Let’s start with a simple question. What is a menu? A list of food and drink items alongside their description and respective prices, right?
Wrong! Your menu is so much more than that. It’s a reflection of your restaurant, your concept and your aesthetic. It sets the tone for the style and quality of your food. Your menu greets your customers the moment they sit down and introduces them to their meal.
Along with the overall design, how you write your menu goes a long way towards solidifying a great first impression. Now with menu template services taking the hassle out of the design and sharing, you can focus on making sure your copy sings.
I’ve spent the past three years writing copy for hundreds of menus. Here are 5 tips I’ve picked up to make sure your menu copy sizzles.
Keep it Short
It’s usually best to avoid extra-long menus because they can confuse people, making it difficult for them to make a choice. Massive flipbook menus can work for family-style chains, For independent restaurants, however, it’s generally more effective to keep it to a single page.
Either way, brevity truly is the soul of wit. Customers want to peruse a menu, not read a tome. So keep it short. Always aim for simple and straightforward.
This goes double for your item descriptions. If you a list of twenty different ingredients for each dish, you’ll overload the customer with information. Write for clarity
Reading your menu should not be a challenge. Too much text or tough-to-read designer fonts will frustrate your customers. Keep the design of your menu simple and avoid using a lot of culinary jargon. Describe the items in simple, but tantalizing, terms that tickle your customers’ tastebuds.
Write for your audience
The number one rule of copywriting is to write for your audience. How well do you know your customer base? Because effective menu copy will rely on you having an deep understanding of what informs their purchasing decisions.
You may want to study the demographics of your target, learn their preferences. For example, if your restaurant mostly attracts families, your family-style menu should be written in an easy-to-understand style that results in happy choices for all ages.
On the other hand, if your restaurant is a French fine-dining establishment and attracts a more elite “foodie” crowd, use more sophisticated language and style. For example, instead of "Appetizers," use "Hors d'oeuvres". Things like this might seem simple, but they go a long way towards making your menu accessible and attractive to your customers.
Write for clarity
Reading your menu should not be a challenge. Too much text or tough-to-read fancy fonts will frustrate your patrons. Keep the design of your menu simple and avoid using a lot of culinary jargon. Describe the items in simple, but tantalizing, terms that tickle your customers’ tastebuds.
This goes double for online menus. Your online menu serves as the foundation of your digital marketing and contactless dining. It's critical that customers can navigate yours easily from the comfort of their phone, so make sure you optimize your online menu for mobile. There’s simply not much room for embellishment when you need your menu to be easily read from the palm of your hand.
Write to create hunger
How do create hunger with your menu copy? What terms will motivate customers to buy certain dishes?
There are many words that take on a whole new meaning when used in the context of foods. They can elevate drab menu copy into something your customers can practically feel and taste. While you want to write for clarity, adding a few of the following terms to your menu descriptions can take a list of ingredients and turn it into a sales pitch.
Here are some examples:
A single word choice can turn menu copy from magnificent to meh. Using words like the ones above can ensure that your menu descriptions jump off the page.
Employ these simple but effective restaurant menu writing tips to create powerful, successful menus.
About the Author:
Mark Plumlee is a copywriter who has helped restaurants and small businesses grow and define their brands.