10 Restaurant Marketing Strategies That Will Get You More Customers
The restaurant industry is a tough market with much competition. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about running a profitable, successful restaurant business.
As an entrepreneur, getting the word out about your restaurant can be highly challenging, especially if you’re starting. But it doesn’t have to be difficult if you follow some simple marketing strategies.
This article will share the top 10 restaurant marketing strategies to help you reach out to the right kind of people and attract more customers.
This guide is designed to help new and seasoned restaurateurs quickly learn what’s involved in restaurant marketing.
10 Simple Restaurant Marketing Strategies
1 – Create a Unique Marketing Strategy
If you’re starting up a new restaurant in a city already bustling with competition, you’ve got to differentiate yourself in the marketplace. There’s no such thing as “restaurant marketing” per se—it’s always about the unique strategies that set you apart from your competitors, whatever those strategies may be.
For example, suppose you’re opening a taco truck or an Indian restaurant in a central metropolitan area. In that case, you’ll likely have to take a different marketing approach than if you were opening up a steakhouse in an equally populated suburb or a burger joint in a remote rural setting.
You need to know all of the restaurant’s strengths and weaknesses to develop a marketing strategy that will put you in a position of strength over your competition.
You must understand your target market, what it wants and needs, what it likes and doesn’t like, and how to present yourself to them to appeal to them.
You’ll need to identify who your target market is to do this. You’ll need to conduct market research and identify how your target market uses food for pleasure. Think about the places they eat, the foods they consume, and the events they attend. Once you know your ideal customers, you can develop a marketing strategy that caters to them.
How to Set Yourself Apart from Competitors
A key thing to note is that not all food trends are created equal. For example, there’s the “healthy” trend, but there’s also the “clean” trend and the “natural” trend. You have to pick a specific angle to take.
Some restaurants are doing this by selling organic food and using local ingredients. But for others, it’s about being green. Some restaurants are following the trend by offering a $1 burger (because they’re trying to build brand loyalty).
Others are doing this because they want to be part of a broader social movement or a way to get into the news (hoping that it’ll lead to more customers).
Here are a few ideas you can add to your menu: offer healthy options, give discounts to those who eat healthfully, have some vegetarian options, and include gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan options. Remember, the best ideas come from the heart and the gut and are based on your restaurant’s core values.
How to Market to the Specialty Food Crowd
Restaurants are increasingly looking to cater to a more discerning crowd that wants better food and a unique experience. As more consumers become aware of and more interested in food, they’re looking for places to eat that fit into this niche.
Whether your restaurant is a destination dining spot, fine dining establishment, bar and grill, or casual pub, you can draw in your customers with a great atmosphere, outstanding menu options, and exceptional service.
The most successful speciality restaurants have developed a loyal following that doesn’t simply visit for a special occasion but regularly and consistently. For example, if a diner visits their restaurant one day a week for lunch, they will return the next week and the week after.
This consistency is critical to establishing brand loyalty with those customers. By establishing loyalty with the people who visit your restaurant consistently, you’ll build a relationship that will ultimately help increase your business’s growth and profitability.
2 – Determine Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
What is a unique thing that you can offer your customers? Most restaurant owners don’t spend enough time thinking about how to market their business. They see it as a necessary evil. But it isn’t. It’s something that can add value to your customer’s life.
Marketing aims to increase the likelihood that people will buy from you. It would be best if you achieved this to ensure that your USP is clear to the people visiting your website. Once you have that clear USP, you need to write a blog post or an email that emphasises it. If you don’t, then your competitors will.
A restaurant’s USP should be simple, powerful, and actionable in a food business. Most importantly, it has to help the restaurant differentiate itself from its competition and provide a clear path toward differentiation and success.
The best way to figure out your USP is to ask customers. Get feedback from people who have visited your restaurant and let them tell you why they chose your restaurant over another.
Set the right expectations
Setting expectations is one of the most critical parts of your restaurant marketing. The right expectations can increase the likelihood of success, while unrealistic expectations can increase the risk of failure.
Your restaurant needs to set expectations that are both realistic and achievable. Your menu should be simple, but the food quality should be excellent. Make sure your restaurant offers the experience its patrons expect.
You could say restaurants are a lot like fashion. Just like consumers can’t get enough of particular looks, tastes, and styles, restaurants can’t get enough of the same. A good rule of thumb is to think about “a new restaurant” and “a new restaurant with buzz.”
When a restaurant launches, you can’t expect it to get much buzz just yet. Instead, set expectations that the restaurant will be around for a while. The most effective restaurateurs think you must keep at it if you’re not getting traffic from day one. Once a week, send out an email with the day’s best deals. Once every two weeks, update your social media with a promotion.
You could probably skip this section if you’re already creating a killer menu for your restaurant. The menu must be an integral element in your restaurant management strategy. But if you don’t have a clear vision of what you’d like your menu to be, it’s essential to spend time making that happen.
You’ve got to figure out what your menu needs to look like—what should it look like? Who should be serving it? What kind of experience should it offer? Once you answer those questions, you can start thinking about what kinds of food you’d like to serve.
A restaurant is an ultimate destination; it’s where you eat, relax, and enjoy yourself. The food, the atmosphere, and the service are all critical components to creating the perfect dining experience.
Now imagine this — your food, service, and ambience perfectly align with your brand. No matter how good the food is, you’ve failed if the experience is subpar. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party, hosting a reception, or running a corporate event, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when planning your menu.
Choose the right pricing
Before choosing a price point, figure out who your ideal customers are. You can’t sell to everyone. So, think about your target customers and the value they’re looking for.
- What type of dining experience do they want?
- Is it a quick lunch or a 3-course luxury dining experience?
- Would they dress up or just turn up?
By answering these questions, you’ll be better positioned to set your pricing for the best results.
The other reason to consider pricing is that it should meet their needs. This means knowing how much your potential customers can spend and how much they generally spend. For example, if you’re targeting someone who spends $100 per month on restaurant dining, your goal should be to offer a menu that fits within this budget.
3 – Build a Winning Brand
“Branding is the most important thing in any business,” said Gary Hamel, author of Management 2.0: Getting Smarter Through Business Innovation. Your brand is what differentiates your company from all the others.
People will either love you or hate you—it’s that simple. And if they love you, chances are they’ll keep coming back for more. Start small and work toward your larger vision to build your brand carefully.
The key to a successful restaurant brand is consistency. No matter where you are in the country, you should still feel comfortable getting a consistent experience.
Whether it’s the atmosphere, the food or service, the décor, or the service, the same should apply across the board. Consistent restaurants are more likely to attract repeat business and referrals, which is good for the business and the reputation.
Make an Impact With a Good First Impression
Restaurants, like any business, need to be viewed as a positive influence in the community. They need to be seen as a place people want to visit, but even more so as a place they want to return to.
The best way to make that impression is by putting together a solid first impression. You want your establishment to be clean and inviting from the first look, not cluttered or cramped.
Restaurant owners may have spent thousands of dollars on fancy menus, stylish décor, and food and drink. But a great first impression will help customers fall in love with your restaurant. To set the stage for a positive experience, begin by welcoming your guests and ensuring they feel comfortable and at home in your establishment.
Build a buzz before the meal
Buzz marketing is a fun and easy way to get your customers' attention. It lets you show your brand personality and gain interest before serving a meal.
When people walk into your restaurant or bar, they see your logo and maybe even hear your music playing in the background. Your chance to set yourself apart from the competition before your customers eat.
4 – Promote Your Restaurant
This is an excellent opportunity to let your customers know what kind of restaurant you are in and how you’ll serve them. For example, if you have a Mexican restaurant in Brooklyn, don’t just say, “We’re the best Mexican restaurant in New York.” Tell them why you’re the best: “We use high-quality ingredients, which means we can make everything from scratch.”
To help promote your restaurant, you need to build up an image as an expert in the industry and a trustworthy individual. With this, you are building an image of reliability. Creating content and sharing it with your audience provides credibility that others trust you.
The restaurant industry is not for the faint of heart. Restaurants are in direct competition for space and frequently face high food costs. Many restaurants fail within the first six months of opening their doors.
Restaurants should follow the same rule as every business: to make every dollar count. That means finding a strategy that provides a return on investment (ROI) and that is sustainable.
It’s all about getting out there, putting yourself into the public eye and having your business noticed. Once your business is noticed, you can convert your traffic into customers. Here are a few ideas:
- Offer free food or drinks to influencers.
- Create contests where the winner gets free food or drink.
- Use food to inspire customer engagement on social media.
- Create a Facebook page for your restaurant to post exclusive deals, daily specials, etc.
- Host a pop-up event to engage customers.
- Hold a giveaway of a gift card to encourage customer reviews.
- Host a “Happy Hour” on Sundays to entice customers to spend more on your establishment.
- Encourage your waitstaff to wear your logo t-shirts.
- Include your contact information in the menu and on the website.
- Get creative with your website design, including logos, headers, menus, and images.
5 – Communicate Your Brand Promise
Today’s consumers want more than a great meal. They want to feel satisfied emotionally and enjoy a feeling of accomplishment after eating their food.
One of the critical components in creating a satisfying dining experience is customers’ emotional connection when dining at your establishment. You can achieve this through the creation of a brand promise.
A brand promise expresses your restaurant’s values and beliefs, such as fresh ingredients, exceptional customer service, and an emphasis on sustainability. It’s a way to set yourself apart from your competition.
Understand What Makes Customers Happy
Restaurants with high service ratings have a better chance of staying in business than those with low ratings. High-rated restaurants tend to be more profitable, as well, according to researchers.
In a study of more than 20,000 restaurants, researchers found that restaurants with good service were more likely to have higher food costs and higher profit margins. Good service, then, is a crucial component of restaurant profitability.
One thing that makes customers happy is when they feel that they are being recognised and appreciated. So a restaurant should keep track of customer feedback and respond accordingly. This makes people feel unique and valued.
Another thing customers love is when they find that the staff is friendly and easy to talk to. When they feel this way, they feel cared about. And finally, customers love to find a place to sit, relax, and unwind. They want to have fun, enjoy themselves, and meet new people.
6 – Make it Easy for People to Find Your Restaurant
If you have a restaurant or bar, getting the word out to people about your place can be challenging. One way to get your customers to notice your business is to make it easy to find. Some free options don’t require much time to set up.
For one, you should be clear about where you’re located. Do you want your customers to find you through Google Maps? Yelp? Facebook? Twitter? Email? Or on your website? Whatever method you use, ensure that you’re found if people search for your restaurant.
Many restaurants have made great strides in making their restaurants easier to find online. From offering a mobile-optimised website to using social media marketing and online advertising to drive traffic and increase sales, there’s no shortage of ways to ensure that people can find your restaurant online.
Use Mobile Restaurant Marketing
It’s no surprise that mobile marketing is on the rise. If you haven’t noticed yet, your customers spend more time using their smartphones and tablets to browse the internet, shop online and search for businesses and products.
For many restaurants, mobile restaurant marketing is still in its infancy. However, mobile marketing is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of digital advertising. Consumers have grown accustomed to using their smartphones to research and purchase products and services.
According to research conducted by Accenture and IDC, 90% of smartphone users use their phones to search for restaurant reviews online, and 53% of those same users said that they used their smartphones to book a reservation.
With such high levels of engagement and the growing popularity of the digital consumer, it makes sense that mobile marketing is gaining traction in marketing and promotions.
7 – Optimise Your Website
Your website needs to be easy to navigate, read, and share on social media and easy to book reservations. But don’t just focus on the site; consider what you’re communicating on social media.
How do you want your customers to describe your restaurant to their friends? If you’re only posting photos and videos of food on Instagram, you’re missing out on the opportunity to influence people’s decisions about where to eat. Use Google Analytics to track the effectiveness of your social media posts to see if there’s an opportunity to improve.
Offer a deal on drinks and appetisers
If you want to increase your restaurant’s profits, you need to offer a deal on drinks and appetisers. This intelligent way drives more traffic, builds loyalty, and converts that traffic into customers.
Offer something unique to your customers, whether a free appetiser on a Tuesday night or a promotion on something ordinarily expensive during the week. Your guests will be impressed, and you will get more traffic, loyalty, and repeat customers.
Restaurants rely heavily on alcohol and food advertising for their bottom lines. However, by offering a special discount for specific customers, a restaurant can get new customers into the door who wouldn’t otherwise visit.
8 – Promote Through Social Media
Suppose you’re looking for ways to promote your restaurant marketing online. In that case, you need to understand the different social media platforms, how they work, and how your restaurant can reach customers. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are a few of the more popular sites you can use to connect with potential customers and let them know about your restaurant’s specials.
These websites provide many valuable tools to help you promote your restaurant online. For example, you can use Facebook’s advertising tools to send your restaurant specials and coupons to customers who are likely to visit your website.
You can use Twitter’s tools to find out what your customers like about your restaurant. These social media marketing tools can drive more traffic to your website and increase sales.
Engage With Your Audience
In restaurant marketing, you can do several things to engage with your audience. For instance, you can send a newsletter to your email list, hold a contest or giveaway, or include a discount code in a social media post or an ad.
A survey found that consumers who interact with online ads spend an average of 20% longer on websites that contain ads and 25% more often when those ads invite them to sign up to receive email newsletters.
Consumers who read a company’s Twitter account have a higher conversion rate than those who don’t. They like to hear from businesses that engage with them and give them a reason to trust them.
Be Human: Show Your Customers You Care
“What can I do to make your customers feel comfortable and accepted?” This question could change the way your business does business. While traditional marketing may focus on the numbers, the truth is that people don’t respond to a brand; they respond to people. The best brands and businesses are always showing their human side.
Showing your customers you care is just as important as delivering a quality meal at restaurants. People don’t want to eat food they don’t want to eat. But they also don’t want to eat food that makes them sick.
In the same way, they’ll leave if they feel they’re being served something that doesn’t reflect who they are or what they’d like. Restaurant marketing can help customers feel connected with a human instead of just another person in line.
9 – Network With Influencers & Food Critics
Networking with influencers and food critics may be the most valuable part of a brand’s restaurant marketing strategy for all but the most prominent restaurants.
Restaurants need to develop a following of bloggers and critics, as they provide the largest pool of people who can spread the word about their restaurant.
There’s no better way to get a positive review than through a relationship with a blogger or critic, and it’s also true that the review and mention by a blogger or critic are more likely to be shared and viewed.
Influencers have built their brand, social media following, and community around their brand. They are happy to share their knowledge with others in exchange for something (typically a free sample).
This gives them a unique insight into what works and what doesn’t. They have a vested interest in helping you build your brand. They are also an ideal audience for restaurant marketing.
Create a Community
It takes a village and a community to get a restaurant brand, particularly for a first-time restaurateur. As a small business owner, you must develop a following that shares your vision of restaurant marketing. You need to be present on Facebook and Twitter. You need to create a community of people who share your vision and can help you make it a reality.
According to the Nielsen research group, millennials are the most engaged consumers. They don’t just want to know about products and services; they want to talk to other people about them.
This means restaurants, retailers, brands, and eCommerce sites must build communities. These communities can help customers find local businesses (like coffee shops), get insider tips, and stay connected.
10 – Use Online Reviews to Build Trust
A critical element of any successful online restaurant marketing strategy is the quality and volume of online reviews. To get the most out of your reviews, start by asking yourself if spending so much time responding to reviewers online is essential.
Think about your company as if you were trying to sell it to a stranger in the street. Would you feel confident giving your phone number to a stranger? Of course not, yet we often feel compelled to respond to the comments of online reviewers.
If you want customers to trust you, let your customers leave reviews. As more and more people use online reviews to decide where to eat, they’ll be more inclined to trust you when they see your reviews, as long as you have at least a few positive ones. That’s why Yelp, Google Local, and other review sites can make or break your business.
Be generous with the freebies
To get consumers to come to your restaurant, you must first get them in. You do that when you offer a complimentary drink or appetiser to any customer who dines with you.
While you might think that’s an easy way to keep them returning, offering something free will make customers feel special. They might be more likely to pay for another meal once they’ve experienced your restaurant.
How to Keep Customers Coming Back
This is the ultimate goal for any business. The trick is to make sure that you’re constantly working towards it. First, build loyalty with your customers through restaurant marketing.
Give them reasons to return by keeping your food fresh, delicious, and attentive to their needs. Then, reward them.
Let them know that your restaurant is their favourite and that you’re looking forward to seeing them again. This will keep them coming back, even if you’re not there to greet them personally.
The restaurant industry is a tough one. It’s hard to compete against the big boys—you’ve got to provide quality food, service, and value, or you’ll quickly fall behind.
One of the biggest mistakes a small business can make is to treat its customers like they’re simply walking through their doors for a meal. You must build relationships with your customers and make them feel they’re part of your family.
How to Turn Customers Into Advocates
For restaurant marketing, the key is getting people to talk about you. It’s essential to understand why people are talking. The key to getting people to talk about you is sharing positive experiences with friends.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is through word-of-mouth advertising because most people don’t mind telling a friend about something they like.
So if a restaurant offers good food, excellent service, and a relaxed atmosphere, people will talk about that place. However, if a restaurant only focuses on providing a great dining experience without advertising, no one will know about it. They need to get people talking.
You don’t need much money to succeed at marketing for restaurants. You don’t need to spend much of your restaurant’s profits on marketing.
Even small investments in restaurant marketing strategies can bring in huge returns. These ten simple restaurant marketing strategies will get you more customers. If you implement all ten simple restaurant marketing strategies, you’ll grow your restaurant’s revenues while increasing customer satisfaction.
The most effective restaurant marketing strategies include both online and offline tactics. Finding ways to get your name and brand out to customers is critical.