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Restaurant Storytelling: 6 Tips to Drive Customer Engagement

Posted by Kristin Savage on Mar 25, 2020 3:00:00 PM

Coronavirus is taking a toll on foot traffic in hospitality venues across the world - so hospitality businesses will have to find new ways to continue growing after this crisis is over. One of the most effective ways to do this will be to make sure you stay at the forefront of customer's minds by getting them to engage with your brand's story.

In today’s post, guest blogger Kristin Savage talks us through storytelling as a marketing technique, and the best ways to apply storytelling to your business to draw online attention and drive customer engagement.

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What is brand storytelling? It sounds like marketing jargon, but it’s actually very simple: storytelling is the way you build the story around your restaurant brand to give it a cohesive identity.

Storytelling is an incredibly compelling and engaging way to promote your restaurant business – that is, if you do it right. By using the most effective techniques, and finding your authentic voice, your blogs and social media posts will generate engagement among your customers, softening the blow felt by the rapid changes in customer habits.

Here are six tips to get your brand storytelling in great shape.

1. Be authentic and unique

Marketers treat this as a trade secret, but as a technique it’s actually super simple and effective. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to find your true voice as a brand and tell a story in the hospitality business while remaining unique and original at the same time.

Together with your team, try and figure out factors that actually make your restaurant different from all the rest. As your staff are your most precious resource – people work in and for the restaurant every day – there are no better people to ask.New Call-to-action

Is a love and celebration of food the primary focus of your restaurant’s storytelling? Or is it the atmosphere, the vibe, the sense of community? These are all essential to figure out clearly before you start building a story.

 

2. Include testimonials and reviews

If you want to tell an authentic and truthful story about your restaurant, let your customers tell that story for you.

It’s been proven that customers respond better to testimonials and reviews from their peers than to promotional material from the actual business. Most restaurants recognize this and feature reviews in the forefront of their websites and social media channels, but neglect to include it in their storytelling. 

Take the opportunity to interweave your own stories about your restaurant with what your customers have said about the experience in the past. 

3. Flaunt successes

If you have received awards, recognitions and mentions in influential media, they can be a great asset to support your overall storytelling approach.

Some particularly good advice on this topic comes from Diana Adjadj, a marketer and writer at Studicus and WowGrade. “Being proud of your awards and achievement is nothing to be ashamed of. Try to expand on the story itself by going deeper: how, when and why did your restaurant get the award? This will make your customers feel like they are a part of the story themselves and your achievements are also theirs.”

4.Use archetypes in your story

Is the story behind your restaurant a classic American dream? Perhaps you’re a par excellence example of ‘rags to riches’.

If the story behind the restaurant you’re promoting sounds like something out of a novel, there are good reasons to include this in your brand story. Accentuate it as one of the most important aspects of your business!

In hospitality, teams are very close-knit and share a collective consciousness that’s rarely seen in other industries. When it comes to storytelling, this collective consciousness turns into the fire that keeps your staff excited about the work they are doing in the restaurant. Customers can always sense that spark.

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5.  Present your restaurant’s history

No matter whether the story behind your business might be considered boring by most people, the fact that it has a history can spark engagement and help you cultivate relationships with your potential and existing customers. 

To help you craft the Official History of your restaurant’s story, ask yourself the following questions:

  • When was the restaurant opened?
  • When and where was the first idea for the restaurant born? In a casual conversation, at a business meeting, or at a party?
  • Who were some of the most important people involved in the project?
  • How did staff numbers increase as months and years went by?
  • What changed since the restaurant first opened?

The fact is, people love stories – be it about people, places, things or events. So give them a biography of your restaurant and make them feel like they’ve been right there with you from the very start!

6. Ask questions

Showing that you’re interested in what your customers think and feel about your business can go a long way in increasing engagement. Try to spark interaction whenever possible as you’re building your restaurant’s story. 

Asking questions will not only give you thought material for things that you can tweak or improve, but can also serve as testimonials (which we have talked about above).

Show that customers are an essential part of your restaurant’s story and that their opinion is of utmost importance. They will surely appreciate it and will be more likely to engage with your content.


The most important thing about restaurant storytelling is to try to see it from the customer’s point of view. What would make you react to a particular story, post or article? What would you share on social media? What would motivate you to visit this restaurant for your next meal? 

If you have clear answers to these questions, it’s a perfect formula for making the most of your restaurant storytelling marketing efforts.


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Kristin Savage is a writer who works for writing services websites such as TrustMyPaper and GrabMyEssay. She’s also a foodie who opened her own small restaurant in Austin, Texas in 2018. When she’s not writing or cooking, she and her fiancé love going to see live music and concerts. 


Have a question? We’re always ready to talk.

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Topics: Marketing, Hotels, Insights, Managers, Restaurants, Bars