Increased Bookings MoM


Increased Return Custom


Increase in Web Traffic


Engagement Increase

Helping Southampton’s audience discover their dream paradise in the middle of the city by executing a new marketing plan.

Smugglers is a gorgeous bar and restaurant in the heart of Southampton’s Bedford place that offers great food, cocktails and settings that appeal to a massive audience. Those that have visited will know the quality and attention to detail that goes into everything that they do.

Fortunately, when working with Smugglers, we were working with an incredibly strong product. We try to avoid working with brands that we don’t personally believe in, as this allows us to give everything that we’ve got into catapulting our clients’ brands to success.

Straight away, we jumped on a call with the Smugglers directors to learn more about what they wanted to personally achieve out of their marketing budget.

After discussing the brand and vision with Kyle and Rhys, we proposed 7 key marketing goals that aligned with what they wanted to achieve, while also fitting in to our marketing framework.

At ADVRT we’ve worked with a number of hospitality companies over the years, and have helped to deliver real results.

As a result of this, we know what works, and how to structure a marketing campaign that works.

We’ve leveraged this and created a marketing ‘wireframe’ that we use as the basis of all of our marketing strategies. Upon this, we sculpt a bespoke marketing plan that uniquely fits the needs of each brand that we work with.

What does this mean for the client?

This means that every marketing campaign that we create is fundamentally based on evidence of previous successful marketing campaigns within the same sector. By building on this we can provide bespoke strategies that have been proven to work before they’ve even been deployed.

This means that ADVRT customers see a much quicker uptake and return on their marketing budget than they would with other agencies that start from scratch each time with each client.

Here are the 7 key marketing goals that we identified to help take the Smugglers brand to the next level.

Smugglers’ Key Marketing Goals:

  1. To build awareness of the Smugglers brand.
  2. To improve, manage and leverage the online reputation.
  3. To build and leverage a strong presence across all chosen platforms.
  4. To make it as easy as possible to book and reserve a table
  5. An increase in overall bookings which can be attributed to marketing.
  6. To incentivise and audit reviews post-sale to increase positive online brand reputation.
  7. To encourage repeat bookings.

Each one of these points was carefully considered to match up to a step in our hospitality marketing framework.

Our marketing framework is based on the following key stages:

  • Awareness 
  • Consideration
  • Conversion
  • After The Sale (ATS)

Each one matches up to where a customer is in the buying cycle. Let me explain.

  • Awareness 
    • Building awareness of the smugglers brand by positioning the product in front of people that are not yet aware of the brand. This allows Smugglers to increase brand exposure, and communicate their values to new audiences.
  • Consideration
    • Leveraging a strong online reputation on review platforms and channels. People look at reviews of your venue long before they walk in the door. Make sure these are in check and you’re far more likely to win the customer. These platforms are nearly always third-party and independent (Google My Business, Trip Advisor etc), but you need to be there and be seen to be active in answering reviews.
    • A strong online presence. This includes beautiful brand photography, carefully curated and planned social media and a presence in every location that your customer is likely to expect to see you.
  • Conversion
    • Ensuring that it is as easy, quick and intuitive as possible to book a table or make a reservation. This means that the path to purchase is as quick and optimised as possible. When the customer is ready to make a booking, you need to make sure they can do so there and then with minimal messing around.
  • After The Sale (ATS)
    • Have you delivered an exceptional service? How do you know if you’re not asking your customers for feedback? Review aggregation, collecting positive reviews and dealing with negative ones is absolutely essential. Turn your customers in to massive raving fans of your brand and your marketing will start to take care of itself.

So now I’ve got this covered, I’m going to break down more of the nitty gritty of how we took this framework and applied it to Smugglers to help them achieve their goals.

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So once we’ve established the key marketing goals, and where they fit in to our overall marketing wireframe, we got to work on putting this in to action.

Firstly we identified the main platforms that we were going to focus on. These were:

Facebook & Instagram (Awareness)

SEO & Influencer outreach – traffic to the website (Awareness)

Trip Advisor, Google My Business, Facebook Reviews (Reputation/Consideration)

Website redevelopment and optimisation (Conversion)

Let’s do a deep dive into what we did for each of these platforms

Facebook & Instagram

Everyone knows that you need to be on social media to be seen these days. If done properly it can be a very valuable source of reliable exposure for your business. However, if you don’t leverage it, or mess it up then you’re not going to see anything from it.


We started on Instagram by carrying out a full instagram bio optimisation, ensuring all of the main USP’s and call to action’s were featured prominently. 


The Instagram bio is the first thing a potential customer will see when landing on your page, so it’s vital your get this first touchpoint right. 


As well as the bio, we also set about to create some nice, attractive story highlight covers. These are generally the next place people will go to find out more about your business. This is a great place to showcase stories that highlight your best side, including photos, reviews and user-generated content.


Finally, a key part of the bio is the Call to Action. The goal is to get people off Instagram and on to your website as quickly as possible. What can you offer them to encourage a speedy click through? Make sure that your CTA is clear and concise, while also being in alignment with your customer journey. 


Once we were happy with the on-platform bio, we looked at where the customer goes once they’ve clicked.


To do this we created a branded link landing page. This is using our own landing page service ‘ADVRTISE’. This allows us to promote multiple offers and track click through rates in ways that Instagram just doesn’t allow. This is one of the ‘power features’ that ADVRT clients benefit from, and comes as standard with any of our packages.


There are a few other key areas that we went in on for social media, including engagement, hashtag strategy and content marketing, however in the interests of keeping this relatively concise, we’ll skip over those. Obviously feel free to reach out to me if you want to know more about this!


Next up on the list, SEO and influencer outreach

Since beginning to work with ADVRT almost 2 years ago, they have become an integral part of our marketing team for Smugglers.

We have clear lines of communication and management between the two companies, meaning that communicating special offers or adjusting the messaging based on upcoming events is an easy task.

Jack and the team at ADVRT are always more than equipped and happy to deal with any last-minute changes or amendments that we need to make – as can be the case in hospitality!

We are looking forward to continuing to work with ADVRT, and have many exciting plans in the pipeline to bring Smugglers in front of new audiences!

Kyle Wilks

Director, Smugglers Bar Group

Dominating the SERPS, how we generated the majority of organic traffic for Smugglers


If you head over to Google and search ‘Best Bottomless Brunch Southampton’, you can be sure that Smugglers is going to appear on the first page.

Is that an accident? Hell no.

In fact, at the time of writing, Smugglers is at the top of the search engine result page (SERP) for these search terms, only underneath some bloggers.


That means that when you search for this super booking-intent keyword, Smugglers is the first brand that people see.


Can you imagine how powerful that is?


Imagine being the first brand that people see when they’re looking for the best XYZ in your city.


To achieve this we worked with a number of influencers and local blogs on collaborations. This is not a quick, nor a necessarily glamourous process, however the initial cost of working with influencers can be easily justified by the ongoing ranking and return on investment of ranking high in the search results.


We are also looking at ranking a number of other pages on the Smugglers site to help them drive more traffic to event-specific landing pages.


When done right, and maintained properly this can provide a stream of free booking-intent traffic to your website for a long time to come, without spending a penny on ongoing ads!


Obviously we also looked at other areas of the Smugglers site too… Which we’ll look at now:


Redeveloping the Smugglers Website to maximise conversions

The Smugglers website started from a strong foundation, and was created in house in the early stages of the restaurant being open. The website was built on the WordPress CMS with a theme by Acoda.


ADVRT were commissioned to redevelop the website from the ground up using a new theme, and taking the overall brand guidelines on board.


At the same time as this, we worked hard to ensure that the website was structured properly from an SEO point of view, including all on-page optimization, as well as ensuring the path to purchase was as streamlined as possible.


Every time a visitor faces a problem on your website, or every second they can’t find a link to book, your chances of attracting that visitor decrease dramatically.


Trip Advisor, Google My Business & Facebook Reviews

Reputation management is an area of marketing that focuses predominantly on third party platforms and review locations, away from your main pages.


Keeping an active eye on these platforms is absolutely essential, as they often provide an honest and impartial opinion on your business.

Savvy shoppers realise this, and this is why they’ll typically head to these locations to learn more about your business, long before they step foot in your door.


This is the awareness and consideration phase of the journey, and this is a vital one to get right.


For the purposes of working with Smugglers, we are very fortunate (and grateful) that the Smugglers product is of very high quality, meaning negative reviews were few and far between, and we didn’t have too many fires to fight.


Successful reputation management means getting your brand in front of customers and having a presence on every platform that they can go to share their experience.


Thanking people for sharing their positive experiences, and dealing with reports of a negative experience are the fundamentals of a good reputation management strategy, Depending on your product and past customer reviews will determine the platforms you should be looking at, as well as whether or not you should look at implementing a PR emergency plan.


Google My Business is an area that is a cornerstone of any local business account that we manage.

A strong and well-optimised GMB profile has a number of benefits, but the most important of which is that you can rank in local searches in the ‘map 3 pack’ as well as have a more visible listing on google maps.


Showing up in the map 3 pack goes further than just appearing for your search term, if you have a common theme, offer or product that your customers often mention in reviews, then this can influence your ranking as well.


For the Smugglers GMB, we regularly update all of the information and ensure that it is consistent with the social media profiles, the website and any other directories that feature the Smugglers brand.


As well as this we do regular posting, including drip-posting new images from a regular photoshoot, manage and update the menu and share any special offers or service announcements as updates.


All of these actions show that the listing is actively being maintained, and we care about supplying accurate and factual information to Google’s users – all of these factors are recognised and rewarded by Google by increased search exposure.


As with all of the points above, we can be contacted to go over any of these in more detail and explain them in a way that is relevant to your own business. Get in touch with one of the ADVRT team today to discuss this more.


The importance of delicious, sexy, gorgeous photography for your venue.

Until you get that person in your venue to experience the sights, smells, tastes and feelings that your venue can evoke, strong imagery is the next best thing.


If you want to stand out above the competition, getting a bank of good quality, professional images under your belt is an absolute must-have.


This is one of the first action points that we have with any new brands or accounts that we work with. I would argue that in the early stages, this is one of the highest ROI actions, and really sets a strong foundation for all marketing activities moving forwards.


We’ve worked with a number of photographers for Smugglers, each one having their own unique style and way of working. We’ve now got a team of favourite photographers that we send out to the venues to get a quality set of images.


Once these have been returned by the photographer, these images are then used for a multitude of different purposes, including regular Google My Business posts, social media content and creative for paid ads.


If you need to be pointed in the direction of a good photographer for food, drink or venue shots, then reach out and we can discuss the best solution for your needs.


So what does this all mean?

When you bring a hospitality marketing agency on board in your business, you trust that they have the skills, connections and strategies in place to deliver on their promises and show you some real growth for your business.


But ultimately none of this means anything if you don’t see a percentage increase to your bottom line.


One of the key differentiating factors between ADVRT and other agencies is the transparency with which we operate.


Every month we supply a formatted report, including competitor insights, metric reporting and proposed next steps from our social media team to ensure that your brand is constantly moving forward.


This ensures that when you work with us you will be able to see the actions and the effects of those actions that we are taking.

Book your FREE 30 minute consultation call

Choose a time that suits you and book a 30-minute discovery call with one of our hospitality marketing experts.

We normally help restaurants increase their booking revenue by 20% – 100% within 3 months!

Jack Purdie