Top 15 Essential Restaurant Marketing Strategies

The restaurant biz is one of the most difficult and fickle industries at which to try your hand. Luckily you have access right here and now to Nuzunet Media’s extensive marketing experience and we’re going to break down all the “do’s” of a successful marketing campaign for your restaurant. 

#1. Create a strong social media presence

So much of today’s world is done in social media. Instagram and Facebook reach millions of people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Non-stop social media access is a priceless way to reach your customer base through Branding and visuals are a huge element of restaurant marketing and this is easily promoted in the social media stream. Creating a Facebook Business page is essential as an advertising channel. It enables your customers to provide their feedback and give their own experiences to others from an authentic platform. 

Instagram is a huge draw because of the visual appeal of food. A picture is worth a thousand words is a saying for a reason! Use images of your specialties, events, and the restaurant itself as a way to draw in new diners. The interactive component of Instagram encourages customers to post about their dining experience.

#2. Approach local food bloggers 

Another way of staying current in the social media scene is to reach out to local food bloggers or influencers to experience and review your restaurant. The first and crucial step in this process is to research the blogger and ensure they have a strong following, a good reputation, and are established. Reviewing their social media pages and website to see number and types of articles is a good start. While you’re there, it’s good to assess if their platform and audience match yours. If their specialty is French fine dining and you have a Mexican cafe, that may not be the best match for you. Pick someone who has a strong following and invite them a unique and delectable dining experience. 

#3. Reviews, reviews, reviews

The number one element of success in the restaurant business is reviews. Almost every diner peruses reviews when choosing a spot to eat. Leaving online reviews at spots like Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. is something you can definitely ask of your customers. The good news (and the bad news) is that people tend to leave reviews when their experience was either phenomenal or horrific. Negative or lack of reviews can truly sink a restaurant, while good reviews can propel you into solid, lasting success. The great part is that you have the opportunity to respond to negative reviews in a professional manner, attempting to resolve their complaints. This may simply result in a more satisfied customer but it also has the potential of creating a loyal customer. It may take some work to turn their view around but it is well worth the effort.

Be assertive with your customers and ask for reviews and likes/follows on social media. Being followed on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc is incredibly important and those repeat customers will be more than willing to spread the word about their favorite dining spot.

#4. Reach out via email or text

A really successful way to reach your client base is an email list. Emailing your newsletters, events, promotions, and specials is an efficient way to keep them curious and coming back for more. Another fantastic method to connect with your customers is text flashes detailing specials and events to get them coming in your door.

#5. Foursquare

If you’re not familiar with Foursquare, investigate! It is a worthy marketing platform for restaurants, where diners can get free deals connected to the restaurant they’re currently visiting. Repeat visits where they’ve checked in to Foursquare earn them more deals and “badges.” 

#6. Establish a customer loyalty program

Part of the reason Foursquare works so well is that repeat visits are encouraged through free incentives. You can create this same incentive yourself with a loyalty program in which you provide exclusive deals for your loyalty program members. Promote your program through social media, your e-newsletters, and information in the restaurant itself. Making your loyal customers feel appreciated and special can go a long way!

#7. Give prizes!

You’ve already implemented a loyalty program for your “usuals,” but what about reaching those one time customers and turning them into loyal visitors to your restaurant? Or drawing in brand new diners? Running contests on social media is a surefire method to make this happen. Providing customers a fun way to interact and win prizes draws in everyone! 

#8. Connect with your local media

While the social media platform is necessary, another huge promotion element is traditional media. People like to support local businesses and connecting with the local media is another way to get your name out there. Reaching the few people who don’t have social media can also be accomplished this way. Getting a blurb about your restaurant in the newspaper, a local magazine, or on the news is always a go-to marketing strategy.

#9. Local SEO

Besides staying current with the local media, local SEO is imperative. You need to be found online and the main way to do this is through SEO. While it may seem like a steep initial investment, it is a key component to sustainability and success in the restaurant industry.

#10. Google My Business page

People need to be able to find you. Without a Google Business page, you will not show up or rank in Google Maps and you will have no reviews on Google.

#11. Stay current

Arm yourself with knowledge. A key component to staying current and successful is to know all the trends and statistics of the restaurant industry around you. Knowing what marketing techniques are currently reaching customers, what locations are thriving, trending restaurant styles (and so much more) provides you with invaluable information to guide your forward progress. Then reassess your marketing plan based on what you’ve learned.

#12. Have a functional website

One of the most crucial components of success for your restaurant is a strong website. Your site needs to be comprehensive: visually appealing and easy to use. 

Key components of a successful restaurant website:

-Menu: an entire page dedicated to the Menu is important (See #14). 

-Location, hours, and contact information. An address and map are must-haves. Also a phone number, or better yet, a “Call” button customers can push to call immediately.

-Reservation information. Your customers need to know if you take reservations and if you do, how to make that reservation. A direct link to OpenTable, Yelp, or a “Call” button are all great methods to make it easy for your diner to make a reservation.

-Online ordering system. (See #13.)

You can design a functional and appealing website easily with Nuzunet Marketing or use one of our templates which give you greater control and access. In any case, having a seamless and easy to use website is one of the greatest marketing tools you can utilize.

#13. Use an online reservation tool

There are several solid sites to allow your customers 24-7 access to your reservation availability. OpenTable or Yelp are some of the most user friendly and the majority of people would rather go this route than have to wait for business hours to call and possibly lengthy wait times to make a reservation.

#14. Design an excellent menu page

Besides location and hours, perhaps the biggest draw to get diners in your door is the menu. The page needs to be easy to find on the website, available in all browser types, and easy to navigate. An image of your menu is not sufficient. Rather, dedicate an entire page to the menu, complete with pictures and prices. People respond to images of food far more than elaborate descriptions. A brief description is good, especially alongside a picture (at least of your specialties if not all items). 

#15. Offer delivery

In today’s busy world, the convenience of delivery services for food is highly desirable. Having your own delivery service is ideal so that you have more control over the experience for your diner. However, if that is simply not a viable option for you, check out the plethora of options to partner with, such as Uber Eats, Doordash, GrubHub, etc. 

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