Marketing Minute: 3 Marketing Trends for Restaurants in 2021

Read any blog about small business marketing in 2021 and you will see a lot of discussion around using TikTok to reach the younger demographic, new shopping features on Instagram and why SEO still matters.

While all of that may be great advice depending on your restaurant’s goals for the new year, here are 3 restaurant marketing strategies & platforms in 2021 that can give your brand an edge.

Text Marketing for Restaurants

Specifically, through a new platform called Community. If you follow celebrities like Gordon Ramsey, Jennifer Lopez or even President Obama, you may have noticed them giving out their phone numbers on social media. These numbers are from the Community platform, which is now accepting new users who don’t have a celebrity following.

Unlike traditional text marketing platforms, with Community you get a real 10-digit phone number. It is not just a platform for pushing out marketing, but creating meaningful and personal conversations directly with fans of your brand. With text messages getting over 90% open rates (it's under 20% for email) this is a powerful tool to build engagement, whether you are one of Nashville’s most prominent chefs or a mom & pop coffee shop with a loyal local following.

Digital Menus

2020 was a renaissance year for QR code technology, something originally invented way back in 1994, long before smart phones existed. Consumers and guests of restaurants quickly adapted to the new trend of touchless technology and mobile menus. But restaurants have only scratched the surface of how they can capitalize on this new trend.

Digital menus can be embedded with Google Analytics and Facebook Pixels to help you understand exactly who your guests are, understand how they interact with your menu and retarget them to create repeat business. Digital menus can also save restaurants significant amount of time and time and money in menu creation & printing. And if done correctly, a digital menu can provide a great guest experience that allows your restaurant to stand out against the crowd (hint: it requires something better than displaying a PDF file or long scrolling menu on an iPhone).

Here at @wickedtasty we are building a new platform called MENU that will incorporate all of these features, and more, to help you make the most of your menu. We plan to launch the platform in April and are offering special introductory pricing for any Nashville restaurant who joins our mailing list – no commitment to subscribe to our platform required! Sign-up and get more information about MENU by @wickedtasty here.

Home Meal Kits

The hospitality industry is an industry that is heavily rooted in experiences. Last year the digital “courses and classes” industry became mainstream, and it seemed like just about every celebrity and influencer had a digital class to offer. As many restaurants transitioned from in-house dining to carry-out & delivery in the wake of COVID-19, they lost a key component of what made their brands unique: the experience.

While in-house dining will return (how quickly is TBD) the home experience market is here to stay. Creating your own home experience for your fans to connect with your food virtually can be done inexpensively using free live streaming on platforms where you already connect with your audience, like Instagram. Or you can go for an experience with higher production value, like GoldBelly’s new live class offerings. However you want to provide a virtual experience is up to you, but the brands who will win in the long run will be those who dominate both IRL and virtually.