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The Bottom Line

What Is Content Marketing and How Can It Help Your Restaurant?
photo courtesy Ben Brown

Content marketing joins the ranks of digital, social media and influencer marketing—terms so often thrown around without too many people knowing how to actually use them as intended. Look past the buzzword-inspired skepticism, though, and you’ll find that content marketing can and should be a valuable asset in your repertoire. 

In short, content marketing is sharing material [blogs, posts, etc.] that does not explicitly promote your brand but is intended to stimulate interest in a way not typically achievable through conventional marketing methods. Think of content marketing as product placement that you create—instead of a TV show that strikes a deal with Coca Cola to have characters drinking coke on air, it’s Coca Cola that makes a video series depicting amazing moments where people just happen to have cans of Coke in their hands.

Content marketing is more subtle than conventional marketing, putting the article, photo, video, etc. before the brand itself. This less ‘in your face’ style is aimed at higher conversion—more people are willing to watch a great video that happens to mention Coca Cola than to watch a Coke commercial. So how can this approach help a restaurant?

Restaurants and the greater hospitality sector are actually a mecca for content marketing. This business is what people daydream about consuming on a regular basis, and naturally want to gravitate toward when it comes to reading articles and watching videos. Restaurants have a slew of natural assets that fit nicely into the content marketing landscape. One of the lowest-hanging fruits you can leverage are how-to videos:

How-to videos

‘How to’ is a very popular search topic across Google and YouTube, with cooking videos performing very well in this category. Chances are you’ve got a lot of fun recipes in your restaurant that people would love to try out for themselves, so why not film the preparation process?

Choose a visually-appealing item off your menu that’s simple enough for the average home cook to prepare. Drinks work as well if you have a good cocktail selection. Use a mise en place approach to keep things easy. You can film from the front, as typically seen on TV, or from the top, which is a very popular method online. ‘Tasty’ is a great YouTube channel that showcases the overhead filming method. 

To add your branding, simply add it in the intro and conclusion [think ‘How to Make XYZ, presented by Restaurant Name Here’], as well as a link to your website in the video description. Also make sure to post the actual recipe in the video description.

You can also do a how-to photo series, though expect to get out what you put in. People are much more likely to browse through videos than step-by-step photo instructions.

Before you go out and make a how-to video, however, it’s best to  fully understand the risks and rewards that come with content marketing. Videos like these require a lot of time, and in many cases money, to produce and distribute. Be sure that you’re in line with the main risks and benefits below before proceeding. 

While content marketing may not be as direct as more conventional marketing methods, it’s a great way to create—well, content—that people actually want to see. And as with all marketing methods, content marketing is best done as part of a holistic program rather than as a one-off piece. A how-to video published alongside a Facebook ad, a new menu announcement on your website and a special on your property will do much better than a how-to video alone. 

The Risks

•    Less brand exposure—your brand takes a backseat to the marketing piece itself

•    Less brand recall—the audience may recognize your brand in the marketing piece, but may not remember it afterwards

•    Less direct association—those who do remember your brand may not necessarily associate it with the message that the marketing piece conveyed 

The Benefits

•    Greater click-through rate—headlines that appeal to educating and entertaining people rather than selling to them will garner much more attention

•    Greater share value—people are much more likely to share a how-to video than they are to share a commercial

•    Larger audience appeal—both of the above points allow you to cast a wider net

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