December 1, 2021

How to Cut Through the Noise and Communicate Your Restaurant’s Unique Selling Point to Diners

By Brock Campbell

As a marketer, you care about your restaurant’s differentiators. Specifically, you know you need a unique selling point — a USP. A USP sets you apart from your competitors. It also represents the place you hold in your customers’ minds (the date night go-to or that spot with the famous cheeseburger) and keeps them coming back for more.

The good news? Your restaurant’s USP likely already exists. Your establishment has unique qualities, after all. Besides, even if you somehow don’t have one, there are countless articles explaining how exactly to arrive at a USP.  

Your real challenge is communicating your restaurant’s USP to current and potential diners. Do they know you’re the date night place? Too often, a restaurant’s USP is hidden. To make your USP — that all-important competitive advantage — clear to consumers, you have to chip away at the things that aren’t serving your vision. Here’s how. 

Stop Trying to Make Your Restaurant Everything to Everyone 

Chuck E. CheeseWould you order Pad Thai at a pub? Would you take a first date to Chuck E. Cheese? Would you trust a place that says they have fine food, but also the lowest prices?

The answer to these questions is no (duh). The more interesting question is: Why not? It’s because a restaurant can’t be all things to all people. A menu with Asian and American foods is confusing. You wouldn’t know what’s actually good. A restaurant can’t be upper crust and budget friendly at the same time. They’re opposing ideas. 

Put simply, being everything is the same as being nothing in consumers’ eyes. An ‘everything to everyone’ approach comes across as inauthentic. 

This is exactly why you have to chip away at the excess to get to your restaurant’s USP. To figure out what is a selling point — and get rid of what’s not. 

Refine Your Menu to Reflect Your Restaurant’s USP

A good place to start chipping away at the excess — that noise burying your USP — is on your restaurant’s menu. 

MenuYes, we know you’re not a chef. But hear us out. A menu is a communication tool. And you are in charge of communicating with your customers, right? We’re not asking you to decide on recipes. We’re asking you to consider how your menu contributes to — or detracts from — your USP. Marketing is about so much more than advertising. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to get your restaurant’s USP across to diners. 

To that end, audit your menu. Ask yourself: Is this menu reflecting the foods we’re known for and do best? Are those foods related to our USP? 

It’s proven that consumers generally want fewer choices from menus. So if something isn’t serving your USP, it’s simply clutter. It needs to go. Restaurants often add menu items haphazardly over the years. Don’t let strategy-less add-ons detract from the USP you’re trying to get across to customers. Get back to your restaurant’s bread and butter — figuratively and maybe even literally. 

Bonus: Simplifying your menu helps operationally, too. Especially with today’s staff shortages, you don’t want to have to train back of house staff to make 10 appetizers when you could train them to make four. Your restaurant will likely save money buying less overall food as well. It’s a win for all departments. 

Audit Your Restaurant’s Atmosphere to Ensure it Matches Your USP 

For the same reasons you should audit your restaurant’s menu, you should also audit the interior design and atmosphere. 

Bob's BurgersThe way your restaurant looks to diners matters. A lot. Say your USP is that your restaurant is romantic. No one will believe that’s what you’re really about if the lighting is bright and the tables seat 10. They’ll all understandably expect white tablecloths, dim lighting, and well-spaced two-tops. 

As with menus, restaurants often hang random pictures or add new centerpieces over the years without considering how those additions are impacting the overall aesthetic. Sometimes, function winds up taking precedence over ambiance. That’s where you come in. Be critical about your restaurant’s environment so you know it always speaks to your USP.   

Avoid the Same Old Social Posts in Favor of Unique Takes

You’ve worked hard to ensure your restaurant’s menu and environment reflect your USP. Don’t throw it away with homogenous social media posts. 

If you take a look at most restaurants’ social media feeds, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that’s unique — even if they have a valid USP. Most feature overhead shots of food and maybe some stock photos of smiling diners. They might also publicize their specials. Or perhaps they reshare viral content. Frankly, they’re boring and, again, repetitive. 

If you’re trying to be the destination for kids’ birthday parties, why exactly are you reposting those viral cat memes? Really, if you’re trying to be the anything for your patrons, why is your social media feed bland? 

Make your social media presence as focused on your USP as your menu and restaurant interior. If kids’ birthday parties are your thing, you better post about kids birthday parties! Chip away anything that’s inconsistent with your vision (cough: cat memes). 

Make Your USP Clear and Loyal Customers Are Yours 

Your restaurant’s USP matters. Without a solid USP, you won’t hold a special place in your customers’ minds. Instead, your restaurant risks becoming a commodity — just another pizza/burger/burrito pitstop.

The real work of communicating your restaurant’s USP comes from trimming the fat. Get rid of what doesn’t serve your selling point and you’ll be making way for happier, repeat diners.