How to change your restaurant marketing messages in a crisis

Deliver the right message

As the world is currently embroiled in the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a variety of factors to consider when it comes to managing your business. For starters, if you’re in foodservice, you’re bound to be hit pretty hard right now. As sit-down dining has ceased, it’s likely you’re relying heavily on pickup and delivery orders.

But do your online and advertising restaurant marketing messaging reflect this change? Or are you still running ads that depict people sitting down in a restaurant to eat?

Key places to adjust restaurant marketing messages

Before we get into a few examples of how to adjust your restaurant’s marketing messages for a time of crisis, it’s important to identify places where you should make these changes. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, it will give you plenty to address immediately:

  • Your website’s homepage. Create a dedicated page or blog post about your response to the crisis. You may consider a banner across the top of your site as well.
  • Email campaigns. Whatever email messages you previously had ready-to-go, cancel them and write new, relevant messages.
  • Social media. Again, if you had any posts pre-scheduled, put them on hold and make sure you’re only sharing up-to-date info on your social media channels—this is especially relevant if passing along scientific or medical information.
  • Advertising. Online ads, YouTube ads and even TV ads need to reflect the current state of things.

Related: How to create a coronavirus FAQ page

How to adapt your messaging

If you haven’t already, adapt your message ASAP.

Show your customers that you are prepared for this moment and that you’re with them.


To do this, you can:

Speak directly to your customers and patrons

Your customers are going through this crisis, just as you are, so it’s a good time to recognize that. Speak authentically and from the heart.

Outline company changes

Address the changes you’re making to how you do business and how this affects your customers. For restaurants, this means discussing the switch to pickup and delivery orders only, talking about enhanced sanitation practices, and how you’re ensuring employee safety.

Related: 5 ways to keep customers informed about changes to your business

Updated business hours

If your hours of operation have changed, indicate this information clearly. It’s also important to indicate why (more time needed to perform additional sanitation, compliance with social distancing, etc).

Related: Business hours changing because of COVID-19? Don’t forget to tell Google, Yelp and Facebook.

Reiterate your contact information

This applies even not during times of crisis, but it’s even more important now.

Make your contact information easy to access.


It should be available in every email, every ad, and prominently displayed on social media and your website.

Adjust your campaign imagery

It’s imperative that the visuals you select for your ads are befitting of this moment in time. So, showcasing photos of happy couples enjoying a night out on the town in a crowded bistro might not hit the right tone.

Instead, shift the focus of your marketing images to the food itself. And if you want to show people, show images of people picking up delivery orders. The last thing you want to do is appear out of touch.

Related: How to optimize images for the web

Do’s and don’ts for effective restaurant messaging during COVID-19

To briefly recap:

  • Now is the time to adapt your messaging to the moment. Don’t wait.
  • Prioritize the needs of your employees and customers first and communicate this effectively in all advertising and marketing efforts.
  • Indicate how the crisis has impacted your business and what you’re doing to ensure the safety of your employees and customers.
  • Communicate store hours, contact info and health information as needed.
  • Change campaign images to be sensitive to the moment in which we’re living.

Doing these things will go a long way toward building trust for your company and a reputation as an entity that cares about people first.

Image by: Kimiya Oveisi on Unsplash