Can you name your top 3 competitors in town?
What sort of marketing do they do? And how do you promote your own restaurant?
My guess is there’s a lot of overlap between the type of campaigns and mediums you choose as you go after the same customer base.
This makes it hard to stand out as people get used to seeing similar messages and often ignore marketing offers.
In this article, we’ve prepared a list of the best restaurant promotion ideas to help you stand out from competitors and get more people in through the door.
But before you jump in, there are a few things to consider…
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How to select and prioritize restaurant marketing ideas
Whether it’s Facebook ads, SEO, giveaways or contests, there’s an upper limit to how many ideas you can try given the amount of time and resources you’ve allocated to marketing.
This means you need an effective way to choose and prioritize where you should focus your efforts.
My advice is spending most of your time and money on the essential channels like Google, Facebook, Yelp and TripAdvisor. Combine this with great food and service and you’ll have a steady stream of customers just from word of mouth.
Still, there will be times when you’ll be working below capacity and that’s when experimenting with new promotion ideas can make a difference. As you have fixed costs, boosting your sales when things move a little slower can have a big influence on your overall profit.
So how do you choose the right ideas to try?
The key is in identifying your target market and current business challenges.
Identify your target market
Before starting any sort of marketing initiatives, it’s important to have a clear idea of who you want to attract.
This makes everything else so much easier.
You’ll know what your target persona is looking for and how to reach them. You’ll know their interests, goals, challenges and how they choose where to go and what to do. You’ll have the information for all of your marketing decisions so you can choose the right channels and messaging with confidence.
So how do you go about identifying your target market?
First, head over to HubSpot’s Buyer Persona tool and start their 7-step process for creating a buyer persona. As you go along, use a combination of your knowledge about your customers and any available data to make sure you build an accurate picture of who you want to attract.
This should take you no more than 30 minutes if you have the right information. Next, it’s time to tailor your campaigns to your current business challenges.
Match your efforts with your business challenges
Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, there are different approaches and promotional ideas you can try. So before starting a new campaign, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking to get from it. This could be things like:
- Increase awareness.
- Get a higher footfall.
- Improve the average spend per customer.
- Increase repeat business.
It’s a good idea to set concrete metrics and implement a way to track results. Online channels are particularly good at this since they allow you to launch campaigns and attribute new bookings to specific channels like advertising or social media.
For example, you can set a target to double your average revenue on Tuesdays. This will help you narrow down promotion ideas to fit with your target market and overall business challenges.
The Best Restaurant Promotion Ideas to Boost Your Sales
Once you have a good idea of your buyer persona and the business challenges you want to solve, it’s time to dive into the different options you have when it comes to restaurant marketing and promotions.
Make bookings super easy
There’s no use in getting the word out there if you’re losing customers due to a difficult booking process. There are 3 big areas to consider here:
- Online reservations on your website.
- Offline reservations via phone or in person.
- Social media and third-party channels.
Each of these should be super easy to book through. In addition, make sure they are synchronized using table management software or a simple spreadsheet. The important thing is to have one single source of truth to track availabilities and bookings.
In order to streamline your online reservation process, there are two main options – developing your own booking solution or using a table reservation software. Developing your own solution gives you more control but it’s likely to be more expensive when you take the upfront costs and ongoing maintenance. If you want to get started as soon as possible, it’s probably best to go for a reservation system like Yelp Reservations or OpenTable.
If you go down that route, you’ll have a good way to manage your offline reservations a well since you can input bookings manually. Always remember to include your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) on marketing materials and online channels so people can easily reach you.
Lastly, make sure you enable a reservation process for social media and third-parties. For example, use the Book Now button on your Facebook page and allow people to choose a date and time directly through the Messenger. Next, you just need to confirm the reservation.
Focus on visuals in your social media strategy
In 2016, people spent more time watching food on TV than they did cooking it.
We see a similar picture on social networks like Facebook and Instagram with millions of people scrolling through images of food and prep every single day.
So we’re naturally drawn to these photos and videos about food and how it’s made. You can take advantage of this in your social media strategy by focusing on visuals of complete meals and how they are prepared to engage with potential customers.
Instagram and Pinterest are a good place for sharing photos while Facebook favors video when showing content in users’ news feed.
This creates a closer relationship with existing customers who get to see your process and allows you to reach new customers through these platforms. You can then direct them to your reservations page or include your phone number in the description.
And don’t worry if you don’t have professional equipment right now – you can test how people respond to your content using just a phone camera. Only consider hiring a photographer or buying equipment if it makes sense in the long run.
Increase your reach by boosting posts
Now, it’s great to have a solid Facebook strategy but if you don’t have any followers, you’re not likely to have much success there.
Unless you start advertising.
Facebook Boost is a relatively cheap way to reach more people and it’s super easy to get started. As soon as you publish a post, click the Boost button at the bottom right and create the audience you’d like to reach.
Set a budget that makes sense for you (Facebook will show you an estimate of how many people you can reach) and you can instantly get exposure to potential customers who don’t know you yet.
And you don’t have to spend that much money – you can start from as little as $5 per day to see if this mode of advertising works for you. If it does, you can gradually increase your budget and test different audiences to achieve maximum results.
This brings us to the next point – don’t waste your ad resources on irrelevant audiences.
Geo-targeting lets you show ads to people based on their location. So if you want to attract people from your area, you can target only local places, down to specific regions in your city.
This will minimize your costs for advertising while making sure only the most relevant people see your ad. Geo-targeting is available across the big platforms like Facebook and Google Ads but you can also apply this concept to offline channels like local newspapers.
Offer an incentive to existing customers to promote you online
Of course, one of the best ways to get new customers is word of mouth. This can happen offline but you can also take things online.
The biggest engines here are reviews sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor but now Google and Facebook are also important players when it comes to online recommendations.
So you can take advantage of this by offering incentives to existing customers.
For example, you can offer them a discount or other perks in exchange for leaving a review. Or if you want to utilize social channels, you can ask them to like and share your page with their network.
This gets you more reach and builds a better relationship with existing customers who take you up on that offer.
Create a loyalty program
Loyalty programs are great when you want to get diners coming back again and again.
This is a good business practice as your revenue will not fluctuate as much and you will not depend on constantly grinding for new customers.
Whether it’s a discount for regular customers or some form of a point-based reward system, you can use a loyalty program to get a steady income stream and build a closer relationship with your customers.
There’s a number of software options that let you build a loyalty program quickly and efficiently. To get started, check out this article with the best loyalty program software.
Get listed with local delivery services
This gives you access to more people and it makes it easier to do deliveries. It’s often hard to find reliable drivers and organize deliveries so there’s a lot to gain if you outsource this part of your business.
Sure, there’s a commission involved but the benefits are clear. Especially if you’re early on in your business or you need to quickly boost sales, consider these platforms as a source of reservations and easing the burden on your operations.
So there you have it – that was a quick intro on the best restaurant promotion ideas and how to prioritize them based on your situation.
While you should spend most of your time on the basics, make sure to try out different things to operate at maximum capacity.
The important thing is to avoid spreading your attention too thin and only focus on the marketing campaigns that fit with your current goals and target persona.
So if you want to boost awareness, give Facebook Boost a go.
Or if you’re looking to boost footfall, a solid geo-targeting campaign can work great for you.
And use loyalty programs and review platforms to get a steady stream of repeat customers.
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