Market Your Restaurant and Make More Money

The options to market a restaurant are ever-growing. Knowing which marketing items to choose can be difficult unless you have some basic concepts down.

One of the first things to tackle is your restaurant’s brand. Whether you have a professional assist you or do it on your own, keep your brand intact when incorporating any marketing plans or new marketing concepts. This will help build brand loyalty, which creates a connection with your customers.

Even the smallest marketing budget can have big results. In fact, your time may be more effective than money in some cases. Before choosing any options for marketing, understand the following concepts:  

Target Demographics

A critical piece to any marketing plan is the target demographics behind your intended audience. Marketing is quite different for women over 35 compared to people in the 18 to 25 age range. Understand your target’s likes, dislikes, and trends they follow to apply marketing techniques that make sense.

For example, placing a coupon in a neighborhood mailer may be useful for some while an Instagram ‘mention this image’ discount will work better for other demographics.  If you are not sure, ask your repeat customers where the restaurant’s presence would be most effective.

It will also be important to evaluate on-site demographics. Keep informed about actual traffic, busy times, and slow times during open hours. Owners will often create specials for the slow times to help spur traffic, or provide ‘happy hours’ during higher traffic times. 

Website and Social Media

Whether you start out with a simple social media page or a website, an online presence is important. Be sure to consider: 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

If your website does not have SEO implemented properly it will be difficult for potential customers to find your website. While search technology has improved over the past few years, SEO will ensure your site pops up at the top of the results list.

Some SEO practices are easy to implement, including keeping your site updated, relevant keywords in content on the pages, adding images and videos relevant to your content, and promoting your website.

A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words

Show off your dishes, staff, and welcome customer submissions (or sponsor a contest).  

Professional photos are by far the best for your official website. For cost savings in this area, look for a local photographer or photography school. 

Contests on your social media platform(s) are perfect for customers to share their favorite dish photos. For anyone who takes part, simply have a drawing for a free drink, appetizer, or dessert. 

For staff, show them at work or engaged with a coworker, and offer some professional or education goals achieved or being worked on. Customers who feel a personal connection with staff are likely to be more forgiving when mistakes happen.

Content Must Be Relatable and Reliable

Many websites are out of date, have unrelated information, broken links, or are difficult to navigate. Regularly revisit your website and social media profiles to ensure information is updated and correct.

Word of Mouth Via Social Media

Good news, and bad, travels faster than imaginable. Monitor sites to ensure you know what the public is saying about your restaurant. Additionally, be sure to respond to each review. There is no cost to this; however, unanswered reviews could cost you future customers.

Make connections with local businesses that share similar demographics and are willing to partner in social media efforts. Use language such as “Our friends at…” and occasionally repost their events. This could lead to additional offline marketing opportunities, such as catering events, posting specials at each other’s business, and ‘coupon’ offers for mutual customers.

Geo-targeted or Demographic-Targeted Ads

Most social media platforms can target ads by geo-location and other demographics. Look for ad programs that have a specific fee-per-click or maximum clicks per day options, which are quite different from classic paper advertising.

Whether through a website or social media platform, sharing positive reviews may be another option to help undecided customers decide to visit your restaurant. Incorporate excellent reviews into your website through a rotating feed or a static list of three or four reviews.

Loyalty Programs

All customers will appreciate a loyalty program; however, the days of punch cards are long gone. If your budget is small, a punch card program is a good way to start and may bring feelings of nostalgia for some until you can get an app.

If your budget allows, consider an app for your loyalty program. Ensure that your app is developed with your restaurant branding, and then over time add new functionality to your app such as menus, online ordering, and online reservations.

Successful loyalty programs often market themselves. Over time, new customers will ask and satisfied customers will talk and share the ins and outs of the program with family and friends.

Additional Ideas

Depending on your restaurant’s needs, there are many additional options to consider:

  • One piece of technology customers appreciate is online reservation capabilities like OpenTable. This saves time for everyone involved.
  • Partner with other local businesses. Do some networking with places such as local tv channels, newspapers, independent publishing, wineries, breweries. Then offer availability for catering in exchange for exposure to their audience.
  • Read marketing blogs to understand marketing trends and new technologies. Your restaurant can thrive when you incorporate new trends and technology as an early adopter if they fit your business needs.
  • Check out your competition’s marketing strategies. Checking out the competitor is about awareness and can give you an edge on what motivates a similar customer base.

With all the marketing options available today, it is critical to stick to your brand, know your target demographics, and understand the importance of a web presence. With those things combined discover what may work best, such as a loyalty program, online reservations, and your competitor’s marketing strategies.

Increase your profits. And keep them.

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