurant USP is challenging but will be worth the effort and time. When you incorporate a winning USP into a business of any kind, provide a good service/product, and follow a well-designed marketing plan, you start to fill the cash register daily.
Let’s see how to create a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
Restaurant unique selling proposition: set your business apart
Let’s start by saying that your USP should describe one or more of the following things related to your business:
- Quality offered
- Any other aspect of your business that sets it apart from the competition
The price factor is the most sensitive. Unless you are running a fast food joint, you don’t want to differentiate your business based on price. Indeed, it would be more convenient to offer fine food at a reasonable price. When you rush into the price battle, you risk coming away with broken bones.
In fact, besides being labelled a low-quality restaurant, the accounts will not be balanced. Instead, it would be smarter to offer a lower mark-up on branded wine or cocktails than your competitors to attract prospects.
The 3 steps to develop a USP for your restaurant
The following are the 3 steps to identify your USP:
1. Ask yourself why you’re different. I’ll tell you a secret: you are the only one who can come up with the USP. It’s pointless searching for “USP for restaurants” on search engines and hoping that a blog article written by a someone who doesn’t have any idea of what your restaurant is will simply give you one.
You as the restaurant owner are the only person who knows the answer. Take a pen and paper, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and write down all the possible reasons why people eat at your business.
Free your mind and think about what differentiate your pizzeria, café, small family restaurant or whatever from others by taking into account the following points:
- Quality offered. You should be as creative as fusion cuisine. Can you offer a “money back” promise in case of customer satisfaction failure? Are you so sure about your product that you don’t fear customers’ judgment? This will be a great point of difference!
Statistically speaking, the number of people requesting a refund is considerably less than the number of new customers that a company acquires thanks to the “money back” strategy.
- Ambience. Are your decor, menu or anything else so peculiar and unique that they could become a unique selling proposition? Or do you offer the best French wine selection in town? The restaurant Chicago Eataly in New York satisfies all Nutella fans’ desires. If you are a die-hard fan of Nutella, surely you’ve once had the fantasy of a swim in a river full of soft hazelnut just like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Here, you can spend an afternoon surrounded by shelves with piles of jars filled with this Italian elixir and a feast of various Nutella delicacies such as muffins, cookies and crackers freshly prepared in front you.
● Location. Do you have a big terrace with a breath-taking view? Is your business in a particular position in the city? Any special design? Write down all the positive points about your site that comes to mind. Maybe it doesn’t have anything so special, but it has a big free car park in a zone where the clientele of your competitors would be willing to sell their soul to find a hole in which to dump their cars. Take this “Sherlock“-Themed Café in Shanghai as an example. Whether you are a fan of
Cumberbatch, Downey Jr, or simply a tireless follower of the eternal detective adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in this bar in Shanghai, unsurprisingly called 221B Baker Street, you will find all kinds of references to Sherlock Holmes. Here you will also be able to wear the famous detective hat and investigate who has eaten the last pastry.
2. Ask your clients and suppliers. Ask your regular customers why they come to your restaurant. You will be surprised at how many interesting things you can discover. Moreover, you can collect valuable information from your suppliers as they deal with many other restaurants and can offer useful insights.
3. Sum up. Once you’ve gathered all this information, write down all the common remarks from your customers, suppliers, staff, and you. You will realise that your USP won’t appeal to all potential clients, and that’s normal. You cannot reach everyone; you have to focus on a specific segment and give yourself over to satisfying their needs.
He who tries to please everyone will end up pleasing nobody.
It is crucial to make it clear that you can’t entice everyone to your restaurant. Every successful business around the world has a clear target audience. If your company is particularly suitable for low-income families, don’t try to be attractive for high-income young couples too.
I know. Your pizza or pasta or whatever could satisfy any palate, but you can’t aim at anyone. Learn more about how you can identify your target.
Warning: Once you’ve committed to a USP, if you don’t fulfill your promises then bankruptcy is around the corner. Domino’s Pizza grew because they have a unique USP as well as always keeping their promise: “Hot, fresh pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less – guaranteed.” If customers don’t get their pizza in 30 minutes, they won’t pay anything.
When you’ve found a superior USP and made sure you can you’re your promises, you can throw yourself into creation of the marketing plan to beat the competition.