If “struggling restaurateur” spells out your current work status, we know for a fact that the struggle is real.
We completely understand that after investing hours of sweat and toil, you finally fulfilled your dream to open up a restaurant. You procured all the necessary permits, licenses, rented a swanky space, bought top-notch equipment and furniture, hired experienced staff and just like that, the show was up and running.
Fast forward to the present day. Have you been successful in obtaining the high volume of orders that you had imagined? Do your potential customers know anything about your restaurant that would help them remember or order from you? Did you leave any impact at all?
If your answer to all or any of these questions was ‘no’ then we hate to break it to you but you have not been able to project yourself as a wholesome brand.
You were so focussed on starting the business that the brand ended up taking the back seat. In the bargain, you couldn’t connect with your customers or even drive a conversation with them because you were caught up trying to sell something and establish yourself, without creating a connection with your customers first.
It’s not your fault. And there’s certainly nothing to be disheartened about, this is something that can be easily fixed for you right away.
While traditional marketing techniques have always emphasized on a product or service being the best in the market, modern problems require modern solutions.
With the pandemic looming in the picture, customers have now navigated their attention to the world of online ordering. They are smarter and savvier now and want to know who they are ordering from. They are keen on discovering why they must trust you or choose to be a part of a journey. And most importantly, what are they getting from you as a restaurant that they need to order directly from you?
And before the thought crosses your mind, no, your menu and food won’t get you far unless you have a breathing, thriving brand. Let’s try and grasp that without a strong brand, there are slim chances of you getting orders.
This is exactly where storytelling comes into the playing field.
Branding Strategy Insider defines storytelling as “the art of connecting the hearts and minds of customers to shared values and ideals that define the “sacred truth” of why the brand exists and who benefits from its existence. Compelling brand stories serve to remind us of something sacred and valued about ourselves rather than promoting some new product feature or additive.”
If you’re wondering what storytelling means in the context of a restaurant, let’s get you out of the muddy waters.
Most restaurants today still focus on selling – an elaborate food and beverage menu, unique ambience and an attractive price point but nothing ties these individual elements into one congruent knot. As a restaurant, the first thing to ponder over in this direction is that storytelling traces your journey and adds immense value to why you exist.
Storytelling as a way to build a brand is a practice that has existed through decades, standing the test of time. It is the most coherent way for brands to distinguish themselves and etch a powerful image in the customers’ minds.
In essence, storytelling is nothing but humanizing a brand, giving it a personality, a voice, a face, body and the feet to move forward.
You can arrive at the heart of your brand story by crossing these off your checklist.
1. Who are you?
Start by asking yourself what you stand for as a brand. Great food? Reviving lost cuisine? A farm-to-table experience?
A clear demarcation of who you are, what you believe in and why you started, is a good place to build the foundation for a memorable brand story. Talk about your cuisine, what is remarkable about your restaurant and how it has elevated customer experience.
Find your voice, carve out a personality and give your brand a fresh face. This is who you are. By answering this question, not only are you staying true to your roots, you are also giving your audience an insight into your brand. Think of it like an icebreaker.
2. Who is your audience?
The aim of the game is to create a connection with your audience. For this reason, it is imperative that you have a target audience in mind so that your branding efforts are directed towards them.
Decode what they value and figure out how you can relate to these values in a compelling way as a restaurant.
Having a deep understanding of your audience would give you an edge and allow you to cater to their needs.
3. What made you embark on this journey?
Track down the moment that made you want to start a restaurant. An interesting incident or challenges that you faced along your journey would make your story more relatable.
Once you have explored these questions, you have a rough blueprint of a brand story. But don’t forget that your story needs to pack emotion, something that your intended audience can resonate with. Let them connect with the human side of your brand.
4. Show it. Don’t say it.
Naturally at this point, you would be tempted to back up your claims by talking about how amazing your restaurant is but take our advice- and refrain from it. Instead, show your target audience why your existing customers love you and choose to put their faith in you.
Even a popular brand like Domino’s has utilized video storytelling in this campaign – Domino’s Turnaround – to reinvent themselves, and show customers why they must trust the brand.
In fact, storytelling has paved the path forward for some of the biggest names in the Food and Beverage industry and led the way for these brands to connect with their audiences.
As a restaurateur, you too have the ability to employ the various elements that comprise your experience and stitch a powerful narrative for your audience. A unique and memorable story will certainly fortify your connection with them.
There are endless opportunities for you to use storytelling and keep the authenticity and integrity of your brand intact. Having an authentic and transparent brand is paramount to your restaurant’s success.
Once you have your brand story in place, you can further solidify it by scattering it across your website content, social media channels, blogs, emailers, videos, or on ground. Keep it going!
Yours is an inspiring story, why not share it with the world? We at Lyve would love to hear it and guide you ahead!