You might have a beautiful restaurant that serves high-quality food, but you’ll need a solid marketing plan to get diners in seats. Restaurant marketing revolves around specific processes, as it involves reaching the right people in a particular area. Luckily, there are many different ways to go about it.
In this guide, we’ll provide you with some ideas to use as restaurant marketing strategies. These marketing tactics should appear on your restaurant marketing plan and can be used to attract more diners and grow your business.
13 Restaurant Marketing Strategies To Try
1. Develop a Marketing Strategy Framework
The first step in creating a solid marketing plan is knowing who you want to attract to your restaurant and how to target them. So, start by understanding who your ideal diners are.
Be as specific as possible here, and build up diner personas. Consider factors such as your average customer's age, interests, demographics, and internet use.
Location will also be a significant factor in all that you do. Restaurants are local businesses; you’ll need to think close to home when considering how to encourage people into your venue. Ask yourself, how far are people willing to travel to eat out?
Once you know your target audience and your potential marketing radius, it’s time to establish the restaurant marketing strategies and channels on which to reach them.
It’s usually best to focus on a few channels or tactics where you can have the greatest impact. Remember, any outreach you do will only make sense if you target your customers through channels they use. For example, there’s no use putting a ton of effort into your TikTok presence if your ideal patrons aren’t using the platform.
On the subject of social media - don’t expect to cover every social channel at once when you’re getting started. Instead, focus on one or two and get good results through these. You can always scale up your marketing strategy over time.
Remember, building and actioning marketing campaigns can take considerable time - something most restaurant managers and owners don’t have much of. A framework to guide your actions will help you market intelligently and get the most from your efforts.
2. Set Up Your Website
Your website is your most important online asset - it’s the online window to your restaurant. No matter how your restaurant marketing strategy looks, you need a great site to lead your online presence.
It’s possible to build your own website with a good restaurant website builder. The alternative is to get a web developer and designer to do it for you.
If you’re taking charge of this yourself, pay attention to the user experience on your site. It should be simple to navigate without being confusing or overwhelming.
You should also ensure the site is mobile-friendly. This is incredibly important, as nearly 53% of web visitors browse on their mobile devices.
Whichever approach you take, include key bits of information on your site to help diners find you and learn what your business is all about. Make sure to display:
- Contact details and address
- Opening hours
- Quality images of your menu items and the floor layout
- Your ‘About’ story
- Chef and owner information
- Delivery details or weekly specials
- Anything else diners need to know
It’s also a good idea to embed a Google Maps widget on one of your web pages. This will share your exact location and provide people with directions to your venue.
On that note, also link up social media buttons to connect your social profiles to your site (and vice versa) and help build out your online presence.
3. Optimize Your Site For Local SEO
Another consideration for your website, which leads to our next point, is to factor in local search engine optimization (SEO) for your restaurant. This gets you in front of nearby diners who use search engines to look for places to eat out based on specific locations or cuisines.
A good local SEO strategy is to write keywords into your web pages that tell search engines where you are located and what type of eatery you are.
For example, don’t just write “John’s Burgers” on your homepage. Expand on it to something along the lines of “John’s Burgers - Chicago’s favorite burger joint.” This sends the necessary signals to the search engines, which will then deem your site relevant and display it to people who search “burger joints in Chicago.”
4. Claim and Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
When it comes to local marketing, claiming and optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) listing should be a high priority. GMB is Google’s local business directory - having a solid presence will help you attract more local customers.
Say someone searches for “sushi restaurant near me.” Besides paid ads, the first results they’ll see is Google’s 3-pack of nearby local restaurants connected to Google Maps. If your restaurant's GMB profile is optimized correctly, it has a chance of appearing on this 3-pack and can potentially bring in more diners.
It’s free and easy to create your GMB profile. When you do it, include as much information about your restaurant business as possible. Add in your contact details, physical address, a restaurant description, and a link to your website. Choose the correct business category, add images, videos, opening hours, and any other relevant information - such as being wheelchair friendly or offering free wifi.
Diner reviews on Google are important for ranking your GMB profile. The more positive reviews and ratings you have, the higher your listing can rank in the 3-pack. Make a point of collecting Google reviews from happy customers - simply send a link to fill out via email or SMS using contact information from meal reservations.
5. Work on On-Premise Marketing
As far as restaurant marketing ideas go, never underestimate the power of on-premise marketing. Your eatery houses some of the best marketing real estate to engage diners and upsell your products.
Using table tents is an effective way to promote any specials you’re running. Posters in your restaurant can also make a big impact. Of course, a good old-fashioned chalkboard has always been one of the most powerful restaurant marketing strategies.
Another great way to use your premises for marketing is to include scannable QR codes. You can add these to table tents, posters, bills, or next to the till.
Customers can scan them to find out about events you host, or to access your social media channels, website, table booking app, or a once-off discount code. The codes can also provide info about your specials, promotions, and loyalty program.
6. Create Social Media Accounts
Social media is central to marketing in the restaurant industry. Your customers are on social media and actively follow restaurants to help them decide where to eat. A strong social media presence can make an enormous difference in how many diners you get through the door.
A logical approach to building a community on social media is sharing excellent visual content, such as food and venue images, to attract people. You can also set up your social profiles as customer support channels, where diners can reach out and ask you questions.
If you want to put some budget behind your restaurant marketing strategy, you can run highly-targeted ads on social media to reach your ideal diners with enticing offers.
As mentioned earlier, the best channels to use really depend on your target audience. It’s better to have an engaged following on one channel than no following on five channels. That said, let’s break down some of the top platforms that may be a fit for your restaurant’s digital marketing plan:
Facebook remains the world’s most popular social media network. With features such as reviews, hyperlocal advertising, local area groups, and more, it should factor into your restaurant marketing.
Beyond sharing visually-appealing content of your restaurant and engaging with your followers, be sure to add your business’s up-to-date information to your Facebook page. This includes a link to your website and your exact location.
Instagram is a visual platform, so it’s one of the best places to entice your audience with high-quality images and videos of your menu items and eatery. You can also target specific users on Instagram with ads based on their interests, demographics, and location.
Use hashtags and set locations on your content to help new customers discover your restaurant. A great idea here is to include an “Instagrammable” feature in the restaurant - like a flower wall or photo booth. This can earn you a lot of valuable user-generated content that people love.
Instagram is also a great place to run giveaways alone or alongside other local partner businesses.
Twitter may not be the most popular online marketing channel for small restaurants, but it still holds value. You can use Twitter to connect and engage with diners, send out updates, manage complaints, advertise promotions, and more.
TikTok is an exciting and fast-growing social media channel. It’s all about short, fun, and often silly videos. Your profile is the perfect place to show off your fun side and add some personality to your social media marketing efforts.
TikTok also has a unique algorithm that helps you go viral more easily than other social media channels. This can make a big difference for a local restaurant, helping you become more visible to potential customers around you.
7. Outline a Social Media Publishing Schedule
On the subject of social media and restaurant marketing strategies, you’ll need to have a clear plan for what you will post and when you will post it. The best approach is to map out a monthly or two-weekly content calendar and schedule your posts for suitable days.
You can use a tool like Buffer to automate scheduling and post across multiple social media accounts at once. Doing this makes it easier to manage your social media marketing. It also ensures you post consistently and at the right time. Plus, you can easily plan the publishing in advance if you have upcoming events or holidays.
Try to post multiple times per week, ideally once per day. That said, the most important thing is to maintain consistency in posting. This will help you maintain a strong and engaging social media presence.
8. Figure Out Topics and Content to Share
Once you have established your restaurant marketing initiatives, you need to decide what kind of marketing content to create. What will your eatery talk about and post? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- New menu items: Always highlight menu changes and new menu items. This keeps your restaurant top of mind, excites diners, and gives them more reason to return.
- Specials: Everyone loves a special. Running specials during slow times or on quiet days can be great for bringing in more covers.
- Public events: Live music, themed events, sports games, private dining parties, movie screenings, special set dinners, or any other special events your restaurant can think of.
- Staff/owner bios: Tell your audience about the people behind the business. This is a great way to get personal with your audience.
- Purveyors: Shed some light on your suppliers and where you get your ingredients and goods from.
9. Create an Offline Advertising Strategy
Even though we live in a digital world, marketing doesn’t all have to be online! This is especially true for restaurants. Offline advertising isn’t always as important, but it’s definitely still worth considering.
Go back to who your customers are, and think of non-digital ways that you might be able to attract them. This could include ads in your local community newspaper, radio ads, flyers, posters, or more. Again, never underestimate the power of a well-placed chalkboard.
10. Get Listed on Directories
People often search for restaurants in online directories and read reviews to determine if an eatery is worth visiting. Think of platforms like OpenTable, Yelp, or TripAdvisor. Having a presence across as many relevant directories as possible is essential to getting in front of more potential diners.
Search for “restaurant directories [your area]” and see which platforms show up in the results. Then, try to create a listing for your business on these platforms. Make sure to include a link to your website, and publish the same consistent information on each platform.
11. Partnership With Local Community Businesses
A restaurant is a local business. This means you’re probably not interested in targeting customers in different cities. Instead, your marketing efforts should be focused on your local area. To help you do this, try to get as actively involved in your community as possible.
Have a look at the local calendar to see what markets are lined up - you could arrange to set up a stand for marketing and extra revenue.
Other ideas include sponsoring a local school sports team, donating meals to a local charity, running a partnered giveaway with another local business, joining community meetings, and more.
Anything that helps you become a more active member of your local community can do wonders for attracting a more loyal customer base in your area.
12. Get Stuck Into Email Marketing
As part of your restaurant marketing strategies, it’s worth looking into email marketing. You can gather email addresses from your CRM, online reservations apps, giveaways and promotions, or by offering information exchange incentives on your website.
Then, you can send out a regular newsletter as part of your marketing plan. This can include special offers and discounts, news about your restaurant, updates on new menu items, upcoming events, and anything else worth mentioning.
Email is a great way to maintain a loyal customer base, as it keeps your restaurant top of mind. You can also use email to provide incentives for customers to return.
13. Work With Influencers
Influencer marketing is huge. Right now, micro-influencers are a major trend in social media marketing. This is good news because it means that even small local businesses can work with an influencer. As a strategy, you can tap into the influencer's audience and use their ‘influence’ to attract more diners to your restaurant.
You could work with a food blogger or a local lifestyle influencer. Whoever you choose, ensure their audience looks like potential diners you’d like to catch the attention of. If your audiences share the same interests, an influencer could help you spread brand awareness in a big way.
It’s vital that you know how to attract and reach diners through intelligent and successful restaurant marketing strategies. This is essential for keeping a steady stream of feet walking through your eatery’s door.
The right tactics can help you attract more people, improve brand awareness, gain more loyal customers, and make more sales. Follow the strategies above, which should help you develop a well-rounded approach to marketing your venue.
If you’re in the business of hosting events at your restaurant, why not try out Perfect Venue’s event management software for unique venues. We guarantee you’ll save time, save money, and your team will thank you for it.