6 restaurant marketing ideas that really do work – UPDATED

Welcome to our Five SIX Restaurant Marketing Ideas That Really Do Work!

*Updated August 2020*

Restaurant marketing is tricky.

Fierce competition, tight margins, ever-changing trends; the restaurant marketing isn’t for the faint-hearted. And now you’ve got to deal with digital marketing too. But there is a silver-lining. Countless restaurant owners and marketers have already tried and tested every digital strategy and marketing platform out there and we’ve waded through the results to bring you 5 of the most effective restaurant marketing tips.

restaurant marketing ideas - taking a picture of food

1) Be instagrammable

Instagram is a restauranteur’s dream. It isn’t just millennials who love snapping pictures of their food to post on Instagram. Over a third of all Instagram users in the UK are aged over 35 and with 22 million users across the country, you’re certain to have a sizeable Instagram audience in your local area.

Before you start posting on your Instagram account, here are a few words of advice to nail your restaurant PR:

All of your dishes may look great but it’s worth creating a signature dish or drink; something creative that is unique to your restaurant which you can really go to town with on Instagram.

Make sure all of your foodie photos are of a high quality. This means clear, clean, sharp images with no glare. Good lighting is key, so find a spot in your restaurant where natural light floods in.

To break up the parade of foodie pictures, include photos of the inside your restaurant so your audience can get a feel for your dining atmosphere. Also, include photos of your staff; front-of-house, chefs, the whole team. Showcasing the friendly faces that make your restaurant will make it more inviting.

Create a hashtag that is unique to your restaurant and use it consistently. Don’t forget to add in geographical hashtags so you can draw in a local crowd.

Instagram is a 2-way street when it comes to restaurant marketing; it’s just as important to get your customers posting. Here are a few ways you can make this happen:

  • Create Instagrammable food; food that stands out in some way, whether it’s through eye-catching colours, interesting textures or intriguing ingredients.
  • Create an Instagram dessert menu as part of a limited time offer. If customers take a picture of their dessert and post it on Instagram with your restaurant hashtag, they get it for free.
  • Find local foodie influencers on Instagram, individuals who have a large following on Instagram (and love good food) and as such have sway when it comes to recommendations they make. Invite them to your restaurant and ask them to post photos of their dining experience including your restaurant hashtag.
  • Celebrate your restaurant’s birthday with an Instagram giveaway. Put out a post asking people to like your account for the chance to win a free dinner for themselves and a friend. Include a deadline for your giveaway and make sure people stand a good chance of winning by handing out your prize to multiple winners.
  • Get even more interactive with Instagram giveaways and nurture new customers into becoming loyal customers by running contests that offer free meals or dishes if, for example, customers post photos with their favourite waiter or waitress at your restaurant (similar contests work just as well on Facebook).

Remember to repost photos from your followers to show that you’re grateful for their contribution.

2) Respond to reviews

Customers looking for somewhere new to eat will often turn to Google searching for reviews. Yelp, Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor reviews and the like will be listed in their search results. If you’re not on these platforms, you could still be racking up reviews. To stay in control of your reputation it is therefore important to claim your space on these platforms and put up as much useful information as you can: photos, opening hours, your location, a mobile-friendly menu, price ranges and other facilities you have (WiFi, parking, outdoor seating etc.).

Next, set up Google alerts, so whenever your restaurant name appears somewhere new online, you’ll know about it. Good restaurant marketing isn’t just about creating positive chatter about how great your restaurant is, it’s about dealing with negative reviews in a way that can turn an unhappy customer into a happy one. Reply to negative reviews quickly, politely and in a friendly manner; apologise for a customer’s bad experience and offer to redeem things with a free meal or discount.

restaurant marketing - a cafe

3) Up your local ranking

Once again, Google reins supreme when customers are looking for a restaurant near them. Local marketing for restaurants is made easy with Google Maps. If you can nab one of the top 3 spots in Google Map’s results panel, you’re certain to get more traffic to your website.

To be featured on Google Maps you need to set up a free Google My Business account and populate it with all the information a customer would find helpful: your opening hours, address, contact information and photos. Reviews will also show up here, so make sure you follow tip #2 too. It also helps to keep you website updated and all of your restaurant details consistent across platforms.

4) Set up a loyalty programme

Keep your customers coming back for more with a simple loyalty programme. The lure of getting something free stills works but today any decent loyalty programme needs to be digital.

Digital loyalty cards come with the added benefit of giving you data on what keeps your loyal customers coming back. Offer an incentive for new customers to sign up when they’re at the till, such as a 10% discount off the bill they are about to pay. Finally, make sure you promote your loyalty card perks on your social media accounts, in your email campaigns and on your table tents

5) Get on board with Facebook check-ins

restaurant marketing ideas - taking a picture of food

Facebook is still the biggest social media platform out there with arguably the most powerful reach. Facebook check-ins are an easy way to promote your restaurant by getting your customers to do much of the legwork.

A Facebook check-in is a type of post that highlights where someone is located and when. For businesses it acts as a personal endorsement. By encouraging your customers to check-in on Facebook when they visit your restaurant, you’ll get instant exposure as Facebook check-in posts are on average seen by 150–200 Facebook friends of the customer who checks in.

No matter how finessed your restaurant PR is, there is nothing quite as powerful as being recommended by a friend or family member. In fact 92% of people trust family and friend recommendations, which is why Facebook’s algorithm is now more heavily weighted to these recommendations over what businesses advertise.

6) Get Smart: Link Your Social With Chatbots and Email

We find you can get incredible results by getting joined up: don’t just rely on social media, enhance your presence with a paid-for ad targeting your local geography and fans of your type of food.

Then, link that post with a chatbot. A chatbot is simply software that automatically carries out an on-line chat ‘conversation’ via text message to your potential customer. As part of that process, you can request the customer’s email address, and incorporate them into your email marketing so you can start to build a long term relationship with them too. 

Below are some ways we use Chatbots and Email to get results for restaurants:

Viral Giveaway Campaign

One of our most popular products. Our giveaway package gets you a huge amount of attention from new potential customers using an attractive giveaway offer.

We then convert a significant amount of them into immediate paying customers using a clever Chatbot sequence – so they aren’t just there for the prize draw. PLUS we integrate their details with your email marketing system (or help you build a new one from scratch) so you term short term ‘likes’ into long term love for your brand.

restaurant marketing viral giveaway example

Birthday Bot Campaigns

Birthdays are a great opportunity for restaurants to get group bookings. 

We help you find potential customers who have a birthday coming up, reach them with a great offer to encourage a group booking, and convert them into paying customers. 

We set it up using Facebook ads and a smart Chatbot sequence, and we keep the campaign running in the background for you with fresh content each month.

VIP Clubs

Social media is great for reaching your fans – but you are always beholden to the dreaded algorithms – or worse, getting your account suspended.

We always advocate encouraging your customers to join a ‘VIP club’ for your restaurant – essentially an email list that allows you to communicate directly and provide loyal customers with great offers and regular announcements. Set up a great VIP programme that encourages people to join and builds an email marketing and messenger contacts database allowing you to reach them with great offers and new dishes directly. 

We regularly get 40-60% open rates on emails and 80-90% open rates on messenger, so you can start turning social media ‘interest’ into bums on seats.

restaurant marketing VIP ticket

BONUS TIP! 7) Ask for help!

If you’re not sure sure how to get going with Facebook check-ins, social media marketing, chatbots or email you’re in luck! At RFS Marketing we offer a tailored Facebook check-ins programme that has every angle covered:

  • We’ll encourage your customers to check-in on Facebook via attractive promo signs designed for you
  • We’ll run monthly contests to encourage repeat business and more check-ins
  • We’ll regularly change your check-in promo signs with fresh offers
  • We’ll re-share and engage with your customers’ comments on your page
  • We’ll even train your staff on how it all works and keep them motivated.

It’s a great starting point to getting great results on social media. To find out more about this all-inclusive programme, and our other restaurant marketing services. visit here.

There you have it, five restaurant marketing tips you can get started on right now. It’s a recipe for digital marketing success.

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