Ken Burgin

‘Local’ – More Ways to use this Magic Word for Cafe & Restaurant Marketing

Maybe you enjoy pizza from Italy, beer from Denmark and TV from Britain, but the L word, LOCAL, arouses emotions and loyalty in most of us.

Customers know the fish, the fruit and the wine come from far away, but every time you promote local suppliers and connections, they see you as better than the big chains selling the same thing everywhere. And it’s another way to sidestep price competition.

There are many low-cost and no-cost ways to talk local:

Mention local produce and suppliers. Featuring at least two items on your menu that are sourced locally or known for local connections. Eg: Our potatoes are the best from Kooweerup. Our icecream is churned by local producers Rocky & Co. Fish sourced daily from Sydney Fish Markets. There’s a growing political debate on ‘food miles’ and being a ‘locavore’ – some customers don’t care, but more and more are interested.

Talk about what local people love to eat or drink. Eg: This is the favourite beer with locals in Maryville. Local people love pumpkin served this way for a special dinner. Would you like to try one of our local wines? It’s on the menu and in the server’s recommendations.

Support local causes. Whether it’s fundraising for a new gym or protecting a heritage area, take part in mainstream local issues. In your newsletter, on the noticeboard, or on the ‘What’s New’ or blog section of your website.

Host local meetings. If there are times during the week when you’ve got empty space, this is when local meetings can take place on your premises. They may not buy more than a coffee or beer, but the appreciation will come back in many other ways. A screen and projector are inexpensive, and will make your space even more useful for gatherings.

List local events. On your website and Facebook page – not just your own events, but community activities as well. The monthly markets, street festival, sporting highlights and special gatherings.

Show off what the locals are doing. Keep your website’s photo gallery, Instagram and Facebook page up to date with pictures of happy customers of all ages. Encourage people to email, post or SMS photos when they go travelling.

Send menu flyers to the locals. These days, there is much less mail in our letterboxes to compete with, and a simple menu and appeal for support (plus phone or QR code for ordering) will generate support. Get a quote, do a simple design and make sure someone else does the leg work – you’ve got other things to do with your evenings (like relax).

Mention local employment. You hire local workers, and many staff live nearby. Realistically, some may also travel long distances, but it’s another way to show you’re embedded into the community.

List all the local areas on your website. It’s very important for improving website ranking. Talk about the surrounding suburbs and towns specifically by name so an online search will connect your bar/restaurant/hotel with that location. Use common abbreviations if they’re used eg Newcastle and Hunter Valley. When you’re deciding on the location keywords, think about how locals would search for it – what terms do they use? They would search for something like: ‘Italian restaurant in Pillsbury’ or ‘pub in Glebe’. Hint: Have your full street address at the bottom of each page and on the side navigation bar – make sure they are all exactly the same ie don’t have St on one and Street on another, or Google will get confused (!). Include a phone number with the local area code. This gives the search engines all the information they need to pinpoint your location.

Make sure you’re on local tourist directories, and a Google My Business listing is essential.

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