With such a focus on food, customer service, and costs, it’s easy for restaurant managers and owners to overlook one of the most important parts of running their business – restaurant marketing.
Marketing is vital, whether your restaurant is just opening its doors or you’re working on a third location. It helps you get more diners through the door and builds loyalty so that you can boost sales and profits.
The thing to keep in mind is that restaurant marketing is always evolving – from digital methods to more traditional ways. When these ideas are always changing, it can seem tricky to pick the best way to spread the word.
But it doesn’t have to be!
Restaurant marketing is a powerful tool to drive more business, so you want to make sure it’s a part of your everyday efforts. Read on to learn about:
A restaurant marketing plan is what you use to prepare any marketing initiatives for your business. Your restaurant marketing plan should include:
Your restaurant marketing plan provides you with a detailed plan to promote your business. If you take the time to create and follow your plan, you will get more customers, drive repeat business, and increase profits.
Marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are nine simple marketing ideas to start with that will help you grow your business.
Diners now use search engines like Google to find restaurants and review menus online before deciding where to eat. By building an active and updated website, you can reach new customers who are searching for a delicious place to eat. And new customers mean more money in your pockets!
If you aren’t online, you risk losing that business to competitors that will pop up when people search for where to go to eat. That’s why you need to create a website that includes your menu and other key information, as well as make sure it’s optimized for the right keywords.
To build your website, follow these four steps:
Step 1: Prepare by browsing the Internet for inspiration and finding similar sites.
Step 2: Decide on the colors and layout, then start collecting your copy.
Step 3: Create your site by choosing a website name, using a website builder, and adding a reservation widget.
Step 4: Hit publish and inform family and friends that your site is up and running.
While you’re building your website, make sure you’re mindful of where you’re including key business information – your menu, contact information, hours, and location are some important places to start!
You’ll also want to think of these simple restaurant SEO best practices:
More and more customers use restaurant reservation apps like TouchBistro Reservations when deciding where to eat out – in fact, 4 in ten tables served are tables booked through a reservation. Reservation apps let diners search for restaurants in their area and make bookings all in one place. It’s also a great way for diners to find new restaurants to try in their area.
Being on these apps serves as a marketing tool – and a great way to pull in business – because of all the exposure you gain. Getting listed on these apps improves your chances of getting your regular customers to book a table and exposure to new ones. If you’re not there and your competition is, you don’t even have a chance to book that table.
To make sure you’re getting the most exposure possible from restaurant reservations apps, focus on the following:
Local searches such as “restaurants near me” account for a large portion of all restaurant searches online. When potential guests type this query into Google, they’ll see three top search results.
Getting your restaurant to show up in these searches doesn’t have to be complicated – the most important step to take is simply having a profile set up!
Having a profile on sites like Google, Facebook, Apple Maps, and Trip Advisor will naturally improve your chances of getting listed in these top three results and benefit from more bookings and more money. Then, optimize your profiles. Here are two of the top tips for doing that:
Social media is only growing in popularity, as both a platform for personal expression and a method for businesses to communicate with potential clients.
More often than not, guests are using social media to:
You’d be wise then to set up your own social media profiles so that you can:
But choosing the right platforms can be difficult as there are so many – and new ones popping up constantly. Do you simply just keep creating profiles on all platforms?
We recommend starting with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – and making them shine.
Your social media strategy will differ between platforms. But to get going, create your profiles, and focus on these social media tips across platforms:
People are bombarded with emails and online messages via social media. Stand out from the competition and win over new diners by using an old-school marketing method like direct mail.
Direct mail involves using your local post office or courier service to send promotional materials like flyers or postcards to either existing diners in your database or new audiences from an area or neighborhood you’d like to reach – you could even target both!.
If done correctly, direct mail can be highly effective in driving sales.
For example, you could hand-write a postcard and send them to customers in the neighborhood of your restaurant, inviting them to a special event like a menu launch. Alternatively, you could try:
When you send out coupons, make sure there’s a unique code on them (e.g. SPRINGBOGO, COFFEE4LIFE, APPHOUR). If people come in with that specific code, you can track the discount within your POS and get a good idea of how successful the campaign was.
Loyal customers are the backbone of any business – and a huge boost to your bottom line! A loyalty program can actually increase your sales by up to 30%.
In the case of your restaurant, customer loyalty is a diner’s willingness to come back to the same business again and again. Naturally, to earn their loyalty, you need to provide a great customer experience and delicious food.
But how is this a marketing tactic? Create a loyalty program as a way to incentivize return business. For example, you could try offering rewards programs at your coffee shop – people get points when they get their morning coffee with you that can go towards free drinks or food. What’s more motivating than earning a free latte?
If you’re a restaurant that already offers free Wi-Fi, then you can take advantage of Wi-Fi marketing.
Wi-Fi marketing is the process of collecting a customer’s name and email in exchange for free Wi-Fi so that you can market to them at a future date to encourage them to come back for another meal with you.
Here’s how it typically works:
To get started with Wi-Fi marketing and drive more repeat customers, follow these steps:
Step 1: Contact your local Internet service provider and set up a Wi-Fi connection.
Step 2: Find a provider to manage your Wi-Fi marketing campaigns. The provider should offer reporting features, campaign execution, and a social media connection. Examples of providers include Aislelabs or Social Wi-Fi.
Step 3: Set up an automated email trigger to create your first campaign.
Step 4: Track campaign success by looking at metrics like coupon redemption rates.
People often make purchases based on social media referrals. They’re also more likely to buy something if the referral comes from someone they trust. Enter the influencers.
Influencers are people who have large social media followings, and because they have such a large following, are able to have some type of influence over brands or products they’re followers buy. Over years of good content and engagement, they’ve built up their following and their credibility – people trust their recommendations.
But influencers go beyond just products and brands. Arguably, there’s nowhere that the influencer trend is more apparent than in the foodie scene. Just think about all the food porn you see on Instagram and the growth in the number of food critics and bloggers.
You can benefit from this trend and fill more tables in your restaurant by getting influencers to try – and ideally recommend – your restaurant in exchange for a fee. A positive recommendation on social media will encourage some of the influencer’s followers to visit your establishment and try your food.
To get started with influencer marketing:
Digital advertising is a form of advertising that lets you target particular demographics online. Two well-known digital advertising platforms include Google Ads and Facebook Ads Manager.
On both platforms, you pay a fee, usually cost per click (CPC), to display an advertisement. This ad can drive people to your site, inform them of a new product, help you get their emails, and boost your social media following – all of which play a role in getting more customers and increasing revenue.
However, digital advertising can get pricey. Before you dive into this direction, do your research! There are a ton of great how-to resources available for creating Google or Facebook ad campaigns – it’s worth giving them a read before throwing your time and money into it.
Your staff should be more than just chefs and servers – they should be your biggest fans!
You want them to be proud of the work they’re doing, the food they serve, and feel valued. When all of these things line up, your staff will naturally turn into people who spread the word about your business. After all, they know they work at the place that serves the best sangria in town and the team is amazing. Why wouldn’t they tell everybody they know about it?
This will happen naturally when you take care of your team. Make sure they know their work is appreciated by offering competitive wages, performance incentives, and regular praise and feedback. When you look out of your team, they’ll naturally look out for you as well.
Who doesn’t love an event centered around food?
Events are a great way to market your business because they get people talking. And people talking about your business is (usually) a good thing. It’s also a great way to reach a completely new audience.
For example, if you’re a sports bar, you could host a “game night special” for people who are into reality TV, like The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. Throw in a drink special – Will You Accept this Rosé cocktail, for example – and you’re halfway there.
Make sure to promote these events early, and you’ll have a packed house in no time.
As you saw, there’s no shortage of restaurant marketing ideas – from a more digital focused reach to some more offline promotions. You can tackle some simpler ones to get started, and as you get comfortable, flex your inner marketer with some more complicated implements.
The only thing left to do is choose where you want to start.