Congratulations – you’ve just opened your first restaurant. While the locals may have seen your “open for business” sign, you know you can reach an even larger audience through marketing. Which marketing strategy should you rely on in promoting and generating buzz about your restaurant?
There’s no one particular marketing strategy to gravitate towards in getting the word out about your new restaurant. Rather, you want to try a combination of strategies, such as:
- Make your own website
- Post on social media
- Put your restaurant on Google Maps
- Request reviews
- Pay for online advertising
- Get on a food app
- Write a blog
- Promote your restaurant via influencers
- Use email marketing
- Have a contest or giveaway
In this article, we will elaborate on each of these tactics so you can take your restaurant further. By employing any of the above, you’ll soon see the traffic you need to generate an income from your new establishment.
Let’s get started.
10 Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Restaurant Business
Start with Your Website
This first strategy is arguably one of the most important. While a physical location matters, today’s consumers are all about what’s online. Thus, if you don’t have a website of your very own, it’s like you don’t exist to these consumers.
These days, it’s faster and easier than ever to get your own website up and running in an afternoon. No longer do you have to hire third-party experts to deploy your site, as you can do it yourself. Even if you’re not super tech-savvy, with drag and drop features, you can design a website you’re proud of.
-If you’re pinching pennies after opening your restaurant, we understand. Try free website builders such as Weebly, Wix, or WordPress. If you’re focusing on e-commerce especially, Square, BigCommerce, and Wix Stores ought to have what you need.
What should you put on your website? Well, you need an engaging homepage, for one. This doesn’t have to be paragraphs upon paragraphs. Instead, use full-sized images that capture the essence of your restaurant. Are you all about the comfort and ambiance? Then showcase it. Do your chefs make the best food in town? Take some mouth-watering photos to put on your site.
You should also have a page dedicated to your menu, another about your restaurant, and a contact page. If you take reservations online, you can add this to your site as well. Once your restaurant expands, add a section for all your various locations so customers can easily find which one is closest to them.
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Sign up on Social Media
While a website is a good start, it’s not nearly enough to get noticed on today’s Internet. As soon as potential customers find you, they’re going to search for you on social media as well.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like have become so pervasive that if someone isn’t a member, it seems strange. That’s why you must create a profile on all the big platforms, which is free to do.
Like any other business, you must tend to your social profiles, sharing content, responding to customers, and staying active. If a customer finds your page but sees it hasn’t been updated in six months, it may leave a bad taste in their mouth.
What can you put on social media? All sorts of things! You may post pictures of what’s on the menu, share deals and discounts, or remind people to make a reservation. You can also cross-post content like images, text, and even videos. Yes, making videos for your restaurant can really generate attention.
Since you’re brand new, you could shoot a grand opening video and perhaps announce a giveaway or discount in conjunction. In some cases, this can net you major shares and comments.
Before you think too much of what kind of content you’ll post to social media, make sure your profiles are complete. Sites like Facebook and Twitter will ask for your website, your phone number, your address, and your restaurant hours. This lets people see pertinent info about your restaurant without having to visit your website, so check that it’s all current.
Add Your Restaurant to Google Maps
Another way that people might glean the above is to search for you. If they use Google and your restaurant has no listing on Google Maps, that’s going to make it very difficult to track you down. Many people will just give up and move on to somewhere else to grab a bite to eat.
Having a listing on Google Maps isn’t just so people can find your physical location. This listing also showcases your address and phone number as well as relevant reviews (more on these shortly).
Google won’t add you to Maps itself, so it’s up to you to take the time to do this. First, you need to access the Google Business website. If you click “manage now,” that will take you to a page to search for your restaurant. Do this next.
If your restaurant doesn’t show up, then click the “Add your business to Google” link. You can then input the name of the restaurant, your location, your contact information, and even select a category that best describes your eatery.
When you’re done, Google will ask you to verify yourself using a unique PIN. That same day or very soon thereafter, you can get your restaurant on Google Maps.
Ask for Reviews
It’s no secret that reviews can make or break your restaurant. Without them, customers may doubt your credibility. How do you get people to leave reviews? There are a few ways to go about it.
For one, when printing receipts at the end of a meal, you can offer a freebie or discount if customers review your restaurant. You can also just ask, both in person and on social media.
If a person has an exemplary experience while dining out, they will feel inclined to leave a review. The same is true of a less-than-stellar meal. That’s why, when trying to garner reviews, it’s important to prioritize your customer service. Treat your customers right and they’ll remember it.
That doesn’t mean you can avoid all negative reviews, as someone will always have a bone to pick. If you’re getting bad reviews on social media, reach out to the customer to see if you can ameliorate their issue. Just make sure you’re not deleting all the bad reviews, as consumers will pick up on that sooner than later and it could hurt your reputation.
To grow your audience, using online advertising is crucial. Now you can attract more potential customers to your website and/or social media.
There’s a whole world of advertising options out there. You can pay to advertise on a website or use advertising platforms through social giants such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Mobile advertising is important, too. As Tech Jury notes, in 2020, roughly 3.5 billion people own and use a smartphone. That’s a huge audience to miss if you skip mobile advertising.
Unlike some of the other options we’ve discussed so far, online advertising is not free. You can opt for a variety of advertising models that vary by price, including the following.
- CPM: Cost per thousand or CPM is how much you’d pay to get your advertisement a thousand page views.
- CPI: Cost per impression or CPI tracks email campaign web traffic. You’d pay X amount per every thousand impressions.
- CPC: Cost per click, also referred to as pay per click or PPC, is a very common advertising model. You pay when someone who sees your ad clicks on it, hence the name pay per click.
Shop around, compare advertising costs, and choose one that’s cost-effective but will also expand your reach.
Get on a Food App
You also want to focus your efforts on getting your restaurant listed on a food app. From Grubhub to DoorDash, these and other apps have become incredibly popular to the modern consumer. Instead of finding a restaurant’s website and ordering through there, they can search for the restaurant on the app and do all their ordering right in the app.
Not only can you increase revenue by showing up on a food app, but more people can find you with ease. For instance, let’s say you’re a pizzeria. If a user on a food app searches for pizza places in their neighborhood, your name will pop up. They didn’t look for you directly, yet they found you nonetheless.
Okay, so how do you become a partner on DoorDash or Grubhub? For DoorDash specifically, you need an account first. Then, you request to become a partner. If you’re accepted, then each time your restaurant receives orders through DoorDash, you get a payment, which is issued weekly.
Being a DoorDash partner has its perks, but you do have to pay for the distinction. If a customer doesn’t get what they want or something goes missing, you may incur an error charge. There’s also sales tax and a commission.
Start a Blog
Getting back to your website for a moment, one must-have feature we haven’t yet mentioned is a blog. You or someone at your restaurant would write these blog posts. You can also hire a writer for this job if you’d prefer.
Now, you may wonder, what could you possibly write about on your blog? Well, take a look at the blog of popular restaurant chain Chili’s to get an idea. Their blog covers specific chefs and highlights other areas of company culture. Chili’s also uses a lot of hashtags and ties into relevant popular culture when they can.
There’s one bad thing about Chili’s blog: they haven’t updated it since 2018. Like your social media, you’ll have to make a commitment to add content to your blog regularly. This may be once weekly, twice a week, or even every other week. Just don’t go too seldom without a post.
When choosing content for your blog, start with keyword research. The keywords you dig up will tell you which topics are most relevant to your audience. Then, make sure you or your writer is producing content that’s SEO-friendly but human.
Why blog? There are so many benefits your restaurant can enjoy once your blog begins gaining some steam, such as:
- Blogging is a great chance to get people excited for upcoming events, giveaways, and discounts.
- You can introduce new menu items or other restaurant changes.
- If you write about the restaurant or food industries as a whole, you can establish your restaurant as an authority.
- Well-written, highly-researched posts or infographics can go viral, spreading your name.
- You can cross-post your blog content to your social media accounts so you always have something to post.
Connect with Influencers
In every industry exists influencers, or those with big audiences of loyal followers. When an influencer recommends a product, service, place, or brand, their audience will almost always check it out. After all, to win the coveted role of influencer, this person must have a consistent record of good taste.
If you can convince an influencer to recommend your restaurant, you could get your name out there with little effort on your part. From well-known foodies to food bloggers and critics, start searching for these people. They’re normally all over social media, and with huge followings at that.
Create a list of maybe 10 or 15 influencers to start with. As you add them to the list, make sure you’re focusing on more than just their clout. You want an influencer who aligns with your restaurant. For instance, if you’re a Japanese restaurant but you found an influencer that’s big on Italian food, maybe keep looking.
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Once you’ve got your list, it’s time to start reaching out. We suggest you use email for this, as direct messages can get lost in the shuffle or filtered if you have no connection with the influencer.
There are countless email templates you can rely on, such as these from Ninja Outreach, but you don’t have to use these verbatim. Above all, you want to personalize the message as much as possible. You may reach out to 14 other influencers, but no one else has to know that but you.
Make the email about the particular influencer. Don’t just address them by name, but mention their work or what you like about them. While you do want to bring up your restaurant, keep the focus of your email on the influencer and less about your eatery.
Most importantly, don’t write a novel. A few paragraphs should suffice, as some of the examples and templates above show.
Even if you do everything right, you will be rejected by some influencers. That’s why having a long list is good, so you can keep moving on to the next influencer until someone wants to work with you.
Use Email Marketing
Email marketing is a timeless weapon in a marketer’s arsenal, so make sure it’s something you’re utilizing as well.
To begin using email marketing as a new restaurant, you want to take contacts from your blog, social media, and website to generate a list. These are customers and would-be customers who signed up to receive more correspondence from you.
Next, you want to segment your audience based on their interests, tastes, age, gender, occupation, and other relevant demographics. Then you can begin sending tailored email content regularly. This content can include promotions, giveaways, discounts, and even news about your business in the form of a newsletter.
You may email daily or weekly, but don’t bombard your audience. Research on this topic suggests you send emails on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays early in the morning (6 a.m. to 10 a.m.), just after lunch (2 p.m.), or later in the day (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.).
Your email list should consistently grow as your restaurant does. You need to send emails that interest these new customers while at the same time mailing your loyal customers different targeted content as well.
Host a Contest or Giveaway
Our last marketing strategy is one we’ve mentioned a few times already: having your own giveaway or contest.
People love free stuff, food especially. That said, food doesn’t exclusively have to be the prize. You might give away branded restaurant merchandise, a restaurant recipe book, a gift card, or even a cooking class if you do that sort of thing.
If you can offer a huge giveaway (like free food for a year), then you can almost guarantee you’ll get people talking. That said, you have to promote your contest heavily to maximize the participation. You may pay for online advertising, use social media, write some blog posts about the contest, and send emails.
Make it easy for people to enter, such as submitting their email address, commenting on a post, or following your company on Facebook and Instagram. As people participate, tell them to get their friends and colleagues in on the action, too.
Once the contest is over, the winner decided, and the prize given out, you need a follow-up strategy. Will you send emails to get participants to come back to the restaurant again? Maybe all participants get a special promotional code so everyone’s a winner. Whatever you do, think long-term.
To market your restaurant to the masses, you need a well-designed website, a strong social media presence, a blog, and a budding email list. Through enlisting the help of influencers, having contests, and asking for reviews, your following will grow even more. Best of luck!