The 27 Best Restaurant Marketing Ideas

Would you like thousands of new restaurant customers and a $277,547+ revenue increase for the next year?

Yes. Placepull found some brands have seen increases far greater than $277,547 in additional revenue using these ideas. All you have to do is learn these top 27 restaurant marketing ideas and you’ll see reduced costs, more customers, and higher profits worth $277,547 or more per year.

There’s only one catch – you absolutely must make the effort to carve out just 15 minutes every day to make these restaurant marketing ideas happen.

Once you do that, thousands of new customers will follow along with a minimum $277,547 increase in revenue. In fact, many smart, leading restaurants have used these very same restaurant marketing ideas to generate even more revenue.

We understand as a restaurant owner, marketing can fall by the wayside. We get it, you’re busy. But if you continue reading, we’ve given you a list of the best restaurant marketing ideas and hacks to gain literally thousands of new customers.

To make it easy, we’re going to split these ideas into external marketing ideas (things you can do outside of the restaurant to get customers) and internal marketing ideas (things you can do inside the restaurant to keep customers and help them spend more with you).

External Restaurant Marketing Ideas

1. Make Mouths Water

If you’ve ever made the mistake of going to the grocery store hungry, you’ll know how easily a simple picture of good food will make your mouth water.

food photo

The big food brands know what they’re doing – an image of a tasty dish is registered by the brain faster than any words can, and it triggers all of the pleasure centers in the brain.

So why not follow suit? You are likely to have some very good looking dishes on your menu. Photograph them, put them on your website, and the readers will likely make their decision to dine with you on the spot. Don’t even give them a chance to think about another restaurant.

We suggest hiring a local food photographer to come by for an hour each month and capture some awesome shots of your dishes, but if you’re up for a challenge, you can try it yourself. Learn about how to take Instagram topping food photos in this Gizmodo lesson.

Share them with your social media audience, post them to your Google page, and watch your community talk about coming in to try your restaurant.

The restaurant experts at Bread and Butter PR saw one restaurant in Buffalo, New York achieve a 13 percent increase in bookings just by posting great food pictures and telling commenters that they were excited for them to come by. That 13 percent increase in customers turned out to be a $93,436 increase in revenue for the year.

2. Answer That Bad Online Review

There is always one person who just loves to complain. Little things like their chair squeaking or the bar tender’s haircut – but it’s important that you validate their feedback.

It might be somebody’s fourth silly complaint for the month, but this is not an opportunity for you to give them a piece of your mind. Responding to their criticism in a meaningful and friendly way is a powerful tool for your reputation.

A good idea is to set up a Google Alert for your business name so you’ll be notified immediately when someone mentions your name on the internet.

Returning customers will always be your best customers, so by looking after them, you will see familiar faces filling tables consistently every night.

You may even wish to attract a complainer back in with a small offer. It also shows your other customers that you care a great deal about making it right. Which of course, you do. Doing the right thing will always keep your customers returning customers which provide you with the bulk of your income. Keep them!

3. Get Your Google My Business Listing Right

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes – you’re peckish and have a quick google on your phone for “restaurants in suburb x”. They like the look of your restaurant, but can’t immediately see your hours.

And just like that, you’ve lost them.

That may sound dramatic, but in terms of restaurant marketing strategies, solving this should be right at the top of your list.

Today’s customers are busy, and their attention span is shorter because of it. By having all of your basic information easily accessible, you greatly increase your chances of grabbing that time-poor, stomach-empty customer. Don’t take a chance here.

After you’ve read this article, head over to Google My Business to get it sorted, it only takes five minutes. The data analysis team at ToastTab noted a previously struggling restaurant in Anaheim, California saw an 18 percent increase in customers, meaning a $188,359 revenue increase for the year.

4. Be Part of Your Community

We’re not exactly talking charity here, but those people down the street, working in those offices or mowing their lawns in the surrounding suburbs – they’re your customers. They just don’t know it yet.

Engage them with a special Tuesday discount for locals, or provide vouchers to the local little league.

Get involved in the local social media conversations and be seen helping out where you can. Did somebody’s car get broken into? Offer them a hot meal.

How many new customers do you think you could get by being seen as a pillar of the community?

How often would your regular customers tell their colleagues, family and friends that their restaurant is the local best in the area? Invest your time in your community and they will repay you with full tables.

5. NAP Everywhere

Your NAPs (name, address and phone number, sorry nap fans) are all over the internet, and Google scours every page to look for it. You need to make sure that all three are consistent everywhere it exists.

Visit this free tool from Yext to lookup all of your listings and make sure your NAPs are correct.

This one’s easy enough you could get your staff to do it during quiet hours. We’re sure they’d appreciate the extra work.

The more consistent it is, the higher you’ll rank in Google searches, which means more brand new customers and more revenue for you.

6. Join Your Chamber of Commerce

This is a great way of engaging in your community, networking with local businesses, and even hosting events at your restaurant.

You should also be able to get a link on their website which Google will love to see.

Again, this is about becoming a part of the fabric of your community, and in turn, being the favoured restaurant of your community. This will make you a much busier restaurant and give you more revenue.

7. Use Instagram to Full Effect

For some reason, people just love taking photos of their food. Maybe even more than tasting the actual food. Go figure.

Let your snap-happy foodies do some free advertising for you by encouraging them to share their images on Instagram. Find out how to use Instagram effectively for restaurant marketing here.

This is free advertising from your customers themselves. There is no better advertising than word of mouth, which means new customers guaranteed.

8. Text Message the Masses

If your customers are let's say, a little more “old fashioned”, they are still likely to be familiar with text messaging or SMS (short message service).

You could offer your customers a small offer (e.g. 15 percent off their bill) if they sign up to your exclusive SMS deals. Each week you send out deals to your SMS subscribers, driving customers back through your doors.

This is a great one for filling up your quieter nights to keep your tables busy and cash flow up.

9. Spread the Word with Your Local Media

Despite the huge changes in technology in recent years, it’s likely that your local newspapers and radio stations are still going strong.

Therefore this is one of those restaurant marketing ideas and trends that are important to keep you relevant in your community.

news

Place an ad with an attractive offer, give vouchers to the radio station as prizes, or if you’re brave, invite a somebody to review your restaurant.

All of these are effective and relatively cheap ways to get respected local institutions to market you to your community. More awareness equals more customers.

10. Get Google Ads

You’ve probably heard this talked about a lot as part of a good restaurant marketing plan, but never did more than raise your eyebrows about it.

If you serve Italian food, it’s important that you turn up at the top of the page when someone googles Italian food in your area. Start here and learn all about it.

If you’re in the top Google results, you will see a huge increase in customers. You can guarantee you appear at the top of Google results by working with Google Ads. According to the marketers at Square for Restaurants, a Rochester, New York restaurant had a 46 percent increase in business in justone month by using this idea, leading to a $304,356 annual revenue leap.

11. Take Advantage of the Ideas in Your Community

Is the local school doing a production? Why not offer a discount for ticket holders for dinner after the show?

If there is a local parade, there’ll be a crowd; entice them in with a themed drink or meal to celebrate to occasion.

If you spent a little time each week checking your local Facebook events page, how many local events do you think you could take advantage of?

We’re betting at least a few events, and over 200 extra customers a week that need food and refreshment.

12. Make Sure Your Website Looks Good on Mobile

SmartInsights.com report that 72 percent of people searching for food do so from their mobile phone, so if your customers have to contort their fingers and squint their eyes to see your info from their phone, you’re losing to the restaurant down the street.

It’s not something you’ll need to do from scratch, just check with your web developer that they have optimized your site for mobile. This will help you convert more browsers to customers, resulting in more revenue.

13. Advertise on Facebook

Facebook is a marketing giant for a reason; you can really get down to the nitty gritty when it comes to targeting an audience. Are you looking for people who like Greek food, who live in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and are retired? Facebook has you covered.

Best of all you can get started with a budget of $5 a day. For a small investment you’ll be able to target your perfect audience, and turn them into new customers.

You can have a look at this handy free guide to get you started.

Well targeted customers are likely to love your restaurant, and return over and over – we think that’s well worth your time.

14. Make Yelp Work For You

We’re pretty sure you’ve heard of this one. Even if you don’t make your own Yelp page, someone else will, so it’s best you take control yourself.

As a restaurant owner it’s critical you get this one right, and monitor it like it was your restaurant’s blood pressure.

Here’s a good guide to get the most out of your Yelp page.
Doing this will make sure that anyone looking at your page will only see good things – and that means – you guessed it, many more new customers.

15. Get Customers Through Email Marketing

Yes, email marketing still works. In fact, it provides the highest return on investment out of all digital marketing strategies. CampaignMonitor.com states for every $1 spent, it generates $38 in revenue.

The secret is to not hammer them with emails, don’t be pushy, and give them a reason to read it. That might be the return of a favorite seasonal meal or a special discount for that month.

These days it’s pretty foolproof with templates like theseto get you started.

This is one of the best ways to get your semi-regular customers to dine with you much more often, and all for a very low investment. If you spent $1,000 of your time on email marketing, you would see a $38,000 increase in revenue.

16. Use Someone Who Knows What Their Doing

In the past, you would have had to hire an expensive restaurant marketing agency. Traditional restaurant marketing companies are just that though – traditional. But as you’ve probably noticed, the trend in this list is the internet allowing things to be possible that weren’t before. Hire someone who knows social media.

17. Share the Good News

With all of the good things you’re now doing in your community, you might get some unsolicited free press. Now’s not the time to be shy, show it off.

Post it on your restaurant wall and social media wall alike – let the people know trusted sources are celebrating your business.

This all leads to more attention, and more customers walking through your doors, because they want to know what the fuss is about. Let your good press make you more money.

18. Understand Your Audience

While your busy plating the best meals you can, keeping everyone happy, as well as balancing your books, it’s easy to overlook your “brand”. That’s just marketing speak for understanding your audience. What do they like? What don’t they like? Is low carb important to them? Is good wine something they look for?

Talk to them. In person and online. You’ll find more often than not they will be more than happy to give you their opinion.

Once you get a feel for what your customers want, you can start to build your brand around that. This means communicating it in your promotional material, as well as on social media. The better you target your marketing, you’ll find your customers will be of a higher quality and spend a lot more per visit.

19. Keep ‘em Loyal

Carrying around a loyalty punch card, like some sort of caveman, is so 2008.

FitSmallBusiness.com reports that customers in loyalty programs return 200 percent more often, so get them loyal, keep them loyal, and increase your revenue.

Internal Restaurant Marketing Ideas

20. Steal Your Competitor’s Loyal Customers

This one is devious but can be very effective.

Offer anyone with a competitor’s loyalty card (e.g. coffee card) and offer to trade it in for a free coffee at your restaurant.

The first benefit is that you just took a loyal customer away from your competitor. Increasing your market share, one customer at a time.

And the second benefit is you now get to acquire a new local customer for a very low cost. If you do it well, you’ll have a new returning customer for the price of a coffee.

21. Place Your Window Seats First

It’s as simple as that – place your first customers by the window. It will make the restaurant look fuller from the street and every passerby will be able to see your happy customers enjoying your meals.

win

The team at Bread and Butter PR noted this strategy has been shown to pull in 18 percent more new customers in from the street. How much more revenue could you make with 18 percent  more customers?

22. Make Your Menu Easy (Really Easy) to Read

What terribly obvious advice you cry. Of course they can read our menu!

But if it’s a scanned PDF you’ve linked to on mobile, or a poorly formatted printed menu, that will drive people mad.It has to be sleek, concise and easy to read. You want them to see the menu and stay there reading it, not leaving to find something else because they are frustrated.

Keeping customer eyes on your menu makes them far more likely to book with you and not the restaurant down the road. Think of how many thousands more customers that would mean for you over the next year.

23. Get a Delivery Partner to Do the Work for You

Like it or not, it looks like online delivery services are here to stay. They definitely have advantages though, so have a look at the likes of Uber Eats, GrubHub and Eat24.

You do pay a fee per order, but you also cut down on costs for table service, dishwashing and the like.

You’ll also pick up new customers, so it’s great advertising. Cutting down on costs, free advertising, and more customers – what’s not to like?

24. Start Business Card Giveaways (With a Twist)

This is a retro one, but it’s simple and effective. Offer customers the chance to win a free meal for two if they drop their business card in the bowl.

The twist is you can then email them and tell them that they didn’t win this time, but they can join your email newsletter list (make sure you ask them) to win other prizes.

It also gives you a good idea about who your customers are and where they work. Again, this helps you target the higher spending customers which means much higher revenue per customer.

25. Make Your Ingredients Local

This one isn’t always the easiest (or cheapest) to do, but your customers will absolutely love it. It shows you are supporting your community as well as using the freshest ingredients possible.

Better local tastes means more loyalty from your community, which means more regular customers, which means more revenue.

In fact, a the data analysis team at TouchBistroreported one Corpus Christi, Texas restaurant were surprised to see a $124,223 revenue increase within the first year of trying out this idea.

While several factors may have contributed to their growth, they recorded over 250 reviews and social media comments raving about their local ingredients – helping get new customers in itself.

26. Don’t Offer Water

When we say don’t offer water, we don’t mean you can’t serve water, we just mean don’t put it on the table. When they see the beverages on your menu, they are much more likely to pay for that tastier, more refreshing option.

Just like that you’ve turned a labor cost into a profit at every table place in the restaurant.

27. Put a Box Around Your Best Menu Item

Pick your dish that has the highest gross profit. When you place that item on your menu, put a simple box around it. iMenuPro.com says “There's no single better way to draw attention to a high-profit menu item”.

You’re now far more likely to sell your highest profit dish.

Conclusion

You now have all of the tools to reach a $277,547 revenue increase in the next year by using these 27 restaurant marketing ideas and trends. You could earn even more than that – it’s up to you and the effort you put in every day to make these ideas happen. So are you going to make that $277,547 revenue increase happen for you?

Get started right now – immediately carve out 15 minutes a day to dedicate to putting these ideas into action. It’s just a small amount of effort per day, but it will lead to great rewards in the form of thousands of new customers and at least $277,547 of new income for the year.

Remember not every idea will be right for your restaurant, but try it, modify it and try again. You know your restaurant and your customers so you’ll know what’s working and what’s not.

What’s holding you back? It’s only 15 minutes per day and all of these ideas are more than doable. Make it happen as part of your daily routine and reap the rewards.