As ravenous Brits look for their next fix of beef stuffed in a bun, gourmet burger restaurants have become a hit across the UK. But how can your bistro be the talk of the town? These essential marketing tips will help boost the profile of your burgers… and increase sales too!
1. Get The Basics Right
Whether you’re a small bistro or a nationwide chain of restaurants, there’s little point in marketing your gourmet burger business if the location, customer service, product and overall dining experience aren’t up to scratch. Diners are willing to pay big for a tasty gourmet burger, but only if the ingredients are fresh and the atmosphere is fun.
Often though, it’s the little touches that make a meal memorable. Chili or garlic flakes added to a portion of French fries, drinks served in chilled glasses sporting an unusual design, the substitution of table salt for Maldon Sea Salt – it all helps give your cafe, bar, bistro or restaurant an edge.
2. Branding, Design, PR & Marketing
Leave the branding of your restaurant to professional designers and brand experts. Whether it’s a leaflet, poster, your website or front window, it’s very likely that your branding will be the first point of contact between you and a prospective customer. That’s why it’s crucial to totally nail it with every little detail.
Launch parties, themed PR events and a bit of inspired ‘newsjacking’ from what’s happening in the news and pop culture right now will also help spread the word about your new restaurant to magazines, newspapers, burger bloggers and other interested foodies. If you don’t personally know any local or national celebrities who could publically show their support for your business, there’s always other approaches worth trying.
Imaginative and creative PR & marketing ideas, that are also perfectly timed, can generate lots of coverage and buzz about your business. Gourmet Burger Kitchen, for example, ran a 25% discount off their burgers during the UK’s National Burger Day last month. They also gave away free burgers to anyone in the UK with a Brazilian passport the day after their country’s humiliating 7-1 defeat to Germany during the World Cup.
Tapping into the popularity of Adam Richman’s hugely enjoyable Man v. Food TV show, many American-style restaurants and gourmet burger bistros are now running eating competitions along the lines of “eat our monster burger in 20 minutes or less and you’ll get your food for free”.
Have you also considered adding home delivery and take away options for your bistro or restaurant? This is a particularly effective way to boost profits if the size of your venue restricts the number of tables that can be served at any one time.
3. Create A Signature Dish
Probably more than any other type of restaurant or cafe, a thriving gourmet burger joint is built on the success of a truly outstanding burger as the centrepiece of the menu. You must create something with the ‘wow factor’. Something that people will tell their family, friends and work colleagues about. Something that people simply must try for themselves. Get mouths watering, then the Tweets and tongues and will soon be wagging about you.
Stuck for gourmet burger recipe ideas? These are four examples of what your competitors have already created. Can you out-do them for flavour, originality and cool or amusing names?
American Cheese (Handmade Burger Company)
7oz 100% Prime Scotch Beef Patty, Onion rings, Handmade American Mustard & Gherkin Relish, Swiss Cheese, Mayonnaise, Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion
Image Source: Handmade Burger Company
The Mighty (Gourmet Burger Kitchen)
Two 6oz Beefburger Patties, Aged Cheddar, Crispy Bacon, Garlic Mayo, Relish, Dill Pickle, Salad
Image Source: Foodspotting
The Sweet Heat (Henry Burgers)
5oz Beef Patty, Cambozola, Streaky Bacon, Fig & Habanero Jam, Rocket, Toasted Brioche
Image Source: Henry Burgers
The Wellington (Gourmet Burger Kitchen)
Grilled Mushroom, Horseradish Sauce, Rocket, Pickled Onion, Truffle Mayo
Image Source: Foodspotting
Once the signature dish is decided, you can then start building up the rest of your menu. Here are a few items that we always love to see being sold in any gourmet burger establishment:
Your regular customers will appreciate the chance to try something new.
Breaded Mozzarella Sticks
Cajun Battered Shrimp
Chargrilled Chicken Skewers
Gourmet Burgers – of course!
Curly Fries seasoned with Salt & Black Pepper
Sweet Potato Fries
Triple Cooked Chips
Chargrilled Corn on the Cob
Homemade Onion Rings
One of the key elements that makes a gourmet burger.
Bloody Mary Ketchup
Jack Daniels BBQ
Smoked Chilli Mayo
There’s always somebody who wimps out at the last minute and remembers they’re on a diet.
Chilli Chicken Salad
Crispy Noodles Salad
Churros with Warm Chocolate Dip
Homemade Brownie with Ice Cream and Salted Caramel Sauce
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Banana, Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla
Cocktails & Non-Alcoholic Cocktails
Plus all the usual soft drinks, fruit juices, beers, ciders, wines and hot beverages.
Don’t forget to include the kids in your menu too.
4. Print Marketing
Ensure that all of your printed materials – menus, flyers, stickers, posters, banners, pavement A-boards and so on – include a special #hashtag that’s unique to you, along with all of your company’s social media links. That way, people will know who and what to tag when they share photos of themselves eating your scrumptious gourmet burgers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Loyalty cards are especially useful in encouraging repeat visits to your venue. Why not try a deal like buy 7 burgers and get the next one free? Just stamp the customer’s loyalty card every time they purchase a burger.
Host VIP ‘taster’ nights, giving regular customers and other folks a chance to sample new gourmet burger recipes or extraordinary ingredients. Feedback cards will quickly pinpoint the heroes from the zeroes. It’s a great way to bring in people on a slower, mid-week night. Throw in a Happy Hour for half-price cocktails to encourage punters in before 5pm or 6pm. Highlighting a different Burger of the Week throughout the month is another classic marketing tactic – especially if you’ve overstocked on a specific ingredient, or have been offered an unbeatable deal from a local farm or supplier.
This Chicken Avocado Burger was part of a menu tasting event at GBK Spitalfields in London.
Image Source: Gourmet Burger Kitchen
5. Social Media Marketing
Like print, use social media to promote offers and rewards to loyal customers as well as new customers. But never, ever just fill your social media pages with discounts and deals. Always remember the “social” in social media. Inspire people with yummy photography of your food and drink. Encourage people to talk about your burgers, restaurant and staff. Get customers to vote for their favourite burger at your place. Run an online poll to see what kind of burger, side dish or dessert they’d like to see added to your menu next.
Where’s The Beef?
And that’s that. Simple eh? Well, it’s never easy launching a successful new business – otherwise we’d all be doing it. But following the advice above will help get you there if you’ve really got what it takes. We’d love to hear from gourmet burger entrepreneurs and other restaurateurs who’ve already taken the plunge. Please scroll down this page to the ‘Leave a Reply’ box below and share your own marketing tips and success stories.