Food never goes out of style. No matter the times, no matter the trend, everyone’s interested in it. This universal attraction to all things appetizing gives us marketers a leg up. We have unlimited creative potential when it comes to promoting our food or restaurant businesses and, with it, the confidence that our content will stay relevant and relatable.
With this unlimited potential and myriad marketing avenues available to venture down, it can become difficult to know where to point your focus and how to stand out in an oversaturated industry. We’re breaking down the best restaurant marketing ideas to help you realign, strengthen your resolve, and breathe new life into your marketing and advertising efforts. Just try not to get too hungry.
Our top restaurant marketing ideas
Give your audience what they want
Before you can really start coming up with creative marketing ideas for your restaurant business, you have to be in tune with your target audience and what they expect from you. Take a moment to truly consider what you offer. Think bigger picture here: beyond the food, the experience, and how you’re marketing your business, what’s your unique selling proposition? Determine what your customer base want more or less of, and how you can start taking the steps to deliver it.
Optimize your site for mobile users
More than half of all social media users eat up view their content on a mobile device, especially when searching for places to eat. If your site and social pages only look good to someone visiting from a computer, you are seriously risking a huge chunk of potential customers. The last thing you want is to throw a wrench in your marketing funnel, preventing users from flowing through it to the end where they would ultimately make purchases.
Create a Google My Business page
Now that the basics are out of the way, we can really start to dive into the actionable restaurant marketing ideas and trends that will set you apart. The common question floating around is, “how do I advertise my restaurant?” Local SEO is a huge part of getting seen by hungry customers, and opening a Google My Business page is a great, and free, way to help your restaurant show up in Google search results, as well as on maps in local searches. An official Google approved listing of your restaurant, a Google My Business page not only helps your local SEO efforts, but also lets you decide how your business appears in these searches. Restaurant owners can easily set up their business pages to display important company information like their address, phone number, hours of business, etc. You can use this business listing to make posts (sort of like mini ads), and receive useful input from customers and visitors to your page.
Think about how important this is: Imagine you have a pizzeria in your town. When locals search for pizza, your restaurant has the potential to be listed in the top results. And better yet, it will be displayed in the maps beside the search results. Visually, this makes a huge impact on the customer and what they notice or pay attention to.
Keep your Google My Business page updated with photos
Once your Google My Business listing is up and generating activity, make sure you keep it up to date, not just for your customers’ sake, but also for your own SEO. The amount of photos you upload and the frequency at which you add them is quite important to this ranking factor, so take good quality intriguing photos and don’t be shy about displaying them regularly!
Google My Business now allows business owners to add videos to their pages as well. And since we know that videos are more effective than photos at capturing attention, this is a smart direction to turn.
Run Google ads
This coveted organic traffic we’re all after can only take you so far. You need to make sure your business is not getting lost in the sea of other local restaurants. So if you haven’t started running ads for your business, or you’re still thinking of ad ideas before pulling the trigger, consider advertising with Google.
With several ad formatting options, you can pretty quickly and easily run a Google ad for your business. You’ll be able to employ a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign that only charges you when a viewer actually clicks on your ad. These ads have the potential to help you greatly increase leads and sales by bidding on and targeting specific search terms and phrases that your audience uses.
Advertise on Facebook
It’s best practice to run ads on more than one platform to maximize your exposure. What better place to advertise than the biggest social network, Facebook? If you’ve never run a Facebook ad before, it’s easy to get started in the Facebook Ads Manager.
If you’ve already been running Facebook ads and you’re looking for a way to level up, try turning your attention to video ads. Who doesn’t want to see sizzling food in action? A video is a fantastic way to showcase what you can offer your clientele. Restaurant video advertising can make for stronger more appealing ads, increase your brand awareness, and build trust with your customer base. But more on this in a bit.
Hire a food photographer or stylist
Maybe your photos just aren’t doing it. Enlisting the help of a professional, even just one time can make a big difference in how you present your brand to the world. You’ll get to showcase beautiful pictures of not just your menu items, but your actual brick and mortar establishment.
Letting people see the atmosphere of your restaurant is nearly as important as the food itself. Not only does it give them a better picture (no pun intended) of your restaurant as a whole, but it gives people a greater ability to recall your business when they’ve seen it from different angles and in different contexts. The average follower and the most ardent of foodies will both be in a better position to remember your restaurant and visit in the future.
An additional benefit of featuring professional food photos is that you have a better chance of standing out to influencers, which brings us to our next point. Instagram.
Use Instagram to your advantage
Once you’re taking captivating photos and feel like you’ve got it down, share the love. Post them on Instagram so your followers can get visual reminders to come and eat. Hashtags are important here, as they can really help people better locate your page when searching for you.
Try not to focus on obvious or generic hashtags only, like “#pizza” for example, and include more specific and narrowed down tags that really identify your business. If you’re posting a photo to promote a sale or an event, hashtag it.
This account hashtagged the name of their restaurant, their city, various local food publications and reviews, as well as emojis.
Don’t focus on photos alone; make video ads
How do you promote a restaurant sale? Video marketing for restaurants is a strong way to attract customers and promote sales, new dishes, events, you name it. We’ve been saying it since before matcha lattes were cool. Video ads are far more effective than image ads. Use promo videos to help you make a splash and stand out among the competition, many of whom have likely already turned to restaurant video marketing.
Check out our promo video templates specifically made for the restaurant and food business. They are ready-to-use and make it easy to get started with video creation.
See how this video both promotes the restaurant’s menu and uses bright, vibrant colors to stand out in a busy newsfeed.
Highlight user-generated content
Your customers, fans, and social media followers can provide you with a ton of great restaurant advertising ideas. You just have to use their positive feedback to your advantage. One of the most famous examples of a great case of user-generated content is Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign.
Shortly after its launch, fans started uploading pictures of their personalized Coke cans to social media, and the movement (along with increased brand awareness) spread. Many brands also repost fan photos to their official social media accounts to appear in touch with their client base.
This Instagram photo of a Starbucks cup was uploaded by a customer, noticed by Starbucks themselves, and reposted or “regrammed” to the brand’s official account. It’s great content for Starbucks because it shows the average customer enjoying their product, and it shows that any customer has the shot at momentary fame on a brand’s Instagram page.
Engage with your followers
Just like commenting on your business’s social posts encourages continued engagement with your followers, responding to online reviews does the same. Yelp houses thousands of restaurant reviews, and the bad reviews that get personally addressed look a lot less, well, bad.
Take the time to answer bad reviews in a patient, helpful way that provides a solution, reassures the customer, and lets others know this type of experience is not to be expected.
In the end, you’ll get noticed for your care and customer service more than you will a couple of unsavory reviews.
Host special events
What attracts customers to a restaurant? Hosting a special event is one way to get them to come and have a great experience at your place of business. It’s likely that many of the people coming for an event haven’t been to your restaurant before. This is a great opportunity to make an impression. If attendees have a good time and enjoy the food and ambiance, they’re more likely to remember and consider it the next time they’re looking for a restaurant to go to.
Creative restaurant promotions can range from a simple happy hour event where you televise a sports game, to a more serious speaking event or Q and A.
See how this simple video template can get your followers excited for such an event:
People love to feel like they’re getting an inside deal. One of the more fun and interactive marketing ideas for restaurants is to hold a giveaway and there are numerous ways to do this. You can hold a simple contest and give away a free meal to the winner. You can also let your social media followers know you’ll mark down a menu if a certain number of them respond to a post. You have a great opportunity to get really creative here.
Check out this restaurant video advertising 35% off their new menu.
Advertise a loyalty program
You’re working hard to implement unique restaurant promotion ideas that will gain new customers, but what about those who have been with you through thick and thin? Reward your loyal customers and let them know their business is appreciated by promoting a customer loyalty program. This can range from punch cards and gift cards to merchandise and apparel. The reward you find most fitting to your frequently returning customers is up to you.
To advertise your program, you can utilize email marketing in a variety of ways. Send customers information in a virtual flier or a more thorough email newsletter announcing all of the goodies you’re offering.
Email marketing is not only good for your loyalty program, but also for announcing events, save the dates, discounts, and anything you feel the customer should know about.
Don’t dismiss word of mouth marketing
Among all of the best restaurant advertising ideas, word of mouth marketing still matters. Even with effective ads, amazing social media content, and captivating visuals, getting a trusted mention or recommendation from someone you know makes you stop and pay attention. It always will. Providing your customers with good food, good service, and a good overall experience they can rely on will go a long way in ensuring positive word of mouth marketing spreads.
Put it all to practice
Whether you use and recommend several of these ideas, or you’re just starting to explore them, continue to keep them in mind as your business grows and evolves. Employing as many of them as makes sense for your business, along with making videos a part of your marketing strategy, will go a long way to set you up for a thriving future.