The competition for restaurant marketing has always been high and it's important to make sure that you have the right strategies in place to be successful.
Use this guide of 22 ideas to help improve your restaurant’s success to gain the attention of new and existing customers.
Restaurant Marketing Strategies
Take photos of your food and post them online
Loyalty programs for your customers
Set Up Your Google Business Profile
Send out monthly newsletters
Promote User-Generated Content
Show your staff to your customers
Keep an eye on your Social Media Presence
Set up Google Alert Notifications
Start a Blog
Reach out to Food Bloggers
Verify your Restaurant’s details are updated and accurate online
Develop a Brand Identity for your Restaurant
Time your tweets and updates
Functional online menu and website
Sign up for food delivery services
Offer coupons and discounts
Online Reservation Tools
Business card collection and giveaways
Use local ingredients
Offers, content, and events for monthly observances
1. Take photos of your food and post them online
When your customers love your food, your restaurant, and the service that they're receiving, they are very likely to post images of the food themselves onto their personal social media platforms. This, in turn, helps grow your brand and shows future customers how great your food is.
Visual content is always in high demand and food is no different. When your customers see a delicious meal posted from one of their friends or family members on the different social media platforms, they are very likely to want to learn more and in turn, try the food for themselves.
Photo Ideas and Angles
The quality of the images posted are important and most of your customers have the ability to take great photos with their smartphone right in their pocket.
It’s not a bad idea to ask your customers to take photos of their food and tag your restaurant in them to share with their friends, family, and the world.
This is a great way to start a successful Social Media Campaign which we'll discuss later in this article.
2. Loyalty programs for your customers
Common loyalty programs that we are familiar with are the old school Punch Cards. You would receive these for visiting a local restaurant or business and purchasing a certain amount of items that generally resulted in a free meal or free service after a certain amount of purchases.
With the power of online accessibility, most of your customers have a smartphone right in their pocket and direct access to your loyalty programs without the need to carry around a physical card or a visit to your business to learn more about your program.
By providing an easy-to-use and easy to access loyalty program right in the palm of your customer’s hands, you can encourage visitors to check back into your restaurant on multiple occasions to take advantage of the loyalty programs that you have created for them.
Here are a few popular food apps to take a look at and see how loyalty programs can help grow your customer base today.
Yelp is a powerful tool for restaurants as most customers still base their decisions on reviews and what others are saying about your food and overall service.
One thing to keep in mind is that your customers can leave reviews about your restaurant on Yelp even if you have not claimed your business page.
It's extremely important to make sure that your page is claimed so that you can take advantage of all the features Yelp has made available to you.
A few of the free Yelp listing featured available to you after claiming:
Another great feature of Yelp is the ability to respond directly to the feedback you're getting on your profile.
When you receive a positive review, make sure to reach out and thank them for stopping by and spending the time to provide their feedback.
If you receive a negative review don't immediately go on the offensive.
Thank the reviewer for the feedback
Apologize for the incident
Promise to improve in the future
Contact the reviewer privately for more information about any negative incidents.
Offer to send gift cards for a second chance (and improved Yelp review)
Reviewers are often more generous in their critique knowing the restaurant owner values their opinion and is working hard to improve.
4. Set Up Your Google Business Profile
Setting up your restaurant’s Google Business Profile is important and can help your local customers learn more about your business, how to find you, and what others are saying.
Benefits of setting up your Google Business Profile:
Appear in Google Maps Searches and “near me” results
Google’s Local 3-Pack for great visibility at the top of the search results page
Reviews and positive feedback create trust for new and existing customers
Increase traffic and sales to your website
Customers can learn more about your business
Increase engagement and review metrics for calls, direction requests, and more
Learn more about Google Business Profile:
5. Instagram presence
For restaurants, having a strong Instagram presence is important as a lot of customers are still driven to make decisions visually.
Instagram is a great platform to share images of your food, such as new and upcoming meals, specials you're putting together for that month, or top-selling items.
With an active Instagram account, you also create a platform for your customers to take photos of the items they're purchasing themselves and sharing them online for the world.
Show off your storefront
Get up close with your top dishes
Showcase your dining room
Let your customers know who is behind the brand, cooking and serving their food
A great way to improve your Instagram presence organically is to stick to some of the great things that got your restaurant started in the first place.
As an example:
If you're a pizza restaurant, talk about the importance of the sauce or where you're getting your cheese and if you're sourcing local ingredients - let your customers know!
Also, be sure to use hashtags:
Connect social media content to a specific topic, event, theme or conversation.
Make it easier to discover posts around those specific topics
6. Send out monthly newsletters
Monthly newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with your existing customers and keep them engaged with your restaurant.
Specials and offers
Changes to your menu
Increased return business
Online ordering and delivery
Share positive press and publicity
It's important to develop a strategy that involves collecting contact information for new customers and adding them to your monthly newsletter.
This way you can consistently grow your return business and improve your overall revenue.
7. Promote User-Generated Content
User-generated content is a great way to help your customers feel involved with your restaurant and a part of a community.
One of the best ways to promote user-generated content for your restaurant is to develop campaigns around photos and check-ins with your restaurant and food across popular social media platforms.
By providing a small incentive to all of your customers involved with your user-generated content campaigns, you can generate a large amount of valuable online visibility and reviews for your restaurant.
Social Media Photo Upload and sharing
Pick our next meal
Customer of the week, month, or year
Best photo contest
The great thing about running a contest for your restaurant is it easy to find a great way to incentivize your winner or a selected group of winners.
Contest incentive ideas:
Meal for two
Free appetizers with any purchases
Free drinks with any purchase
Discounted meals for a month, year
Customer highlight on social media or website
Name the next meal
8. Show your staff to your customers
While most restaurants have plenty of images of their location and food, it’s also great when you show the staff behind your food and service.
Have fun showing the different sides of your restaurant which most customers don't generally get to see. This is a great way to build trust and show your customers that your staff is happy, enjoy what they do, and love providing the food and service that your customers are looking for.
It's never a bad idea to see who's making your food and the happy smiles behind them.
Share on social media platforms
Share photos of you employee of the month in newsletters
Talk about the chef and who is behind the meal
Who can they expect to see when they visit your restaurant
9. Keep an eye on your Social Media Presence
Restaurants with a strong, active, and engaging social media presence generally outperform their competitors who don't take advantage of social media and don't use these platforms to engage with their customers.
There are many social media platforms out there that can benefit your restaurant but you want to ensure that you are active on your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.
Keep in mind that it's extremely important that your social media profiles are active and engaging and don't go for long periods of time without fresh content.
An active social media presence ensures you consistently engaging with your customers as part of your overall restaurant marketing strategy.
There are a lot of great tools out there to help you stay on top of your social media accounts and ensure that you're not missing any insights such as new reviews, comments, and more.
HootSuite: A one-stop dashboard for keeping tabs on all your social media networks.
Buffer: Buffer makes it easy to find, schedule, and share articles across your networks. Staying active and posting valuable articles (that your fan base will enjoy) is key for social success.
10. Set up Google Alert Notifications
A new review of your business is mentioned
Someone is talking about your business through social media
Your restaurant is mentioned in the news or other media outlets
11. Start a Blog
Blogging is a great way to stay connected with your customers and community and will help improve your online success.
Share your successes and struggles
Staff members and restaurant owners updates
Recipes and new items
Announcements or news
Keep your blog simple or complex.
Quality over quantity is always important when blogging, and you don't need to put out a new blog every day.
Improve local map ranking
Increase “near me” searches
Create trust for your customers
Increase new customer reach
Bring old customers back
Create an online community
12. Reach out to Food Bloggers
Inviting food bloggers to your restaurant to try out some of your favorite dishes is a great way to improve your overall reach to new and existing customers.
Invite food bloggers to your restaurant to give you a try
Consider offering a free meal or appetizer to get them in the door
Ask if they’d be willing to give your restaurant an honest review
Food bloggers with large followings are a great way to help your overall restaurant marketing strategy as they can help get your restaurant food and overall quality of service in front of a new audience.
13. Verify your Restaurant’s details are updated and accurate online
Current menu and specials
Make sure your restaurant data is accurate and consistent across all online platforms. This will help your customers find your business more easily as well as build trust with updated and accurate business information.
Google Business Profile
LinkedIn Company Directory
14. Develop a Brand Identity for your Restaurant
A restaurant’s brand identity can have a big impact on your new and existing customer growth. Focus on building your restaurant’s identity around your target customers and engage with them on the platforms they are likely to be on such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Customers who prefer healthy eating
Restaurants hosting sporting events and PPV
Vegan and vegetarian options
The list goes on
15. Time your tweets and updates
16. Functional online menu and website
Just like with all businesses, your customers are looking online before making the decision to visit or order from your restaurant.
Ask yourself, when was the last time you bought or made a decision online from an outdated, hard to navigate website. The same concept should be applied to your restaurant.
Another important factor of having a functional and well-thought-out website is providing online ordering and delivery for your customers which is a growing factor in today's restaurant industry.
17. Sign up for food delivery services
By having a steady flow of customers using online food delivery services, you can continually grow your customer marketing list month-over-month with the goal of bringing them directly to your restaurant and bypassing the food delivery services.
Think of it as modern-day lead generation for your restaurant marketing strategy.
Recommend food delivery services:
18. Offering coupons and discounts
Providing coupons and discounts is a great way to bring in new customers and get existing customers back in.
It's also easy to share your different coupons and discounts online on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as well as your website and email marketing campaigns.
Consumers love free things and coupons and discounts as part of your restaurant marketing strategy are no different.
19. Online Reservation Tools
Providing your customers with a way to reserve a table at your restaurant online is becoming more important.
With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a lot of families and even solo diners want to schedule an advance and limit the stress of having to wait around to enjoy your food and hospitality.
20. Business card collection and giveaways
Collecting business cards is a great way to gather new customer information and add them to your monthly marketing emails.
The simplest way to do this is to offer a monthly raffle and collect business cards from all your customers and select a winner or a few winners at the end of each month.
Lunch for the winner
Happy hour all week
Discounted drinks and meals
21. Use local ingredients
Sourcing local ingredients is a great way to let your customers know that their food is fresh and that they care about the quality of your meals.
This can also send a good signal that you care about the local economy which can help boost your reputation in the community.
22. Offers, content, and events for monthly observances
There are dozens of food observance days each month that are restaurant-friendly that can help you bring in new customers. Working these into your restaurant marketing strategy is a great way to get customers involved and help share your content online.
You can also use these days each month to send out marketing emails to build a buzz around your restaurant and bring customers in.
Here are some, just to name a few:
January 4 is National Spaghetti Day.
February 9 is National Pizza Day.
March 23 is National Chip and Dip Day.
April 7 is National Beer Day.
May 28 is National Hamburger Day.
Have questions? Let us know and we would be happy to jump on a call and help get your restaurant marketing setup for success.