Running a restaurant is a big job, and that is before you even think of your marketing. But if you embrace the uniqueness of your restaurant, your marketing job is half done. Here are our top tips for unique restaurant marketing ideas.
Engagement, engagement, engagement
Restaurants are such a unique business, in that most people visit a restaurant at least a few times a month, but there are SO many options out there for them. How do you break through the clutter?
According to a report by Rasmussen, at least 58 percent of people visit a restaurant at least once a week.
That offers a lot of opportunity, but you will first need to make your local audience aware you exist. Facebook’s algorithm only shows wha it believes are relevant posts to audiences, which means that even if they “like” your Facebook page, they may still never see your posts.
One of the ways you can get around this is by encouraging an engaged audience. Facebook, and other social networks, believe that if people are engaging with your brand, you must be worthy to show to more people.
There are a number of ways to increase engagement. Some types of posts include:
- Posts that cause discussion or ask a question
- Giveaways where people have to sign up
Photos of Your Restaurant
The restaurant industry may be the most image-friendly industry in the world. You are proud of your food and you should show this off. Take photos of your food, your drinks, your building, your staff, your guests (with their permission), and show off the general environment of your restaurant.
People these days want to see exactly what to expect before they ever enter an establishment.
Use this to your advantage and show off all the beautiful shots of what you do. These do not have to be professionally done — cell phone photos work well in many cases, and also show how genuine you are as a restaurant owner or marketer.
Embrace Social Media Advertising
The dark side of social media is that many social platforms expect you to invest some money into your account in order to show your posts to the most people. The thing that makes this acceptable is that it really does not have to be expensive and can put you lightyears ahead of your competition.
You should be using a combination of boosting posts and creating ads, and these can include everything you have going on, including:
- Upcoming events
- Current menu
- Personal updates
Here is a great example of a company using photos as well as an offer to increase awareness and page clicks:
Staying in front of your guests and potential guests will keep you top-of-mind so the next time they are looking for a restaurant, they think of you.
Focus on Your Local SEO
Every restaurant is local. Even if you are a franchise of a large company, you are still serving only the local area, or people visiting your local area.
Because of this, local SEO should be one of your top marketing focuses. Optimizing your local SEO means when someone is in your local area and searches for you, you should be coming up first in all aspects of search engines (this includes Google search, Google Maps, and in the Google My Business listing on the homepage of Google. If you have video product, you should also be coming up in YouTube.
Email marketing should be an important piece of your restaurant marketing strategy, because it can keep people coming back to your restaurant.
You should be setting up sequence emails that go out every so often after someone signs up, or you can just send out emails on a regular basis when you have news. Some of the goals with email marketing include:
- Staying top-of-mind for guests and potential guests
- Sending out new specials or menu items
- Sharing personal news about you or your staff, creating more of a personal touch to your brand
- Sending monthly specials to encourage guests to visit
But to do this, you first need to grow your restaurant email list. There are so many cool things you can do to increase your subscriber list.
Restaurant Loyalty Program
While many businesses can not do loyalty programs, because it’s just not normal in their industry, people expect a loyalty program at restaurants.
To come up with your loyalty program, you should be offering some value. Some options to get people to sign up:
- A percentage or amount off their next visit
- A percentage off an item at every visit (for instance, $1 off domestic beer or well drinks)
- Kids eat free
- Buy one, get one free at the next visit
- The chance to win a one-time or monthly prize
A lot of people expect Wi-Fi at many places they visit these days, which is something you should benefit from. You can set up an opt-in when people sign up to log in to your Wi-Fi.
These are great guests because they are already at your restaurant, so you know they are willing to come to your restaurant. Keep them intrigued by sending emails encouraging them to return.
Blogging is such an important marketing tool for restaurants for so many reasons.
One thing you may not realize is that it is one of the best ways to increase your SEO value to search engines.
Continually adding content that is relevant to your brand will help Google, Bing, and other search engines know exactly what you are about and why they should show your page to others.
Blogging also helps your audience learn more about you. You can offer specials, news about your restaurant or your staff, and once again: photos, photos, photos. Blogging is a great option for giving you content to post on social media that will help your social media followers continually learn new things about your restaurant and again, stay top-of-mind.
Although a lot of our marketing tips are done online, one of the tactics we have had a lot of success with is in-restaurant programs. Promotions we have had success with include:
- Bring your team after your next game: $xx for 5 pizzas and 5 pitchers of soda
- Happy Hour all day during NFL game days
- Fundraisers: We will donate 20% to your organization on certain nights
While you will need to combine these types of deals with marketing to make guests aware of them, anything out of the ordinary makes people pay attention and will help get them in your restaurant.