50 Restaurant Marketing Tips – Small Business Trends

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Restaurant marketing is important today more than ever. What’s more, effective marketing techniques can include digital and older strategies. Consider the fact that American restaurant industry sales reached about $800 billion in 2017.



How do Restaurants do Marketing?

Good restaurant marketing requires constant effort. Every small business owner needs a marketing plan to succeed. It should include food photos and other features.

Remember, a good restaurant marketing plan should be unique. It should be tailored to your budget and needs. And it should all start by understanding how to write a business plan for a small restaurant so it can be part of your operation moving forward.

Top 50 Restaurant Marketing Ideas

Restaurant owners looking for more revenue need to have an advertising strategy. Even if you’re looking for mostly local customers, you’ll need to consider online strategies. Read on to find out how these 50 restaurant marketing tips can help.

1. Have a Customer Loyalty Program

Good marketing ideas need to be simple and engaging. Any restaurant owner should consider creating an app. Customers need to download it and create an account. They can redeem rewards every time they order from your selections.

Paper stamp cards were first. These early restaurant marketing strategies had cards with squares that got punched out.

Now, digital punch cards are an option. People also prefer simple options. Accommodating walk-ins and supplying free spring water help to boost customer loyalty.

2. Create a Referral Program to Encourage Word Of Mouth Promotion

Some marketing ideas that bring in restaurant customers are simple. Like a referral program. You can bring in new customers with social media platforms like Facebook. People can connect their family and friends with their favorite restaurants just by clicking a mouse and sharing.

This type of referral marketing is like word-of-mouth sharing done digitally.

3. Have Regular Deals and Discounts

Some of the best restaurant marketing strategies have excellent track records. Regular deals and discounts fall into that category. Like a BOGO (Buy One, Get One ) promotion. This type of promotion can have different aspects. You can offer a buy one get one free special. Or a buy one get one half off promotion.

Discounts that are time-based work well in restaurants. Temporarily dropping drink and meal prices brings in the after-work crowd. This technique also can increase foot traffic.

4. Offer Gift Vouchers

Any good restaurant marketing plan should have variety. That includes gift vouchers designed to bring in new customers. You should offer these in a wide variety of values. That way they will appeal to different prospects. Tailoring them to different seasons and themes works.

Offering them under your roof and online covers all the bases.

5. Entice Your Competitors’ Customers

Good restaurant marketing is about staying ahead of the competition and winning over their customers. Make a list and then divide it into direct and indirect competition. Look at your competitor’s choices and promotions. Consider their hours of operation. Look at the best sellers’ specials and pricing.

You can entice their customers by filling in any restaurant market gaps you find.

6. Encourage User Generated Content with High Quality Food Pictures

Food photos are an important part of restaurant marketing. Here are a few tips for spreading the word using good pics. With platters, it’s a good idea to keep the images diverse by using different angles. Food that gets placed in baskets should have small sauce containers beside them. That shows portion size and scale.

  • Use a low angle when taking pictures of sandwiches. That way customers on social media can see the contents inside.
  • Creating a physical menu? Take pictures of plates of food with props like a knife and fork. That way customers can see the portion size.

Pictures for a website with bowls of food are a little different. A high angle lets your patrons see from above.

7. Improve Your Brand Identity

Good restaurant marketing ideas need to include branding. Customers will focus on your online presence as much as your physical location. Any logo is one of the elements customers will recognize. It can be simple with initials symbols and expressive fonts. A carefully designed logo will work in your brick-and-mortar and online places. Having them in both locations will spell success.

Don’t forget you’ll need a tagline for your website and social media marketing.

8. Have a Restaurant Business Page in as Many Places as Possible

Content that promotes your business comes in different varieties. A restaurant business page is an excellent way to attract people. You can upload one to Yelp. Facebook lets you design a page too. You can update the information as things change. Header and profile photos are important on Twitter. Business owners can add links to websites there.

Focus on videos and pictures when designing an Instagram page. You can also build a LinkedIn product page for a restaurant. Make sure any account is mobile-friendly.

9. Put a Face to Your Restaurant and Staff

Good restaurant marketing also needs a personal angle. There are many places to buy stock photos of restaurant staff. Getty Images provides drop-down menus so you can sort by orientation and number of people.

Take advantage of all of the natural lighting you can when taking pictures of your restaurant. Plan to take pictures of the best spots in your restaurant. These do well on social media channels like Instagram. Try to avoid direct sunlight because it casts hard shadows.

10. Offer a Delivery Service

Delivery services are a must-have. Delivering food yourself means having the right POS system in place. These need to handle features like storing customer information and online ordering. Some restaurants handle this themselves. Others outsource their delivery services.

DoorDash and GrubHub are two of the more established options in the restaurant industry. There’s a big advantage to using one of them. You’ll have access to a stable of drivers. The downside is that costs can be high.

11. Keep Up with Industry Trends

Staying on top of restaurant industry trends will help you to spread the word. Finding the right website with links to industry reports is useful. Getting the right information this way helps you to expand your business and make good decisions.

12. Know Your Target Audience

Good restaurant marketing strategies start with understanding your target market. You can get useful information from your restaurant POS. It can tell you about your customer’s spending habits. Analyzing your competition’s customers is another good tactic.

When you know who your target customers are, it’s possible to focus marketing campaigns on them.

13. Make Sure Dishes Are Presented Exceptionally

Here is important to match your food presentation to your restaurant theme. For example, if you’re running a high-end restaurant, the presentation needs to include elegant plates.

Smaller portions help to create an attractive look. Slicing meat horizontally will show off the quality of each cut. Complementary colors make food presentations more attractive. Bright vegetables like carrots can make a big difference.

14. Try to Use Local Ingredients

Using local ingredients is a good idea for several reasons. Local food is fresher because it travels shorter distances. Supporting your local economy is always an excellent idea. You are gaining homegrown customers and building relationships with other businesses.

15. Engage with the Local Community

Giving back to the local community is an excellent idea. You will boost the reputation of your restaurant and attract local employees. Meal donations are one way to go about this. Some restaurants choose to donate a percentage of their profits to charity.

Sponsoring a local sports team will help to spread the word and attract new customers.

16. Join Restaurant Reservation Apps and Food Apps

Restaurant reservation apps and food apps are efficient ways to run your business. They attract new customers with features like digital boards. Some, like MarketMan, keep track of food costs and ordering management. Jolt even helps you to manage your employees remotely.

Many of these tools also have management features for food items. These allow you to have more time to come up with new restaurant marketing ideas.

17. Have a Local Media Presence

You want your brand to attract local customers. Here is one way to accomplish that goal with a local media presence. Use geographically tagged keywords on your website.

Get in touch with local food bloggers and newspapers. Don’t leave out any radio and television stations in your area.

18. Celebrate Food Holidays

A successful restaurant needs to celebrate food holidays. Here’s a good list to sort through. Offering discounts and specials that coincide with these will make a difference.

19. Add Restaurant Reservation Links to My Google Business

The search engine recently added this feature for Google My Business users. You can add different types of URLs. These include ones for reserving a table, placing an order, and booking an appointment.

20. Improve Your Local SEO Strategies

Search engine optimization is the way a website is optimized to appear in search results. It’s important to restaurant marketing to increase traffic to your website. It also builds brand awareness and brings in more customers with online ordering.

One of the SEO restaurant marketing ideas that works is keyword planning. This is all about targeting search terms you want to rank for. Use a combination of niche keywords and branded keywords. These can appear on a menu or even in google ads.

  • A restaurant owner should also optimize for local ranking.
  • Your restaurant should also be listed on review websites.
  • Consider setting up a Facebook page to get attention from that social media audience.
  • You can also build up links by exchanging them with other restaurants.

Don’t forget to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly.

21. Have Excellent On-Page and Off-Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Good restaurant marketing ideas will also include other SEO techniques like these. Narrowing down your keywords is an excellent on-page optimization technique for Google. You can choose Geographic tags for local exposure. Google ads has an excellent tool to help you.

The idea behind off-page SEO techniques is building up your page and domain authority. Adding your restaurants to review websites like TripAdvisor is a good way to boost your brand.

22. Set Up Google Alerts

Setting up Google alerts is a great way to find out who’s talking about your restaurant. You can also glean new restaurant marketing ideas from the competition. Start here.

  1. Put in a keyword or phrase that you want to track.
  2. Decide on when you want to get alerts.
  3. Choose where those alerts will come from.
  4. Decide how many results you want to see at once.
  5. Enter an email address.

If people are mentioning your brand, you can ask them for a link. You can also engage with any negative business reviews through Google alerts.

23. Make Sure Business Information is Correct Everywhere

An effective brand identity needs to be accurate. Your customers need to know where you are and how to get in touch with you. Your opening hours, name, and location need to be accurate on Google. It’s a good idea to check it all on your website first. Then proceed to social media and other tools like Google ads and Yelp.

24. Consider Restroom Advertising

A website isn’t the only place where customers will see your marketing. Restaurants should also consider restroom marketing that goes on stalls and door panels. You can also include soap dispensers, mirrors, and paper towels. These techniques increase revenue. You can even add a URL customers can search for on Google.

25. Invest in Ads

There is no better way to bring in new customers than to invest in ads. Google ads and Facebook ads are two different online possibilities. Facebook advertising is excellent at targeting specific campaigns. You can point to an exact target market. Narrow down campaigns to customer interests, behavior, location, and age with this digital marketing tool.

26. Have Social Media Marketing Plan for Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Social media pages are useful tools for marketing. One of the most popular and effective is the Facebook Page for business. Some of the free features available include the ability to post videos and pictures. Messenger is a tool you can use to contact customers.

You can use Twitter for business and promoting restaurants too. Limiting your hashtags makes them more effective. Don’t forget other tools like Yelp.

Instagram is another useful business tool for marketing. You can add videos and images to your posts to make them more effective. Remember people communicate with each other on these platforms by sharing.

27. Use Video Marketing

Video marketing is another great way to draw in new customers. There are several types to choose from including demo and brand videos. Choose from expert interviews and event videos too. Video can be an expensive tool so you will need to set up a budget.

Here’s a list of some of the companies you can contact for this type of content.

2.8 Engage with Your Online Community on Multiple Social Media Platforms

These are excellent marketing channels. They work best when you engage with your online community on Google. You can outsource this work or keep engagement in-house.

It’s important to respond to all of the comments you get. Even addressing negative reviews can help your bottom line. Writing blog posts that answer client questions is a great method to boost revenue.

29. Use Yelp Effectively

Yelp is a very popular site that reviews and rates restaurants. It’s free and approximately 50 million users visit every month.

Being authentic is a secret sauce for success. Don’t ask customers for positive reviews. Likewise, you should never purchase reviews or add false ones. Yelp flags reviews that are under 135 characters.

Offering gift certificates and exclusive deals without asking for reviews works. Here’s a statistic that should convince you. According to their website, 97% of people who visit Yelp make a purchase.

This tool also has reservations and waitlist options.

30. Incentivize Customer Reviews

There are several other things that you can do to incentivize customer reviews. Some restaurants offer discounts. You will need to determine which items will be affected.

Adding a little extra to their next visit to your restaurant works too. Customers who are promised free side orders this way are likely to provide comments.

Contests are another way to incentivize customer reviews.

31. Reply to Customer Reviews

Customers respond well when you engage with them. Make no mistake, online reviews are important for your restaurants. Statistics say 87% of prospects read them for local businesses. Respond to even bad reviews. If you don’t, you’re giving readers the impression the criticisms are right.

Acknowledge the negative review and then sympathize and apologize.

32. Start a Blog

A restaurant blog is a good way to build connections. You can also introduce new food items and events or promotions. Blogs are a form of content marketing. They build revenue by increasing your restaurant’s website SEO.

A good blog post needs to have short sentences. Short paragraphs and bullet points also help to hold the reader’s attention. Your staff can supply good ideas. And you should have a schedule so your readers know when to expect posts.

Take a few minutes to read about copyright notices. These include an all rights reserved phrase to protect your work.

33. Reach Out to Food Bloggers, Lifestyle Influencers, and Food Critics

Getting in touch with the people who write about your restaurant community helps. A combination of new menu items or events helps to stir interest. Start by getting a list of influencers critics and bloggers. Then use an email marketing technique. Send them a message and ask for a review.

34. Post an Online Menu

Seeing is believing. Posting photos helps to attract customers. There are different online menu makers to choose from. Look for one that will allow you to use your own brand colors and logo. Don’t forget to include your prices and a link to your website.

Consider using the technique called food porn for your pictures. Take advantage of natural light where possible. Avoid using flash.

35. Create an Easy to Read Menu

Making sure that your menu is easy to read is important for marketing. Pay special attention to the menu size. For example, family restaurants need more space. They should look at tabloid sizes. Along with photos, highlights and boxes that can draw customers’ attention. They should be optimized for Google.

36. Change Up Your Menu Regularly

Variety makes a big difference in your menu. Customers are always looking for something different. There are a few ideas below.

  • You might want to remodel your menu and change everything. This works for smaller restaurants with seasonal choices.
  • You can swap out items that have gone out of favor for new trendy options.
  • Of course, you want to add new items to your menu as they come up.

A website menu that’s built on a CMS like WordPress is easy to change. Log in, look for the right page and make changes.

37. Price Your Items Well

All of the dishes you have on your menu need to be priced properly. The food cost is the menu price versus what it costs to make that dish. Experts say this should be around 25 to 35% markup. Portion control is important. It helps you to figure out the sweet spot for pricing.

Don’t forget to check out the competition and what they charge.

38. Add a Live Chat Feature to Your Website

Live chat is an excellent way to deal with your restaurant customers. It’s a direct method that works in real-time. All the interactions here need to be helpful.

Updating them on how long they need to wait is a good starting point. Keeping them informed when you’re looking at their details helps. It’s good to use simple clear and concise language.

39. Run an Email Marketing Campaign

Email marketing has been around for decades so there are lots of tools to choose from. Here are a few boxes to check so you get a good service.

  • Look for expertly designed email templates. You can fill these in and send them out and they will look great.
  • Look for a feature that will schedule your emails in advance. That way they will coincide with your discounts, specials, and menu additions.

Make sure the email marketing service you choose is automated. It’s the best way to get to as many new customers as possible. You should also be able to personalize the emails you send.

40. Try SMS Marketing

SMS marketing, like email marketing, is a great way to advertise your restaurant. Here’s a few ideas that will make it extremely effective.

  • Including an opt-out message is important. You want potential customers to know they won’t be spammed.
  • Let them know how often they can expect to get updates.
  • Be sure to inform them on the kind of content you’ll be sending.

Providing a link to website pages helps to spread the word. Don’t forget to use keywords.

41. Use WIFI Analytics to Gain Comprehensive Customer Data

This is the name given to deciphering data that gets rounded up through Wi-Fi access points. There’s some interesting analytics for restaurants that use this tool. They can get location data to improve their business. That includes the size of crowds in your restaurant at different times.

You can also get behavioral data that includes traffic patterns. Both are an excellent way to track customers and preferences. These analytics can answer questions like who are repeat customers and who visits after seeing marketing campaigns.

42. Put a Face to Your Brand

Putting a face to your restaurant brand can start with choosing a spokesperson. This can start with a video on your website. A good spokesperson should be active on social media. They should also publish content and network frequently.

This kind of personal touch attracts new customers.

43. Set Up a Food Truck

Setting up a food truck can be expensive, but worth it in the long run. Experts say these can cost between $40,000-$250,000. Here are some other initial start-up costs. Social media marketing is important for food trucks. Advertising can also include a website and a truck wrap with your logo.

44. Place Customers in Window Seats

Placing customers in window seats is a good marketing tool. It shows people passing by you have a popular busy restaurant. Don’t forget you’ll need to consider accommodating everyone. There are ADA codes.

There are several factors you can use here. It’s important to think about the flow when seating customers. That includes how guests will use the bathroom. And how your staff and servers will get around.

45. Have a Theme Night

Theme nights work great during the week when your business might slow down. Here are a few ideas that can drum up business.

  • Pizza Day is February 9
  • Eat What You Want Day is on May 11
  • Bad Poetry Day lands on August 18

Introducing people to your restaurant is important. Speed dating nights can bring in new customers. Advertising through social media helps. Another successful theme is international nights.

Don’t try to change your restaurant’s image. Stay as close as possible to your menu.

46. Offer Food Samples

Offering samples has been an important part of marketing for years. Free samples are a powerful proven advertising technique.

These eliminate any price point barriers. Besides, the best marketing for diner options is taste. Sampling also subconsciously motivates consumers to buy.

47. Invest in Live Music

People enjoy live music in restaurants. Saturday, Friday, and Thursday nights are peak times to book a band. Social media channels like Instagram and Facebook are visual. Start booking on these platforms a month before the event.

48. Consider Wedding Packages and Group Deals

These types of events and others can bring in business. It’s best to promote them for days when your restaurant business is slow. Marketing should stress your restaurant’s specialties. People here are usually looking for above-average choices.

49. Treat Your Staff Well

A happy motivated staff is excellent branding for your restaurant. Offering perks like continuing education and on-the-job training work well. Gift cards and/or movie tickets make excellent small rewards.

50. Start Doing Catering Events

Catering events presents new opportunities for your business. Your marketing strategy will focus on plated dishes or a buffet style. Consistency is important. You should include a few items off your restaurant’s existing menu.

How do restaurants attract customers?

The above list is full of good marketing strategy options for your restaurant. There are digital options like Google Ads and Google My Business. A loyalty program has been covered. It’s another way to increase revenue and a strategy that works

How do I improve my restaurant business?

Other possibilities include creating gift cards and providing free Wi-Fi. That way people can search on Google and other search engines. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of a social media account. Keep your business info updated at all times. And don’t forget to respond to messages and reviews.

How do I market my small restaurant?

Good customer service is an important part of any marketing strategy. Facebook Pages are an effective modern digital way to have an effective business account.

How do I get my restaurant noticed?

Providing good content is another strategy to get your business noticed. A steady supply of professional words and pictures will increase your restaurant’s revenue.

How do you develop a marketing strategy for a restaurant?

You need to start at the beginning with the brainstorming session to come up with a good marketing strategy. Checking out sample templates you find online is a good idea.

Using what’s called the 4P’s is helpful. This stands for price, promotion, product, and place. Identifying these four points helps to get you started.

How do you do a market analysis for a restaurant?

A market analysis for a business helps you to design the right marketing strategy. It will help you to tweak your customer experience. And it helps people to understand when and how customer preferences change.

Several different techniques work like including comment cards that you put on tables. You can also send out online surveys to your customers. These techniques help you to see what you need to change. They can help increase revenue.

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