A banquet or private dining sales manager for a restaurant is tough. You are expected to generate event revenue but you are provided with little in the ways of tools to generate leads and bookings.
Most event managers find themselves in the “catcher” position, waiting for leads to be pitch to you from phone calls or e-mails. This can be a stressful situation especially if you are behind in the sales forecast.
Sure, you can use outdated outbound marketing techniques like cold calling (“hey, having a party soon?”) or direct mail that goes straight to the trash. What you need is some inexpensive and effective way to be found by people who are searching on the web for venues to have an event. The new marketing term for this is “inbound” marketing (get it? catchy)
Now I understand that you have zero control over your website and don’t have time to learn all the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) black magic. If you take a few moments to see what is available you will see that the there are a number of tools that can increase your private dining leads without you having to invest too much time or money.
Below is a brief list that I complied that I feel are inexpensive and “do able” from an event managers prospective
- HubSpot-They are the company that created the term “inbound marketing”. While their software can be pricey they provide a ton of free material on how you can generate traffic to your website.
- Google Adwords-This is really a no brainer. Someone does a search on “private dining in (your city here)” you should have a ad front and center. You can control the search words (called Keywords. Go to Hubspot to learn all about it) and how much you want to spend a day on the ad.
- Constant Contact-O.K. cheating here a little as this can be considered outbound marketing but they are an inexpensive e-mail marketing tool and we integrate to them so they should be in the mix
- Tripleseat Listing Site-Another no brainer. We list your restaurant and put a lot of SEO magic to your listing for you. Anything that extends your reach beyond your own website is a good thing.
- Blog-This a must have. There are a number of free blogging sites out there. Some are more complicated then others so find one that is easy for you. Blogging makes a HUGE difference for web traffic. Creating content takes like 20 minutes and you only have to do it like 3 or 4 times a month. Write about anything you think will be valuable to your audience. Here is an idea to kick it off for you:”5 items you need for a terrific event”
- Twitter-Free, easy, set one up about your private parties. Example “Had the IBM event here last night. Awesome group. Lots of fun”
Take your time, experiment, see what works for you. I am confident that if you do just one or two of the above suggestions you will see your private party leads start coming in at a good pace.