Restaurants are like any business in some respects: They have loyal customers, build their reputation by word of mouth as much as by advertisement and, of course, need to increase that customer base and reputation in order to continue growing. But restaurants are unlike almost any other industry in the amount of customer service they entail. From wait staff to menu items, almost every part of the restaurant experience is grounded in giving the clientele such a great experience that they’ll be back again soon.
But how do you get those customers into your restaurant to begin with? And beyond great food and customer service, how do you make sure to stay on their radar after a visit? From redesigning your online presence to custom plastic cups and other promotional tips, consider these restaurant marketing ideas.
Restaurant Marketing Ideas that Fill Up Your Reservation Book
- Encourage good press – Once upon a time, phrases like “good press” meant restaurant reviews in newspapers and culinary magazines. While these can certainly still boost your clientele and you’ll always want to make a great impression on food journalists, nowadays sites like Yelp are where people turn for candid reviews. Keep an eye on the most popular restaurant ranking sites, since this is what most folks see when they’re searching for new, local food. If a customer has a bad experience, reach out to them. Offer gift certificates or restaurant promotional products by way of peace-making. More often than not, these individuals with amend their rating and praise you for your customer service. And they’re certainly likely to give your top dishes a second try!
- Redesign your website – On the same note, make sure that you offer customers a website worthy of your restaurant. Not only should it be aesthetically pleasing – don’t clutter the page; do take advantage of today’s large, HD computer screens with high-res photos of food and your restaurant’s ambiance – but also easy to use. Make the path to your menu easy and clear. And your restaurant’s address should be easy to find on every page – preferably with a link to directions from major roadways. This sort of goodwill to customers before they’ve even walked in the door is sure to win people over. Finally, you’ll also want to optimize your site for mobile phones. Many people use their smartphones to search for great food on-the-go, so give them an accessible mobile site to check out.
- Use social media – The age of Facebook, Twitter and Groupon means that much of your marketing needs to be done online. Draw attention to your social media presence by offering customers incentives for “liking” your page or “following” you. Simply put, alongside promotional items, social media is one of the best ways to build a brand. Use Facebook surveys and contests to draw in parties, and offer fun promotional items, like custom buttons, to customers or social media followers who participate. You may also want to engage with followers about their favorite dishes or recipes. Have your chef chime in with tips every so often. Find creative ways to continually advance your online presence and watch your real-life client base grow as a result.
- Take advantage of sponsorship or host events – While many of today’s tips focus on how to build brand online when it comes to restaurant marketing, word of mouth still works well when it’s not via texts or Tweets. Sometimes, hosting or sponsoring an event is the best way to expand your clientele. Use your restaurant premises for a local charity fundraiser. This will allow your reputation to skyrocket, especially in the surrounding neighborhood. Perhaps you want to show off what your restaurant does best, however: food. If that’s the case, why not become a sponsor at a local event. Offer up singular dishes at a Memorial Day parade or serve great snacks and appetizers near the finish line of a local road race. Your presence won’t go unnoticed, and folks will surely come back for more. And why not offer a few promotional magnets so they won’t forget where to find you.
What Restaurant Marketing Ideas are Working for Your Business?
Run a restaurant? Have you own great marketing tips? Let us know what you’ve found successful!