Marketing is important no matter what kind of business you run, but restaurants of all shapes and sizes have had to try extra hard to stay afloat over the last few months. That’s why constantly looking for new ways to stand out from the competition is especially important nowadays, and this article is here to whisper you a few helpful hints. No matter whether you run a small local eatery, a fine dining restaurant, a cafe or anything in between, we hope this will inspire you to utilize your full potential.
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Advertising ideas for restaurants 101: get your social media together
First things first: social media. Social media can make or break any other marketing idea you have, no matter how fun or innovative.
For the tech savvy among you, this may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many restaurants don’t pay nearly enough attention to their social media presence to their own detriment. Almost everything is online these days, and whatever isn’t yet is bound to be or face extinction – this may sound overdramatic, but it is hardly an exaggeration. Some studies show that over 90% of customers check a restaurant’s reviews or social media profiles before visiting it. Nothing will sell your restaurant as well as a good photograph of that crispy chicken or colorful, juicy fruit salad you make. Then there are the reviews – if your restaurant completely ignores its (especially unsatisfied) customers for everyone to see, people are understandably less likely to want to pay you a visit. True, not all negative reviews are fair, but remember: marketing is about creating an image!
So without further ado, take a look at a few simple ways you can use your social media to support all of your restaurant marketing campaign ideas.
Get on Google My Business
Setting up a Google My Business profile takes a few minutes and it’s a gift that keeps on giving. People’s attention span is getting shorter and shorter, not to mention that many simply don’t feel like combing through websites and Facebook pages to find an address. Google My Business puts the information customers need to reach you front and center, smack on the first page of the search results You can also add photos, a feature which is especially helpful if your restaurant is not easily visible from the main street. In other words, make it easy to find you, and people will reward you with their business.
Social media was made for sharing, and if you’re not doing that, you’re doing it wrong. Your regulars want to keep up with what’s new with you, and their interactions with your posts will help people who may otherwise have never heard of you find you after all. Not to mention a big juicy burger popping up in someone’s feed on a long hump day afternoon might help them decide where they’re going out to celebrate Friday evening.
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That brings us to when you should be posting, and the answer here greatly depends on which social media you are using – data shows every platform has different optimal posting times.
Reply to reviews
This issue was touched on a little earlier, but we can’t stress this enough – tempting as it may be to ignore negative voices, it is not a good look. The customer is not always right. But it is up to you to be the bigger man, seeing as how it is your reputation at stake. So answer even those being unfair calmly, explain the situation, apologize if need be – who knows, you may even learn something every now and then! Either way, better you offer a disgruntled customer a free piece of cheesecake every now and then than appear cold and disinterested to the tens of other people reading a bad review.
But enough of that negativity – most reviews will be good, anyway! Of course, make sure you reply to those, too, thanking your satisfied guests for their time and inviting them back.
Ask for reviews
The more reviews you have, the more favorably search engines will treat your restaurant’s page. Long story short, that means that restaurants with more reviews pop up first in the search results, and we all know how rarely anyone makes it to the second page of said results. That’s why you and your employees should not be shy about asking for reviews. Some people will forget, but some people will make the effort, and every word counts to the internet powers that be!
Engage your audience
It’s not just reviews you should be responding to – make sure you reply to, or at the very least ‘like’ comments made on your posts…you could even respond to a comment with a follow-up question to trigger further engagement with your content. This will help you in two different ways: first, the more engagement your post gets, the higher it will appear in people’s feeds; and second, the more someone interacts with a brand on the internet, the more likely they are to eventually pay you a visit. If those aren’t good reasons, what is?
Whew, enough about social media restaurant marketing ideas! Let’s move on to ideas for specific types of establishments.
Fast food marketing idea: sponsor a local sports team
Fast food has been getting bad rap for the last few years, and to some degree, for good reason – eating too much fast food just isn’t good for anyone. Eating fast food in moderation, however, is perfectly fine, and one way to change the way people perceive fast food is to sponsor a local sports team. The key to a happy life is balance, after all! Seeing your logo on banners at local sports events will show that you give back to the community that you sell to, and that you care about fitness and health in general, even if you do sell chicken nuggets. They are full of protein, right?
Fine dining restaurant marketing idea: team up with local wineries
French wine may be second to none, but sometimes we tend to overlook local products that may be (almost) as good because we are so preoccupied with the prestige of the imported. Teaming up with local wineries is great for a few reasons, one of which is that, well, it’s always a good look to buy local, plain and simple. What’s more, local businesses may be willing to sell you their fares at a lower price just for the opportunity to get the word out about them. This means you will be able to lure new guests in for affordable wine-tasting or wine-pairing events, and some of them will definitely be back to see what else your chef can cook up. Win, win!
Sports bar marketing idea: organize trivia nights
There are few chances to showcase one’s detailed knowledge of, say, NBA history like a trivia night. Make sure you get the word out non social media – and even the old-fashioned way, using posters – that your sports bar is organizing a trivia evening concentrated on the sport of your choice. And make sure to mention what the main prize will be! Then, sit back and be amazed at people’s memories!
Not really into trivia? How about organizing the drinking game Olympics? Anyone who spends a merry evening playing flip cup or beer pong with their friends at your bar will definitely be back for more.
Pub marketing idea: have live music
This doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune attempting to book a big star – that’s what concert halls are for. Still, there have got to be some local singers and musicians who would be happy to entertain your guests with some relaxing crooning, or energize them with some good old rock’n’roll shrieks. Many local artists will not charge nearly as much as you might expect, and there is just something about live music that is irresistible to people wanting to throw a couple back.
Creative marketing ideas are the bedrock of 21st century sales, so make sure creating such ideas and implementing them in an organized, coordinated fashion is a regular part of your business activities. Marketing is not something you do ad-hoc when you notice business is suffering, and no matter how good your dishes are, they won’t sell if nobody knows about them.
Do you have any other tried and tested restaurant marketing ideas? Be sure to share!