Getting customers to come and knock on your door requires a whole mix of marketing efforts. But when it comes to advertising a restaurant, there is no right or wrong way. It really depends on your category, audience, location, and how much you want to invest, time or money-wise. In this blog, we’ll talk about all kinds of options that could work no matter where you are on the advertising budget spectrum. Ready?
RESTAURANT MARKETING TRENDS
Navigating changes in the foodservice industry in the last couple of years has been challenging to say the least. The good news is the road to recovery is looking up and these are the top three trends that are shaping the Canadian foodservice industry in 2022 as we know it.
1. A rise in sustainable eating.
With more and more customers concerned about where their food comes from, it’s no surprise that customers are gravitating toward businesses that practice sustainability. This is leading businesses to re-evaluate the impact of their practices on the environment. From ethically sourced meat to plant-based alternatives, this is one trend that’s only going to keep on booming.
2. Optimized food packaging.
While we’re on the subject of sustainability, packaging is right in there too. With the rise of delivery and takeout, looking at compostable, recyclable, or biodegradable options is an easy way to show you not only care about the good of your customers, but also care about the good of our planet.
3. Plant-based preferences.
It happened so fast, but now plant-based dishes are becoming a new norm at all kinds of restaurants. Plus, with more and more people living a veggie lifestyle, this is one trend that’s here to stay.
ADVERTISING ON A BUDGET
Small restaurant, smaller budget? Just because your budget isn’t big, doesn’t mean you can’t make a big bang. All you need is a little creativity and a pinch of know-how to get things moving in the right direction. Here are a couple of ways you can do it economically.
1. Partner with a local.
Nothing says “community loving” like partnering up with another business in the area. It’s also a great way to tap into the customer bases of other businesses. Just make sure you choose kinds of businesses that complement your own where you offer food for events in exchange for reach, like radio stations, sports arenas, or breweries.
2. Rock your website.
A nice-looking website not only helps you attract new customers, it elevates the profile of your restaurant outside of the physical location. And it doesn’t have to be a time-consuming (or money-consuming task). You’ll be golden if you keep it simple, just make sure to include the following:
- Contact info, hours, location
- Up-to-date menu
- Delicious looking pictures
- Email collection form
- Social media account links
If you really want to step up your website game (and you have the capabilities to do it), add online ordering and a reservation maker to really make it pop.
3. Behold the power of email.
Another cost-effective marketing tactic? Email marketing. You can start by building a database of customers — through your website, in-restaurant, at local events, wherever it makes sense to ask.
Once you have a list built up you can start sending out emails, maybe attach a special offer or a coupon to entice new customers in the door. Or invite them to an event happening in-restaurant. The options are endless.
ONLINE MARKETING TOOLS FOR RESTAURANTS
How to promote a restaurant using Google My Business.
If you do just one thing for your restaurant marketing, this should be it. For local businesses far and wide, having a Google Business Profile is one of the most effective free marketing strategies around. Not only does it allow your business to show up on Google Maps, it also helps you show up on the local section of Google search, and it costs all of zero dollars.
Your Google My Business profile takes just 10 minutes to set up and goes to work improving your search engine optimization immediately. Once your account is set-up you can optimize your profile — add important information, upload photos, encourage reviews — and it just continues to help build your reputation for you.
How to promote a restaurant on social media.
Time to step up your Instagram game. Literally everyone is online these days and they’re all visual creatures, preferring to see what they’re getting into before getting into it.
The good news is, having an active presence on social is a super cost-effective way to show off what you’ve got. To advertise a restaurant on social media run contests, feature your staff, and showcase your food, there are a ton of ways to get yourself out there and they don’t cost an arm and a leg.
Facebook and Instagram tend to be the choice of restaurateurs but if you have something to offer that would work on other platforms, like Twitter or Tik Tok, have at it.
More fresh advertising ideas.
How do you promote your restaurant if you’ve got a little bit of money to spend? Here are a few of our favourites:
- Invest in photography.
Remember when we said how important it was to have nice-looking food pics? They were right when they said a picture is worth a thousand words. Making sure your food looks as good as it tastes is about as important as how the food tastes. So if you don’t already have images, it’s definitely a worthy investment when you consider how much you’ll use them — on your website, social media accounts, menus, etc.
- Run a contest or giveaway.
To do this one for less, you could hold a social contest offering a chance at a free meal or dinner for two. If you have a little more money to spend, you could put up a bigger prize, say tickets to a concert or straight-up cash money. The bigger the contest, the more people it’ll attract.
- Go traditional.
Another way to get your brand out there if you’ve got some money behind you is through good old-fashioned advertising. You could do cost-effective TV ads or ads that play before YouTube videos. You could create audio spots to play on local radio stations or on music platforms like Spotify. You could develop print ads to run in local newspapers or magazines. Traditional advertising is extremely effective at hitting the masses, but it’s more difficult to track in comparison to the digital variety.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How can I advertise my restaurant for free?
Besides the aforementioned Google My Business idea, there are a few more ways you can market your business for no cost, they may just cost a little time. Let’s take a look at a couple more possibilities:
1. Blog it up.
While your website houses all the logistics, a blog is a great way to entertain your readers and build your restaurant’s brand. Like social media, it gives you a chance to have some fun about a certain topic you think your customers might be interested in, just in a longer format. Blog about new items coming on the menu or upcoming events to entice customers over to your restaurant. Another great thing about blogs? They’re a great way to capture comments, reviews, and suggestions for free as well.
2. Host fun events.
Think trivia game nights, karaoke nights, happy hours, maybe even an event like a food and drink tasting with special offers on a few of the house favourites. Whatever you decide to do, it’s a great way to get customers in at no cost. Plus, once they’re in, you’ll have the opportunity to upsell them on other specialties which could in turn into more profits for your piggybank.
3. Connect with customers.
As we mentioned earlier, getting reviews is a great way to help build your business. Not only can good reviews boost your image in the community, you can also use them to capture valuable information on ways you can improve operations and run even more efficiently. Plus, it’s a double whammy. When you collect reviews, you usually collect a customer’s contact information which you can use to help populate your email database (just always make sure you ask for permission before you send them anything).
How do I advertise my restaurant before opening?
There is nothing more exciting than the opening night of a new restaurant. When the time comes, you want to make sure you have all the pieces in place so that it gets the attention it deserves. After all, you only get one chance to have a grand opening. So, how do you get some buzz around it before you even open the doors? Here are a couple of hot tips:
1. Start the social media train early.
The minute you have the restaurant name, your next order of business should be to create handles on all social media accounts. Document the construction of the place, tease the menu, introduce staff members as you hire them, and tell the story from the very beginning to get people invested in your business as it’s being built from the ground up.
2. Have a soft opening before the grand.
Host an exclusive event (or two) at your restaurant inviting family and friends to try a limited sample menu so you can test the waters. Ask for feedback so you can make any necessary tweaks before the big one. Maybe even host another soft opening broadening your audience to other local businesses or influencers to help expand your reach and create even more hype around your launch.
3. Buddy up with a local charity.
There’s nothing a community loves more than when a newbie comes in and supports a cause close to their hearts. Choose an organization that is special to your business or your personal life and even make the story part of your brand.
And that about sums it up. As you can see, when it comes to knowing how to advertise a restaurant, it really depends on how much you’re willing to put into it. The good news is, it doesn’t matter whether your budget is big or small (or non-existent), there are always ways to get the word out.