Want to boost your restaurant marketing? Use psychology. The result? More guests. It’s that simple. We’ll look at some great psychological techniques you can use.

  • Psychological techniques can give your restaurant marketing an effective boost. This helps you get noticed more quickly among competitors.
  • Theories such as The Illusion of Scarcity, Social Proof and Mere Exposure can increase your foot traffic drive profits, and generate essential guest bookings.
  • Restaurant loyalty programs can also be supercharged with psychological techniques, developing engaged customers that last.

It can be a constant challenge to get customers through the door of your restaurant. You must create genuine engagement with customers to gain a positive reputation. You want to also foster a loyal base to ensure lasting success. Sometimes, this can seem intimidating. Luckily, utilizing well-known psychological theories can add that extra something to your marketing strategy.

Psychological Techniques for Restaurants: A Quick Overview

Don’t think using psychological technique ‘tricks’ customers into visiting your restaurant. Far from it! You still need great food, a great menu, and a fantastic experience. You should also create genuine customer service that keeps people coming back.

Psychology-based marketing allows you to market your restaurant in a different way. It allows you to craft campaigns with real reach and punch. As a result, your marketing will become more effective and efficient. You’ll be able to focus on what you love to do best: serve great food.

Here are five psychological theories and how to integrate them into your restaurant marketing mix.

Use social proof to increase visits to your restaurant

Why do people line up around the block for new restaurants? Why online restaurant reviews are so important for every venue. The answer is social proof.

Simply put, social proof is the theory that states psychologically, we all want to be the same. That means people want to buy things because other people are, visit places because other people are, and eat in restaurants simply because other people are too.

Online reviews are a great way to up your social proof. They allow you to clearly demonstrate people visit your venue. To harness the psychological power of social proof in your restaurant’s marketing, prioritize reviews. Ask customers in your restaurant, email them after their visit, or shout-out on social media how important reviews are.

Top tip: Think about automating your review request process using WiFi, emails or push SMS. Making it as easy as possible for every customer will increase chances of getting those all-important online reviews.

The Illusion of Scarcity is a powerful tool for restaurant marketing

People want things more if they’re available in limited quantities. Companies launch new flavors in limited editions. Online retailers highlight how many items are left in stock because they create an instant psychological call-to-action, simply because people hate missing out.

As a result, restaurants should build the “Illusion of Scarcity” into their marketing strategies. Take control of FOMO (fear of missing out) and use it to attract more customers. There are many effective techniques to try. For example, release limited tickets to an opening-night launch. Limit (and promote) weekend reservations. Offer free meals to the first 50 customers at only one event. All these things will create powerful marketing buzz and an effective call-to-action. Your guests won’t want to miss out.

Top tip: Don’t take the “Illusion of Scarcity” in your strategy too far. Create interest and a psychological call-to-action, but do not make it seemingly so impossible so that customers won’t even bother.

Use emotions in your restaurant’s storytelling to get people’s attention

Stories that play on people’s emotions are big news; they get attention, stay memorable, and allow people to resonate emotionally with the values told in the story. Restaurants can use emotions to their advantage in marketing too. Every restaurant should tell their story– great food on its own isn’t enough.

Customers will respond to values and emotions behind a brand. It’s essential each restaurant crafts an engaging story that makes people pay attention. Think about what makes your restaurant special. This may include what drives the creation of the food, what inspires the staff, and what makes you stand out against your competitors.

Use video storytelling and social media to share stories in the most emotionally-compelling way. Your customers will respond more strongly to marketing which drives an emotional reaction.

Top tip: Instagram Stories are a great way to engage customers with emotional pull. Craft sincere, yet shareable content here to optimize organic reach. Take time to craft video content that resonates with your restaurant’s values.

Market your restaurant using Mere Exposure theory

The “Mere Exposure” theory states people develop a preference for things purely due to regular and sustained exposure, or familiarity. This is great news for any restaurant marketing campaign. Take time to plan a sustained and consistent local marketing strategy.

For example, develop targeted local advertising with posters, ads, and billboards to push and promote your brand to local customers. This can be achieved online too with targeted local online ads, carefully-designed social media campaigns, and a push for that all-important social proof. Create constant and consistent brand awareness that will increase familiarity with your restaurant and brand. This will ultimately lead to more engagement and brand loyalty, too. The result? Increased restaurant bookings.

Top tip: Create stand-out branding that can be used across online and offline marketing efforts. Also, create distinct campaigns and imagery for specific events. Generate distinctive campaigns that get attention.

Customer loyalty can also be boosted with psychological theory

Psychological theories can be used to get more customers through the door, but it’s important not to limit it to that. To achieve lasting profitability, you need loyal and profitable long-term customers. Marketing efforts should include how to push customers through loyalty-creating funnels, too.

You can take advantage of psychological theory to create time-limited special offers for existing customers, send regular and useful branded communications to increase mere exposure, or engage customers with emotional and lasting storytelling as the restaurant’s story develops. Every single one of techniques will help create genuine customer loyalty, essential for lasting success in your restaurant.

To wrap up

Psychological theories can be a great way to enhance marketing efficacy and efforts. These strategies are more likely to increase customer numbers, engagement, and sales. The theories also make it much more likely you’ll get noticed in the first place, which gives your restaurant an instant edge over the competition.

Restaurants still need great food and to offer a great experience. But theories such as social proof, illusion of scarcity, and mere exposure can boost traffic. They also help to develop profitable and engaged customers that last. Weave these theories into your restaurant marketing strategies for great results.

Author Bio: Hannah Hambleton is the Content Manager for Beambox, a guest WiFi provider to thousands of restaurants and retail businesses. Hannah writes about marketing trends, giving businesses the tools to engage customers, create brand loyalty and drive business growth.

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