Before getting into restaurant marketing I want to stress three things:
1) Offer tasty food.
2) Provide great service.
3) Control food cost.
Failure in doing these three basic things is a recipe for disaster, but if done right and coupled together with a great marketing plan can skyrocket your restaurant’s sales.
Let’s take a look at 17 marketing strategies to promote your restaurant and build a strong customer base.
- Food Porn
The best way to promote your restaurant online is through high-quality, drool-inducing images.
Having delicious looking photos on your website and other social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, etc. will grab the attention from growling stomachs everywhere!
Hire a professional photographer or do it yourself, but special care should be taken to ensure that the images are top-notch.
You can find some helpful tips for photographing food in this bbcgoodfood post.
How many times have you gone through product reviews before purchasing a product?
You might be thinking I lost count, don’t you?
Public opinions have taken over the internet and you can use it to your own advantage by gaining positive reviews on websites such as Yelp, Zomato, Trip Advisor, etc.
It is a major factor in deciding if customers will be dining in your restaurant or your competition’s.
Simply taking care of the three factors that I stressed at the beginning of this article will help you gain a positive review for your restaurant.
If someone leaves a negative review online reach out to them, apologize for the inconvenience caused, promise to improve in the future, and work out a form of compensation.
This shows that you actually care about your customers and leaves a good impression.
In many cases, this has also proved helpful to get the reviewers back in the door for a second chance.
Points to keep in Mind
- Always answer in a polite, professional manner.
- Thank them for their review, whether good or bad.
- Work out a form of compensation for the inconvenience caused.
- Be Found
Claim your spot in online directories and review sites. Also, set up a responsive website that has your restaurant’s location, special offers, latest menu, etc.
Even just having a website is not enough. You need to publicize it in your advertising materials and stationary.
It is also important to set up a Google my business page for your restaurant to help it get found.
- Loyalty Program
Partnering with nearby business or online apps can help bring in more business.
For online apps strategy to be effective offer a discount or free purchase if a person visits a certain number of times.
For the partnering strategy to work, promote one another and offer a special coupon that can be redeemed at your partner’s business place.
Start a blog to establish an online presence and engage with your customers.
Blog about recipes or anything else that your customers might find interesting.
Instead of spitting out junk bring quality in your posts. It’s better to have quality over quantity.
- Email Newsletter
Set up an email newsletter that informs your customer base about the latest offers, new menu items etc.
- Traditional Marketing
In this digital era, traditional marketing methods are mostly ignored, but if done right can bring in a lot of customers.
The traditional methods to focus on are brochures, flyers, newspapers, texting, and magazine ads, etc.
- Show off your staffs
Capture an image of one of your happiest staffs working, be it the chef, waiter, or the busboy.
Post these images with a small description to your restaurant’s social media accounts to show that you value your staffs.
The added advantage of this strategy is that this not only makes your staffs happy but also helps build an image that your restaurant is a fun place to hang out and has great customer service.
- Food bloggers
Request food bloggers to review your restaurant in return for a free meal/drink.
The review will help with your reputation and the outside link will help with your website ranking.
Some bloggers might decline your offer, but the more you ask better your chances.
- Test new waters
There are many marketing platforms out there other than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest that can be used to promote your restaurant.
Try to find out about them by staying current with the latest technology.
Once such app is FourSquare , use it to your own advantage by creating a personalized offer where the first 50 to check in get a free drink/appetizer.
- Social Media Presence
Use social media accounts to strengthen your word of mouth watering by sharing pictures of the newest dishes, special discounts, and other posts to have an interesting and interactive online presence.
This provides you with the priceless opportunity to represent your restaurant and engage with your customers 365 days a year.
Also, let people check –in at your restaurant through your Facebook page.
To enable this option, ensure that the category of your Facebook page is set to Local business and follow the following steps.
- Click About on the left side of your page.
- Click Page Info.
- Add your restaurant’s address in the address section and click Save Changes.
- After saving your changes, a map will appear in the address section. Click on the edit button again and check the box next to Show map and check-ins on the Page.
- Click Save Changes.
- Free Wi-Fi
Offer free Wi-Fi if your data plan allows it, but if you are using a tablet-based restaurant management software ensure that it doesn’t interfere with the network.
One issue that you might face because of this is low table turnaround time.
Monitor how it goes and decide if it’s good for your restaurant’s business or not.
Promote your restaurant on the packaging. Partner with a nearby business and offer them something in exchange for promoting your restaurant on the packaging.
- Email Marketing
Market your restaurant to potential customers through Gmail ads or emails by pushing the latest offers and discounts.
Special care should be taken to not overdo it, as users will appreciate a less flooded inbox.
- Online Delivery and Reservation
Partner with online delivery and reservation services. If done right, this will help bring a lot of business.
Engage with user-generated posts to show that you appreciate your customers. This will help build a fan following.
Greet your regular customers on their birthday or any other special occasion, and forward a coupon that can be redeemed for a free drink/appetizer. This helps in bringing in the business of the people accompanying him/her to celebrate.
Monitor the web using monitoring application such as Google alerts to find out mentions about your restaurant, staffs, cuisine, and competitors.
Doing so not only keeps you informed but also lets you safeguard your restaurant’s reputation.
Following these 17 marketing strategies will help grow your restaurant gradually without breaking the bank.