In the United States, there are more than 100,000 eateries, ranging from fast food to fusion, sandwich shops to steakhouses - I could go on for days.
In other words, there is a lot of rivalry among restaurants; thus, you need a strong restaurant marketing strategy. You're in the right spot, my friend, as this comprehensive guide to restaurant marketing will provide you with all the creative, strategic, and competitive ideas you need to draw in, satisfy, and retain consumers. (ps - I've included ALL of my favorite hometown restaurants and spots - if you're ever in the area, check them out!)
Promoting a Restaurant
Considering your category, demographic, region, and other factors, there is no one "best approach" to promote a restaurant; however, the following are the essential actions any eatery should take:
1. Develop the brand identity for your restaurant
More than your brand colors make up your brand identity. It embodies the character of your company, the voice of your content, and the feelings you wish to arouse in your audience. "Happy" is insufficient. Consider the most well-known eateries:
Taco Bell: humor and wit
Cheesecake Factory: indulgence and extravagance
Panera Bread: health and freshness
Olive Garden: family and comfort
Understand your target market first, then further divide it into distinct consumer personas whose hobbies and lifestyles you appeal to. Establish a theme and feel that meshes well with your personalities, and then constantly convey that in your content creation and behavior.
(Tacoholics, Brick, NJ)
2. Launch a website
This cannot be negotiated. You must have a homepage, about us, menu, and contact page, at the very least. However, in an ideal world, you'll want a FAQ page, photo gallery, blog, and reviews page. The most crucial thing to remember right now is that your website is the first place current and potential diners turn to for information; we'll discuss optimizing your site later. First impressions count, so make sure it's polished!
3. Create a mission statement
This fits in with your brand identity and ought to be a written declaration outlining the goals of your company. Is it to lower the price of nutritious food? Is it to foster family ties? encouraging sustainability Your mission statement should outline what you offer, where and to whom you offer it, as well as why and how.
(Joe Leone's, Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ)
4. Create your social media accounts
Your social accounts are next on the list for developing your internet presence. Facebook and Instagram are the most widely used social media sites for restaurants, but many firms also use TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, and even LinkedIn.
5. Register on restaurant-specific apps
Getting discovered on one of these apps means getting found by customers with high intent, making dining and restaurant apps among the finest free restaurant marketing tools. Users of dining apps may filter quite precisely; therefore, the secret to these is providing as much information as possible, such as:
Category (There are far more than the eight in the Thrillist chart above.)
Address and phone
Photos, and lots of ‘em
Attributes: wifi, outdoor seating, parking, special diets, etc.
(Bubbakoo's Burritos, Manasquan, NJ)
As for which apps to get listed on, these include:
6. Create a Google Business profile
It's just as crucial to set up your restaurant's Google Business Profile as it is to have a Yelp account—possibly even more so. With this listing, you can show up in regular search results as well as the right-side Knowledge Panel, local search results, and Google Maps.
(Tuscany Restaurant and Bar, Brick, NJ)
But just putting up your profile is insufficient. If you want your Google Business Profile to show up in the Local 3-pack, rank better on Google Maps, and really get consumers from your listing, you must optimize it. As you can see, a Google listing includes a lot of data, such as:
Questions and responses (which you can fill out yourself!)
Reviews from other websites
Posts (also not shown)
It also entails maintaining the accuracy and timeliness of this information. Eaters like doing internet research; in fact, 89% of customers do it before visiting a restaurant. This is why it's crucial that your restaurant's information, such as its location, phone number, operating hours, current menu, etc., be available online and up to date. The better your internet information is, the more reliable and accurate it will be.
7. Have an attractive, useful online menu
Don't make customers squint to see your menu or search for it. Offer a menu that is of the highest caliber, is simple to read, and is accurate. Uncertain how? Some delivery services, such as those listed below, offer to publish your menu online for no charge. Another fantastic website that can assist you in making your menu appear slick and fashionable is Open Menu.
(The Shrimp Box, Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ)
However, you should make sure that your menu is available online since it is often the most sought-after piece of content by visitors to your website (along with hours, location, and contact info).
Most of your restaurant marketing techniques are pointless if your menu isn't decent and easily accessible to clients online. Nowadays, clients must have access to an online menu; else, they will go somewhere else. In relation to restaurant marketing techniques,
Restaurant promotion techniques
After laying the groundwork for your basic strategy, it's time to focus on the tactics that will help you draw customers to your restaurant and keep them coming back.
1. Request feedback
Online evaluations have absolute power, and consumers are often delighted to leave them. But the fact is, they still need some encouragement. This implies that requesting evaluations need to be a component of your restaurant's marketing plan.
Here are a few techniques:
Keep a creative, framed sign with a memorable link or QR code close to the mints.
On your website, menus, coupons, punch cards, and receipts include a request and a link.
Inquire about them directly
Sometimes ask in social media postings
(Beacon 70, Brick, NJ)
2. React to evaluations
The public's opinion of your business is influenced by whether and how you reply to your customer's feedback. Here is a few pieces of advice:
To demonstrate to future clients that you appreciate their opinions, respond to good evaluations.
Gratitude is due for both favorable and unfavorable consumer feedback.
Offer to take the resolution down after swiftly and publicly responding to unfavorable reviews nicely and professionally.
The thoughtfulness often touches reviewers and is franker in their criticism when they know the restaurant owner appreciates their feedback and is making a concerted effort to improve. I've seen this work in favor of numerous companies.
3. Distribute an email bulletin
The newsletter for your restaurant may have information about new menu items, upcoming events, promotions, client success stories, and more. Additionally, it need not be weekly. Users would likely enjoy clearing their inboxes if you only send them a newsletter once a month or so.
(Frankie's Bar and Grill, Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ)
4. Create a community on your Facebook company page
Businesses that are active on social media perform better, and in the cutthroat food market, neglecting social media means a certain failure. Making a Facebook page was previously covered above, but we didn't cover how to use it to promote your business. This is how you do it:
Since Facebook is a business directory, treat your page as a listing. Complete every field, solicit feedback and keep it current.
Post frequently: client pictures, news about forthcoming events, specials, changes to the hours, etc.
Communicate with your audience: Encourage debates, address comments, and return the favor.
Seasonally swap up your cover pictures.
Check out this collection of simple Facebook marketing suggestions for all kinds of businesses as well.
5. Loyalty initiatives
Through customer loyalty programs that reward repeat customers with free purchases or discounts, collaborating with internet applications encourages people to check out your business.
Popular food-related applications with built-in loyalty schemes include:
Punch cards might also be distributed if you want to go old school. Although they aren't nearly as impressive as applications, they demonstrate your appreciation for your client's business.
6. Local SEO
While Google may deduce a searcher's location based on their IP address and your location based on your online information, this does not guarantee that you will appear in local results for all relevant searches. To put it another way, you must do local SEO:
Get listed on the best local listing websites (this has previously been mentioned).
Add a Google Map to your Contact Us page showing your location.
Post regionally relevant stuff often.
Obtain opinions online (the number one ranking factor in local SEO)
Ensure your data is as consistent as possible across all your web resources. Google dislikes contradictions!
7. Invest in commercials
You may advertise your business for a fee on websites like Google and Facebook to reach a massive audience of potential customers. For assistance with including paid media in your restaurant marketing strategy:
To guarantee that only viewers in certain cities or within a given radius see your advertising, employ location targeting (eliminating non-relevant clicks, which can cost you big ad bucks).
To get the most out of Facebook, use these guidelines for restaurant Facebook ads.
By reading our guide to Google local advertising, ensure your account is optimized for the maximum ROI.
Have a PPC strategy for mobile.
Mobile advertising often costs less than desktop advertising and has outstanding conversion rates. The most remarkable thing about Google Ads is that you can customize and target your ads for mobile devices in various ways to maximize your bids' effectiveness. For instance, you may up your bids around dinnertime, when customers often use their smartphones for hunting for quick food. Increasing your bids around dinnertime improves your chances of appearing for a certain inquiry. This implies that when pie-hungry individuals search for "pizza," you can be the first advertisement to appear. If you're a restaurant marketer, don't pass up the opportunity to get a deep-dish portion of the mobile ad pie.
(Charlies of Bay Head, Bay Head, NJ)
8. Create a blog
Creating your own blog is a fantastic method to engage your audience and foster community. The opportunity to experiment with your restaurant's voice and individuality is provided through blogs. Share your achievements and setbacks, amusing anecdotes, recipes, and anything else your clients would find interesting.
A blog doesn't have to be a significant undertaking, but it may be. Your blog may be as simple or sophisticated as you wish. Although you don't have to write often (quality over quantity), it's a good idea to have your restaurant blog set up for when you want to share information with the public. More blogging advice may be found here if you're serious about conquering the world.
9. Techniques for offline marketing
Don't neglect the actual world while developing your restaurant marketing strategy! These strategies still work, particularly if you own a neighborhood restaurant.
Cards, menus, and care packages
Local TV, radio, and newspapers
(Shore Pour, Sea Girt, NJ)
Ideas for promoting restaurants
Let's expand on these tactics with some simple but innovative restaurant marketing concepts.
10. Images of food
If you've ever used Instagram, you'll know that food porn is still very much a thing.
In my opinion, the best way to advertise your restaurant online is with drool-worthy photos of your food. These days, visual content is highly sought after online, so it's imperative to draw hungry eyes to your website and other social media platforms by posting mouthwatering images.
(Molly Pitcher Inn, Red Bank, NJ)
Warning: It can be harder than it seems to take truly outstanding food photos because the lighting is frequently a crucial element. Think about hiring a professional to take some excellent pictures or go the do-it-yourself route with your smartphone.
11. Provide discounts and coupons
A solid strategy to get consumers into your business is to provide coupons and discounts. Give your newest email newsletter subscribers a complimentary meal.
You could also try offering a discount through Groupon or Living Social. If you choose that route, you'll get a TON of exposure, but you'll also have to give the deal website a sizeable cut of your sales, so keep that in mind.
12. Express your opinions
The amount and caliber of reviews influence not just where you appear in search results and whether users click on your result, but they also provide valuable marketing information. Share them on social media, sync them to show on your website, and even add menu items based on customer ratings of certain foods.
13. Promote your restaurant on Instagram
Use this social media main stage as a location to tinker with your brand identity while showcasing your shop and up-close views of your best foods. For instance, a natural health food shop may try taking pictures of individuals kayaking, cooking, gardening, or engaging in other activities they believe their audience would find interesting.
(Klein's Fish Market, Belmar, NJ)
Have fun with hashtags as well. Whether you adopt popular Twitter hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday or create your own, hashtags are a fantastic way to interact with fans.
For individuals who work in the food industry, Instagram is a no-brainer.
14. Outreach to food bloggers
Being a new restaurant, you can find it challenging to build buzz and reviews for your establishment. Inviting food bloggers to test out your restaurant is a terrific method to acquire reviews and publicity online. You may even think about providing them with a complimentary dinner or appetizer to entice them there. Request politely that they leave a review of your restaurant and describe their experience there.
It's okay to request an unbiased restaurant review since asking for a good review openly would be dishonest. Although some bloggers could turn down your offer, the more requests you make, the higher your chances are of receiving some favorable responses and gaining more internet attention.
Getting the attention of popular food bloggers may have a significant impact on your business. Restaurant marketing efforts may benefit greatly from even one article or remark from a well-known gourmet.
15. Highlight your employees
The human element is severely lacking in a time when automated customer service agents and soon-to-be self-driving cars are commonplace. Show off your 5-star workers doing their finest work! Your reputation is greatly enhanced by seeing contented, smiling personnel since clients want to work with happy people.
(Coffee Corral, Red Bank, NJ)
Showing off your friendly staff earns you major reputation points as well; satisfied employees speak highly of a company, and customers will notice.
16. Convey uplifting press
Another crucial piece of restaurant marketing advice: whenever your business is mentioned in a newspaper or magazine, be sure to brag about it on your website and on social media. When newcomers see reputable sources praising your restaurant, they will be inspired to pay you a visit, and fans will help spread the word.
17. Social media competitions
Have an interesting reward in your giveaways on Facebook and Instagram. Offer something particular instead of a generic gift card, such as complimentary sides, an additional pizza, supper for two, swag, free delivery for a month, and more. Encourage users to enter by talking about, tagging, and/or utilizing your Instagram hashtag. This is a fantastic approach to grow your fan base and attract local customers. Find more advice on local social media marketing here.
18. Obtain ingredients locally
Customers love to hear that they are dining locally, therefore, purchasing food locally from the area will help you grow your clientele and develop a solid name in the neighborhood. The choice should be seriously considered if it is not too expensive.
(12 Farms, Hightstown, NJ)
19. Collaborate with delivery companies
The key to success in today's online-driven world is usability. The ordering procedure is streamlined by several online delivery services, which internet-savvy customers often appreciate using.
Take into account collaborating with offerings like:
Some clients may find you for the first time through services like this!
20. Quiz nights
Restaurants usually enjoy hosting trivia evenings on a weekly or monthly basis. To get the word out, give the winners fantastic prizes and terrific background music, and advertise it on social media and in your emails.
21. Free business cards in a fishbowl
Customers may place their business cards in a bowl to be included in a raffle. The prize may be whatever you want it to be—a lunch for the winner and ten guests, a two-hour happy hour with cheap beverages, etc.
These raffles are entertaining, but you can also utilize those business cards by contacting clients. Let them know that even though they didn't win this time, they can sign up for your newsletter to receive notifications of future entry opportunities and learn about discounts and other appealing offers. Then, presto, you have a large number of really valuable new newsletter subscribers.
22. Beginning a food truck
Starting a food truck is a huge undertaking and depending on the kind of vehicle you choose to purchase, it may be rather expensive. Starting a food truck, however, gives youopportunity to serve your cuisine to people you would not often interact with. You may significantly widen your audience, generate extra publicity, and win new followers who could like you so much that they frequent your physical store as well.
(Tacoholics Food Truck, Brick, NJ)
23. Use your imagination when using holidays
Restaurants can participate in dozens of awareness campaigns and observance days every month of the year. To name a, here are a few:
The list keeps going. And on. And on. National Days for Corn Chips, Glazed Spiral Ham, and Chicken Tetrazzini are all in play here. With these, you can have a field day.
Last hints for restaurant marketing
We'll leave you with a few last pointers that can help you save time, keep your reputation intact, and maximize every dollar, and second, you spend promoting your restaurant.
24. Amplify user-generated content
User-generated content, or UGC, is a fantastic way to build a close-knit relationship with users. By asking patrons to submit a photo of their favorite dish from your restaurant, you can host a photo contest. You can then post the entries on a page just for that purpose (or distribute them among your various social networks). Think about giving some fortunate competitors a free appetizer or another reward at random!
(Surf Taco, Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ)
By hosting and promoting user-generated material, you may convert casual visitors into ardent fans by demonstrating your appreciation for them.
25. Utilize reservation tools online
Consider joining Open Table as a potential fine dining restaurant marketing strategy. With the help of Open Table, consumers can make reservations for your restaurant online! Customers appreciate it when you make their lives a little easier, and Open Table already has a base of devoted patrons you can draw from.
26. Plan out those Tweets
Twitter can be a real asset for restaurants, and the timing of your tweets can have a significant impact on people's appetites. To specifically target the breakfast, lunch, or dinner crowds, try creating and scheduling tweets at various times of the day.
(Martell's Tiki Bar, Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ)
27. Keep an eye on your online reputation
One of the most crucial things to understand about restaurant marketing is that even if you don't have a listing on a particular website, customers can still leave reviews and talk about you there. As part of managing your reputation, you can:
Search for yourself often to find any automatically generated listings that need to be claimed so you may edit their content.
Set up Google Alerts to send you an email whenever your company name (or another chosen keyword phrase) appears in fresh online material.
To remain on top of posts, mentions, and direct messages, invest in premium social media management tools like Hootsuite or Buffer.
Summary of restaurant marketing strategies:
The following are the steps for marketing a restaurant:
1. Develop the brand identity for your restaurant.
2. Launch a website
3. Create a mission statement.
4. Set up your social media.
5. List your restaurant on apps
6. Create a Google Business profile.
7. Have a stylish, helpful online menu
The following are the top restaurant marketing suggestions and techniques:
React to evaluations
Send a newsletter via email
Create a community on your Facebook business page.
Invest in commercials.
Create a blog.
Techniques for offline marketing
Offer discounts and coupons
Share your evaluations
Be an Instagram ham
Blogger outreach for food
Display your employees
Share uplifting news
Social media contests
Collaboration with delivery services
Free business cards in a fishbowl
Beginning a food truck
Use your imagination while using holidays
Last hints for restaurant marketing
Amplify user-generated content and online booking resources
Plan out those Tweets.
Monitoring your online reputation
That concludes our marketing advice for restaurants. I hope you can utilize these restaurant marketing suggestions!
Salty Red Dog Marketing, LLC is a marketing agency in Red Bank, NJ, Westport, CT, and everywhere in between. We service businesses with marketing strategies, digital marketing, social media, and consultations.
Phone: NJ: (732) 783-4822 // CT: (203) 429-9671