There's no doubt that the restaurant industry is one of the most competitive ones out there. Staying ahead of the competition and keeping with the times is also becoming increasingly difficult.
So how are you going to get an edge on your competitors, stay relevant and attract paying customers to your restaurant?
I'm going to give you some creative marketing ideas and strategies for your restaurant that are more than just gimmicks! Rather, they are based on exciting new marketing trends and will boost your business.
Let's get right into it!
Influencer marketing is generating lots of hype and for good reason.
The idea is to find brand ambassadors who are willing to promote your product to their audience.
Don't be put off by thinking that you need to get a famous celebrity to post your food pictures on their social media accounts.
There are a huge amount of "influencers" available to you on a local level that can yield huge results at a fraction of the cost!
Heres one simple way to find cheap but high-value influencers:
Go onto Instagram and go to the discover section, not your news feed. The discover section shows people you don't follow but who are generally local to you.
Open up a few profiles of people who are located near you and seem part of your target audience.
For example, if you are a burger joint and your target audience is people between 20-40 you're in luck. Chances are you will find many guys and girls who probably love burgers and have 1000's of followers. Best of all their followers are people who mostly local to them and you.
Send them a message and tell them they can come eat a big free meal at your store so as long as they post a picture of it on Instagram with and tag your restaurant.
Do you see how HUGE this is?!
For the price of one meal, literally one meal you can potentially reach thousands of local customers. Best of all the people seeing it are not going to view it as some BS advertisement, they will see it as a genuine recommendation.
I'm not talking about just throwing money pointlessly at Facebook ad's and hoping to get results.
I'm talking about targeted marketing that actually generates more sales. Facebook's advertising platform is a hidden under-appreciated gem.
If you are unsure how to use Facebook advertising, see our guide Online Restaurant Marketing – Facebook Advertising
There are 2 fundamental Facebook advertising campaigns that will cost you close to nothing and every restaurant MUST run!
Location & Preference Based Campaign
The first is a location-based campaign that's focused on your particular target audience. When creating a Facebook ad, restrict the audience to only those who are actually near your business.
These are the only possible people that can visit your store and pay you money. Marketing to anyone else outside of this is a waste of time.
You will also need to restrict your audience based on their preferences. For example, if you run a cafe, restrict your ad to people who like coffee, are at a coffee-drinking age, etc. Use any many of the restrictions Facebook provides to really narrow down your target market.
This ad will form the foundation of your Facebook marketing strategy and will cost very little to run. Imagine the power of this!
The only people who will see it are those who are actually around you and actually interested in your product.
This is another hidden gem that so few restaurants actually implement. When configuring your Facebook advert audience, you can limit it to people who have interacted with your business in some way. I.e. liked your Facebook page, visited your website etc.
This means you can show ad's to people who actually care about your product! These are your highest converting and regular customers.
Creating an ad campaign specifically around re-targeting customers who have interacted with you is a great way to generate repeat sales.
Once again, these ad's cost very little because your audience size is very small so it's something every business can afford.
With these ad's, it's ideal to try post a promotional offer or highlight your monthly special. That's because these people are already aware of your business and what you offer. To get them back, you need to show them something new and exciting.
Build A Fanbase
The rise of social media has made it possible to build a massive online following.
While building a fanbase may not have a direct or immediate payoff, it can solidify your brand image and long-term will pay huge dividends.
So how do you build a fanbase?
By producing awesome content that people love!
Here are some simple ideas to get you started creating great content:
- Start a vlog (video blog) on youtube showcasing your daily restaurant operations.
- Create how-to cooking videos on youtube
- Consistently post amazing food pictures on Instagram and Facebook
- Take the chance to reply to all online comments (people love this!)
Don't be discouraged if this doesn't pay off even for one year. Slowly you will build a loyal online following that will open up new doors for you and help you grow your business.
Give People Something To Talk About
Word of mouth is one of the highest converting forms of marketing.
When someone recommends your restaurant, it carries much more weight compared to seeing a random advert while browsing Facebook.
In order for people to talk about your restaurant, you must give them something to talk about.
So what is it that you do best? Double down on that and be the best at it. People only talk about something if it really had an impact on them.
You must get creative and figure out how you are going to leave a lasting positive impression on your customers so that they tell everyone about how amazing your restaurant is.
Get The Basics Right
Creative restaurant marketing strategies are awesome but real success comes from getting the basics right, consistently.
So what are the basics?
To be able to consistently, provide great food, service and atmosphere is the real key to success.
Marketing might bring customers in but this is what keeps them coming back.
All your marketing efforts will be wasted if you do not get these things correct.
So focus on these things first and then get creative!
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