It’s hard to believe that it’s almost December, but even harder to believe that means 2018 is nearly upon us.

It’s traditional at this time of the year to look forward and consider what trends might be on the horizon for modern restaurateurs, and we think there are four in particular to look out for. They won’t force you to spend a fortune on marketing, but they will set your creative juices flowing:

1. Geotargeting

Innovative platforms such as Waze (a community-based driving app) have already started to make effective use of geotargeting.

For instance, if you pass a McDonald’s at lunchtime with the Waze app installed on your smartphone, you’ll probably receive a notification prompting you to head in for a bite to eat. This is because Waze knows who you are, where you are and you’ve given it permission to inform you of location-based opportunities when the time is right.

Imagine being able to do the same as people pass your restaurant’s front door…

2. Personalisation

This has long been a staple of email marketing, but the practice of targeting customers with offers that are precisely tuned to their exact wants and desires can now be found in all manner of restaurant-friendly apps and services.

Firing out an email or smartphone notification a few days before a particular customer’s wedding anniversary with a note of their favourite table and most ordered dish is a sure-fire way to tempt a return booking.

From 2018, the mantra ‘it’s all about the customer’ really will begin to take hold with personalisation driving restaurant marketing strategies.

3. Social media engagement

With people interacting constantly with one another online, the desire to do the same with brands has risen considerably.

If your restaurant has a social media presence that is solely based around pushing out your latest offers and menu updates, you’re missing the point.

Your customers (both existing and prospective) expect an active presence from you on social media, but one with which they can interact.

You should expect to see more and more social interactions with your brand from next year onwards as people increasingly turn to platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to book tables, praise your staff and – yep, sorry – complain.

4. ‘Micro’ influencers

Influencers are a new breed of marketing talent used by businesses to push their brands out to a far wider audience than is possible via traditional marketing methods.

What’s often forgotten, however, is that fact that customers are now influencers in their own right. Against the shining YouTube stars, they might be ‘micro’ in comparison when it comes to the size of their audience, but they can still have their say about your restaurant business – and a direct impact on your reputation.

Your guests have a powerful voice online. Encourage them to use it following their meal, and you’ll quickly build your own little network of micro influencers who can extend your brand’s message and encourage others to book.

Wrapping up

We’ve sifted through the multitude of predicted marketing trends for 2018, and the above are what we think to be the most accessible for independent restauranteurs.

Perhaps we’ve missed something, though. If you think so, let us know in the comments section, below!

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