While it may seem like online advertising is all anyone in marketing talks about these days, digital marketing strategies need to be supported by offline efforts to get customers off of their smartphones and to your restaurant’s tables.
Whether you feel like you’ve tried every advertising tactic in the book, or 2021 is the first time your restaurant has had a dedicated marketing budget, you can implement our restaurant advertising ideas to attract new customers and turn one-time visitors into loyal customers.
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On-Site Restaurant Advertising Ideas
Don’t underestimate the power of in-house advertising at your restaurant. If you don’t think you need to advertise to the customers who are already at your restaurant, you’re missing out on a huge revenue opportunity.
Five percent of diners, a.k.a. regulars, generate more than 20% of a restaurant’s total revenue. Use these on-site restaurant advertising ideas to keep your customers coming.
Take advantage of your real estate to get customers in the door. Does your restaurant have a sign out front? Is it easy to see and read? Is your restaurant’s name on an awning or window? If you answered no to any of these - it’s time to make some updates!
Make sure that passersby know that your restaurant exists with obvious signage.
Some of the simplest advertising opportunities are the easiest to miss.
Display your restaurant’s menu in the window by the front door. If people like what they see, they’ll come on in.
If passersby are curious about your restaurant but don’t know what you serve, and your menu isn’t in the window, they’ll be more likely to check out a neighboring restaurant with a menu on display rather than walking inside your restaurant to ask to see a menu. Display your menu outside to attract customers.
Additionally, if your restaurant offers takeout, place some takeout menus by your entrance to entice customers who may not be looking to dine in.
3. Advertise Specials in Your Windows
In addition to displaying your menu in your restaurant’s windows, use this space to hang up posters that show promotions, special menu items, and events at your restaurant.
4. Take Advantage of Your Sidewalk
If your municipality permits you to use the sidewalk for promoting your restaurant, take advantage of this extra real estate. Sidewalk chalk signs are an affordable, fun, and effective way to advertise specials... and to make jokes to get the attention of passersby.
5. Maximize Indoor Real Estate with Signage
Use your restaurant’s interior to upsell to customers, ask people to sign up for your email list, tell customers to follow your restaurant on social media, and more.
For casual establishments, consider putting promotional signs on the backs of bathroom stall doors and at the silverware stand. Restaurant table advertising, like tabletop signs or flyers, are also effective. For upscale establishments, be more subtle by placing promotional materials in the guest check holder.
Encourage customers to advertise your restaurant to their friends by creating a photo op for millennial customers. Put up cool wall art and include information about a hashtag and your restaurant’s social media accounts so that users know what to tag.
Sit back, relax, and watch the likes - and new customers - come rolling in.
7. Turn Your Customers Into Walking Billboards
When customers leave your restaurant with a coffee cup with your restaurant’s name on it, they become walking advertisements for your business. Put your restaurant’s name on takeout bags, coffee sleeves, plastic cups, and more.
Custom branding doesn’t have to be expensive. Rather than ordering completely customized paper and plastic products, you can order a roll of stickers with your restaurant’s logo on them and affix them to takeout containers.
Online Restaurants Advertising Ideas
With so many online advertising tactics at your disposal, it can be difficult to know where to start. Fortunately, you don’t have to pick just one. The more digital marketing tactics you use - paired with offline advertising - the more effective your restaurant’s marketing will be.
Chances are, you’re already posting to Instagram and Facebook regularly (if you aren’t - what are you waiting for?!). Level up by sharing video content on your restaurant’s social media channels. Use a smartphone to capture behind-the-scenes looks at your kitchen, share a recipe, or create enticing food porn to stay at the top of your followers’ feeds and minds.
9. Start an Email Newsletter
Unlike social media posts, which won’t reach all of your followers’ feeds due to limiting algorithms, newsletters are guaranteed to make it into every subscriber’s inbox.
Send updates to subscribers about specials, events, bestsellers, and more. Create newsletters on a regular basis, but avoid spamming customers. I recommend sending no more than one newsletter a week.
10. Create a Snapchat Geofilter
When customers share Snapchats from your restaurant, make sure their friends know where the Snap was taken by creating a geofilter for your restaurant. Custom geofilters are easy to make and surprisingly affordable. Use restaurant table advertising in the form of tabletop signage to encourage customers to
Snap from your restaurant and use your custom geofilter.
11. Reach New Customers via Ads on Facebook and Instagram
Facebook’s advertising platform lets you target existing and potential customers based on behavior, location, and interests. Facebook’s targeting ability makes it a powerful restaurant advertising tool.
Want to lure in your competitor’s customers with a coupon? Serve ads to people who like your competitor on Facebook or follow them on Instagram. Facebook owns Instagram, so you can manage Facebook and Instagram ads from the same platform.
12. Use Influencers to Maximize Your Reach
Do you want your restaurant to reach cult status? Engage influencers - bloggers and social media users with large followings - to spread the word about your restaurant to their loyal followers.
Give influencers an exclusive preview of your new menu in exchange for coverage on their feeds. This guide to vetting influencers will help you identify what to look for in an influencer to increase your chances of a successful collaboration.
Recommended Reading: Simple Restaurant Marketing Plan for 2021 [PDF Template]
Offline Restaurant Advertising Ideas
Traditional advertising methods like magazine ads, billboards, and TV commercials are pricey… and it can be difficult to measure their effectiveness. Here are some offline advertising alternatives that won’t break the bank and will give you a return on your investment.
13. Encourage Word-Of-Mouth Advertising with A Postcard
Print custom postcards for your restaurant and give them to customers with their check. Encourage customers to fill out and address the postcard to a friend - you’ll send it on the house! This fun restaurant advertising idea spreads the word about your restaurant to a receptive audience while delighting current customers.
14. Don’t Overlook Snail Mail
Think snail mail is dead? Think again. More than half of consumers say they’d spend money at a business that was new to them if they had a coupon.
Ask customers to sign up for your mailing list when they receive the check. Place a form in the guest check holder and offer an incentive for signing up - like a coupon for their next visit.
15. Take Your Food Outside of Your Four Walls!
Partner with local businesses to spread the reach of your restaurant.
Do you serve healthy food? Set up a table at the gym next door and serve samples of your green smoothies. Are you located near a college campus? Sponsor an event by catering it.
You’ll spread the word about your restaurant to receptive audiences who may not have known where to find you otherwise.
16. Become a Coworking Space
Companies like Spacious are taking dinner-only restaurants and opening them up to freelancers, entrepreneurs, and students during the day time to use as work spaces. Participating in a program like this will expose your restaurant to new customers and create an extra source of revenue during a time when your space would otherwise be unused.
Takeaway Ideas For Restaurant Advertising In 2021
- Use a combination of online, offline, and on-site advertising to reach new customers and turn current customers into regulars.
- Concentrate on social media. Specifically on Instagram as it's easeir for customer to connect with you there while the whole industry is going through pandemic related difficulties.
- Maximize real estate by using signage to catch the attention of passersby, and spread the word about specials and promotions to current customers.
- Stay active online by posting regularly on social media, sharing updates via email, and working with influencers.
- Get creative with offline advertising. Partner with local businesses, reinvent word-of-mouth advertising with postcards, and turn your unused space into profit and promotion by leasing it as a coworking space part time.
What innovative methods are you using to get customers in your seats this year?