7 Ideas To Promote Your Restaurant or Bar

Once a customer falls in love with your restaurant, they usually stay loyal for years – sometimes for life. But you have to find them out first, and this is where your marketing strategy comes into play. Getting it right takes a little trial and error.

Good news? It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. This post is for seven effective restaurant marketing tips to get your dinner out.

 Best 7 marketing tips for restaurants, bars, and cafes

The best restaurant marketing strategies combine at least two or three of these ideas. From creative promotions to local Google customers, give it a try and see what works for you.

Create a website for your restaurant

According to a recent METRO survey, 22% of consumers said they wouldn’t visit a restaurant if they didn’t have a website with a menu. If you don’t have a website yet, you may lose potential diners to other local restaurants before they arrive in your area.

The best thing about your restaurant website? You can personalize it with your custom colors, fonts, content, and logos. Think of this as your online shop window – it should be easy for customers to see the moment they are “passing by.”

By including a food or drink menu on your site, customers can preview what you have to offer. Add a photo to your restaurant, preferably on a busy night where your team and customers are having fun, so new customers can feel the atmosphere. You can also encourage customers to keep coming back by posting the latest offers and upcoming events on your news page or making online reservations using your favorite booking tool.

To ensure that visitors can find your website, it’s important to optimize it for search engines like Google.

Tip: Depending on the current coronavirus policies in your city, it’s a good idea to add an FAQ page to your website with the latest social distancing and health rules, and the services you currently provide.

Get your restaurant on social media TODAY

If your restaurant website is the main course, social media is the side dish. And thanks to the wide reach of social networks like Facebook and Instagram, you can get pretty good results by creating a profile and updating it regularly. For example, posting regular snaps of your weekly specials or promoting a restaurant offer you’re running can help you attract customers. So, where should you start?

  • Facebook is the biggest social network on the planet. Around 2.6 billion people log on every month, so there are lots of potentials there to get free exposure. And promoting your restaurant with Facebook ads is relatively cheap. You can even choose the age ranges, location, and interests of the people who see your adverts. Remember to add a menu to your profile along with a link to your website and all your contact info.
  • Instagram is used by 37% of US citizens—and counting. This growing network is particularly popular with young audiences, with 75% of users falling into the 18-24 age bracket. The fact Instagram is an image-centric site makes it ideal for bar, cafe, and restaurant owners. 

Make your restaurant a check-in hotspot. You’ve probably seen friends “check-in” to their favorite bar on Facebook or tag the restaurant they’re lunching at on Instagram. Encouraging visitors to tag you in their social media posts is a great way to get in front of more potential customers because everyone on their friend’s list will see the post too. This works even better if you have a “Grammable” feature in your restaurant, like one of these fabulous flower walls or a well-chosen wallpaper that makes the perfect backdrop for social snaps. 

Get local customers for your restaurant with “Near me” searches

When you search for shops or eateries in your area on Google (by typing in something like “Thai restaurants near me”) this is called a “near me” search. Optimizing your website for these searches is key to successful local restaurant marketing because most people use them when they want to eat or drink right now.

Hint: If you’re only offering food pickup and takeaway right now, you can add the Local Pickup option to your website to take orders online.

If you have your website, you’ll already show up on Google and other search engines. The next step is to optimize your site for local SEO so you can capture more of that passing trade. 

  • Set up your Google My Business profile. This is a free and easy way to make sure all your company info is up to date online, like your address, contact details, and phone number. You can also add photos of your place and most photogenic dishes to help you stand out in “near me” searches. Here’s how to claim your Google My Business listing.
  • Encourage customers to leave you a Google Review. You’ve probably noticed that now when you Google a local business, you can see reviews and star ratings from its customers. The more five-star ratings you can get, the more likely people will be to try your place. Good customer reviews are the best advertisement for your restaurant. 
  • List your business on TripAdvisor or Yelp. Depending on your country and area, tourists are probably using these platforms when planning their trip. If you want to tap into this market, it’s worth creating a profile to promote your business on multiple online platforms.

Organize promotions and events

Offering regular happy hours or discounted midnight dinners is a great way to attract new customers and keep things fresh for your regulars. But have you tried taking a step forward with themed nights?

For example, if you turn your restaurant into a festive Christmas wonderland with matching dishes, drinks, and decorations, you can attract guests from afar in search of a special experience. Usually, these people haven’t passed your restaurant and if they like your place they’ll want to come back for dinner or a drink.

Have you considered taking your business overseas? For example, buying a kiosk at a local farmer’s market or night market can help you pick up customers who may not have heard of you. This can also be a great way to remind previous customers that you are still serving delicious food and are worth another visit.

Offers coupons and other promotions

Discounts are always a great way to attract new guests and keep guests interested.

Great old gift certificates never go out of style. But it can be more than a birthday present or a last-minute Christmas present. Many cities distribute vouchers to new residents to help them navigate and invest a few dollars in the local economy. Local tour desks will often have similar programs for you to join.

There are also online platforms that specialize in coupons and discounts, such as Groupon and Eat The World, which offers culinary tours in various cities.

Earning loyalty card points or stamps may not work for star restaurants, but it works well for bars and cafes. For example, guests can get a stamp every time they visit when they order their first large (and expensive) cocktail. Ten visits and ten cocktails later this is the free pina colada on the house! Or entice your customers with a gift for every ten types of coffee ordered, such as a cake or muffin – it’s up to you.

With all the benefits that coupons and discount campaigns offer, you’ll never forget your calculations. After all, your marketing shouldn’t cost you more than you will get.

Engage in email marketing by sending newsletters

Restaurant email marketing is also still a powerful tool on social media – especially if you attract customers with exclusive offers. You can let your regular subscribers know about the latest news and upcoming events in your newsletter, share recipes and expert advice, and gently remind them that you’re still there and it’s time to check back. And it’s easier than you think.

Treat your regulars well

If there’s a reason you’re returning to your favorite bar or restaurant besides great food and lots of beer, this is a great host. So be careful, be kind, and have conversations with your guests. Make sure they know that you value them not only as a source of income but as a person belonging to your local community. And hey, free desserts or an extra shot from time to time for loyal customers doesn’t cost a fortune, but it does cost a fortune.

How do you involve your customers during the pandemic? What actions helped you bring dinner back to your restaurant? We want to hear your success story! Share with us on Facebook or Instagram with a link to your website.

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