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Restaurant Marketing: 22 ideas to start marketing your restaurant today

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

  1. Take photos of your food and post them online

  2. Loyalty programs for your customers

  3. Yelp

  4. Set Up Your Google Business Profile

  5. Instagram presence

  6. Send out monthly newsletters

  7. Promote User-Generated Content

  8. Show your staff to your customers

  9. Keep an eye on your Social Media Presence

  10. Set up Google Alert Notifications

  11. Start a Blog

  12. Reach out to Food Bloggers

  13. Verify your Restaurant’s details are updated and accurate online

  14. Develop a Brand Identity for your Restaurant

  15. Time your tweets and updates

  16. Functional online menu and website

  17. Sign up for food delivery services

  18. Offer coupons and discounts

  19. Online Reservation Tools

  20. Business card collection and giveaways

  21. Use local ingredients

  22. Offers, content, and events for monthly observances

1. Take photos of your food and post them online

With the continued growth of social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, you know how important it is to get your food photos 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.


3. Yelp

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:

  • Photos

  • Store hours

  • Location

  • Menu

  • Price Range

  • Restaurant Amenities

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.

  • Upcoming events

  • Specials and offers

  • Changes to your menu

  • Increased return business

  • Loyalty program

  • 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.

Contest Ideas:

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

Setting up Google Alerts to notify you when your restaurant (or any chosen keyword) is mentioned or used online is an easy way to keep track of your brand and what your customers are saying.


  • 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.

The content you are putting out should be relevant to your restaurant marketing goals and can help you reach new customers and increase your brand recognition.


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

89% of consumers research a restaurant online prior to dining and it’s important that all of your restaurant details are online and up-to-date.

  • Address

  • Phone number

  • Hours

  • Current menu and specials

  • Holiday hours

  • Accessibility

  • And more

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.

  • Facebook

  • Apple Maps

  • Google Business Profile

  • LinkedIn Company Directory

  • Bing

  • Yelp

  • MapQuest


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

  • Weekend warriors

  • Restaurants hosting sporting events and PPV

  • Vegan and vegetarian options

  • The list goes on

Visual content is a great way to show your ideal customer who you are and why they should give your restaurant a shot. Social media provides a great way to make that happen.