Does Your Restaurant Need a Digital Marketing Manager?
So I’m at a recent conference with restaurant owners and we were talking a lot about mobile marketing and social media marketing for restaurants and the question kept coming up – “Do we need to hire someone to do all this stuff?”
Short answer: Yes, absolutely.
Longer answer: You may already have a marketing or PR or tech oriented person on your staff that can take over these duties as part of their job. Yet that would assume that they currently have a lot of downtime in their responsibilities, which, I’d guess, is unlikely to be the case.
In my conversations with restaurant operators we pretty much identified the tasks to require a half time position and perhaps a full time position for aggressive or larger restaurants. So that’s 20-40 hours dedicated to digital marketing – is that prudent and worth it? Well, I’ll argue the answer is yes – so let’s talk about it.
Job Responsibilities & Checklist
There are four main areas I would task for your Digital Marketing Manager…
1) Email Newsletter
You’ve got an e-newsletter right? Please say yes. If not, this is task #1. Find an email service provider like Fishbowl or Constant Contact and get a sign-up form on your website and plug email address collection in your restaurant. You should be publishing an e-newsletter to your customers once a week. Every restaurant has enough going on at their location(s) that weekly is the right frequency. The bare, bare minimum with an email program would be once per month, but that is really not enough. Push for weekly.
2) Website Updates
There is nothing worse than seeing Valentine’s Day event info in May when I’m looking to make Mother’s Day plans. A dedicated e-marketing person on your team will ensure that this does not happen by updating the site weekly with event info, menu changes, new photos/videos, etc. You lose credibility with customers when your website is not updated correctly and this is an easy one to get right.
3) Social Media
Managing social media for your restaurant could be a full-time task all by itself because there is so much to manage, juggle and keep updated on.
There are the big three of social media: Facebook, YouTube & Twitter. There are the social review sites to keep tabs on such as Citysearch, Yelp & Urbanspoon. There are restaurant guide sites from local newspapers and magazines and countless others.
You obviously can’t monitor every single site, but with a dedicated e-marketing manager you can select maybe 10 to 15 websites to keep tabs on by creating a virtual dashboard with direct links to all appropriate sites. See chart for our recommend prioritization of targets.
4) Mobile Marketing
Mobile is getting bigger by the day. Most likely you haven’t started your mobile efforts, but take my advice and get started. Even a slow start, just get some motion going as it relates to mobile. That includes collecting mobile numbers for text messaging and mobile promotions. It also includes investigating mobile apps such as mobile ordering, a customized mobile optimized website, and possible customer service options such as mobile service surveys. The other biggie with mobile is “location based services” and that would include (relatively) new services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places as well as many more.
Ok, so believe me when I say that is a lot to keep up with. Who is going to do it? You as the restaurant owner or manager? You just can’t do it yourself. You need to manage and oversee it and have the e-marketing manager report to you or your overall Marketing Manager, but yes you need to have a dedicated person pushing all of these efforts.
If you’re going to commit to e-marketing efforts, then you need to truly commit to them. You can’t start and participate infrequently and think that it is going to work. The immediacy of social media & mobile in particular call for a fresh and updated presence that is never really more than 3 to 5 days dated. Any more than that and your relevance equation drops quite dramatically.
Your next question should be related to return on investment. Will the salary for your e-marketing manager be justified in increased sales and marketing performance? The good news is your salary investment should be on the lower side as a recent college graduate (or current student) would be ideally suited to the position due to their existing familiarity with the technology involved.
Your Online Voice
One worry I hear from operators is that a young staff member might misrepresent their brand online with a lack of professionalism or inappropriate comment or posting. It’s a valid concern, but it can be managed successfully with your management oversight process. As the owner or executive, you need to build the content plan and tone of voice carefully with your digital marketing manager. It is then their task to spend the quality time and effort to implement that plan in the various online channels.
Metrics & Measurement
You’ll need to establish metrics in order to effectively measure the results of your e-marketing efforts. You can track clicks and new business and increased customer database size as well as fan and follower up ticks and other social connections.
So do the math. How much new business do you need to do to support this new position? I can tell you that it’s a huge opportunity and one of the biggest downsides of taking no action is missing the boat and being late to the party only to find that your direct competitors are better established for success via these e-channels. They can literally dial up customers on-demand through their mobile, social and email customer lists. Do you want to be able to do that?