Marketing with your restaurant menu
Learn how to use your restaurant menu as a marketing tool and why a good menu plan will make your customers buy.
The greatest communication medium you have in your restaurant is your menu. It tells your customers what kind of atmosphere, service and food to expect from your establishment.
Most importantly, it is seen by people who will come to your restaurant. So you want to be sure that it conveys the message that your place is the right place to be. Moreover, your physical menu acts as the final and most important selling tool for your restaurant.
Your menu as a selling tool
You’ve got the customers in the door. Firstly, effective advertising and promotion and secondly, you and your staff are ready to offer exceptional service and beautiful food. But before that can happen, you must sell them something.
Ultimately, the purpose of a menu is to sell. Don’t be shy about drawing attention to the items you want to sell most of – that is profitable items or items that will bring customers back.
If you have other services or areas of expertise, promote them in your menu. For example, “We cater”. “We offer takeaways.” “We deliver.” “We have special banquet rooms.” They’ll never know unless you tell them.
Treat your menu like an advertisement
Above all, treat your menu like an advertisement. It’s the most important selling tool because it’s not wasted on people who won’t come to your restaurant.
Like a good advertisement, your menu should offer its readers something interesting every time it is looked at. That means updating it frequently or producing a quality menu that isn’t too trendy.
Professionally designed menus can be expensive but you should produce the best menu you can afford. The customers are in the restaurant and they’re hungry. A good menu will make them buy.
In the simplest form, a menu is a listing of items but a few choice words may make a sale more likely. For some dishes, a description is absolutely necessary, particularly if your menu is in a foreign language or offer unfamiliar items. However, some of your menu copy may be used to create an image for the restaurant. For example telling a story about its founder, historic building or chef’s background.
You may think that the listing of your items is a cut and dried issue but it’s not. The name you give to even a simple menu item may affect whether it sells or not. Take for example an item as simple as coffee. You could list it as “Coffee – $4.00.” or “Rich Brazilian Blend Coffee $4.40.” People will be attracted to the second listing, even at 40 cents more.
However, there are many areas you can cover with descriptive copy, which should be interesting and brief. What makes a good menu copy? First of all, special information about how food is prepared: “Our pizza crust is hand-tossed and baked to a crunch in our wood-fired pizza oven.”
Also effective is a description of the way the dish is served. For example, you may mention a products unusual taste or the spices with which it is prepared.
Some menus tell a story. For instance, a restaurant in a tourist destination might tell of the owner’s history. Perhaps the restaurant is located in a historic building and there’s a story as to how it came to be a restaurant.
If your restaurant is closely identified with the chef, write a biography of him or her or prepare a statement of the chef’s cooking philosophy.
Observe carefully “truth in menu” criteria and note that a majority of diners select their choice of dish from the first, second or last item from the list. So, perhaps that is where you may place your low cost – high-profit menu items.
Your menu may be your single most important form of communicating with your customers. Use it to your advantage in promoting your image and your product.
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Recipe for Success