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  • Writer's pictureOllie

Surviving Covid-19; Cafes & Restaurants

Updated: Mar 17, 2020

Worrying news coming from Europe at the moment is that cafes, bars and restaurants are being forced to close their doors (and their only revenue stream) to the general public for an unforeseen amount of time.

Obviously this fills me with worry, the high street is a tough cookie as it is and I’d hate to see people have to close their doors for good, as a result of this pandemic. That’s why, in this blog post, I’ve collated some free tips, tools and a simple digital tactic for business owners to use to try and navigate this weird situation we’ve found ourselves in.

Before you start posting about anything on social, you need to think “offering” - Both in terms of content and what you can offer people in these difficult times.

If you’re in a local area and people are self isolating, they will still want to treat themselves, it’s our human nature, especially if we’re feeling a little down in the dumps. So just because your doors to diners may be closed, it doesn’t mean you can’t take your offering to them. Consider food you can make in your kitchen that you can deliver to people locally and use your own mode of transport to take it to them. Our local bar ‘Tom Foolery’ have done a cracking job of it.

Once you’ve got that sorted, a quick way to get this message out and start collecting orders would be to make a post on social media (Facebook specifically) and boost it. Once you’ve posted your takeaway post, click ‘boost post’ this will open up a menu in Facebook to build out a paid ad.

There should also be a ‘button section’ which allows you to add a button driving people to Messenger. Make sure this is switched on, it will give people the option to send messages to your business page and thus, make orders their orders.

As you’re scrolling down you’ll see a targeting option, put your village in here to keep the people who see your ad relevant.

As far as content goes, have a think about what people who may be self-isolating might want to see. Chances are they’ve got limited ingredients but would like to have an idea of some recipes to make at home. Maybe ask your chef if he’d mind coming up with some home recipes and make them on camera in your kitchen... these ‘How to’ style recipe videos always work well on social media and will ensure that your business stays front of mind for anyone wanting food. Remember, high engagement (likes, shares & views) increases the pot of potential customers that your business page will appear in front of. If you’ve got the budget available, consider putting some spend behind it and ‘boosting’ it to your local area. Videos are favoured by Facebook's algorithms and as such, will give you cheaper ad impressions and a low cost per click/engagement.

There’s a tonne of free video editing tools which you can find online, here’s a link to a few;

For those of you wanting to take it a step further, you can retarget anyone on Facebook/Instagram, who has viewed your videos with your ad which you created earlier, advising of takeaways and home delivery. Your videos will collect a pool of people who now know and recognise your business, delivering a ‘send message’ style ad to them, should ensure that you should see some kind of return from your hard work and keep the revenue coming in even when your doors are shut.

For everything you need to know about setting up a retargeting ad using a custom audience, I’ve attached a link here;

There’s also a tonne of different apps and online groups/communities that you can tap into which people in your local area will be using. I’ve listed these below;

Next door App - This is an app, specifically designed for communities and neighbours to communicate with each other for free. You can list yourself on here and use it to post messages on behalf of your business, such as takeaway menus, opening times and any news and updates.

Nextdoor - Neighbourhood App by Nextdoor

Facebook Groups - There’s a tonne of different Facebook groups out there and they’re just a simple Facebook search away. You can join these as your business Facebook page and post in there as your business. This is completely free to use and will put you in front of local people in your area.

Here’s a link to guide you -

Instagram Hashtags - Any Content you post in Instagram, usually gets featured in a collection somewhere. People follow hashtags such as #Leeds that are relevant to their village or location. Using these hashtags in your posts gives you the ability to feature in other people’s Instagram news feeds, that may not necessarily be following you. Second to that, if you post Stories and use the hashtag as a text piece on the image, this will live on that hashtags own story too for 24 hours. Try searching for your local hashtag and what other people are posting.

Final point, don’t neglect your email lists. In these times, people are glued to their emails for news updates so it will guarantee higher open rates. If you’ve got emails available, from people who may have booked with you before online, use a free email marketing tool to build out broadcast updates. You can use these to offer discounts or even gift cards to get cash in the bank for use later down the line once everything stables out.

MailChimp is a fan favourite for email marketing and is free to use although here’s a list of 12 other free tools available if you’d like to try others;

Also, if you don't already have a 'Gift Voucher' Plug-in for your website, there's a tonne of free ones out there. Here's a list of 10 which are suitable for WooCommerce although it may be worth checking what your website is built on first;

I hope this helps people! If anyone has any questions relating to any of the above, don’t hesitate to leave a note in the comments below or send me a message and I’ll try and answer them for you as quickly as possible.

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