Food is one of the most significant parts of any culture, so it’s no wonder there are so many restaurants all across the world. In fact, the first restaurant is believed to have been opened almost three hundred years ago in France.
But we’ve come a long way since 1765, with more than fifteen million restaurants open today. However, with this increase in demand comes over-saturation, and as a result, restaurant marketing has never been more important.
So, what exactly is restaurant marketing? Why is it essential to running a profitable business? And most importantly, how do you market a restaurant successfully?
Have no fear, this article will answer all your questions, and what’s more, we’ve provided you with a list of modern restaurant marketing tactics and strategies to guide you on your way to success.
So, you’re ready to use marketing to help you dominate the restaurant industry in 2023?
Well, then, let’s get straight into it!
In simple terms, restaurant marketing is essential for success in a highly competitive, growing, market. Restaurant marketing strategies are designed to combat the unique challenges faced by restaurants, and drive awareness, sales, customer satisfaction and retention.
Everywhere you look, there’s yet another restaurant popping up, and they’ve become countless, and even more worrying, they’ve become identical. And it’s only getting more competitive, with the restaurant industry estimated to continue growing at a rate of 4% each year.
As it stands, the average Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) of all the restaurants in the USA alone was 101.6 (where a score above 100 is considered a period of growth for restaurants). This means that when comparing the wildly successful restaurants with those barely breaking even, we see a concerning picture.
The American National Restaurant Association estimates a 30% restaurant closure rate for any start-up restaurant. However, this 30% isn’t precisely accurate regarding how many restaurants permanently close their doors, as this only considers new restaurants’ closure rates, not that of already established eateries.
But where one restaurant closes, another two will pop up.
And with more than 1 million restaurants in the US alone, customers are flooded with too many choices and not enough distinctiveness.
Enter restaurant marketing campaigns!
These strategies are used to increase awareness of a restaurant’s presence and personality, pull in new customers, boost sales, and retain the existing customer base.
Summary: Restaurant Marketing Brief Overview
The best restaurant marketing campaigns are used to raise awareness of a restaurant’s presence and personality, attract new customers, increase sales, and retain existing customers.
Before you can expect any of your marketing efforts to succeed, you’ll need to decide what exactly it is you’re selling.
To decide your brand identity, you can ask yourself some of the following questions to help you get a clearer idea:
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start creating a unique brand identity that is memorable and stands out.
Just take Cheesecake Factory, for example; their branding is clearly tapping into indulgence and extravagance, attracting people who want to treat themselves to something delicious.
Your brand identity won’t mean anything if it’s not consistent across all your platforms, whether that be social media, print advertisements, or TV and radio commercials.
Now, this doesn’t mean that your tone always needs to remain the same. Depending on the situation, you’ll adapt and change the style. For example, announcing good news versus bad news will set your brand’s tone.
However, your voice needs to remain the same wherever your brand is active. That way, people can still recognize your brand, even if the tone changes.
Take Wendy’s, one of the world’s most distinctive fast food brands, for example. They have a unique comedic “Roasting” style of marketing across all of their social media accounts, with a focus on their Twitter presence. However, if they did not maintain the same type of interaction across their platforms, they would never have gained the notoriety they have.
The influence that reviews have on consumers has gradually been increasing, and most businesses haven’t noticed the power they can wield with such a simple tool.
As it stands, 93% of people allow online reviews to shape and form their decision on a product or service. This means that reviews alone can often sink you or help you grow tremendously. But people don’t regularly go out of their way to leave reviews, so it’s up to you to ask for them.
There are several different ways you can ask for reviews, like:
However, when asking for reviews, you need to make sure you do it at the right time and in the right way.
For example, never ask a customer for a review while they are in the middle of their meal or when they’ve just placed an order online. Rather, ask for a review once they have finished their meal, or send a follow-up email a day or two later. You don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable, or like you are disturbing them.
Moreover, you should have your branded hashtags readily available and easy to find, that way there are even more ways in which people can leave feedback and reviews.
For example, GoodBullBBQ occasionally includes a prompt to leave a review on their social media posts. This helps people find places where they can leave reviews with the least amount of hassle possible (since nobody wants to feel inconvenienced).
Monitoring websites like Yelp and Trip Advisor is critical, as that’s often where people will choose to both leave and read reviews.
Once people have left you reviews, be they good or bad, you should respond to them as often as possible. This has two major benefits:
Humanization: When your brand shows that you not only care enough to ask for reviews but also enough to respond to those reviews, you start to influence how people think of your brand. In specific, you help humanize your brand and allow people to feel more connected to you.
Boosted engagement: When responding to a review, you’re boosting your interaction with customers and increasing the chances that more people will respond to your response or leave a review of their own.
The number of reviews you have and the overall quality of those reviews can influence not only how high you appear in search results but also whether or not buyers click on your result. This is known as social proof.
What’s more, the content of those reviews also makes for excellent marketing material. You can sync them so that they appear on your website, share them on social media, and even incorporate customer feedback on individual meals into your menu.
Furthermore, when displaying reviews, you should do so on more than just your home page. And what’s more, those social hashtags we talked about are a great place to gather user-generated content that you can reshare.
Therefore, on each of your pages, you should display either reviews or user-generated content; that way, people will see it even if they don’t access your website’s home page. Likewise, sharing those same reviews and content on your social media pages is equally important, as it reinforces the social proof that you are a good restaurant.
In this digitally focused world, a website that is easily accessible from a mobile device is a “must-have”; that’s not negotiable!
A website will help you rank in search results on search engines and do a lot of your promotion for you. And it’s a place you can direct people when channeling them from other platforms like social media.
A few things to note is that your website needs to:
A great example of what your restaurant’s website should look like is McDonald’s.
Of course, the style your website will follow depends on your brand identity, target customers, and what type of restaurant you’re running. Nevertheless, McDonald’s website is a perfect reference point for what you should do when designing a website.
Your restaurant’s digital menu goes hand-in-hand with your website. In fact, it should probably be listed there.
And just like your website needed to be intuitive to navigate, so too does your menu. Customers need to be able to see your dishes and their ingredients with the least amount of effort possible. Otherwise, they’ll move on and head to another restaurant’s website that is easier to use.
Social media is the place where most of the world’s population spends at least some of their time each day. And why should your restaurant’s brand be any different?
Whether it’s responding to questions on Reddit about your brand or creating a Discord server for your most die-hard fans, you’ll be boosting brand awareness and increasing customer engagement, and that’s never a bad thing.
The top social media platforms you need to be on include Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Discord and Reddit.
For example. there is an official Burger King Discord server that customers can join.
To learn more about how to market your restaurant on social media, check out this video by Wilson K Lee:
Post COVID-19, we have seen a drastic boost in the number of people opting to use food delivery apps rather than going out. And if you want your restaurant marketing campaign to be successful, you’ll need to keep up with the times.
That means getting your restaurant listed on the most commonly used food delivery apps, even if you’re not a fast food company.
The apps you should aim for are as follows:
You know what you’re there to do in your community or area; that’s why you started your restaurant. But now it’s time to let your customers in on it. And the best way you can do that is by creating a vision or mission statement.
Your vision statement should explain why you’re there, what you hope to do, who you want to serve or impact, and how you’ll do it all.
Take the vision statement for SweetGreen, for example, “Building healthier communities by connecting people to real food”. This is a perfect example of the type of vision statement that will help to draw people into your business.
Creating a Google Business Profile for your restaurant may be more important than creating a Yelp account for it. When using this listing feature, you will be able to appear in Google Maps, local search results, and the Knowledge Panel that appears on the right-hand side of traditional search results.
For example, this is the Google Business listing for The Beet Box Café.
A newsletter is an excellent way to keep your customers informed about your activities. As a result, the email newsletter sends out by your restaurant can include new menu items, upcoming events, coupons, client testimonials, and other information.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t have to be sent out on a weekly basis. So, users will probably appreciate emptier inboxes, so you should consider only sending them a newsletter once a month or so.
We all love free stuff, and what’s more, we all love to feel noticed, even if it’s in small ways. And customer loyalty programs can hit both of these at the same time for your customers, incentivizing them to keep coming back.
There are two primary ways you can set up a loyalty program, and they are:
The most successful businesses have a strong social media presence, and in the competitive food market, ignoring social media spells disaster.
However, using Facebook is critical, and you must understand how to promote your restaurant using your company’s Facebook page if you want to draw more people in.
Tacobell’s Facebook page is a great example of what you should do when creating your own.
Ads, be they print or digital, are one of the oldest ways of getting the word out there about a product or service. And that’s for good reason, as it’s a very effective marketing avenue.
Of course, as we move further into the future, how those ads are implemented and where people see them changes, but the core idea is still the same.
As a result, placing sponsored ads on websites such as Google and Facebook will expose your restaurant to a large number of targeted customers.
While Google can determine a searcher’s location based on their IP address and your restaurant’s location based on your online information, this does not guarantee that you will appear in local results for all relevant searches. Meaning you’ll need to work on your local SEO.
You can do this by:
Creating your own blog is a great method to connect with your target audience and build a following because blogs are a great place to try out different voices and styles for your restaurant. Share your triumphs and tribulations with your clientele and any amusing anecdotes, delicious recipes, and other interesting tidbits you think of.
Keep in mind that your blog can be as straightforward or complex as you wish, and you can choose how often you’d like to post.
But even if you don’t plan to post often, it’s a good idea to have your restaurant blog set up for when you want to inform the public of news or announcements.
For example, Babylonstoren has a blog for everything from news of their restaurant, to lifestyle content and gardening:
In our opinion, one of the best way to advertise your restaurant online is with drool-worthy images of your food. Visual and digital content is in high demand these days, so it’s critical to attract hungry eyes to your website and other social media platforms by posting mouthwatering images.
However, this can be challenging to do, especially if you’re new to photography. So, getting a professional photographer or restaurant marketing agency to help you out might be the best idea.
For example, Tavernetta’s food looks amazing in all their photos.
Show off your storefront, get up close with your top dishes, and use this social media main stage as a place to play around with your brand identity.
For example, Primal Steakhouse shows images of its atmosphere, food and drinks to draw in customers looking for an experience like theirs.
In a time when automated customer service agents and self-driving cars are becoming more common, the human factor is becoming more and more important.
So, you can show off the best of your five-star employees online to stand out and draw people in. Moreover, customers like to interact with happy people, so seeing happy, smiling employees can do a lot to improve your brand reputation.
Another important piece of restaurant marketing advice: if your company is featured in a newspaper or magazine, make sure to promote it on your website and social media. When newcomers see reputable sources praising your restaurant, they will be motivated to visit, and fans will help spread the word.
We’ve talked a lot about online and digital marketing, and of course, they are great avenues to draw in more customers and build your brand identity. However, you shouldn’t neglect offline marketing, as it still definitely has its place.
Offline marketing is primarily focused on local areas and can include things like:
Just take a look at this pamphlet by Atelier Crenn as an example of what you should do when creating a pamphlet for your restaurant.
Giving out coupons and discounts is a surefire way to get more people to come to your restaurant.
For example, you could give away a free dish to new email newsletter subscribers or hand out coupons to your regular customers. Whatever you decide, make sure people feel appreciated and that you care about them.
As a new restaurant, it can be difficult to generate buzz and reviews for your establishment. But one way to get great reviews and online exposure is to invite food bloggers to try out your restaurant.
To entice these bloggers, offer a complimentary dinner or appetizer first. Then, politely ask if they would be willing to provide an online review and testimonial for your restaurant.
Getting the attention of well-known food bloggers can help your restaurant significantly. Even a single article or remark from a well-known foodie can greatly benefit restaurant promotion efforts.
For example, Taufulou, a well-known food blogger, reviewed 1405 Art Cafe, promoting it to his thousands of readers.
Much like food blogger outreach, getting foodie influencers to come to your restaurant can be a great way to entice more people to get a bite at your establishment.
Moreover, these food influencers are usually well-trusted within their niche, and a positive review from them can go a long way.
Just be sure not to directly ask for a great review, as they won’t take well to something like that. Rather, let your food and service do the talking for you.
Running a contest or giveaway on your social media accounts is an excellent way to boost customer engagement and get people hyped about your restaurant.
Furthermore, when running these contests, be sure not to give away boring rewards like gift cards. Rather, give away something specific, like a free pizza, bonus fries, etc.
Dominos is great at using this strategy; just check out the example below.
Trivia nights are a fun event that restaurants can host on a weekly or monthly basis.
If you do choose to start hosting these fun evenings, you should provide amazing prizes to the winners, play great, mood-setting music in the background, and advertise the event on social media and in your emails to spread the word.
People love their holidays, and why should your restaurant be any different?
You can bring the festive seasons into your décor and dishes to attract customers looking to have a fun, holiday-themed time.
Moreover, there are so many national days you can incorporate into your dishes and atmosphere it’s crazy.
And you don’t have to only celebrate the well-known days; there are many obscure days that you can bring awareness to, like Kaspa’s Bridgend did on National Chocolate Milkshake Day, which is enjoyed each year on September 12.
User-generated content, or UGC, is an excellent way to develop a close relationship with users.
For example, you could hold a photo competition by asking customers to contribute their favorite dish from your restaurant. The photos can then be posted to a particular content page or distributed across your various social media accounts. Furthermore, you could also consider giving some lucky contestants a free appetizer or another prize!
Summary: 29 Awesome Ideas, Tips and Strategies to Make Your Restaurant the Place to Be
That was a lot to take in; we know. But covering all those restaurant marketing ideas and trends was necessary in order to give you a complete idea of what your restaurant marketing campaigns should look like.
And the great news is that now you know how to turn your restaurant marketing efforts into your best tool and increase the number of happy customers you’ll be able to serve.
What are you waiting for?
Go and dominate the restaurant industry!
A restaurant marketing campaign is customized marketing campaign that is tailored to promote a restaurant, taking into account the unique challenges and opportunities found in restaurant marketing. The best restaurant marketing campaigns are used to raise awareness of a restaurant’s presence and personality, attract new customers, increase sales, and retain existing customers. Read the full guide to learn more about successful restaurant marketing campaigns. Restaurant marketing's goal is to increase foot traffic to your establishment. Further, restaurant marketing builds loyalty, provides data for analytics and research, and assists restaurants in better understanding the characteristics of their ideal clientele. Read the full guide to learn more about restaurant marketing and see examples and ideas to promote your restaurant. Customers will be most impressed by the quality of your meal and the quality of the experience they had while eating at your restaurant. Providing high-quality meals, excellent service, and creating a great atmosphere is essential. Customer loyalty programs will also help you retain customers for repeat business. Read the full guide to learn more about restaurant marketing and how to foster customer loyalty.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a restaurant marketing campaign?
What is restaurant marketing?
How do restaurants bring customers back?
A restaurant marketing campaign is customized marketing campaign that is tailored to promote a restaurant, taking into account the unique challenges and opportunities found in restaurant marketing. The best restaurant marketing campaigns are used to raise awareness of a restaurant’s presence and personality, attract new customers, increase sales, and retain existing customers. Read the full guide to learn more about successful restaurant marketing campaigns.
Restaurant marketing's goal is to increase foot traffic to your establishment. Further, restaurant marketing builds loyalty, provides data for analytics and research, and assists restaurants in better understanding the characteristics of their ideal clientele. Read the full guide to learn more about restaurant marketing and see examples and ideas to promote your restaurant.
Customers will be most impressed by the quality of your meal and the quality of the experience they had while eating at your restaurant. Providing high-quality meals, excellent service, and creating a great atmosphere is essential. Customer loyalty programs will also help you retain customers for repeat business. Read the full guide to learn more about restaurant marketing and how to foster customer loyalty.
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