34 Restaurant Marketing Ideas: How To Market Your Restaurant in 2024

34 Restaurant Marketing Ideas: How To Market Your Restaurant in 2024
Vahag Aydinyan

By Vahag Aydinyan

In 2020, the number of establishments in the food and beverage industry was estimated to be 23.1 million worldwide, and in 2023, there were about 749,404 restaurants in the United States alone. 

These figures prove how tough the competition is in this industry and how important it is to devise unconventional tactics and extraordinary strategies to stay ahead. This is where being well-equipped with a fool-proof restaurant marketing plan comes in.

After analyzing the latest industry trends, viral content, and successful campaigns, we have developed an all-in-one marketing guide to help you craft your strategy to attract new customers and keep your previous diners coming back. 

How do you create a good restaurant marketing strategy?

Restaurant marketing strategies combine online and offline techniques to help managers create a strong brand identity, attract new customers, retain old diners, promote their restaurants, and ultimately increase revenue. 

These strategies can combine traditional restaurant advertising techniques like pamphlets, billboards, and radio promotions with modern ideas like running paid ads, advertising on social media, and collaborating with influencers.

Before implementing the marketing ideas, you must understand how to create a perfectly-tailored strategy for your business. Here's a short run-through:

  • Identify your target audience: Create buyer personas to understand their buying behavior and needs. 

  • Conduct a SWOT analysis: Write down your restaurant's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to identify which areas of your business could improve and have room for growth. 

  • Set measurable goals: Establish specific and clear objectives, such as increasing sales, growing your social media presence, or garnering positive online reviews.

  • Select the best marketing channels for your business: Find out where your target audience spends most of their time (on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, or Instagram?) and create compelling content to reach them.

  • Monitor and analyze the results: Use various restaurant metrics to measure your progress and adjust your strategies as needed.

Following these steps, you can create a marketing strategy suited to your business needs. 

Remember that what works for others might not work for you, so you shouldn't just "copy" what other businesses are doing. Devise a strategy that works specifically for you.

Best restaurant marketing ideas for 2024

Here are some of the proven and tested restaurant marketing ideas you can try in 2024:

Offer your customers rewards using loyalty programs

47% of diners in loyalty programs say they use their memberships a couple of times monthly, and 32% use them several times weekly.  

Giving them incentives for being loyal patrons of your establishment makes customers feel appreciated and, in a sense, special, as there are perks and discounts that only they can get access to. 

You can reward your customers for their loyalty by establishing a card system wherein they'll get a stamp (or a sticker) for every purchase they make. Then, after about 5 purchases, you can give them a free drink upgrade or a free dessert.

As they receive more stamps or stickers from you, their rewards could also increase. Offering to give them a free meal on their 20th purchase means they'll keep returning to your restaurant until they can complete their 20 stamps because once they do, they know they will be rewarded. 

Aside from stamps or stickers, a points system could also work well. You can give your customers 1 point for every $10 they spend at your restaurant (the price point depends on how much you're selling your food and beverages; just make sure to set an achievable price). 

Then, you can set up rewards for these points, like a free cup of coffee for every 5 points or a free tote bag for every 10 points.

The key is to make your loyalty program achievable (don't set ridiculous minimum purchase amounts before customers can gain a single point) and make your customers feel like they joined an exclusive program.

Don't underestimate the power of posters

A poster's main function is to grab the attention of a moving audience and convey your message. Some uses for a poster include promoting a new item on your menu, hosting an event, or offering a "buy one, take one" promotion. 

Whether it’s hung on your restaurant walls or posted on social media, a poster’s eye-catching nature makes it a great marketing tool.

When designing your restaurant's poster, you have to plan it carefully since you only have 10 crucial seconds to fight for your audience's attention. 

Here are some of the tips you should follow when creating posters for your restaurant:

  • Use the same colors and designs on your poster as your business (branding).

  • Remember to place your restaurant logo on your poster so your audience will know which establishment to visit.

  • Use high-quality images (of your actual food, if possible).

  • Use large fonts so people can read what your posters say, even from afar.

  • Add a QR code so your audience can scan it if they want to learn more about your product offerings and promotions.

  • Go for high-quality materials so you can be assured that your poster will last, rain or shine.

Finally, your content should be presented from left to right and top to bottom. Since this is how we’ve learned to read, our eyes follow the same trajectory when viewing menus and posters. 

Show genuine care for your staff

What better way to reach new customers than by being referred to as a business that genuinely cares for all its employees?

Customers today strongly believe in the importance of social responsibility. For instance, 79% of millennials are loyal to businesses that care about their effect on society. 

Similarly, Andrew Glantz, the Founder & CEO of GiftAMeal, highlights how Gen Z heavily “values businesses that treat employees well” and is more likely to support restaurants where the staff are happy and engaged

But why should you care about what millennials and gen Z think? 

Putting it into figures, there are 69 million gen Z and 73 million millennials. Together, they make up the largest generation—and paying customer—base in the world. For instance, millennials dine out an average of 241 times yearly.

So, in addition to showing your employees how much you value them, you’re also creating a good business image by treating them well, paying them fair wages, and giving them equal opportunities for advancement.

Aside from that, your staff is the closest link between you and your diners, so ask them what problems they face, whether in the kitchen or dealing with customers, and how they think they could be addressed. 

On the flip side, the inflammatory nature of social media makes it easy for conflict in your restaurant to circulate Once news about unfair business practices comes out, it will spread like wildfire, and you could face a public backlash (a.k.a. a boycott). 

Source fresh ingredients by working with local suppliers

So, what does where you get your ingredients have to do with marketing your restaurant?

As more consumers become health-conscious, they’re also becoming more concerned about where their food comes from. In fact, 46% of Americans support buying local. 

This is where showing off your local produce pays off. As consumers see and trace where your ingredients are coming from, they are more likely to choose your restaurant over your competitor's. This move isn't only a marketing strategy; it can also positively affect your food's quality.

As you establish good relationships with your local suppliers, you might find vendors willing to put in the extra effort for you should you encounter any supply issues. You might even be able to negotiate same-day deliveries or be prioritized once the freshly-picked ingredients are ready for selling. 

Have a function room to cater to special events and occasions

A great restaurant experience goes beyond serving good quality food—you should sell them memories and unique experiences, too. One way to do this is by having a function room so you can cater to their special celebrations, be it birthdays, anniversaries, or corporate meetings. 

However, if you have very limited space and creating a function room doesn't seem feasible, you can allow your guests to book or reserve tables in advance if they're planning a huge celebration. 

You can also offer a custom menu for these special occasions, like party-sized pizzas, party platters, and drink towers. 

Offering event spaces can help your restaurant attract more customers and increase revenue, especially during off-seasons. The reason is simple: customers are willing to pay more for private events where they can drink, enjoy their favorite food, and spend time with friends and family.

This should be good news for your business, as private party patrons eat and drink more than usual. They also pay not only for the food and beverages they consume, but also for the space they use.

Start an Instagram account and use relevant hashtags

In the digital age, food and beverages are no longer just for "enjoyment"—they have transitioned into clickable status symbols. This is why chefs have been putting in more effort to create delicious and visually stunning dishes. 

In fact, to further highlight the importance of food presentation on social media, 50% of Gen Z and 44% of Millennials said they were discouraged from visiting a restaurant because the food photography wasn't "enticing".

So, make sure to snap and post those drool-inducing photos on Instagram and use food-related hashtags like #foodstagram, #foodporn, #instafood, and those that are related specifically to what your restaurant is selling, like #cheesypizza or #coffeelovers.

Pay attention to your food presentation

Posting photos on social media isn't enough—you also have to ensure that every picture you snap and post will have people drooling and running to your doors. To do this, you must first create dishes that are actually "Instagrammable." 

This means that in addition to creating mouthwatering dishes, you must also pay close attention to their presentation (a.k.a. how your food would look on camera). You have to be creative to make your dishes unique, but not to the point that it becomes ridiculous.

Take, for instance, selling something like "unicorn burgers," which are essentially just regular burgers, but you can replace the typical buns with blue and violet-colored buns. The burgers taste the same as your original recipe, but the difference lies in how you present them.

You can also give your dishes a catchy nickname so that when people mention "Dragon Juice" or "Rainbow Pasta," everyone will know you're the restaurant selling them. 

Here are a list of ideas to help you make your dishes more Instagrammable:

  • Create giant versions of your dishes, like an "Undertaker Burger" with five meaty patties in it, and market them as a food challenge to your diners by offering a reward to those who can finish it in two minutes or less

  • Use color schemes to make your dishes visually appealing (like the unicorn burgers we previously mentioned)

  • Creatively recreate existing dishes (instead of using plain-colored pasta bought in stores, why not make your own and add some food coloring in them to make them interesting)

There is no secret formula to ensuring your dishes become viral on Instagram, so don't be afraid to experiment now and then until you catch exactly what your customers are looking for. 

Sign your business up for food delivery services

40% of customers use Google Search to discover new restaurants, and 38% search using food delivery apps. This makes food delivery services a great way to promote your restaurant.

When their users open their delivery app, they usually browse for food chains near their area, which can be a great way for them to discover your restaurant and order from you online.

Just keep in mind that you might need to increase the cost of your menu once it is posted on these apps, as you would have to pay certain charges for using their platform and services. This doesn't mean, however, that you have to increase the price of your menu in-store.

Take advantage of your least popular menu items

With all the statistics and data you have in your restaurant, you can easily identify your best-selling and least popular menu items. But before you take those lowest-selling items off your menu, take advantage of them first and use them to promote your restaurant.

For instance, you can make them your freebie whenever a customer orders a single-receipt purchase of $15. This way, your diners will spend more as they try to meet that $15 ceiling every time they dine in so they can get a free item from you.

Ultimately, this is a win-win, as you can advertise your lowest-selling items (and even highlight this promotion to entice customers to dine in) while your customers enjoy a freebie with their meal. 

If this still doesn't boost this specific item's sales, then it's time to remove it from your menu, refresh your offerings, and introduce a new dish to your diners. 

Invest in a food truck

A food truck is a great option for introducing your menu offerings to different locations and letting customers from other areas know about your business. This is a great strategy to tap into, especially since this billion-dollar industry was valued at a whopping $2.2 billion in 2023.  

You can set up your food truck at locations mostly filled with people, like near a medical or college campus, farmer's markets, and public parks. Ensure your food truck bears your business name and logo so it serves as a convenient food option for customers and an advertisement on wheels. 

However, setting up a food truck requires a huge investment and elaborate planning. You need to consider where to park it (as you cannot just park anywhere you want), what menu items you will offer, and the number of employees you will assign to each truck.

If you have the extra money and want to introduce your restaurant to different cities but don't have enough to set up a physical location, we suggest starting with a food truck first. 

Offer coupons and discounts

From "buy one, get one" tactics to "bring three guests, dine for free on your birthday," everyone loves taking advantage of discount promotions. Approximately 70% of customers visit a restaurant offering personalized promotions, so this can be a great way to increase foot traffic and introduce your business to the public. 

One of the first things you should consider before offering coupons and discounts is your margins. Calculate the costs of the dishes on your menu and subtract them from the selling price to arrive at your profit margin for each item. This will help you choose which items to offer discounts and promotions on so you won't lose money on your discounted items. 

Offering coupons and discounts to the public can certainly skyrocket your sales, so it's best to offer promotions such as this when your restaurant needs a boost, not when it's already doing well. 

If many people dine in daily and you're receiving many online orders, offering promotions when you can't even accommodate more patrons can harm your business instead of helping it. 

Instead, study your restaurant data and determine when your restaurant typically has fewer customers so you can time your promotions well. 

Host off-hour promotions

In the US, customers spend an average of $68.99 during happy hour, so rotate your specials to keep things interesting for your diners, which can ultimately encourage them to spend more.

Off-hour promotions incentivize customers to eat and drink earlier. Plus, as the cost of living rises, most people prioritize value, giving off-hour promotions an added appeal. 

Your restaurant can use the off-hours to drive foot traffic to your establishment and increase sales. Ideally, happy hour takes place from 4 PM to 6 PM or 3 PM to 5 PM, as this is when it's too late to have lunch and too early to have dinner, so restaurants are usually experiencing a lull during these hours. 

When hosting a happy hour, you can offer discounts on selected food and drinks. This can be a great way to boost the sales of your least-selling items or introduce a new menu to your diners at a discounted price. 

Display your reviews

We can't stress enough how important positive reviews are—consumers spend 31% more at businesses with excellent reviews, and an increase of 1 star in your ratings can mean a 5% to 9% increase in your revenue. 

Not only that, 34% of consumers choose where to dine based on peer-reviewed websites. So what better way to take advantage of your 5-star reviews than to display them on your social media pages and website? 

Better yet, you can incorporate some reviews into certain dishes on your menu to hype them up even more. Consumers will trust what other consumers say more than what advertisers do, and it's not surprising, as word-of-mouth marketing typically results in 5x more sales than paid media ads. 

Put your positive reviews in action by snipping them from your reviews page and posting them on social media with enticing captions like "Still don't believe we have the best burgers in town? Just listen to what Angelie has to say."

Doing this lets you promote your restaurant without sounding too sales-y since you're using other people's positive feedback about your business.

Host challenges and contests

By hosting challenges like "Eat 15 hotdog sandwiches and don't pay for them" or "Finish a bowl of spicy noodles and get $20," you can create buzz and excitement around your menu, get people to visit your restaurant, and share their experiences with their followers on social media.

You can also host social media contests, such as "Tag us in a photo of you and a friend enjoying our best-selling burger, and get free fries with your next meal."

This may seem pretty easy, but you'll be encouraging more diners to buy the specific meal you want to promote and share the word with their social media followers, which means you'll hit two goals in one play. 

Reach out to food bloggers and influencers

If you're having trouble generating positive reviews and hype around your restaurant, you can reach out to food bloggers and invite them to dine at your restaurant. There’s a high chance they’ll post about the experience on their social media pages.

Remember that most of these food bloggers have a huge online following, so they can greatly impact your restaurant. Their recommendations can sway their followers and convince them to support your business. 

With over 69% of consumers trusting influencers, they might have just surpassed celebrities in terms of credibility in advertising!

“Most food bloggers with a large following can rope in up to a million site visitors monthly,” says Daniel O’Sullivan, a business writer at Writinity and Research Papers UK. “So, if your restaurant is new and undiscovered, reviews from popular bloggers can get you recognized by roughly 10 – 20% more people within a month.”

Just don't ask for a 5-star review outright. It could be construed as unethical, and some bloggers might feel you're asking them to compromise their values. 

Instead, ask them for an objective review of your restaurant—from the establishment itself, to the customer service experience, to the food and drinks. 

Form strategic partnerships

In addition to collaborating with bloggers and influencers, you can also form partnerships with other businesses to reach new customers.

These partnerships can take various forms, like collaborating with hotels so you can host their events or offer special promotions in partnership with other businesses. 

For instance, you can create a "Super Card" where customers can earn points dining at your restaurant and partner businesses. 

Just remember to reach out to businesses that align with your values so you can create a one-of-a-kind experience for your customers and expand your restaurant's reach simultaneously. 

Here are some things to remember when forming partnerships with other businesses:

  • Be specific on the type of partnership you're after. What benefits are you after? Is it financial, technological, or their level of expertise, or are you after their access to a certain audience?

  • Work with a partner who shares your values to ensure their business aligns with your restaurant's mission. This can also speed up decision-making since you can assess your choices faster, given that you share the same core values and principles.

  • Do a background check on who you form partnerships with to prevent a public relations nightmare. Dig around to discover hidden "skeletons in the closet" before publicly announcing your partnership or signing any contract. 

As TouchBistro puts it: "Ensure this partnership will attract attention and be talked about in a positive light, not a negative one.”

Choosing the right business partner will not only help you increase your revenue. 

Being careful in your selection process will save you time, energy, and money from dealing with public backlash if you and your partner have opposing views or if they have any previous issues that come to light. 

Offer catering services

Offering catering services is one way to expand your restaurant business and reach new customers. By hosting corporate events, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, baptisms, and other private parties, you bring your restaurant and food to your customers instead of waiting for them to come to you.

This will also allow you to showcase your menu and offerings and give those unfamiliar with your business a taste of your best dishes. Offering catering services is one low-cost marketing strategy you can take advantage of, even if you're on a tight budget.

Search for clients looking for caterers to host their events, and you can reach hundreds of potential customers without spending money on advertisements.

Don’t forget to bring a poster for the event so people will know your restaurant's name and other essential information, like your location and contact number, in case they want to book you for their next private party. 

Cater to people with specific dietary needs and allergies

With growing awareness about food sensitivities and food production, especially post-COVID, people have become extra careful of what goes inside their bodies.

“As restaurants, it’s become essential for us to be conscious about the raw material we use to ensure it’s healthy and organic. Along with that, to ensure that the different needs of our patrons are met, we try our best to have gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan options,” Chef Dogukan, the Head Chef of Sakhalin, said. 

By offering options for patrons with allergies and specific dietary needs, you're appealing to different types of diners and gaining a wider customer base. 

This means that if a group of friends wants to dine out with two vegans, you can attract these large groups of customers because you can meet everyone's needs. You can also get featured on various websites, including blogs about restaurants with vegan options in your area.

This doesn't mean you should change your menu entirely; just add alternatives so your diners have a choice and can switch to a dairy-free or vegan-based option. 

Also, take note of the costs so you know whether to ask for an additional $5 for these alternatives or if they would match the original costs just fine. 

Invest in video marketing

Video marketing is one of the most cost-efficient and effective forms of restaurant advertising. In fact, restaurants that use video content have seen a 33% increase in their social media engagement, and 88% of users spend more time on their social media pages. 

This highlights just how important video marketing is, as it can grab your audience's attention better than static images or very long text posts. 

So, how can you best showcase your restaurant and entice customers to dine using videos? 

The first (and one of the most important steps) is investing in good equipment. It doesn't necessarily have to be a professional camera that costs thousands of dollars, but a phone with a good camera and a clip-on mic would do. 

Then, think of a "theme" for your video. What do you want to showcase? The fresh ingredients have you sourced and used on your menu offerings? Or perhaps you want to focus on the ambiance of your restaurant and how it can be a "home" away from home? Maybe you want to highlight how your staff aren't "just employees" but are actually family?

Whatever your angle, it should demonstrate your restaurant's values, create an emotional connection with your viewers, and leave a lasting impression. 

Don't overlook email marketing campaigns

To reiterate just how important email marketing is, let's talk figures: 92% of online adults use email, 88% of users check their emails multiple times daily, and 60% of consumers prefer to be contacted by businesses via email. 

The best thing is that more and more individuals are using email yearly. With the current number of email users at roughly 4.5 billion this 2024, it is expected to grow to approximately 4.7 billion by 2026

Email marketing is also one of the most personalized strategies you can use. 

You can create different email series to incentivize your new subscribers, give special promotions to customers who haven't visited you in a while, or send exclusive offers to your loyal customers who will be celebrating their birthdays soon to encourage them to visit your restaurant.

Here are some of the best practices when it comes to marketing via email:

Put some effort into your welcome email

Since this is the first email they'll receive from you, make it simple and direct to the point. If you can, give them custom offers as a welcome gift, which can be a win-win for both of you. 

You'll be able to encourage a purchase from them, and they will not unsubscribe from your email list, knowing they can get something from it.

Collect and record important dates

If you want your emails to be as personalized as possible, you must know your customers better. You can do this by collecting essential customer data like their name, age, and birthday via comment cards, which you can have them fill out after they have a scrumptious meal.

You can use these details to send out a personalized greeting on their special day, along with exclusive offers that only they can use. These could include free dessert, a discount, or a "bring 5 friends, have 1 friend that can eat for free" promo.  

Of course, you have to disclose that the contact details they provide will be used to send them exclusive offers and promotions and assure them that you will be handling their data properly in accordance with data privacy laws. 

Also, give them a choice to opt out or say “no,” and if they do, make sure to follow this request.

Automate your emails

The best thing is that all of these can be automated, so you don't have to spend all your time in front of the computer or keep track of loads of data. 

Just ensure that your email is concise and direct to the point. Keep it under 200 words too, as studies show that emails within this range have the highest click-through rates. 

Send promotional text messages

SMS marketing has a significantly higher open rate of 98% compared to email marketing, with 15% to 20% as the benchmark for a "good" open rate. The reason for this is simple: users bring their phones with them anywhere. 

In fact, 2/3 of users in the US check their mobile phones 160 times daily. 

This results in promotional messages sent via text being opened and read within 1 to 5 minutes of being received. The good news is that 80% of consumers actually prefer receiving offers and discount promotions via text messaging. 

You can collect your customers' data via your online ordering system or those who subscribed to your loyalty program to get started. Then, you can send them text messages regarding your ongoing promotions or time-sensitive events, like your restaurant's happy hour.

Keep your texts under 160 characters and send messages no more than once a week. Also, ensure that you provide clear opt-in and opt-out instructions and that you only message customers who gave you their consent. 

Enable online reservation

Giving your customers the option to book a table in advance via online reservations is a great marketing strategy to increase sales and improve customer experience. You can set up your website and automate this feature to allow your customers to view which tables are available and choose the date and time of their reservation.

Doing this can also help you reduce waiting times and manage your restaurant's capacity to ensure every customer is seated. 

However, accepting online reservations means you would also have to control the number of walk-in customers you will accept since tables will be reserved for customers who booked online. 

One strategic way to approach this is to limit the number of tables you will put available for reservation on your website. This way, you can make sure walk-in customers still get a seat

Sell gift cards

Selling gift cards is a subtle marketing strategy that can help encourage repeat customers and entice new diners. It can also boost your revenue, as 65% of consumers spend more than their gift card's value during redemption.

Think of it this way: customers who purchase your gift cards and give it to friends or family are acting as brand advocates who personally recommend your restaurant to people they know.

Consumers love receiving gift cards because they provide a flexible and convenient way to enjoy what their favorite restaurant offers. The best part is that they can choose what items to spend the money on.

You can sell gift cards through your restaurant's website or in-store or create digital vouchers to be easily bought and stored on the buyer's phone until they decide to redeem them.

Start a restaurant website and focus on SEO

62% of consumers use Google when searching for restaurants, which means your Google visibility is something you should invest in. The higher you place on Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), the more customers you can reach. 

Ranking first on Google SERPs means your target customers will see your restaurant before seeing your competitors.

This is why you must pour your efforts into targeting the top spot on Google's first page: because only 0.63% of users click on the second page of Google Search results.

To optimize your website, target the right keywords. 

For example, if you're a pizza chain in Cincinnati, don't try to rank for the keyword "pizza shop" as it's too broad. Instead, target long-tail keywords like "pizza shops in Cincinnati," which are more specific and help you target your niche demographic.

While these keywords tend to be "low volume" (not a lot of people search for them), they are more targeted, and you are pinpointing your exact demographic (people who are looking for pizza shops in Cincinnati, where your food chain is located).

Also, avoid keyword stuffing or spamming when writing blogs on your website. Google prioritizes Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) in rating the quality of articles and deciding whether your website should be displayed at the top of the search results.

Restaurant SEO takes work, but this digital marketing for restaurants means looking at the long-term results. The articles you post will be there for as long as you want them to be, which means your one-time investment (if you hire an SEO strategist or a Copywriter) will continue to pay off in the long run.

Advertise in local news outlets

Posting advertisements in your local newspaper is one way to promote your restaurant's events, new menu items, and ongoing promotions. While this strategy sounds like it only caters to the older generation, remember that newspaper outlets nowadays have websites that post what they print for the day. 

In fact, 92% of consumers say they’d take the word of newspapers, magazines, and food influencers more than the paid advertisements they see online. 

By taking advantage of this strategy, you can reach out to both the older generation and even the younger demographic online. 

Combine cross-selling and up-selling techniques

You can market to your customers without them knowing you're advertising by combining cross-selling (offering complimentary menu items) and up-selling (encouraging diners to upgrade to a higher-priced alternative).

This technique can maximize your revenue and promote other menu items to diners ready to purchase. 

For instance, you can practice cross-selling by suggesting a side dish that would go well with your customer's order or recommending a brownie-ala-mode as dessert to top off their scrumptious meal.

You can also up-sell by recommending a different beverage (perhaps a wine instead of a soda) to go with their dinner. Or ask if they want to upgrade their fries to large, highlighting that the difference between the prices is only $1. 

While this can increase your sales and promote your menu offerings, be aware that your staff can sound like they're making a sales pitch if they aren't trained beforehand. So, give your staff the proper training before asking them to apply these marketing strategies. 

Respond promptly to reviews

Responding to your customer's reviews, whether they're positive or negative, shows that you value their opinions and that your business is committed to providing them with excellent service.

Taking the time to thank them for their positive reviews shows that you appreciate the time and effort they put into crafting a good review. 

Meanwhile, responding respectfully to negative feedback shows your commitment to improving the issues your diners brought up. This action can improve your restaurant's reputation and encourage more customers to try your food and beverage offerings. 

Participate in community events

Joining community events is a great way to introduce your restaurant to the public and connect with new potential diners. By sponsoring local events, signing up for food festivals, or catering at community feasts, you can showcase your menu offerings and highlight your commitment to your community. 

You can also organize charity events to give back to your community and establish goodwill. This is a win-win strategy because, aside from raising funds for people in need, 84% of consumers say they prefer to support businesses engaged in charitable causes. 

During the event, prepare a poster or banner bearing your restaurant's name, location, and contact number so people know where to visit you or how to reach you the next time they need someone to cater their events.

Fishbowl business cards

One unconventional restaurant marketing idea involves a fishbowl and a business card. 

The process is simple: ask your customers to drop their business cards on an empty fishbowl (or any bowl) for a chance to win a free lunch.

These raffles will allow you to take advantage of those business cards and add their email or contact number to your mailing list. You can use these details to send them news about your upcoming promotions and give them exclusive offers to enjoy. 

The best thing about this is that you are 100% certain that the contacts in your mailing list are already existing patrons of your business, so all you have to do is work on nurturing them and keep them coming back to your restaurant. 

Don't forget food holidays

There are lots of food celebrations throughout the year that you can apply to your restaurant. Some of them include:

  • January - Blueberry Pancake Day

  • February - National Pizza Day

  • March - National Baked Scallops Day

  • April - National Picnic Day

  • May - National Shrimp Day

  • June - World Milk Day and National Cheese Day

  • July - World Chocolate Day

  • August - International Beer Day

  • September - National Food Safety Month, International Bacon Day, and National Coffee Day

  • October - World Food Day

  • November - National Nachos Day, National Sandwich Day

  • December - National Pie Day, National Cupcake Day

You can use these holidays to promote items on your menu or host promotions like "buy 3 slices, get 1 slice free" on your best-selling cheese pizza on National Pizza Day. You can also host charity events and raise hunger awareness on World Food Day.

Ensure to note every food celebration all year round and see which ones you can apply to your restaurant.

Sign up on coupon websites

Signing your business up on coupon websites is one restaurant marketing idea you can use to entice new customers to visit your establishment. In fact, 54% of diners will pick a restaurant that offers a coupon, and 57% will try out new restaurants if it means they can redeem a coupon there.

To get started, you can host timed promotions and offer discounts on your popular dishes, then spread the coupons for this promotion on various websites. Your restaurant management system must generate the codes on these coupons so that when buyers redeem them, the discount on selected items will automatically apply once the codes are input.

Still, check with the website selling the coupon first, as it may have its own process for generating coupon codes. It would also pay to strategically time the release of your coupons, as you wouldn't want diners to visit your restaurant only when the items are discounted.

Some of the strategies you can apply when using coupons to entice customers include the following:

  • Use at least one generic discount that customers can apply to any of the items on your menu. For instance, "get $5 off when you spend $20." Generic offers have the highest redemption rates as they appeal to customers more since they can choose what they want to spend it on.

  • Offer a freebie upon the purchase of another item. You can approach this strategically by ensuring your free item is cheaper. 

  • Ensure your coupons are legible. Don't give your customers a hard time reading what is printed on them.

Invest in paid ads

Investing in paid ads on platforms like Google or Facebook will help your restaurant reach a wider audience.

With 75% of customers choosing a restaurant based on the photos, comments, and reviews they see on Facebook, it’s a smart move to reachout to them so they can discover your business before they discover your competitors. 

Just make sure to target locations or cities within a specific radius of your business to avoid spending money on showing ads to people who won’t become paying customers..

You can approach this strategically by increasing your bid near dinnertime, so users searching for a place to eat will come by your business. Studying your target audience can help ensure a higher chance of conversions. 

Knowing who the potential customers are and investing in ads to target them will pay off in the long run, compared to using broad targeting techniques.

So, if you are a pizza chain, your target market is usually groups of people (whether families or a group of friends). 

This means you can run paid ads to promote your bundle deals (buy 2 boxes, get 1 liter of soda for free) or sell them per slice (so you can target students on a budget as well.)

If you can, outsource this task to digital marketers who know the ins and outs of running paid ads on every platform.

Tap into TikTok marketing

TikTok is not merely an entertainment app but has taken over Google as the most used search engine by Gen Z. 40% of consumers use TikTok to search for topics they are interested in, which is likely why 54% of business owners use TikTok to promote their businesses..

Users prefer watching short-form videos to learn about new restaurants or watching their favorite influencers review a restaurant's menu. These videos allow them to see the restaurant's ambiance and watch the peoples’ reactions to the food they're eating.

“In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram,” Prabhakar Raghavan, Google's Senior Vice President, said.

This means your restaurant can treat TikTok exactly like a search engine and answer questions in video form.

For instance, you can show your customers how to get to your restaurant, but instead of writing down the directions, you can take a video of yourself riding the subway from a certain location, crossing the street, and entering your restaurant's doors.

Start tweeting

X (formerly Twitter) has over 3.42 million active users and approximately 1.95 million unique users who visit the site monthly.

Tapping into this micro-blogging site can help you reach new customers. In fact, 52% of consumers visited a restaurant after seeing promotional offers on X/Twitter, and 43% said they were enticed by the food photos they came upon while scrolling.

Here are some of the do's you should take note of when using this platform for your business:

  • Tweet at least two to three times daily and share the latest updates about your restaurant, such as special offers, happy hour menu, and "daily special."

  • Use relevant hashtags. If possible, create your own hashtags so users who want to learn more about your restaurant will just click on your hashtag.

  • Include high-resolution photos in your tweets whenever possible. Ensure they look appealing, and if needed, hire a professional photographer.

  • Interact with other users who mention your business. Thank them for dining in, and if they have any concerns or queries, attend to them immediately.

Prepare to meet increased customer demand

After applying these marketing ideas to your restaurant, you must deal with the next step: catering to a huge influx of customers. You have to ensure that your restaurant is adequately staffed to meet your diners' needs, and a restaurant scheduling software like 7shifts can do just the job.

Thanks to its employee scheduling feature, you can easily manage schedule changes from anywhere and have your staff trade shifts while remaining in the loop.

Additionally, you can monitor exactly what time your employees clock in and out to ensure they're being paid for overtime and taking mandatory breaks (especially during a busy rush when it's easy to lose track of time).

You can also manage payroll, oversee tip management, and integrate 7shifts to your POS seamlessly without manually inputting data. Get the advantages and features of different software and platforms all in one tool. 


Implementing marketing campaigns requires a lot of time, effort, and, most of the time, money.

This is why you should first develop a detailed restaurant marketing plan and pinpoint exactly who your target audience is. Then, outline what strategies are feasible considering your budget and business needs.

Whether you decide to revamp your website and invest in SEO, host events and promotions, try out video marketing, or grow your email list, we hope the strategies mentioned above will prove useful as you take your business to the next level.


What type of marketing do restaurants use?

Restaurants use various marketing strategies, including hosting limited-time offers and promotions, starting loyalty programs, creating a website and publishing search engine-optimized articles, and creating and publishing content on social media, to name a few.

Which marketing strategy is best for a restaurant?

It depends on your restaurant's budget and needs. If you have the money, you can invest in paid ads so you can reach a wider audience. If you want something that can provide you with good ROI in the long-run, then optimizing your blogs and websites is the way to go. 

How much do restaurants spend on marketing?

A restaurant's average marketing budget ranges from 3% to 6% of the total sales. Still, this can vary depending on your location, business size, and the cuisine you serve. This means a fine-dining establishment in the city can spend more on marketing than a small cafe in a rural town. 

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Vahag Aydinyan
Vahag Aydinyan

Hello! I am Vahag, Content Marketing Manager at 7shifts. I am writing about content marketing, marketing trends, tips on restaurant marketing and more.