10 Restaurant Marketing Ideas: How to Market a Restaurant

10 Restaurant Marketing Ideas: How to Market a Restaurant

The competition among restaurants is fierce, and you’ll need to give your all to be successful. We’re helping you out with 10 restaurant marketing ideas and strategies that promise to help you improve your business and get attention from growling stomachs everywhere!

Restaurants are an extremely competitive industry. It is probable that there are dozens of competitors in your area that are all competing for the same audience, regardless of where your restaurant is located. Therefore, it’s crucial to utilize unique marketing ideas in order to stand out from other restaurants.

Here are 10 tips to get your restaurant noticed to get you started.

1. Foodie Photos

If you’ve ever logged onto Instagram, you’ll understand that food porn is alive and well.

Arguably the very best way to promote your restaurant online is with high-quality, drool-inducing photos. Visual content is in high demand online these days. In addition having delicious looking photos on your website and across various social media outlets is essential for drawing hungry eyes.

2. Loyalty Programs

Partnering up with online food apps should definitely be a consideration as part of your restaurant marketing ideas plan. Partnering with online apps encourages visitors to check out your restaurant through gamification. In addition customer loyalty programs, which offer visitors a free purchase or discount for visiting a certain number of times.

You could also kick it old school and hand out punch cards. They aren’t quite as cool as apps, but they still show that you value customers and appreciate their loyalty!

3. Yelp

Yelp has tremendous power in the restaurant industry, and having a strong backing of positive Yelp reviews. It is like having a flock of golden geese – reviews from Yelp can do wonders for your business. I’ve written an entire blog post devoted to helping you get more Yelp reviews, so peruse that at your leisure.

The most important thing to understand about Yelp is that people can and will review you. Even if you don’t set up an account. For that reason, as a restaurant owner you should absolutely be proactive and dress up your Yelp account. So it works for you, rather than against you.

This means adding as many details as possible, such as:

  • Photos, and lots of ‘em
  • Store hours
  • Location
  • Menu
  • Price Range
  • Wi-Fi/Outdoor Seating/Parking/etc.

Do your best to add as many details as Yelp will allow.

The other big thing to keep in mind when it comes to Yelp is how you handle feedback. It’s great to thank Yelpers for their review, whether positive or negative.

If you get negative feedback, always answer in a polite, professional manner. I have a whole section in my Complete Guide to Yelp post about how to handle negative reviews. But the nutshell version is to always play the gracious host.

If you’re responding to the negative review publically, thank the reviewer for the feedback. Apologize for the incident, and promise to improve in the future. You may also want to consider contacting the reviewer privately for more information about any negative incidents. Some business owners offer to send gift cards to Yelpers who have had less than favorable experiences. Hoping to get them back in the door for a second chance. I’ve seen this work in favor of many businesses. As reviewers are often flattered at the consideration shown. In addition that are more generous in their critique knowing the restaurant owner values their opinion and is working hard to improve.

4. Set Up Your Google+ Account

Setting up your restaurant’s Google+ account is as important (heck, maybe even more important) as setting up your Yelp account. Here’s why:

When you search a business within Google, Google’s Knowledge Graph provides the business’s details in the sidebar. Google’s Knowledge Graph gathers a large chunk of its info from Google+. So having your business set up on Google+ is a huge bonus. As having your restaurant appear via Google’s Knowledge Graph allows for more prime search real estate (for free)!

Also encourage visitors to review you on Google+, as Knowledge Graph loves to aggregate Google user reviews.

5. Geo-targeted Ads

For most restaurants, local is the name of the game. Most folks are looking for good eats close to home. And you’ll get the most value out of your online marketing efforts by investing primarily in geo-targeted ads. Geo-targeting ads help you save money, ensuring that only users in certain cities. Or within a specific radius see your ads (eliminating non-relevant clicks, which can cost you big ad bucks).

Many online advertising services, from Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) to Facebook and Twitter, offer geo-targeting ad options (at no extra cost). Be sure to take advantage of these handy targeting features to get your best ads in front of your best customers. For tips on Facebook advertising during COVID-19, check out this post: 5 Ways Restaurants Can Use Facebook Ads During COVID-19.

6. Be an Insta-Ham

Having a strong Instagram presence is another semi-obvious (but too important to ignore) restaurant marketing idea tip. Use Instagram to promote your business’ best visual content.

Show off your storefront, get up close with your top dishes. And use this social media main stage as a place to play around with your brand identity. For example, an all-natural health food store might try snapping pics of people kayaking, cooking, farming, or other activities you think your fan base will enjoy.

Also be sure to have some fun with hashtags. Whether jumping on the hype of existing popular Twitter hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday or inventing your own. Hashtags are a great way to have some fun with fans.

Instagram is a no-brainer for those in the food business – learn even more about Instagram marketing ideas here.

7. Send Out an Email Newsletter

Remember, your restaurant newsletter doesn’t have to be weekly. In fact, users will probably appreciate a less flooded inbox if you simply send them a newsletter every month or so.

Use your email newsletter as a chance to celebrate your success, design an attractive menu poster using an online menu maker and discuss new menu items, or share special discounts.

8. Promote User-Generated Content

User-generated content (lovingly dubbed UGC) is a great way to develop personal and intimate engagement with users. Host a photo contest by asking customers to share their favorite meal at your establishment, and share the entries on a dedicated content page (and/or share submissions across your various social networks). Consider awarding some random lucky contestants with a free appetizer or other prize!

Hosting and promoting user-generated content shows customers that you appreciate them, turning occasional visitors into die-hard devotees.

9. Show Off Your Staff

In an age of robotic customer service reps and soon to be self-driving cars, the human element is severely lacking. Show off your 5-star staff doing what they do best! Seeing happy, smiling employees does wonders for your reputation, as customers long to be served by joyful workers.

Showing off your pleasant employees also provides major reputation points – happy workers say a lot about a business, and fans are sure to take notice.

10. Monitor Your Social Media Presence

Social media marketing ideas strategies are an undeniable force in today’s world. Pamphlets and delivery menus slipped under doorways simply won’t cut it anymore.

Often, the restaurants with a strong social media presence as part of their restaurant marketing ideas plan are the ones that fare the best, and in the competitive food industry, ignoring social media is a death sentence.

Of course you’ll want to create a Facebook business page and a Twitter account to share special discounts, exclusive coupons, photos of your newest dishes, and promote your own news accolades. But setting up your accounts is only half the job – it’s also essential you keep up with activity happening on your social sites.

There are many great free and paid social media management tools – a few popular free options include:

  • HootSuite: A one-stop dashboard for keeping tabs on all your social media networks. Create custom streams, schedule posts, and more.
  • 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.