Restaurant Marketing Ideas and Advertising Methods



You know that your restaurant will not be successful if you have no customers. To get a base clientele to start off your restaurant well and to keep a steady stream of people coming through your doors on an ongoing basis you will have to have a restaurant marketing strategy. Here are some promotional ideas that you could consider incorporating into your marketing plans and advertising budget.

Word of Mouth Marketing

You want people to talk about your restaurant as this is one of the best ways to gain a great reputation in your local area and get some free advertising. One way to encourage this is to identify the ‘talkers’ in your community that have some influence, get chatting with them and then offer them a free meal. These people could include local tour guides, politicians, business people, a radio DJ, journalists, webmasters or even taxi drivers. If you are nice to them and they enjoy their food then they will recommend your restaurant to other people.

A Successful Restaurant Launch

Get your business off to a great start by having a successful launch promotion. Use conventional advertising to build up interest and curiosity in the weeks before you open your doors. Start off with a launch party and invite key people in your community. It is great if local people can see that you are fully booked and have people waiting outside for tables. This creates a feeling of exclusivity and local people will be waiting for the first chance they get to make a booking once the waiting time has been reduced.

Advertising with Building Signage

Your restaurant has to look enticing on the exterior if it is to encourage people to come in off the street. Make use of signage that lets prospective diners know exactly what you have to offer. Combine this with a neat and well-maintained frontage and you will create a positive impression on passers by and stand the best chance of winning their business.

The Owner

As a restaurant owner you are a mobile advertisement for your business. Be sure to carry some business cards and menus with you at all times and make sure that you let people know exactly what it is that you do.

Taste Testing

One of the more customer friendly forms of advertising that you can do is a taste test, offering bite sized portions of your best dishes to the public. This is usually done during festivals or public events but you may also be permitted to hand out samples to passers by on the street. If your city has any ethnic festivals that coincide with your niche, they would be ideal places to offer a taste of your cuisine. You can even rent a small regulation compliant food cart and put your branding on it. Have plenty of business cards available to pass out so that people will not forget where that little taste of heaven is located.

Charity Events and Publicity

Restaurant events can get you some great publicity, especially since they are usually entertaining. Offer to host a charity fundraiser for a local cause. Have a celebrity cook off with well known city officials or other public figures competing for the best dish. These cook offs are fun for everyone and the delicious results can be portioned out to the restaurant patrons. You get publicity, your patrons get free food, you will usually sell a decent amount of drinks and everyone has fun.

Discounts and Coupons

There has been a lot of competition and discounting between restaurants lately, mostly because of the economy. This works well for casual dining establishments or fast food places but if you have a menu that you’re proud of with quality ingredients and an exceptional wait staff, discounting tells the public that you don’t feel your restaurant deserves full price. Rather than discount your food try advertising exclusive services such as free valet parking or a cloak room with an attendant where people can check their coats safely. You could also offer something extra like a free wine or beer with every main course instead of a discount. Instead of offering coupons, distribute certificates. Coupons scream cheap but certificates imply privilege.

Discount coupons can work well for some restaurant concepts although it is definitely hard to measure results here. While they can be effective in bringing in new diners, some of these customers may not necessarily continue to be loyal to you after the promotion has ended. It is also hard to measure the money that you lose as a result of your regular customers using the coupons when they were otherwise prepared to pay full price. Coupons can definitely generate some short term buzz though and you may consider them as a good approach when the economic situation is tough and consumers are spending less.

Flip Days

Another strategy that works well for a restaurant promotion is a flip day. You can have it weekly or monthly and the idea is that every patron during a certain block of time can flip a coin and get a chance to have their meal at no cost. Since people tend to spend more when they think they might get it for free, your flip day will cost you little or nothing and it will be great publicity. This fun event works much more successfully than the common buy one, get one free promotion.

Online Advertising and Social Media

These days all restaurants should have a website as your customers will want to check important details about your business such as your opening hours or menu offerings. If you are in a competitive market then an online marketing campaign can really help in bringing targeted visitors to your website. Web searchers that are looking for your particular kind of restaurant in your particular location should find you close to the top of the first page of their search results. Otherwise, you are seriously missing out on opportunities.

These days there is a lot of hype about how social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter can enhance business marketing. Most restaurant owners who have tried this method report that it is not so effective for bringing in new customers but can be effective in maintaining relationships with existing customers.

In addition to the usual ‘Yellow Pages’ ads and radio advertising, using some of these promotional ideas as well as brainstorming your own could bring remarkable results. Be creative and daring and come up with some great restaurant marketing ideas that can get your business off to a great start by getting the word out.

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Indian cuisine restaurant menu template with healthy lunch dish list. Pita bread, served with vegetable rice, chicken curry and fried shrimp, fried feta cheese, lentil and saffron soup

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