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  • Writer's pictureDavid B Townsend

3 Keys to Highlighting your Restaurant Menu

Using Social Media -

I have been following a few small independent restaurants and food shops in my area for the past year. While most try to stay abreast of social media as a marketing tool many fail to gain any significant following and from those I’ve spoken with don’t generate any real sales increases. There a a lack of 'irresistible' curiosity in their post and I think it is due to the quality of content and imagery. First, they don’t write related context or even a basic description of what they post. Second, they show you an item of food with no context, no story. It's a sandwich, so what? Third, the photography is lousy. Inadequate or no lighting, just an iPhone quick pic, and very little in the composition to create drama.

Limited Perspective will not Promote your Brand-

One example is a market showing a picture of the daily sandwich, on the same ciabatta bread, each day with a slight variation of the ingredients. However, this is just boring as there is no intrigue, no story, no panache. A Sandwich needs a human touch. Someone eating it would be so much more interesting. Picture a couple, young or old couple depending on your demographics, sitting at a small café table with your sandwich in hand, in the background a bottle from the wine selection, and a side salad featured in the cold case. Showing the same viewpoint of a sandwich day in and day out you can’t expect anyone to jump in the car to come to buy one. You need to create a reason to buy, sell the satisfaction, not the lunch special. If finding a live model is too much to set up a shoot just a picture of the sandwich with a suggested side and Lemonade can with a frosty glass sitting on a small café style table.

Slider / Burgers with fries on a cutting board
Drama through back lighting

1] Style your photo shoots -

You need to create a story when you set up a photo- even if it is merely through the use of props. An Asian style salad as an entrée could be shown with a Japanese teapot and small cup, chopsticks and a bamboo vase with flowers. Alternatively, instead of someone eating, as I suggested earlier, just a hand in the frame serving a dish or a fork cutting into a fluid poached egg. Taking this more active than passive ‘action’ helps to communicate the moment of enjoyment.

2] Take great photos -

You need good lighting. Period. And not just a ‘key light’ but some reflective balance lighting, with a reflector or second source. Sometimes a backlight can help create a dramatic effect where the food is highlighted from behind rather than directly above or in front. Avoid the Flat look of a typical flash photo.

3] Assign or Hire someone to direct the process - Art Director

If you don’t feel comfortable designing or laying out these shots, on your own, it’s best to hire a photographer who specializes in food, and possibly a stylist as well. You need some to take on the role of art direction.

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