Restaurants create an atmosphere and sell delicious foods and drinks. It’s these aspects of a restaurant that bring in customers, right? Sometimes. Excellent restaurants, especially those that aren’t corporate, fail all of the time. These 3 restaurant marketing tips will help you establish local authority and attract loyal clientele.
Marketing for Restaurants
Every year, corporate restaurants spend anywhere from 16% to 50% of their revenue on marketing.
As a consumer, these are the restaurants you’re seeing on billboards and hearing about on the radio – the corporate giants with millions of dollars to spend.
As a restaurant owner, especially if you’ve just started, thinking about allocating money for a marketing budget probably isn’t on your radar. This is a detrimental mistake. How will customers learn about you if you aren’t setting your business up for success?
You could have a beautiful restaurant with the best food, but if you have no customers, you’ll fail.
Restaurant Marketing, The Smart Way
If you’re a young restaurant, survival requires a marketing strategy. The good news is, restaurant marketing doesn’t have to be expensive – it just needs to be clever.
Our experts suggest focusing on a few key areas. These insider tips for restaurant marketing will get customers in your door. Then, it’s up to you to impress them.
Tip #1: Utilize Local SEO
For restaurants, adopting an aggressive local SEO strategy is an investment that pays off. Think about it – when someone does a “… near me” search into Google, do you want your restaurant to show on the map?
Of course you do.
By implementing local SEO strategies, images of your fun cocktails, smiling staff, and beautifully plated dishes will also pop up. Customers can also find links to your website, phone number, and directions to your restaurant all in one place.
All new restaurants should be setting up, verifying, and maintaining their Google My Business page. This restaurant marketing strategy will help you not only in the early days but also as you grow.
Tip #2: Generate PR (Press & Local Influencers)
Building relationships with the press and prominent influencers in your local area is an effective restaurant marketing tactic.
Are you a new restaurant doing a soft opening?
Are you releasing a new menu or presenting a new theme?
Invite the press.
Contact reporters who write about food or drinks and give them a VIP pass. Ask them to share their experience either in an article or through their personal social media channels.
Don’t forget influencers. Head to Instagram and search through local blogger hashtags. For example, if you’re in Denver, search #DenverFoodBlog or #DenverBlogger. Reach out to the brands and individuals who have followings (between 250 – 10,000) people, and invite them to the event. In exchange for VIP treatment, ask them to highlight their experience at your restaurant.
Tip #3: Reward Loyalty
It’s the customers who return again and again that support your restaurant. This support isn’t just financial – it’s also through word-of-mouth, leaving reviews online, and contributing to the culture of the restaurant.
Restaurant owners: you can do this on SO MANY levels. It doesn’t have to be with huge price cuts, either. Consider a few of these easy to implement but effective loyalty rewards.
Create a restaurant passport
Select 10 menu items (with great margins). Be sure to pick from all sections of your menu, minus drinks. On each visit, only 1 item on the passport may be stamped. Once the passport is full, the customer receives their choice of a signature cocktail and dessert from a list that you create exclusively for this elite and loyal customer.
This gets consumers coming in multiple times before receiving anything! Additionally, alongside these menu items, patrons often order multiple soft drinks or alcoholic ones. This program requires little effort and minimal costs.
Extended Happy Hour w/Keychain “Membership”
Sell a branded keychain (of your logo) for $10. This gives the keychain owner access to extended happy hour pricing for an additional hour.
Not only do you pay for the keychain upfront, but you’ll have customers coming in again and again for happy hour.
Remember, the extended deal only covers the owner of the membership keychain, not the whole table. Everyone will want the deal, so expect to have tables of friends purchasing keychains.
Host a Mixer or Gratitude Event
Invite those on your email list, passport participants, keychain owners, and friends to a customer gratitude event.
For a flat fee, patrons can enter the event, receive a certain number of free drinks, and discounts on food and restaurant merch. Additionally, you can hold raffles and giveaways to incentivize client loyalty further.
Grow Your Restaurant with Purposeful Marketing
Effective revenue-generating restaurant marketing doesn’t require a huge budget. Instead, focus your efforts on local SEO, PR opportunities, and customer loyalty, especially if you’re a new or young restaurant.
If you need help developing a strong, sustainable, and targeted marketing plan for your restaurant, reach out to us. We’re happy to help bring your vision and restaurant to life!