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Restaurant Storytelling: 5 Tips to Drive Customer Engagement

No matter what size your establishment might be at the moment, chances are that you will want to build on those foundations in the future. According to statistics, the average lifespan of a restaurant is approximately 4 years, with 17% failing to stay in business in their first year. While not strictly restaurants themselves, Starbucks and McDonald’s have showcased what it takes to stay in business and expand on a global level.

The truth is sometimes simpler than we make it out to be and it comes down to two words – brand storytelling. In this case, restaurant storytelling is an important aspect of differentiating your establishment from so many others in your local area. Let’s take a look at several things you can do in order to boost your business’ popularity, drive sales and customer engagement through some simple storytelling techniques.


  • Define your Establishment’s Story


When it comes to brand storytelling, it really doesn’t matter if you sell sushi, pizza or traditional Greek cuisine to your customers. What matters is the story behind your business and how you came about to open a restaurant in the first place.

Your own personal story leads into restaurant storytelling perfectly, allowing you to add a touch of warmth and family values to your otherwise ordinary food establishment. Take a moment to reflect on why you opened a restaurant, what led you to the fateful moment and how you have grown since it happened.

Put it all on paper and make sure that your customers can visibly see and read small tidbits of the story behind your establishment. These can be placed around your restaurant, on your website or even on the menus themselves. Once you do so, your engagement rates will spike thanks to a touch of humanity and family values being present in the restaurant.


  • Train your Staff to Represent


Depending on the scale and complexity of your establishment, as well as the number of restaurants you run, you will have to train your staff accordingly. This is important in restaurant storytelling since each of your staff members has to represent the values and principles you previously set in stone.

It’s important not to beat these things over their heads, however, as their employment experience still needs to be enjoyable enough to warrant their loyalty to your business. Small things such as catchphrases, polite behavior and adequate customer servicing should be highlighted above all else. Once the picture adds up, your customers will have a lot of positive words to say about your establishment both to their friends and online review websites.


  • Create a Social Media Presence


Speaking of online presence, social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are ripe for picking. Your restaurant storytelling can easily seep into social media platforms where you can post quality images of your cuisine, atmosphere and general internal culture moments.

Ashley Graham, social media manager at PickWriters spoke highly of brand storytelling on social media: “People talk to their loved ones all the time on Facebook and Twitter. This can be used as a marketing advantage since everyone likes to share content with their friends and acquaintances. Placing an emphasis on social media brand marketing can lead to fruitful engagement and word of mouth in very short timeframes.”

These can help your cause tremendously since there are fewer and fewer “home-like” establishments around the globe. Large fast food chains and instant gratification establishments are a dime a dozen at every corner, meaning that you can use this to your advantage. Differentiate from other restaurants in your area and category by emphasizing your establishment’s look and feel, as well as the enjoyment behind consuming your tasty cuisine.


  • Encourage Customers to Tweet & Tag


Even if you have social media pages with your brand’s name on them, they mean very little without social proof. In marketing terms, social proof represents user-generated content which is then used to further your marketing efforts.

What this means in practice is that you should encourage your customers to tweet, share and tag their activities during their stay in your establishment. You can encourage this through clearly defined hashtags, calls to action around the restaurant and invitations to do so in the menus themselves.

This type of marketing is nigh impossible without actual customers, so it will add a lot to your storytelling efforts moving forward. Anyone who visits your social media pages will be able to see satisfied customers eating tasty food in a warm and friendly environment. It will not only drive your customer engagement rates forward but also place your restaurant on the competitive map with other establishments in your local area.


  • Offer Loyalty Incentives


While not a storytelling technique in itself, loyalty incentives add a lot to your overall customer engagement. Small tokens of appreciation such as discount coupons, points toward certain rewards or even free sweets at the end of each meal add a lot to a food establishment.

This type of customer servicing is bound to spread positive word of mouth about your restaurant, leading to more customers and an increase in popularity and revenue. It will also keep satisfied customers coming back for more of your delicious food, friendly atmosphere and high-quality servicing which are now staples of your establishment.

Don’t Fix what’s not Broken (Conclusion)

It’s important to note that restaurant storytelling shouldn’t change drastically over time like it does for corporate businesses. Instead, restaurants should play on the cards of tradition, established values and consistent quality. Don’t make the mistake of changing your brand, values or story suddenly with no explanation or reason.

People like to eat and dine at places which feel familiar, nostalgic and inviting to them and their friends and families. Once you figure out the correct route for your restaurant’s image, make sure to maintain it for the foreseeable future. That way, the word of your establishment will spread over time and give you the much-needed customer engagement needed to keep the doors open.

Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she had found herself as a freelance writer.  She observes with a special interest how the latest achievements in media and technology help to grow readership and revenue and shares her opinion. You can find her on Facebook and Medium.

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