Restaurant marketing has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. With the rise of the internet and the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, the vast majority of marketing efforts are concentrated online. But there are still effective marketing channels available offline too. We’ve compiled 23 of the most effective restaurant marketing tips to help you win your market.
1. Produce A Food-Prep Video
Video is all the rage these days. All you have to do is look at the view counts on YouTube to get an idea of how popular video is. Get in the game by producing a high-quality video of your chef preparing her signature dish. People love to see behind the scenes. Post it on every social media channel you can think of. Make this a weekly feature to highlight your offerings.
2. Shoot Some Finished-Product Food Photos
There’s nothing like high-quality photos of food to whet your customers appetites and get them in the door. Hire a professional photographer to snap some mouth-watering images of your food. Then, like the video you shot, display them on all your social media channels, on your website, and in your blog posts.
3. Keep Customers Happy With Text Message Restaurant Marketing
Text message marketing is a great way to gather customer information and keep them thinking about your food. Set out a table tent that offers a free dessert if the customer texts a certain word (like “dessert”) to your number. Use that contact information to send out weekly specials to keep customers coming back.
4. Become A Master Of Social Media
Social media is everywhere these days because billions of people are using it. So if that’s where your customers are, that’s where you should be too. At the very least, you should have an account on Facebook and update it once a week, if not once a day. Other excellent social media options are Google+, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
5. Extend Your Reach With A Food Truck
Operating a food truck can be a pricey restaurant marketing road to take, but the results can be amazing. A food truck enables you to extend your reach, generate positive press and word-of-mouth, and expose new customers to your delicious eats. Consider offering a limited menu from your food truck while promoting the expanded menu at your brick-and-mortar location.
6. Go Old-School With A Fish Bowl Business Card Giveaway
In the age of data sharing, social media, and custom apps, the fish bowl business card giveaway may seem like a waste of your time. Trust us, it’s not. People with business cards are always looking for ways to hand them out. It’s only natural for them to drop one in the giant fishbowl on your counter for a chance to win a free appetizer. You can then use that information to expand your text-message or email marketing list.
7. Get Your Listing At The Top Of Local Search Results
There’s nothing like topping the list when your customers search for local restaurants. Make this a priority and watch your business soar. Key things to work on include optimizing your listing on Google Maps and making sure your Yelp! Profile is complete. Not sure how to get your website on page one? Contact a local SEO business or go the DIY route instead.
8. Invite Local Media To A Special Event
Is your anniversary or other special occasion coming up? Organize a VIPs-only special event and invite local media to attend. People love to party and if you make the event fun and memorable, attendees will remember your restaurant for some time to come. It may even generate positive press, which is always a good thing.
9. Get Your Restaurant Online With A Custom Website
If you don’t already have a restaurant website, that should be your priority. A digital footprint, regardless how small, is paramount in this age of smartphones and tablets. And your custom website is the foundation of that digital footprint. Does the thought of making a website feel daunting? Try Squarespace or WordPress. They’re both quick and easy ways to put together a professional-looking website.
10. Run Short-Term Social Media Specials
Everyone likes to be an “insider” so give your customers that opportunity. Offer specials via social media channels like Twitter and Facebook that reward followers for being engaged. One-day-only deals and specials that only last an hour are great ways to keep customers checking their feeds for your information.
11. Start A Blog
Starting a blog is a great restaurant marketing tip that can pay huge dividends over time. For one, a blog is an outstanding way to develop your restaurant’s personality, engage with customers, and build community around your food. For two, if you incorporate SEO best-practices (and you should), you can acquire readers who may become patrons.
12. Don’t Forget About Local Newspapers
Yes, people still read newspapers. These outlets—be they print, online, or both—can be a great way to reach demographics that aren’t fully plugged in to the online world. Most local papers have a coupon section. This can be a great place to offer 25% off an entree or the opportunity to get a free appetizer by mentioning the ad.
13. Partner With A Delivery Service
Delivery can be a big deal, especially in larger markets. Consider partnering with a delivery service like GrubHub, Delivery.com, or another local company. Offering delivery can tap a market that you didn’t even know existed and expose first-time customers to your food.
14. Build Your Brand Identity For Targeted Restaurant Marketing
Developing your brand identity can help you target the right audience in all your marketing channels. Do you cater to more upscale clientele looking to get dressed up and dine in style? Or do you cater to the sports-wings-and-beer crowd? Understanding your target audience—and building your brand around them—can help you focus your marketing to where these people are.
15. Make Sure Your Digital Details Are Correct
Make sure that your digital details like address, menu, phone number, and hours are correct. This is on par with having a working website—it should be one of the first things you do. 89% of diners research a restaurant before actually going there. If your contact information is incorrect, you’ll likely lose customers you didn’t even know about.
16. Reach Out To Overlooked Local Media
Media outlets like TV and radio can still be highly effective ways to market your restaurant. If you’re hosting a special event, invite a radio station to do a remote broadcast. If you’ve got a compelling story, contact a local magazine to get the story out.
17. Get Food Bloggers On Your Side
Food bloggers can be a powerful voice for your restaurant if you let them. Many of these foodies have huge followings and can do wonders for your reputation. Consider offering a free meal or dessert in exchange for reviewing your restaurant.
18. Ask Customers To Rate Your Restaurant
Asking customers to rate your restaurant on social media sites like Google+, Yelp, and Facebook can do wonders for your online reputation. You might even offer a free dessert if they do it right there in the restaurant.
19. Show Off Good Publicity
Good publicity can go a long way toward making your restaurant marketing successful. Be sure to keep track of any and all publicity you receive (paid or otherwise) and broadcast it through every channel you have available.
20. Brag About Your Staff
Good service can make or break a restaurant these days. So if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Consider highlighting a stellar employee through your blog or a video post to show off your exceptional service. This also goes a long way to keeping your employees engaged and showing them that you appreciate their work.
21. Develop An Email Newsletter
Like the text message, an email newsletter can be a cheap and easy restaurant marketing tool. Consider broadcasting your newsletter once a month so your message isn’t lost in inbox clutter. And don’t neglect to include plenty of pictures, videos, and upcoming special events to keep the customer involved.
22. Geo-Target Your Online Ads
Geo-targeting allows you to target consumers in certain cities or within a specific area. This is the gold standard for restaurants that rely solely on local customers because they can get their best ads in front of the customers who matter most. Google offers geo-targeting (through AdWords) as do Facebook and Twitter.
23. Schedule Your Employees To Provide Super Service
Don’t forget about the power of super service and the buzz it can provide to your restaurant marketing efforts. To get the best from your service staff, schedule the right mix during peak traffic hours. Schedule your most efficient when time is at a premium (like lunch). And schedule your most personable when diners are more likely to linger (like dinner). Having trouble scheduling to highlight your super service? A restaurant scheduling app like Sling can simplify and streamline the process like never before.