It is no secret that people take to the internet to uncover new restaurants, write reviews, browse menus and make reservations. Marketing your restaurant can sometimes be tricky in today’s digital world. You need creative restaurant marketing ideas to draw customers in and keep them coming back for more. Before diving in to marketing to your audience you must define who they are. Are you marketing to millennials, the older generation, families with kids?
This step is vital before you can begin marketing with your creative restaurant marketing ideas because without a clearly defined audience you cannot possibly build an advertising campaign. The clearer you can define your target audience, the easier it will be to create content, ads and emails. For example, if you are a restaurant marketing to the millennial generation, you would want to produce content that appeals to them and uses their language.
Here are 13 Creative Restaurant Marketing Ideas
- Create Social Media Challenges or Contests
Everyone loves to win free stuff and a social media contest is a fun way to promote your brand. Try a giveaway contest where you ask people to tag their favourite dining buddy. This can help you gain more followers, boost your brand visibility and get more customers to check out your business. If the winner has never dined with you before it will give them a chance to try your restaurant risk free.
- Understand How Hashtags Work
Hashtags are a great tool to have in your box of creative restaurant marketing ideas. Why are hashtags important for your restaurant? They can help build brand awareness, increase engagement and get customers walking in your doors. Building awareness for your brand is crucial for success. When potential customers see your logo or restaurant name you want their minds to immediately know:
- What your company stands for
- What type of food you serve
- Where to find you
If your restaurant consistently uses a hashtag it will encourage your followers to use it as well. This increases engagement and builds a community of consumers. Once your hashtag gains popularity you will begin to grow your customer base and get your online followers walking in your doors.
Pro Tip: Use niche hashtags combined with popular hashtags. If you only use popular hashtags your post will get lost in the mix. Use local hashtags so that your posts show up in your geographical area.
- User Generated Content
User generated content can make your life a whole lot easier. By utilizing content that your followers post you can save time as well as money. 92% of people trust recommendations from other people over branded content. People do not like salesy content from marketers. They trust their peers. So use content that average people post to promote your brand. The best part is you can use their content for free.
As a restaurant you will more than likely have tons of user generated content because people love to take and post photos of their food. User generated content is typically an indicator of a trustworthy or reliable brand. If other people are promoting your brand this is basically like them giving you a great review. This strategy helps you connect with people showing you are authentic and human.
- Focus on Local SEO
If you are only going to pick one of these creative restaurant marketing ideas for your business, you better make it this one. Local SEO for restaurants is vital. If you are not showing up when potential customers search in their local area, you cannot expect to get much business. Your goal must be to rank in your local pack also known as the top three Google map spots when users search for a specific keyword like ‘best pizza’. The top three restaurants are going to receive the most traffic because they are the first results a user sees.
- Web design for restaurants
Having an excellent restaurant web design allows you to begin the dining experience before the customer even walks into your establishment. You can use your website to show diners the atmosphere, as well as your drinks and menu items. You will want to ensure your site is compatible with mobile devices as well. If someone is hungry, the chances that they take the time to pull out their computer are slim. They are more likely to use a smartphone to quickly find a restaurant.
- Boost posts or create sponsored ads
It is not enough just to post on social media, you will need to create advertisements or pay to boost your posts. Platforms such as Facebook are ‘pay to play’ websites. Some of your followers may see your post, however in order to spread the word about your business you need to have an advertising budget. When you pay to advertise your posts you can decide your target audience, location and more.
If you choose to boost a post this is simply paying to advertise a post that you already have on your Facebook or Instagram page that you feel needs more traffic. When you pay for boosted posts and ads you will have access to analytics that can help you grow your business even further.
Social media monitoring involves checking your reviews on various platforms, reviewing your comments and tagged posts. What are people saying about your restaurant on social media? You as a restaurant owner or manager must double check anything your restaurant is tagged in or any comments that are posted. This is crucial so that you can catch spam comments or correct posts that contain the wrong information.
- Loyalty program
Having a loyalty program is a great way to increase your sales. One way to start customers in your loyalty program is to obtain customer emails. You can easily do this through a website or a landing page pop-up or social media campaign. Loyalty programs encourage customers to keep coming back to get that free dessert or coupon.
- Write a blog
Blogging may seem like the last thing you want to do for your restaurant, however this can be a great way to share recipes, tips and tricks or to share the story of your restaurant. Not to mention it can help you get found online. You should also be blogging for your local clientele. Tell them about local events you participated in or other activities you have done in the community. When people read your blog they are spending time on your website. Which lets search engines know your website is relevant and useful. Which leads to your restaurant ranking higher in search results.
- Use Pinterest to pin your food photos
Pinterest allows you to pin photos of your food that you can link to your website or social media platforms. Pins are continuously being pinned and repinned which creates an endless marketing cycle for your restaurant. If you pin your best food photos they will most likely get repinned. Ensure that your name and brand is attached to your pins. That way when people discover them, they know exactly where to go to enjoy your dishes.
- Email marketing for restaurants
Email marketing is an essential marketing tactic that all restaurants should be using. First you must build your list. Consider a pop-up on your website or a landing page to collect customers emails. You can even collect them in your restaurant but keep in mind that you will have to manually add them to your email API latr. Once you have built your list, you can begin crafting email campaigns as well as automated emails.
Here are some email campaign ideas:
- Email customers your menu if it changes or send out the weekly specials
- Tell them about the events you are having
- Make a customer appreciation day that is exclusive for subscribers where they get a discount
- Share your restaurant’s story or history
Remember, not every email should be selling your restaurant. Provide your subscribers with quality content so that they will continue opening your emails and engaging with you.
- Work with influencers
Influencers are the people who already have a massive following that typically listen to their suggestions and advice. Invite them to your restaurant and ask them to post photos or their thoughts about your food for their followers to see. If you can get a food influencer in your restaurant it can give you the much needed exposure to outdo your competition.
- Make your food ‘Insta worthy’
Many people, particularly millennials go to restaurants just so they can photograph the food. If you post beautiful photos on your Instagram page you can draw in this target market. Come up with creative ideas that have not been done by other restaurants yet. Have a signature meal or drink that stands out. Once you have this down, you will need to take an amazing photo of it. Don’t just share photos of your food, ensure you show the dining atmosphere as well. This will draw your customers in and give them a taste of your restaurants vibe.
One of the most vital creative restaurant marketing ideas I can give you is to stay flexible. Some techniques you use may not work. Do not get stuck on one idea. If something is not working, change it. There are numerous creative restaurant marketing ideas out there that you can use for your marketing campaigns. Make use of this guide to get your restaurant on top!