I came home on Friday to find not one but four different
takeaway menus through my letterbox and it got me thinking: What a waste of
paper and someone’s time these disposable fliers are.

It would be much better for the millions of curry houses,
pizza places, kebab shops and Chinese restaurants to invest that time and money
into some decent online marketing instead. After all, a huge amount of people now go online when they
want to order food, meaning you can market to them at exactly the moment they
want to buy.

Compare that to marketing with fliers in an untargeted blanket approach. One is undoubtedly more cost efficient.

So, takeaways in Oxford and the rest of the country, read on. Here are some marketing tips that will last a lot longer than the fliers I just shoved in my recycling bin.

Capture regular customers’ email addresses

The same places flier me month after month, presumably to make sure they are first to mind when I can’t face cooking.

But they could spare themselves the effort and simply drop me an emailed offer if only they had my details.

Now, I am not likely to share my information for free, even if you make a decent king prawn jalfrezi. But I may well agree to hand it over in return for a free starter or dessert; it’s worth asking when I call.

Then you can drop me an email when you want to remind me of your business. One good tip is to let me know if you’re running a special offer and reward my loyalty by giving me a discount.

Make yourself easy to find

When it comes to targeting brand new customers, it’s a little trickier. You can aim to flier every household within a 10-mile radius or advertise in local papers. But this is untargeted.

It’s better for you to be marketing at people who want what you sell at that exact moment. So, search engine optimisation (SEO) is ideal.

You may think only big businesses can climb to the top of the rankings. However, the more specific you are the cheaper and less competitive this kind of marketing becomes.

So, take a curry house in the Oxford region of Headington. When I type ‘curry house Headington’ into the search engine, there’s one Google Local result and then a lot of websites that list restaurants in the local area.

So, rewrite your website (or set one up if you haven’t already!), making sure you include ‘[food type] restaurant and takeaway in [local area]’ throughout.

Then a very little effort should see you rise to the top of the rankings. Ensure that all the food listings websites that mention you include a link to your site, tweet about yourself and make sure you update your website frequently.

Because most takeaways have failed to grasp the potential benefits of internet marketing, there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit to be had.

Have a website!

Let’s start with the very basics, but there’s so many restaurants which when you search for them in Google all you find are review or directory listing websites. So they are likely to find competitors as well as your own site here.

This is an area which is definitely worth improving, these people are searching specifically for a restaurant, so they already know about you and are very likely to be repeat or word-of-mouth potential customers. All you need is a basic website containing contact details and ideally a menu. That should be enough to start converting some extra customers and easily justifying the effort involved.

Use Google Places

It’s free to list your business on Google Places and it means that when people search Maps for information, your business name, number address and opening hours can be displayed. Also remember to optimise your local listings!

Customers can also leave reviews of your service, so think about inviting regular customers to do so when you next email them.

Use geo-targeted PPC campaigns

It can take a while for a newly-optimised website to climb up the Google rankings organically. However, paid search results can have an instant effect and at a low budget if well geo-targeted.

So, going back to my previous example, when I search for ‘curry house Headington’, there is no paid advertising. That means it would be dirt cheap for a curry house in Headington to advertise there and the advertiser will only pay if I click on it.

Because I am only likely to search for such a specific thing if I am about to purchase a curry in Headington, you pay a small amount for a customer who’s ready to buy. It’s going to be more expensive than a flier, but you make contact with the customer at the exact moment they want your service.

Make use of review websites

A growing proportion of us don’t even bother using a search engine to find a takeaway in a hurry. We’ll turn to Yell.com or a food-specific website like Just-Eat.co.uk. 

So, make sure there’s enough information on Yell.com and consider investing in a sponsored listing. Also, don’t overlook the benefits of making sure you’re listed on popular restaurant review website’s such as Just-Eat or Qype.

Just-Eat, for example, gets more than 1.5million visits a month and markets itself across the mainstream media. So it’s a great opportunity to can take advantage of that by getting listed. Yes, you’ll pay the website for its service, but you should look at that like the fee you paid the bloke who delivered fliers.

These are customers you wouldn’t otherwise get, so they are worth paying a small fee for.

A marketing feast

Of course, all the tips mentioned in this post can be reworked for any local business. The internet might be global but small companies can use it to market their local services. They miss out on a wide number of customers by failing to do so.