Restaurant Marketing Ideas

Most restaurant owners and managers are wearing multiple hats and are not only dealing with staff, inventory and customers, but should be driving their restaurant’s marketing strategy. However, with 20 hour work days it’s not always easy to think up creative, and most importantly, effective, restaurant marketing ideas. This is when it’s important to look at other successful restaurateurs, see what they are doing and…copy!

Good restaurant marketing ideas don’t have to be high tech or complicated. In this age of technology and social media, often the simple basics that really move the needle are overlooked.

To get you started, there are some basic and timeless restaurant marketing ideas that are always effective and should be a permanent part of your restaurant marketing strategy. Start by implementing these, see what the results are, refine them and keep them as a part of the daily running of your restaurant.

Here is a list of 8 essential restaurant marketing ideas:

  1. Use ‘exit surveys’ for all customers. These can be as low tech as a piece of paper that customers fill out to give you feedback. The rules of good feedback cards are
    a) only ask 3-4 simple questions. Too many questions and people won’t bother filling them out.
    b) take email contact details for further communication.
    c) make sure to use the information for everything from staff training to building your database. Then create a series of marketing campaigns to send to these customers. The best idea is to have an electronic way of capturing these leads. But if that isn’t possible, use your staff to input them into a basic marketing tool, or a simple spreadsheet during downtimes.
  2. Take the time to develop a children’s program at your restaurant. A happy child is a happy parent. Let’s face it, if your child likes a certain place and asks to go back again and again, you take them there (like that favorite bed time story that you have read at least 435 times).
  3. Have a quarterly newsletter that you send to your customer database to stay top of mind. Even the most loyal customers sometimes forget about you. So remind them with something that brings them something usseful. Forget the straight out advertising approach and go for bringing your customer value – include a recipe, news about the new chef, menu inspiration. And of course include a coupon of some sort to encourage them to act on coming in and to allow you to track the effectiveness of your newsletters.
  4. Fill your restaurant down times with creative programs that speak to a specific target audience. Have a girl’s night out on that evening of the local male-focused sports event. Have a mother’s brunch that includes young pre-children’s activities on school days.
  5. Encourage reviews by having a ‘restaurant review raffle’ that puts anyone that gives you a 5-start review into a monthly prize draw.
  6. Become an “Instagramer”. Instagram is the perfect way to virtually make customer’s mouths water. Get an account and have your staff manage the account and post to it during down times. Actively promote your #hashtag (in all communication) and integrate an Instagram feed into your website that will show photos that your customers’ posts automatically when they use your #hashtag. You can even put a monthly prize draw in place for all those that participate by posting.
  7. Network. Work with neighboring businesses to set up marketing programs and offers that leverage each one of your strengths and customer lists.
  8. Make your marketing local. Use local search terms in your website and reach out actively to the 5-10 mile radius around you, talking to both businesses and individuals.

None of these ideas are difficult to implement. Actually, the most effective restaurant marketing ideas are the simple ones. As long as the ideas are targeted and you are tracking results and can calculate your return on investment, the sky is the limit to your creativity. There are plenty of reasonably priced ‘done for you’ templates to allow you to leverage these effective restaurant marketing ideas quickly and easily.

Written By

Amy Foxwell

Restaurant Consulting

A restaurant owner and small business consultant for over 20 years, Amy Foxwell has combined her professional expertise to create the Win Win Restaurant marketing kit that helps small business owners and restaurant start ups with practical, easy-to-apply ways to attract more customers, get them coming back and spending more.