Marketing a restaurant doesn’t have to be complicated and expensive.
You don’t have to spend a bomb on ads and billboards to gain traction.
There are many budget-friendly ways to gain visibility and attract people to come to your restaurant.
Here are 10 marketing ideas for your restaurant that won’t require a massive budget – some of them are even completely free!
Claim your Google Business page
Google My Business is one of the best and easiest way to market your restaurant. It’s a free listing that gives your restaurant the visibility that it needs.
Most customers today turn to Google to look for answers.
Updating your business profile and optimising for keywords can make sure that your restaurant pops up when customers nearby are looking for a place to eat or drink.
Make sure to include important information like opening hours, time, and an email or phone number for reservations.
Have your social media handles & hashtags available
Customers today don’t just dig in when the food arrives – they want to take a tonne of photos first. Right after taking the photos, they want to tag you.
Make sure your social media handles are similar to your restaurant name and easy to find.
If it’s a different name, it would be difficult for customers to find and you will lose out on some free marketing right there.
Have your social media handles and hashtags printed on a table stand or on your napkins. If there is no budget for that, simply ask your waiters to inform patrons after taking their orders. You can also make it part of your menu; on the front page for example.
Better yet, kick it up a notch by making it part of your wall art. It will be perfect for those Instagram shots.
Also – if you don’t have social media pages for your restaurant, please start one right away!
Repost customers post and stories
When customers tag you on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, don’t just leave them on ‘seen’.
Make sure to repost, regram or retweet the photos and thank them for visiting you. This helps to create a more personal bond with customers and ensures that there’s two-way communication.
Plus, it’s free to repost and doesn’t cost a thing.
71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to their friends and familyLyfemarketing
Reward customers for check in, post & reviews
Aside from reposting customers’ posts and photos, you can take things to the next level by rewarding them for it.
For example, you can give out free desserts for customers who give you a 5-star review on Facebook or Google. Or perhaps a free drink if they check in on Facebook and post a photo.
Tiki Taka, for example, gives out free churros to patrons who check in on Facebook.
This is a win-win move where you get free promotion and your customers get a free dessert – which they will be happy to tell all their friends about!
Promote prepaid deals & gift cards
This one applies to customers who frequent your restaurant and you want to give them a reason to come back.
It can be easily done with vouchers, prepaid deals, and gift cards.
For example, most bars employ a concept where customers can buy 10 beers in advance – and then park it there if they can’t finish.
This ensures that customers will come back to finish the remaining beers that they ordered. Even if they don’t come back, you have nothing to lose as they have already paid for it.
Reward loyal customers with points, cash back, birthday rewards
Loyal customers are the best. They will market and promote your business to all their friends and family members for voluntarily. They will rave about you and keep coming back to you.
So you need to reciprocate their efforts. This is where a loyalty program comes in.
Investing in a comprehensive loyalty program can do wonders for your business.
You get to identify your loyal customers based on number of visits, you can send out targeted rewards, give them points or cash back, send them a birthday offer – the possibilities are endless.
Loyal customers who feel appreciated will form an emotional bond with your brand – this will increase their customer lifetime value – which means more profits for you.
Host classes & events
A fun way to get more reach for your restaurant is to host classes or events. You can either do this for free or charge a minimum fee.
For example, if you’re running a latin restaurant, you can organise a salsa night once a month.
If you’re running a bar, you can get your bartender to give customers a short, crash course on making a signature cocktail.
Joloko, for example, organised a wine afternoon, which attracted both old and new patrons to the bar. Attendees got to try wine, meet new people, dance, experience the ambience, and have a good time.
And when you have a good time – you want to go back! (Also, we’re now writing about it – which is free marketing!)
Make use of videos
Videos are the best way to gain traction in 2020. In fact, videos get more engagement than any other type of content.
72% of customers would rather learn about a product or service by way of video.Hubspot
You don’t need to have a big video team to pull this off. If you have one, of course, that would be better.
But if you don’t, you can simply use your phone make simple videos and use free editing softwares that are available.
Record a video of your chef in action, perhaps preparing a signature dish, go live during events, interview your patrons, and so on. Get creative!
Another easy way to gain visibility for your restaurant is by partnering with nearby cafes and shops.
For example, if you run a cafe, you can partner with a nearby bar for a coffee promotion.
If there are clothing stores nearby, you can form a mutual partnership – where their patrons get 10% off for coffee at your cafe, while your patrons get 10% off when they shop for clothes.
Look around to see what stores are available near your restaurant and if it is possible to form a mutual partnership with them.
Connect with micro influencers
More and more brand are connecting with micro influencers these days. They have a smaller following – about 1,000 to 10,000 – but they bring in more meaningful engagement.
A study by Mobile Marketer revealed the following:
Influencers with 10,000 followers or more have just 3.6% engagement rate.
Influencers with 5,000 to 10,000 followers have 6.3% engagement rate.
Influencers with 1,000 to 5,000 followers have the highest engagement rate at an 8.8%.Excerpt from Buffer
Scout for micro influencers who love frequenting cafes, bars, and restaurants and work with them. Better yet, get your loyal customers to become your brand ambassadors and reward them for each post.
They already love your brand and would be more than happy to do the promotion for you!