With plenty of restaurants to choose from, you want to make sure yours stands out from the rest.
You may have the finest ingredients, the friendliest staff, and a picture-perfect venue, but if your restaurant isn't getting noticed, all that hard work will go to waste.
To help, we put together the ultimate guide to getting your restaurant noticed. From stand-out social media accounts, to good old-fashioned mail marketing, we'll walk you through 12 unique customer-driving ideas!
1. Write a Marketing Plan
If there's one thing you must do before implementing any of the ideas coming your way, it's to plan, plan, plan!
From managing your budget to accounting and bookkeeping for national holidays and events, this document will be your year-long guide to tracking your restaurant's promotional strategy.
Your marketing plan is your restaurant's holy grail, so make sure you take the time to prioritize it. Check out our Simple Restaurant Marketing Plan for 2022 for tips on how to create a solid marketing plan for your restaurant.
2. Social Media
Did you know that over 35% of restaurant customers in the U.S. actively follow their favorite restaurants on social media? Many of these diners even use these social platforms to pick and choose their next dining experience.
With the ability to snap and share pictures, videos, and reviews, maintaining a social media presence for your restaurant is crucial to getting it in front of the right crowd!
With nearly one billion active users worldwide, Instagram has become one of the most popular social media platforms.
If you were questioning it before, this is your sign to make your restaurant an Instagram profile and take advantage of its features and potential reach.
Below are a few ways to maximize your presence:
- Snap high-quality photos to tingle the taste buds of your audience
- Use Instagram Reels to capture the makings of popular dishes
- Leverage popular hashtags to reach more customers
TikTok is a relatively new platform, but it's already helped build businesses from the ground up. New and old restaurants continue to use the app to reach a wider audience through short videos that showcase their food, ambiance, staff, and more!
Do you have a specialty dish? Share how it's made! Have a handful of friendly staff? Have them take your followers through a shift in their life! Beginners can use TikTok for marketing, too.
Check out this TikTok video from S3 Coffee Bar for some inspo!
Not only will Instagram and TikTok connect you to new customers, but they can also connect you with potential partners.
By partnering with influencers on either of these platforms, you'll be able to get your restaurant in front of a whole new audience.
Whether you want to highlight your restaurant's guest experience, or get the word out about a new menu item, it's important to work with the influencers to create the most profitable content.
3. Create an awesome website
You and your team are in full control of your website-use it to tell the story you want!
From the pictures you choose to feature, to the site's overall design, take the time to make it your own.
Given the fact that nearly 80% of patrons visit a restaurant's website before deciding where to dine-out, you want to make sure that your website stands out from the rest! This means making it not only look good but feel good for your potential customers as well.
Below are some things to keep in mind when building your website:
- Is it easy to navigate?
- Is my menu accessible and legible?
- Do my hyperlinks work?
- Are my pictures (food, drinks & venue) appealing?
Check out Fresh's website for some cool inspo!
4. Promote your business on Google My Business
Is your restaurant missing a Google My Business account? It's time to make one!
This tool is essential to managing your restaurant's presence on Google Maps and Google Search.
Your restaurant's Google My Business account will make it easier for your customers to contact you, book a reservation, or access your location! So, not only is it beneficial for your business, but for your customers as well.
Read our guide on How to Add a Restaurant to Google Maps for steps on how to set up your GMB account.
5. Email Marketing
Email marketing is a great way to get your restaurant's name out and in front of your prospects and customers. The opportunities are endless, as this tool can be used to promote your restaurant, tell a unique story, or drive traffic to your website.
If this is your first time running an email marketing campaign, you're probably wondering how/who/where you can find the recipients of the emails. Look no further!
To build your database of emails, you can leverage the other channels your restaurant uses to connect with existing and potential customers.
- Build an email sign up form and embed it into your restaurant's website.
- Use your social media accounts to share your sign-up form and maximize your reach.
- Direct your customers to a sign-up form using their receipt.
- Offer an in-person sign-up sheet at your restaurant's take-out counter.
6. Develop a unique press release
One way to get the word out about your restaurant is to generate a buzz in the media. And the best way to do so is by creating a unique press release.
A press release is a formal message that communicates the information you want to provide about your business to a desired audience. Whether you're looking to promote your restaurant's grand opening, or draw attention to a new tasting menu, the press release will produce the media coverage you need to get noticed.
When drafting a press release, consider the following:
- Your desired audience
- A catchy headline
- A striking first paragraph to draw attention
- Detailed 2-3 paragraphs to follow answering the who, what, where, when, how
- A boilerplate / “about” section
After the press release is crafted and carefully reviewed, begin your outreach! Sites like eReleases and NewsWire are great tools to get started.
7. Collaborate with other restaurants in the area
Join forces with neighboring restaurants- and yes, they don't always need to be competition!
Chances are you all have different expertise, specials, and concepts, that attract varying local foodies. Combining your efforts by hosting an event, raising money for a charity, or giving back to the community, may be the key to getting in front of some new faces.
8. Host community based events
Rather run solo? Host a community based event at your restaurant! Foodies love convenience, so connecting with your community could open your door to many new customers.
Don't know where to start? Here are a few events to consider:
- Host a cooking class for one of your restaurant's most popular dishes.
- Throw a cocktail party to celebrate your community.
- Organize a brunch with a live Q&A from your head chef.
Whether your restaurant's been around the neighborhood for decades, or it's new to the block, this is the perfect way to stand out on your street.
9. Run targeted promotions with ads
You know the saying, “you need to spend money, to make money”?
Well, that's the case for this buzz-worthy idea!
Organic traffic is great for awareness and for reaching your follower base, but if you're looking to reach people beyond that count, running a targeted promotion with ads is your best bet.
Facebook Ads Manager will be your best friend in the process. To get the best use out of this tool, we've included the following tips:
- Target based on location (i.e. proximity to your restaurant)
- Promote new events, plausible stories and new restaurant initiatives
- Target your ideal customer
- Promote positive reviews and customer testimonials
10. Attract previous customers
Did you know that it's significantly cheaper to retain current customers than it is to acquire new ones?
That's why it is so important to maintain a relationship with your customer base. Not only to save yourself financially but to also generate more word of mouth.
Loyalty programs are a great way to attract previous customers by rewarding them for their repeat business. If you run a coffee shop, for example, you may reward customers with 1 free coffee for every 10 coffees purchased. You get more business and your customers save by spending- it's something they'll definitely tell their friends about!
Recommended Reading: Restaurant Loyalty Program Ideas: How to Start
VIP programs are designed for you to show your appreciation to your most loyal customers. Doing things like offering a free meal on their birthday or inviting them to an exclusive promotion, will encourage them to continue being loyal to your restaurant.
11. Old-fashioned mail marketing
When's the last time you got a personal invite to a restaurant through direct mail? Chances are, your customers can't remember either!
Direct mail marketing could be a postcard, personal invite, letter, or any physical piece of mail that is sent and delivered to your prospect.
Given how technologically driven the market is, you may be wondering why anything that isn't digitally driven would be worth your investment. While there is no guarantee that this method will generate more customers than a tech-savvy idea, it will definitely make sure your restaurant stands out from the rest.
The key selling factor here is how personal direct mail is.
Think about it...a hand written (or typed) letter delivered straight to your address vs. a post on social media that's blasted to a wide audience of followers. Now, THAT will make your restaurant stand out.
12. Create a completely unique dish or drink
As the saying goes, we eat with our eyes first- so, give your customers something they can't get their eyes off of!
Is your restaurant Italian? Serve up some heart-shaped pasta that's perfect for date-night. Are you killing it as a local bar? Create a magical color-changing cocktail that will wow your customers!
Take a look at this hot cocktail found at New York's Kubeh! Not only is this cocktail creative and unique, but it's picture-perfect and a fan favorite.
When it comes to getting your restaurant noticed, there is no right or wrong formula. Don't be afraid to test out a new idea or run with the 12 outlined in this blog!
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Hi! I'm Alex, 7shifts' former digital marketing specialist. I've been working in the restaurant-tech industry for over 4 years & am a foodie at heart. Stay connected with us on social media