Marketing is one of the most important parts of any business. Your restaurant may have great food, an awesome atmosphere with great lighting and background music, and friendly staff, but if you aren’t able to effectively market your restaurant, you won’t be able to stay open very long.
Here are 50 ideas for marketing your restaurant.
Social Media Marketing Ideas and Tips
To generate more likes, shares, and followers, it’s important to create content that people find valuable in some way. Here are a few ideas for how to do that.
1. Food Photos
Sharing photos of food on social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest can be an effective way to gain followers and new customers. When social media users see images of delicious food from your restaurant, it’ll stimulate their taste buds.
Many Pinterest users go on in search for recipes to try out at home. Creating a Pinterest board for recipes related to the type of food you serve at your restaurant can give these users a taste of what you have to offer.
3. Short Cooking Videos
People love when things are quick and easy. Create videos that show your potential customers how to create something quickly, like Oreo frequently does on their Vine profile.
4. Be Transparent
If your customers don’t know where your food comes from, or how it’s cooked or prepared, they might jump to conclusions on their own. Use social media to educate your customers before they attempt to educate themselves.
5. Use Relevant Trending and Niche Hashtags
On social networks like Instagram and Twitter, hashtags can get your post in front of more people. Use hashtags that are both popular, and within your niche to get your content in front of the right customers. For example, if you’re a coffee house in Jacksonville, Florida, add #Florida #Jacksonville #coffee to your post.
6. Ask Customers to Share with Hashtags
Pick a hashtag that contains your restaurants name, and have customers share photos of their food using that hashtag. This can build awareness of your brand among their followers.
7. Geographically Target Paid Ads
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms allow you to target ads geographically. Run an ad containing a coupon code targeted for your city, and tweak it until it performs as you’d expect. NextRestaurant provides a nice guide to creating ad managing Facebook ads.
When you advertise, make it easy for people to get directions to your restaurant. Check out this guide for creating Google Maps links that can automatically generate directions to your restaurant. Once you create the appropriate url, direct the ad clicks to it, and the directions will be given automatically.
8. Treat Each Platform as it’s Own
Facebook isn’t Twitter, Twitter isn’t Instagram, and Instagram isn’t Pinterest. People use each of these platforms differently, so be sure to use each platform for it’s purpose to properly resonate with your target customers.
9. Respond to Messages and Comments
Social media is there for you to engage with your customers. If someone comments on a photo or sends you a message, respond to them. If someone asks a question and you don’t respond, they’ll see it as poor customer service and may never visit your restaurant.
10. Time Your Posts
Using social media management software like Hootsuite or Sprout Social can save lots of time. These services let you schedule your social media posts so that you can handle all of your social media management at one time instead of logging on multiple times throughout the day.
How To Be Found Online
People use Google to search for places to eat, and for reviews on those places. You want to make sure that if people are in Google Maps searching for things like “Places to eat near me,” then they’re able to find you. Here are some ways to accomplish this, as well as other ways to be found online.
11. Have a Website
If people do search for your business, they might search for contact info, menu details, or your location. Google also likes websites that provide lots of information. Here are some suggestions of pages to add to your website:
- Home page with images and basic details like your address.
- An “about us” page that tells your story.
- A “contact us” page with your email address and phone number.
- A menu page. This way, people can get an idea of the type of food you serve.
You can use services like Squarespace or Wix to easily create and update a beautiful looking website.
12. Create a Local ‘Google My Business’ Listing
Adding your business to Google My Business makes it easy for your business to be discovered on Google’s search engine and Google Maps. It also makes it easier for people to find your website, contact info, and even see images of your restaurant.
13. Be Found on Apple Maps
Many iPhone owners use Apple Maps instead of Google Maps, since it’s the default maps application for the iPhone.
Apple maps uses outside sources to list businesses inside it’s maps app, including Yelp and Localize. If your business isn’t already showing up in Apple Maps, here’s one way you can fix it:
- Search for your location.
- In the location detail click the “Report a Problem” link.
- Choose the appropriate problem.
- Choose “Other” on the Report a Problem screen.
- Add your business data via the various fields and submit.
14. Spread Your Menu Online
You can allow your menu to be searched on Google so it shows up like this:
People search Google for generic terms like “Coffee houses in New York” or “Places to get buffalo wings” more than they search for specific restaurants, so having your menu online in a way Google and other search engines can index it properly can help you get found by more people.
One of Google’s major menu providers is SinglePlatform, as mentioned here. Trip Advisor and Facebook also use SinglePlatform for menu information.
There are other menu platforms you should consider submitting your menu to as well, including Zagat and Allmenus, since other platforms may be indexing these sources.
15. Build Links to Your Website
Building links to your website can help your site rank higher in Google, and can even drive more traffic directly to your site through those links.
For your restaurant, it could be valuable to build links on pages that list restaurants in an area. People actually click links on these types of sites, because they usually come across them looking for somewhere to eat.
Here are some examples of list posts:
- Best Places to Eat in NYC Right Now
- Cheap Eats in LA: Best bang-for-your-buck meals for $20 or less
- 10 Best Restaurants for Brunch in Los Angeles
Just search Google for list posts like these relevant to your city, and reach out to the bloggers to see if they’d be interested in coming in for a meal. After their visit, see if they’d be willing to add you to their list.
Links on sites like these can drive lots of traffic to your website and increase your restaurants rankings on Google, which can bring new customers to your restaurant.
16. Start a Blog
Blogging is a great way to get your website to show up in more Google searches. You can post weekly recipe’s, stories about working in a restaurant, and even allow guest articles.
Here are some tips about starting a blog:
- Use your own domain. For example, don’t use a yourwebsite.webhost.com domain, because then any search engine optimization efforts (work towards getting your website to show up in search engines like Google) you put in will go to the web hosting domain.
- Post regularly.
- Use blogging software like Ghost. We use Ghost for our blogging, and it’s awesome. It’s really easy to write and edit articles quickly, and it seems to perform extremely well in search engine optimization efforts.
17. Build Links to Your Blog
One of the most important factors for ranking in Google is the number of links pointing to your website. There are many strategies you can use to get links to your site, and Backlinko.com provides awesome tips for this.
18. Restaurant Apps
Make sure you’re able to be found on any apps people might use to search for restaurants. Here are a few of the popular ones people often use to look for places to eat:
- Dining Grades
19. Get Reviews on Yelp, Google, and Others
Getting positive reviews on Yelp and Google not only help convince people to visit your restaurant, but also increase your rankings in searches on these websites. You want your restaurant to be highly ranked for generic searches like “restaurants near me” or “places to eat.”
Shopkeep provides some good ideas for getting reviews on review sites. It can be as simple as just asking customers who you know have had good experience.
20. Guest Post on Food Blogs
Guest posting on food blogs can be an effective way to generate awareness among food fanatics. Reach out to food bloggers in your niche about posting recipe’s for their readers. Guest posting on blogs is also a very effective way to generate links to your website, which can help with your search engine rankings.
Don’t Forget About Email
Email lists are a powerful marketing resource. You can use them to promote new menu items, events at your restaurant, or even send out coupons. You can maintain a mailing list with services like MailChimp.
These next few tips focus on building an email list.
21. Your Blog
At the bottom of each post on your blog, ask visitors to sign up for your email list. If they like the content you’ve posted, they’ll want to see more.
22. Encourage Subscribers to Share Emails
Inside your email, include social sharing buttons or “Email to a Friend” buttons. This way, you’ll gain access to friends of your subscribers, and your email list can grow organically. At the very bottom of the email, also include a “Subscribe” button so that those receiving the email can easily subscribe to your mailing list.
23. Offer Coupons for Mailing List Signups
Offering coupon incentives through your social media channels can be an effective way to grow your mailing list. Once they subscribe, send them the coupon for a percentage off their meal, or better yet, offer something for free.
24. In Your Email Signature
If you send lots of emails, include a “Subscribe” link in your email signature. Some people you’re responding to in your inbox might be interested in what you have to offer, since they’re contacting you in the first place.
25. In-Restaurant Promotion
If you have table tents in your restaurant, mention your mailing list on one of them. Provide some sort of incentive, especially something that can give instant gratification, such as a percentage off their current meal for showing the waitress the welcome email. Make it easy for them by including a QR code for them to scan, or a direct url to enter into their browser to subscribe.
26. Automatically Add Loyalty Program Members
Including members of your loyalty program in your email list can be a great way to send promotions and alerts to people who are already interested in you.
27. Partner with Other Companies
Know another company that has a mailing list that might be interested in what you have to offer? Give them something exclusive to give to their subscribers, like a free meal or entry into a contest, if their subscribers sign up for your mailing list.
If you have an established mailing list, maybe you can return the favor. Just make sure your target audience aligns with theirs.
Build Customer Loyalty
image from business2community.com
Think about it:
Which would you rather have; 500 regular customers that spend $1 each month, or 5 customers that spend $100 each month?
On the surface, both are the same. Either option would lead to $500 in monthly revenue. However, it makes more sense to aim for the 5 customer option because acquiring new customers is expensive, and with each customer spending more, your revenue increases to a greater degree as you grow your pool of customers.
These next few are some tips will help you increasing customer loyalty.
28. Be In Front of Your Customers Daily
Find a way to be seen by your customers on a daily basis. This can be accomplished by getting them to follow you on social media, aggressive advertising, or letting them save your restaurants playlist with background music services like Dozmia for Business.
29. Start a Loyalty Program
It’s basic psychology: people are more likely to revisit frequently if they get free stuff. Restaurant loyalty programs can increase visits by up to 35%, so starting a loyalty program is a no brainer.
If you don’t want to create a loyalty program on your own, here are some loyalty program providers to consider:
- Front Flip
30. Support Your Community
People connect with others who share their interest, and this includes businesses. If your restaurant fits into the culture that your customers are involved in, you can build a stronger emotional connection with them. Support the community, weather it’s local musicians, artists, or community events, and you’ll stand above other brands going for the same customers.
31. Create an Amazing Experience
When people come to your restaurant, give them a great experience. Have an incredible, unique atmosphere, friendly service, fix mistakes quickly, and, of course, serve amazing food. It sounds simple, but exceptional service can turn one-time customers into repeat customers.
32. Offer Something for Free
Five Guys gives away free peanuts, and Olive Garden doesn’t charge for bread. This works very well for both of these companies.
You could give customers cucumber water, fresh mint water, or any kind of fancy water for free. It’s small, but customers will notice, and see it as a gesture of appreciation.
Here are some recipe’s you can use:
- Cucumber Water
- Strawberry, Cucumber, Lime, and Mint Water
33. Put on Regular Events
People usually go out to eat so they can socialize with others. Weather it’s weekly concerts, game nights, or trivia, the social elements of these regular events can keep people coming back.
Find something that matches the theme of your restaurant, and your customers will make time to be there.
34. Keep Employees Happy
Employees can work as ambassadors for your restaurant. Their friends and family could be potential customers, and if they’re talking with people they’re close to about how unhappy they are at work, these people may not give you the time of day. However, if they talk about how great work is, their friends and family will be happy to support your restaurant. Here are some simple ideas for keeping employees happy:
- Give them time off.
- Give them benefits.
- Recognize their efforts.
- Maintain a positive internal culture.
Increase Average Check Size
Increasing the average check size can be an effective way to increase your restaurants overall revenue. These next points include some ways you can accomplish this.
35. Train Employees to Up-sell and Cross-sell
Up-selling is where you move customers up to a more expensive product. Cross-selling is where you recommend complimentary products.
Train your waiters and waitresses to understand menu items, and which ones go well together, so they can build the check while interacting with the customer by recommending different menu items.
36. Psychological Menu Pricing
If your restaurant is quick-service with menu boards, pricing can move customers up in item sizes. For example, if you have different drink sizes, make the price difference between small and medium bigger than the price difference between medium and large. Additionally, pricing large to small as opposed to small to large can make expensive items appear cheaper.
Here’s an example:
LG – $2.99
MD – $2.89
SM – $2.29
The customers thought process would guide them to the large item, since most customers think a small size isn’t enough, and the large is only 10 cents more than the medium item.
If your restaurant is of a sit down style with physical menus, removing cents from the prices can make customers perceive items as cheaper.
The right type of music can affect consumers perception of price. Studies have shown that playing classical music instead of pop music in a high-end restaurant can lead customers to choose more expensive drinks, which can have a dramatic increase on the check size.
Business music services can help you choose music that results in increased sales.
38. Have a Separate Dessert Menu
If you show your guests the desserts in the same menu as the main course, then if your waiter or waitress goes to remind them about dessert, having already seen the options, they’re likely to decline. However, if the server is offering up a dessert menu with detailed images and descriptions, curiosity will make it harder for your guests to resist.
39. Offer Bundles
Bundling meals together on the menu can result in drastic spending increases. If guests see two items offered together at a steep enough discount, they’ll have a hard time saying no to the deal. It’s good for both of you: they get a good deal, and you get a bigger check.
40. Use Images on More Profitable Items
Whenever I go to a restaurant, I’m more inclined to buy items that have images, because I know exactly what to expect. I imagine most guests are the same. Menu items with images and detailed descriptions are more likely to sell more frequently, so make these your most profitable items.
41. Limit Choice
Ever heard of the paradox of choice? It’s a psychological theory that if people have too many choices, they won’t choose anything. If you want to sell a more expensive menu item, limit it’s options.
42. Make Items Appear Less Expensive
If you place a $40 item next to a $12 item, it looks very expensive. However, if you place that same $40 item next to a $50 item, it suddenly looks like a better price. Be thoughtful about how you place items on your menu, and about how it’s price may be perceived.
43. Have Concerts
Concerts can be a great way to bring new people into your restaurant. Book musicians with a large enough fanbase and social media following, and it can really expand your brand visibility.
44. Build an App
Having a mobile app will allow you to be seen by your customers daily on their mobile device. You can even speed up the order process for customers by letting them place orders in advance through the app, and increase retention by sending them coupons.
Services like Mojo Bistro can help you put together an app quickly.
45. Text Message Marketing
Take the tips above about an email list, and apply it to a text message system. Text messages have a 98% open rate and a 36% click-thru rate, which are much higher than email open and click-thru rates.
46. Participate in Big Events
If there’s a music festival or another big event coming to your city, you can get involved by handing out free samples, or even catering the event.
47. Offer Gift Cards
Gift cards can bring in new customers. You can even look into selling them at other local businesses for increased brand exposure and customer acquisition.
48. Use a Daily Deal Site
Daily deal sites like Groupon or Living Social will expose your restaurant to thousands of people instantly. Just be prepared for the large volume of traffic.
49. Partner with Food Delivery Apps
Food delivery apps like Door Dash or GrubHub can help expand your reach by offering delivery. Customers may also discover your restaurant by searching for the type of food you offer.
50. Maintain an Awesome Atmosphere
Music, lighting, and the color scheme of your restaurant all matter. The atmosphere is the first things your customers experience, before they even taste your food. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make it count.