5 Clever Marketing Ideas to Promote Your Restaurant

by Dhiren Bhatia / December 03, 2018

Getting the word out about a restaurant is not a new challenge for restaurant owners and managers.

But as the social, cultural and digital media landscape changes, there is an increasing number of options open to restaurant owners when it comes to promoting their bistros, bars, coffee shops, and even food trucks.

Some of the tools are available are coming in the form of participation in new tech tools and apps, and others are just ways to hop on to cultural trends that may be increasingly appealing to your customers.

Read on and see if any of the following marketing techniques could work for your restaurant.

Buying Hyper-Targeted Ads

If you’re still purchasing print ads or billboards, it’s time to consider some more modern — and cost-effective — techniques.

Unlike traditional advertising options, ads on social media sites like Facebook allow users to target ads down to very specific details. You can target by any combination of the following factors:

  • Geographically – You can select how many miles away from your city the ad should be shown.
  • By age group – Depending on your brand, your ads might be more effective if you narrow down the age of the people seeing them.
  • By income level – You might choose to focus on higher-income groups if you run an upscale, gourmet restaurant, for example.
  • By interest – Some users may have expressed an interest in the culture or food that your restaurant specializes in. You can also opt to show the ads to the fans of other Facebook pages, or the fans of pages that are related to your own.
  • By birthday – It’s common to celebrate birthdays with a special meal, so offering your fans a special discount for their birthday can be an effective tactic.
  • Time of day – Unlike a print ad, digital ads allow you to pay only for the times of day the ads are the most effective. For example, a food truck might run ads at lunch time advertising its location. Dinner-focused restaurants might do some data analysis to find when people tend to make reservations or dinner decisions and see if it helps to run ads at those times.

You can try different factors and combinations of targeting to track how effective each type of ad is. No more spending thousands of dollars on an ad in hopes that it brings people through your doors.

Investing in Branded To-Go Containers

If you regularly send your customers out of your restaurant with their food and drinks, you might be missing out on an easy opportunity for visibility if you’re using standard, blank to-go containers.

For example, this Lightspeed blog post mentioned an example of a cafe that uses to-go cups printed with an image of its iconic indoor plants.

You customers will often carry around their cups with them as they go about their day, which makes them a great way to get visibility. Ordering unique to-go cups unique is something that can fit into the marketing budget relatively easily, and that can make each dining experience a little more unique.

Leveraging the Power of Dining Apps

Keeping up with the landscape of new apps designed to connect people with dining experiences can be a little overwhelming. However, many of them can pay off in big ways for your restaurant.

In particular, the apps that are designed to help a group of friends choose a restaurant or to connect people who want to share a meal with other foodies (such as Suppr or FoodFriends) can drive revenue by attracting groups of diners.

There are also new apps that cater specifically to individual diners, or more specifically, people who want to get some work done while they enjoy their meal or drink. Some apps, such as Croissant, allow coffee shops to opt-in to let customers reserve seats for a nominal fee. Other upscale restaurants have signed on with companies like Dropdesk to convert their spaces to flexible drop-in workplaces during the day when they would otherwise be closed.

Of course, many restaurants are also choosing to make some of their menu items available for delivery through apps such as Grubhub.

Listing your restaurants on these apps can provide a revenue boost by opening up your restaurant to new audiences who are looking for new things. Even if app users don’t end up reserving a table or ordering food, it can still drive awareness of your restaurant. Once people notice your listing and note what you offer and where you’re located, they could be more likely to become customers in the future.

Promoting Private Parties

Speaking of expanding into new markets, you may find that another great way to get the word out about your restaurant is to position it as a private event venue, in addition to a dining destination.

You might not have thought about your restaurant as having the potential to host events like wedding receptions or anniversary parties. But there are probably plenty of people who would love the unique ambiance of your restaurant for their special event if you plan it the right way and make a few easy modifications.

As this writer for the Toast POS blog explains: “I’ve worked at two separate restaurants that have hosted wedding receptions. The first was a small plates restaurant with an artsy vibe, and the other was a hipster bowling alley that served organic pizza and drinks. Both times, I walked into the restaurant I worked in, but it felt different. The small plates restaurant was transformed into a large opening space, while the other was suddenly bright and airy.”

Your restaurant might have special meaning to a couple who met at your restaurant or who spends a lot of time there. If you let them customize the decor and the menu just a bit, it can make for a memorable event.

In exchange, you’ll get a significant income boost, as well as access to an entirely new market. Listing your restaurant in wedding publications and directories can open up a whole new level of awareness of your restaurant.

Engaging Your Employees

Many restaurants overlook one of the most powerful marketing tools they already have at their disposal: Their workforce.

Odds are, much of your restaurant’s staff is very familiar with social media and uses it on personal devices frequently. Most of your staffers already have a built-in network of local friends and family following them, all of which could be potential customers.

As this FastCompany article notes, you can emulate companies such as Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, and Zappos, which all actively encourage their employees to use social media to post about their experiences at work in a creative, helpful way.

This isn’t as easy as just mentioning that you encourage your employees to share online or even crafting a unique hashtag for your restaurant. You’ll need a clear social media policy (which is a good move in general, regardless of your planned marketing tactics). You’ll also want to provide some training or plenty of examples of appropriate social media use.

Of course, any social media participation by employees must be completely voluntary, so an engaged and enthusiastic workforce is required for this tactic to be effective.

However, in many cases, employees should be happy to share about their work and your restaurant. After all, the more customers that patronize your restaurant, the more tips they can collect.

Regardless of the marketing tactics that you use to get the word out about your restaurant, make sure to track the success of each campaign. Keeping a close eye on the data will help you understand which methods are the most likely to attract attention, and then convert that attention into paying customers.

One way to make sure this happens is to use a POS system that’s integrated directly with your customer management software. When you can track leads and sales within the same system, it’s much easier to see whether you’re spending your marketing budget wisely.

If you’re wondering which tools can handle this job and the best way to integrate them, please contact us at Cloudscape Technologies. We specialize in empowering business owners in their search for the most powerful cloud-based SaaS tools on the market. Modern restaurateurs can take advantage of POS systems that connect not just with marketing programs, but also with accounting programs, inventory management programs, and even employee management systems to create completely efficient and comprehensive restaurant management systems.

Please book a free demonstration today to learn how we can help you select and implement the right tools to empower your business.

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