Starting up a business can be an enormous task.
Especially when it comes to the restaurant industry. In many towns, local restaurant owners will have dozens of other businesses to compete with. Which makes standing out among local customers a top priority.
But how do you make your business shine above all the rest? How do you bring in crowds of new customers to sample your menu? How do you stay top of mind with your guests? The answer is simple: with a solid restaurant marketing strategy.
A robust marketing plan will help you identify and connect with your target market. It will also help draw in more customers, and encourage repeat business. But of course, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all plan. Instead, you’ll need to incorporate various effective restaurant marketing strategies to appeal to diverse communities.
The best restaurant marketing strategies include direct mail and email marketing, social media, running specials, and organizing events. The possibilities don’t end there, though. The following restaurant marketing guide offers fifteen excellent restaurant marketing ideas to help set your business above the rest.
What We’ll Cover
- Tip One: Branding
- Tip Two: Restaurants Postcards Advertising
- Tip Three: Social Media Marketing
- Tip Four: Direct Mail and Email Marketing
- Tip Five: Website SEO
- Tip Six: Restaurant Brochures
- Tip Seven: Restaurant Flyers
- Tip Eight: Use a Lead Gen Workflow
- Tip Nine: Retarget Cold Leads
- Tip Ten: Organize Events
- Tip Eleven: Google Ads
- Tip Twelve: Google My Business Profile
- Tip Thirteen: Review Sites
- Tip Fourteen: Discount and Voucher Sites
- Tip Fifteen: Influencer Marketing
Tip One: Branding
When it comes to marketing for restaurants, your branding should be a top priority. It’s not enough for new and repeat customers to know your restaurant exists. They need to recognize your restaurant brand wherever they are. In other words, you need to develop brand recognition as part of your restaurant marketing efforts. Brands often invoke emotion and bring back dear memories. This is a powerful marketing vehicle.
Branding comes in the form of your logo, menu language, customer interactions, and social presence, among others. If you’re handy with graphic design programs, you can develop your own eye-catching logo and promotional materials yourself. But, outsourcing the task will likely be your best choice to ensure it meets the expectations of your target market.
Your logo should appear on everything your restaurant’s name touches. From the sign at your door to your social media accounts. So as you read through each of the following restaurant marketing ideas, keep your brand identity in mind. Doing so will help you understand how you can use each tip to foster a sense of familiarity with your business.
Tip Two: Restaurants Postcards Advertising
For small businesses, a tactile experience can attract customers who ignore, delete, or don’t see your online marketing communications. Digital marketing has become a cold topic with countless lost inboxes under avalanches of unsolicited emails and poorly targeted social ads.
This is where offline restaurant marketing campaigns come in. Mailed content that provides the same information as your emails and social media posts effectively communicates with locals about time-sensitive information like holiday specials or upcoming events. The restaurant can create unique promotional coupons that ship to guests’ doors automatically on a pre-defined trigger, like a birthday or anniversary.
Physical mail also offers the advantage of visual appeal. When a user is scrolling online, often, images and graphics start to blend together. So a bright and shiny postcard will stand out among the white and beige envelopes that tend to fill mailboxes.
Postalytics can help you seamlessly create and ship postcards that advertise new menu items, specials, community events, or upcoming holiday promotions. What’s best is that you can automate your campaigns just like you would an email. This means you won’t have to remember when it’s time to send. And you can focus on analyzing marketing performance in a quest of finding the next big thing.
Tip Three: Social Media Marketing
Social media can be a vast, unpredictable, and intimidating place. Especially for those unfamiliar with how the various platforms function. But, the best way to reach your customers online is via social media marketing. Not only is social media a great place to build your restaurant’s online reputation. But it’s also a great place to cultivate customer engagement.
From TikTok to Yelp, millions of people are on social media daily talking about food. As of December 2021, there were more than 244 million user reviews on Yelp alone. These platforms give you an excellent opportunity to interact with your customers. You can gain feedback and market new products or services.
Food-related hashtags, a restaurant blog, eye-catching graphics, and witty posts are some of the best ways to market your restaurant online. Your social media audience is also an excellent place to share positive reviews from loyal customers. And advertise specials to cultivate new business.
You can link social media marketing to local SEO by incorporating Yelp and Google reviews directly on your business’ website. You could also directly connect your social media accounts to your website. Allowing your website to update in real-time when you share new content.
Tip Four: Direct Mail and Email Marketing
Did you know that 78% of marketing professionals have seen an increase in email marketing engagement since 2018? Or that many people check their email twenty times per day? Email marketing is a resource that all businesses would do well to tap into to bring in and retain customers.
Email marketing is an effective and relatively inexpensive way to reach swaths of customers instantly. The benefit to this form of digital marketing is that the recipients will have previously interacted with your business. Which means they’ll already recognize your brand.
But what goes into an effective email marketing campaign? It’s not as simple as sending an email with your information. Instead, you need to craft communication that encourages engagement. You want the recipient to click a link, head to your site, or place an order.
Email marketing works best when paired with direct mail marketing. It works even better when the entire process is automated, weeding out any potential for human error. Fresh City catering has taken this to a whole new level with direct mail automation tools on the Postalytics platform.
They use direct mail to target email non-responders with great success. From the CEO, Pete Minch himself, “Postalytics is a foolproof way to reach our clients that don’t respond to email. It has changed the way we drive online orders.”
Tip Five: Website SEO
Search engine optimization is a critical factor in ranking your business page high in SERP results. Many SEO best practices might come naturally to you. While others genuinely take time and effort to perfect. Fortunately, there are many ways to insert yourself into a high-ranking search result position to generate more website visitors.
An important first step in your restaurant marketing plan is to establish your restaurant online as a local business. This involves adding local SEO features to your website, including maps and online reviews, that will draw users to your site. Ranking among the big chain restaurants with standard SEO is nice. But as a small business, local SEO will get you much further.
Besides boosting your website’s local SEO, you’ll want to ingrain yourself directly in Google, too. To do that, you’ll need to claim your Google My Business account. And regularly interact with existing customers online. You’ll read a bit more about each of those tactics below.
Besides standard website SEO, make sure any backlinks to your site are uniform across the web. This includes profiles on business sites such as Yelp, LinkedIn, or social media pages that provide contact and website information about your restaurant.
Tip Six: Restaurant Brochures
One thing you might find lacking with postcards is the ability to share detailed information about your restaurant. A simple solution is to create brochures that share your menu, coupons, and other information with potential customers.
Although many people currently seek out an online menu when they want to find a new restaurant or order takeout, many homes still have a standard drawer full of paper menus. That’s where they go when it’s time to pick a place to order takeout for the night. You want your brochure to stand out among the rest when a customer pulls out that pile of paper.
Postalytics can help you design and send brochures that provide your customers with everything they need to know about your restaurant, and then some. You’ll be able to share information about how to book a table, when you launch a new item, and, most importantly, the delicious food included on your menu.
Tip Seven: Restaurant Flyers
Flyers are an excellent choice when you want to get the word about your business out quickly. You can stuff them in mailboxes, hand them out to passersby, or give them out at events. Of course, the easiest means of distributing them is via mail.
Flyers that share time-sensitive promotional information are a common sight on refrigerator doors. When you use vibrant designs for your flyers like those offered by Postalytics, you’re guaranteed to land a spot on that coveted piece of kitchen real estate.
Are you unsure how to create the best direct mail marketing campaign using flyers? Postalytics has easy-to-use templates that let you create flyers with a few clicks. Then, all you’ll have to do is set them up as part of your direct mail campaign\. And you’ll be all set to reach potential customers easily.
Tip Eight: Use a Lead Gen Workflow
Another critical component of effective restaurant marketing campaigns is consistent lead generation. No matter how many high-quality marketing strategies you have, you must know how to wield them effectively to gain a potential customer’s attention.
A lead generation workflow guide will help you outline how you plan to use and benefit from a particular marketing strategy. It will also help you visualize how you plan to generate leads. Or gain new customers via organic and inorganic reach.
There are seven steps to a lead generation workflow:
- Lead acquisition
- Lead nurturing
- Marketing lead qualification
- Sales transfer
- Sales lead qualification
- Customer retention
This might look complex, so here’s a quick sum-up.
Your initial goal when you create a restaurant marketing plan should be to gain conversions as you attract customers. You’ll do this in the form of weblinks, promotions in email and direct mail campaigns, or online interactions. Once they land in your physical or virtual space, they’re officially a lead.
Once a customer interacts with your content, the next goal in the lead generation workflow is to close the deal. You’ve led them to your website or information source. Now, you want them to place an order or redeem an offer. Before that happens, you’ll also want to make sure they’re in the right place.
A qualified lead is a potential customer who has a genuine interest in a restaurant like yours. And has the means to spend time or money there. Once you’ve confirmed the lead is qualified, you can work to turn that interest into a sale.
Tip Nine: Retarget Cold Leads
Using a lead generation workflow as part of your restaurant marketing strategy can help you map out how you’ll find and keep leads. But, sometimes, those leads go cold. Maybe someone signed up for your newsletter but never interacted with your content. When that happens, it’s the perfect time to retarget cold leads.
When your email or online leads have gone cold, you’ll want to take a multi-pronged approach to retarget old leads. This includes a mix of physical and digital contact over a few weeks to cultivate renewed interest in your restaurant.
Postalytics’ retargeting campaign includes five weeks’ worth of communications to retarget cold leads. Your campaign will start out with a direct mail special offer, such as a coupon for a future visit. Then, your customer will get follow-up emails, a postcard offer, and a final response request.
The final response request will give the customer one last chance to engage with your content before opting out. Often, this could be the point where they remember they’ve been meaning to pay a visit. And will choose to remain on your list.
Tip Ten: Organize Events
Many communities have events such as festivals or parades that include local vendors. These local community events are perfect opportunities for a restaurant owner to put a restaurant marketing plan to work. They also allow you to try out new things with local customers, such as a food truck or a new loyalty card.
But, you’ll need to let potential and existing customers know about your presence at the event. The best way to do this is through a broad marketing plan that includes on and offline marketing campaigns. You could consider an email and mail campaign leading up to the event coupled with a social media blast. These campaigns help to guarantee your event information ends up in the right hands.
Effective mail marketing campaigns will deliver everything your customers need to know right in their mailboxes. Using the Postalytics events marketing guide, you can set up an automated campaign that sends letters, postcards, and emails that share time and date information. And a taste of what your restaurant customers will experience when they arrive.
Tip Eleven: Google Ads
Mobile and web advertising are a crucial part of any restaurant marketing strategy. Many social media platforms offer targeted advertising. But, using Google Ads is one of the best ways to target customers and customize ad experiences to suit them.
Google has a full suite of tools to help you create compelling ads using comprehensive customer data. With Google’s cache of user data, you can target customers based on location, search history, and time of day.
A successful Google Ad campaign can bring in a lot of new business. But, they’re also one of the more complex restaurant marketing strategies you can use. Take time to study your customer base and market to understand how to target your ads and stretch your marketing budget.
Effective online advertising requires a fair amount of market research. So be prepared to put in some legwork to get the most out of your advertising dollars. But with a proper understanding of your target market, you’ll know exactly when and where to aim your Google Ads to reach the right people.
Tip Twelve: Google My Business Profile
A popular resource for people looking to grab a bite locally is a food review site. But, Google search results are equally, if not more, effective at drawing new customers to your restaurant. Making Google one of the key marketing channels to tap into. That’s why it’s so essential that you claim your business on Google and complete your Google Business Profile.
Your Google Business profile will show up when someone does a Google search for your type of restaurant in a search engine. The information and reviews attached to your profile will appear when a user looks at a map of restaurants in the area and the Knowledge Panel at the top or side of Google search results.
Some of the key components of your Google Business Profile include:
- Star rating
- Popular times
- User-generated content
- Business generated information
- Social media posts
The Knowledge Panel will also tell customers a plethora of information. This is information like whether you take online reservations if you offer online food delivery services, and what the best time of day to visit is.
When you complete your Google Business Profile, you have to commit to updating it regularly. You can share updates when you run promotions, add new social media accounts, and check in on user reviews to view positive and negative reviews customers have shared.
Another important tool you can use in your Google Business Profile is the “People also search for” section that appears at the bottom of your Knowledge Panel. This section shows you similar local restaurants that people are searching for. Which can help inform new restaurant marketing ideas for your own business.
Tip Thirteen: Review Sites
The best advertisement for any business is word of mouth. In fact, 83% of marketing professionals incorporate word-of-mouth advertising into their marketing strategies. Because it’s proven effective at increasing brand awareness. So it shouldn’t be a shock that the number of Yelp stars on your restaurant’s page could affect your sales quite a bit.
Review websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zagat, and OpenTable are the perfect place for unsolicited opinions to help your restaurant flourish. Customers tend to view one another as more trustworthy than advertisements when it comes to things like quality, wait times, and service. Which makes reviews a critical tool for building your brand.
A common way for restaurant owners to use review websites is by wielding the power of interaction. As you track your customers’ reviews, note what they’re saying and reply with a quick “thank you” as often as possible. This interaction will allow a few things mutually-beneficial things to happen:
- Your customers will feel heard
- You’ll gain valuable, actionable feedback
- You’ll gain brand awareness
Promoting your restaurant through reviews will let customers see who you are, how you feel about the local community, and that your goal is to make your customers happy.
Tip Fourteen: Discount and Voucher Sites
Coupons, vouchers, and a loyalty program are simple ways to attract new customers, foster customer loyalty, and dip into new markets. Specifically, sites like LivingSocial, Slice, Groupon, and food apps such as DoorDash and GrubHub are valuable tools for promoting your business.
The main thing to remember about many promotions is that you’ll have to pay for them. So, as with any form of paid advertising, you’ll have to figure out what percentage of your marketing budget can go toward discount and voucher fees or the cost of a free meal.
But, using these sites, which are popular nationwide, will give you a lot of exposure. They provide the perfect opportunity to increase out-of-town traffic to your business. This is especially beneficial if your main clientele consists of foot traffic.
Tip Fifteen: Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing, in which social media influencers promote a product or service to flourish, has become a wildly popular form of marketing. This type of user-generated content is compelling because it comes from what nearly 50% of consumers see as a reputable source.
Influencers use various social media platforms to promote their content. Some might have a basic Facebook page. But the big fish tend to be on Instagram and TikTok sharing full-color videos and images of their new favorites.
TikTok and Instagram influencers often have hundreds of thousands of followers. As a local restaurant, you can also set your sights on some local food bloggers or food critics who wield influence on social media.
The best way to connect with influencers is by simply reaching out. Send a direct message or email and tell them what your business is about and why you think they’ll like it. When you promote user-generated content from trusted sources, your online reputation will see a boost in the eyes of your restaurant customers.
Choosing the right restaurant marketing strategies can be tricky. Especially if you’re new to the marketing game. But, as daunting as navigating marketing channels might seem, you’ll be surprised at how effective specific marketing strategies can be once you get the hang of it.
Hopefully, this guide will give you a clearer picture of what to expect as you embark on your restaurant marketing journey. Using the tips here will ensure your marketing efforts or dollars aren’t wasted. But, most importantly, they’ll help your restaurant flourish in ways it never has.