Restaurant Marketing Tips -
Advertise Online for Free! Part 3

by Rudy Vener

Welcome to the third and final article of this series. I had a tough time deciding which of the many free advertising options to cover. In the end I went to the search engines and ran a series of searches for pizza and restaurants. From these, I selected two items which typically showed up in the top ten search results.

The Open Public Directory Project

The Open Public Directory project is a group of volunteers who strive mightily, without compensation or reward, to find the best websites and include them in their directory. These volunteers have high standards. They ruthlessly discard websites with redundant or questionable content. Only the highest quality sites, those with original content or which are the primary source of information on a topic get into the OPD.

As part of the OPD, the volunteers maintain a separate space just for restaurants. This restaurant directory is located at www.chefmoz.org. It contains restaurant names, addresses, phone numbers, style of cooking, web addresses and truly exhaustive descriptions of the restaurants amenities.

Every single restaurant owner in the world should visit www.chefmoz.org and add their information. You can even include reviews and links to other websites on the Internet which contain reviews of your restaurant.

Since every listing is reviewed by an editor, search engines, such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN use the Chefmoz directory as one of the highest quality resources. The directory is logically organized by country, state and cities. In many cases, when someone searches for restaurants in a particular city, the Chefmoz.org directory listing for that city is among the top 10 search items returned. So it is a good idea to have your restaurant represented, have your web site available and your menu online.

To add your restaurant, navigate to the correct www.chefmoz.com local directory, and click on "Add Restaurant." You will be guided through a series of pages where you can provide all your information and submit the information to be reviewed by an editor. If your town is not already included, you can click "Add Restaurant" at the state level and your listing, if accepted, will create the new directory for your town.

Online Yellow Pages

One of the most popular places where consumers search for local businesses is the online yellow pages sites. There are several, such as www.superpages.com and www.switchboard.com. They all attempt to have at least the minimal information for every business in a particular town. Some will even let businesses list their website for free. The www.superpages.com site will let a business create a free business profile which includes a link to their website. Take advantage of this and create your free business profile on superpages.com. The superpages.com listings are frequently among the top 10 items returned for local searches for restaurants or pizza. You want to be there when people go looking for you.

Offline Online Marketing

Unless you are located on a rest stop for a major interstate highway, all of your customers are going to live within a few miles of your store.

Fact: 80% of your customers use computers. And that percentage is growing.

Fact: Most people find websites outside of the internet. They hear them on radios, read them in magazines and newspapers, see them on business cards, flyers and circulars and read them on window, vehicle and sidewalk signs.

These media are excellent ways to get your web address and online ordering message in front of your customers. Your website and online ordering message should be included as a matter of course in every one of your advertising pieces, whether it is your takeout menu, your window sign, your pizza box, your delivery vehicle sign or a newspaper insert ad.

Your web address is easier to remember than your phone number. Take advantage of this by putting it where your local customers can see it.

By providing your web address, you are inviting people to visit you and check you out in a completely comfortable way. The web visitor does not feel awkward about checking out your menu online. They do not have to engage in an uncomfortable phone conversation as they try to decide whether to give your food a try. They are comfortable and relaxed and when they see your online ordering menu, these comfortable and relaxed people may just place their first order with you then and there.

One of my clients built up their online ordering from $100 per month to over $1,000 per month with more than half their online customers identifying flyers, newspaper ads and the window sign as the source where they found the restaurant's website.

You want everyone within a couple of miles of your store to know your web address. So don't make the mistake of limiting your Internet advertising only to the Internet.

So how is this free Internet advertising? Because these are marketing strategies you are, or should be using anyway. It costs next to nothing to add the words "Order online at our website - www.yourpizzeria.com" to your next batch of menus and flyers. And don't forget that window sign.

One of our clients used a window sign to announce their web site and online introductory offer and got a constant stream of new customers registering for online ordering.

Low Cost Internet Advertising

In addition to the free marketing strategies, consider using some low cost paid Internet marketing.

One of the least expensive Internet advertising strategies is called Pay Per Click. As you might expect, it means that the advertiser pays for every person who clicks on their Internet ad.

Search engines such as Yahoo! and Google provide this advertising service and display ads to people who enter specific search terms into the browser. The advertiser can choose exactly what search terms he wants entered to make his ad appear.

For example, a restaurant can use search terms such as "pizza delivery Jersey City" or "pizza restaurant Jersey City" and have his Internet ad show up only when someone enters that search term.

If the person doing the search clicks on his ad, the advertiser is charged. The cost per click is usually very low. Typically 25 cents or less, depending on competition. A bidding system is used to let the advertisers set their limits and daily and weekly budgets let the advertiser manage and monitor the ad campaign expenses.

One reason the cost is so low is because competition for highly local keywords is still very small. A restaurant owner in Pittsburgh is not going to select "pizza restaurants Bangor Maine" as his keyword. At the same time it is a mistake to use too general a keyword, for example just using "pizza restaurant" will not only cost much more per click, but will be seen by people who are hundreds and thousands of miles from your store. So using the highly localized keyword not only reduces the cost of the pay per click, it also pre-qualifies the people who see that add.

It is a good bet that someone searching for "pizza delivery Jersey City" lives in Jersey City, wants to order a pizza and would prefer it to be delivered.

Sources of Pay Per Click advertising are Google Adwords, adwords.google.com, Yahoo!, www.overture.com, and City Search, www.citysearch.com.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this and my previous articles useful. We have barely scratched the surface of Internet marketing. There are many, many other techniques and strategies ranging from local link exchanges to banner ads, search engine optimization (SEO) and many many other strange and wonderful topics which can help bring visitors to your website and customers to your food.

In the end, your online business will prosper because you decide to take advantage of the power of the Internet and let it work for you. Like any other part of your business, it has to be done as part of the whole. Your website and online ordering will bring you revenue only when your customers learn about it and are encouraged to use it.

Spread the word and watch your online takeout and delivery orders grow!

Part 1 Part 2

About the Author:

Rudy Vener is owner and founder of Pizza Galaxy. He has helped many independent pizzerias and restaurants reach new customers and increase their takeout and delivery sales with Internet marketing and online ordering. If you would like to learn more about how he can help your restaurant, call (203) 230-9662, or visit his website at http://www.pizzagalaxy.com.

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