Writing good copy for marketing is essential to any business to attract customers. As a restaurant or foodservice operation, your business has many areas where there is a need for good copywriting including your website, social media, menu, print, radio or TV ads, direct mail or email, newsletters, signage, and POP materials.
There are so many different avenues to send your customers a message, but in today’s society, where readers are bombarded by marketing material everywhere they go, your message must be succinct and make an impact to get them to visit your operation.
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, President of Chiasson Consultants Inc., a restaurant and foodservice consultancy firm in Toronto, offers the following advice for writing the most effective marketing material for your restaurant or foodservice operation:
- Put your offer in a box
Whether in a brochure, newsletter, email or menu, put your offer in a centred, rectangular box to catch your reader’s attention. Ideally, this box should be placed at the top of your letter or email so readers can see it right away, without the need to unfold the letter or scroll down the email. For greater impact, use a second colour inside your box to attract the eyes to your offer immediately. However, make sure the content of your box is worthwhile. You should include your main offer, your phone number, your website and the expiration date of the offer.
- Don’t be too clever
Many people think that great marketing means writing witty and clever content. However, being clever does not necessarily sell. If the copy is too clever, your message may get lost within it. Be sure that your message is clear and concise, and that it makes immediate sense to your customers first. The point of your marketing campaign is to sell your restaurant, and get customers in the door.
- Tell your reader what to do
People have very short attention spans and may not have time to read your entire page of copy. Make it clear quickly what you want the reader to do and how long they have to do it. Tell your readers that they must act quickly and visit your restaurant immediately to receive your offer.
- Be honest
Be honest with your offer. Don’t embellish or lie about what you plan to give your customers when they walk through the door. Don’t hide disclaimers in small print.
Keep your offer simple, and tell people exactly what they are going to get, and then deliver on your offer. You never want a customer to leave your operation feeling disappointed.
- Use symbols and numbers
Most people scan copy first to see if it is worth their while to take the time to read and absorb the information. The eyes will look for symbols and numbers first to quickly get an idea of your deal or offer, especially “$$”. Numbers usually mean discounts and incentives.
- Let your reader know what’s in it for them
Marketing copy should always focus on the “What’s in it for me?” Readers are not interested in you or what you have to offer. They are interested in what they will get. For example, it’s much more effective to write “You will get a free dinner”, rather than “We are offering a free dinner.”
- Use short words and short sentences
Marketing copy is not the place to write long and poetic prose. Make sure your copy uses short words in short sentences with a captivating tone. It should be easily consumed and digested. Bold or highlight key words that will initiate your reader to act immediately. Keep paragraphs short, preferably three lines or less.
- Write like how people talk
Writing marketing copy is not like writing news copy. It is far more effective to write like how people talk than writing with proper, grammatically-correct structured sentences. Your message should be written as what it would sound like if you were speaking with your customers face-to-face. (Just make sure there are no spelling mistakes!)
- Don’t use ALL CAPS or too many exclamation points!!
Try to limit your use of ALL CAPS to only a few key words that you really want to highlight. Capital letters are harder to read on the eyes, so the use of all caps is not necessarily an effective way to attract attention. It is preferable to bold a word or highlight in yellow. Also limit your use of exclamation points as too many will make your copy feel like you are yelling at your reader. It also makes your copy look unprofessional.
- Put a face to your business
Put a photo of yourself and/or your chef on your marketing copy. It helps to put a face to the messenger, and when the reader walks through your door and sees your face, they will get a sense of familiarity as if they had already met you before. Showing your face on your copy also makes you more real and more likeable. (Just make sure it’s a flattering photo!)