Also check out this list of easy Facebook marketing ideas for any type of business.
How to market a restaurant
When you’re a new restaurant, you may find it difficult to generate reviews and hype about your business. One great way to get reviews and press on the web is to invite food bloggers to your restaurant to give you a try, and consider offering a free meal or appetizer to get them in the door. Politely ask if they’d be willing to review your restaurant and share their experience online.
1. Develop your restaurant’s brand identity
Also be sure to have some fun with hashtags – whether jumping on the hype of existing popular Twitter hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday or inventing your own, hashtags are a great way to have some fun with fans.
- Taco Bell: humor and wit
- Cheesecake Factory: indulgence
- Panera: health and freshness
- Olive Garden: family, comfort
Customers love to hear that they’re eating local, and sourcing local ingredients from nearby can do a lot to boost your fan base and give you a positive reputation in the community. If it’s not out of your budget, definitely consider this option!
Here are the steps on how to market a restaurant:
Partnering with online apps encourages visitors to check out your restaurant through gamification and customer loyalty programs, which offer visitors a free purchase or discount for visiting a certain number of times.
18. Source local ingredients
2. Get a website
Table of contents
3. Establish your mission statement
Your brand identity is more than just your brand colors. It represents your business’s personality, the tone of your content, the emotions you want to inspire in your customers. “Happy” is not enough. Think about the most popular restaurants:
4. Set up your socials
Some customers may even discover you for the first time through services such as these!
5. Get listed on restaurant apps
- Address and phone
- Store hours
- Price Range
- Photos, and lots of ‘em
- Attributes: wifi, outdoor seating, parking, special diets, etc.
Twitter can be a true treasure for restaurants, and timing your tweets can have a big influence on hungry stomachs. Try crafting and scheduling tweets at different times of the day to specifically target the breakfast, lunch, or dinner crowds (depending on your offerings).
Don’t make users scramble to find your menu or squint to see it. Provide a high-quality, easy-to-read menu that is up to date and accurate. Not sure how? Some delivery sites like those mentioned below offer to publish your menu online for free. Open Menu is another great site that can help you get your menu looking sleek and stylish (it even offers some handy social integration, for both paid and free users).
6. Set up your Google Business Profile
Next on the list for building your online presence is your social profiles. The most popular social media platforms for restaurants are Facebook and Instagram, but TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, and even LinkedIn have their place for many brands. You can use our complete guide to social media marketing to get your profiles and strategy going.
Instagram is a no-brainer for those in the food business – learn even more about Instagram marketing here.
7. Have a sleek, functional online menu
Not only are these raffles fun, but you can also make use of those business cards by emailing customers. Let them know that while they didn’t win this time, they can sign up for your newsletter to be notified of their next chance to enter, plus the opportunity to hear about discounts and other offers they’d enjoy. Then tadaa – you’ve got yourself a bunch of super valuable new newsletter subscribers!
Arguably the very best way to promote your restaurant online is with high-quality, drool-inducing photos. Visual content is in high demand online these days, and having delicious-looking photos on your website and across various social media outlets is essential for drawing hungry eyes.
- Have an artistic and framed sign near the mints with an easy-to-remember link or QR code.
- Include a request and link on your website, menus, coupons, punch cards, and receipts.
- Ask for them in person
- Occasionally ask in social posts
I’ve seen this work in favor of many businesses, as reviewers are often flattered at the consideration shown and are more generous in their critique knowing the restaurant owner values their opinion and is working hard to improve.
2. Respond to reviews
Running paid ads on platforms like Google and Facebook will get your restaurant in front of large volumes of qualified eyes. For help incorporating paid media into your restaurant marketing plan:
- Respond to positive reviews to show that you value your customers’ input and to encourage more of them.
- Thank customers for their reviews, positive and negative.
- Respond to negative reviews promptly, publicly, politely, and professionally, then offer to take the resolution offline.
Here are the best restaurant marketing ideas and strategies:
3. Send out an email newsletter
Providing coupons and discounts for your restaurant is always a surefire way to bring customers running. Offer a free dish to your new email newsletter subscribers (we can show you how to get more of those too).
- Treat your page like a listing: Facebook is a business directory! Fill out all fields, encourage reviews, and keep it updated.
- Post regularly: customer photos, upcoming events, special offers, hours updates, etc.
- Engage with your followers: Inspire discussions, respond to comments, follow them back.
- Change out your cover photos seasonally.
Hosting and promoting user-generated content shows customers that you appreciate them, turning occasional visitors into die-hard devotees.
5. Loyalty programs
And the list goes on. And on. And on. We’re talking, National Corn Chip Day, National Glazed Spiral Ham Day, Chicken Tetrazzini Day. You can have a field day with these. Here are some local marketing ideas based on months of the year (with plenty more to come):
- Get listed on the top local listing sites (we’ve touched on this already).
- Embed a Google Map of your location in your Contact Us page.
- Publish content specific to your location regularly.
- Get online reviews (the number one ranking factor in local SEO)
- Make sure your information is as identical as possible across all your online assets. Google doesn’t like inconsistencies!
7. Invest in paid ads
One fine dining restaurant marketing idea is to consider signing up for Open Table. Open Table is an online reservation tool that lets customers book reservations for your establishment online! Patrons love it when you make life a bit easier for them, and Open Table already has a base of loyal customers you can tap into. Your restaurant’s newsletter can include new menu items, upcoming events, coupons, customer stories, and more. And it doesn’t have to be weekly. In fact, users will probably appreciate a less flooded inbox if you simply send them a newsletter every month or so. Some quick tips:
Alternatively, you can try advertising a discount through Groupon or Living Social – if you go that route, you’ll get a TONS of exposure, but you’ll end up paying a hefty portion of sales to the deal website, so keep that in mind.
8. Start a blog
Setting up your restaurant’s Google Business Profile is as important as (heck, maybe even more important than) your Yelp account. This listing allows you to appear in Google Maps, local search results, and the right-side Knowledge Panel in regular search results.
Mobile ads tend to be cheaper than desktop ads, and mobile boasts impressive conversion rates. What’s really cool is that Google Ads allows for all kinds of mobile customization and targeting options that let you get the most out of your bids. For example, you can increase your bids around dinnertime, when users are often looking for fast food on their mobile phones. Boosting your bids during the dinnertime period increases your chances for showing up for a specific query. This means you could be the first ad to show up for a “pizza” search when pie-hungry users are on the search for a slice. If you’re a restaurant marketer, don’t miss out on digging into a slice of the mobile ad pie (we’re talking deep dish).
9. Offline marketing strategies
So first and foremost, understand your target audience, then further segment that audience into individual buyer personas with interests and lifestyles you cater to. Establish a theme and feel that works well with all your personas, and then consistently express that in every piece of content you create and every action you take.
- Care packages
- Free samples
- Local newspaper, radio, and TV
Restaurant marketing ideas
10. Foodie photos
Not only does the quantity and quality of reviews impact how high you rank in results and whether customers click on your result, but also, the content of those reviews makes for excellent marketing material. Sync them to appear on your website, share them on social, and even incorporate reviews on specific dishes into your menu.
A blog can be a huge project, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep your blog as simple or complex as you’d like. You don’t have to be constantly posting (quality over quantity), but it’s good to have your restaurant blog set up for when you have an announcement or news you want to get out to the world. If you’re serious about taking over the world, check out more blogging tips here.
11. Offer coupons & discounts
This is non-negotiable. At the bare minimum, you need a homepage, about us, menu, and contact page. But ideally, you’ll want a reviews page, photo gallery, blog, and even a FAQ page. We’ll talk more about optimizing your site later, but the important thing to note here is that your website is the go-to for current and potential diners, and it needs to be professional—first impressions matter!
Consider partnering with services like:
12. Share your reviews
In today’s online-driven environment, ease of use is the name of the game. Many online delivery services streamline the ordering process, and internet-savvy patrons often love taking advantage of such delivery services.
13. Be an Insta-ham
Instagram marketing for restaurants is a no-brainer.
Dining and restaurant apps are among the best free restaurant marketing tools, as getting found on one of these means getting found by people with high intent. Dining apps allow users to filter very specifically, so the key to these is adding as many details as possible, including:
It also means keeping this information accurate and up-to-date. Eaters love to do research online – in fact, 89% of consumers research a restaurant online prior to dining. This is why it’s of vital importance that all your restaurant details are online and up to date, including address, phone number, hours, your current menu, etc. The stronger and more accurate your online details are, the better.
Starting a food truck isn’t for the faint of heart – it’s a tremendous endeavor and, depending on the kind of truck you want to buy, it can be very pricey. However, starting a food truck enables you to dish out your food to folks you might never normally come in contact with. You can greatly extend your reach, build more press, and acquire new fans who might love you so much that they become patrons of your brick-and-mortar location as well!
Show off your storefront, get up close with your top dishes, and use this social media main stage as a place to play around with your brand identity. For example, an all-natural health food store might try snapping pics of people kayaking, cooking, farming, or other activities you think your fan base will enjoy.
14. Food blogger outreach
There are dozens of awareness causes and observance days throughout each month of the year that are restaurant-friendly. Here are some, just to name a few:
Starting your own blog is a great way to build community and engage with your customers. Blogs offer the chance to experiment with your restaurant’s voice and personality. Share your successes and struggles, funny stories, recipes, and anything else you think might interest your customers.
15. Show off your staff
Let’s take these strategies one step further with some easy and creative restaurant marketing ideas.
Some food bloggers have big followings, and getting their attention can have a huge influence on your restaurant. Even just one write up or mention from a major foodie can be a huge for restaurant promotion efforts.
Whether and how you respond to your customers’ reviews shapes the public’s perception of your restaurant. Here are some tips:
Here are some ways to do it:
19. Partner up with delivery services
In an age of robotic customer service reps and soon to be self-driving cars, the human element is severely lacking. Show off your 5-star staff doing what they do best! Seeing happy, smiling employees does wonders for your reputation, as customers long to be served by joyful workers.
Don’t forget about the physical world in your restaurant marketing plan! These tactics are still effective, especially if you’re a local restaurant.
You can’t outright ask for a positive review, as that would be dishonest, but it’s fine to simply ask them for an objective restaurant review. Some bloggers might decline your offer, but the more you ask, the better your chances are of getting some positive feedback and generating more interest online.
20. Trivia nights
21. Fishbowl business card giveaways
For more help with developing your identity, use our tips on how to brand your business.
22. Start a food truck
As for which apps to get listed on, these include:
23. Get creative with national days
This goes along with your brand identity, and should be a documented statement expressing the purpose of your business. Is it to make healthy food more affordable? Is it to encourage family bonding? Promote sustainability? Your mission statement should state what you provide, where/to whom, why you do it, and how. You can gain inspiration from these mission statement examples.
- National Food Safety Month in September
- National Pizza Day in February
- International Beer Day in August
- National Baked Scallops Day in March
- National Picnic Day in April
There is no one “best way” to market a restaurant, as it all depends on your category, audience, location, and more, but these are the foundational steps any food-friendly establishment should take:
Final restaurant marketing tips
The competition among restaurants is fierce, and you’ll need to give your all to be successful. We’re helping you out with 27 restaurant marketing ideas and strategies that promise to help you improve your business and get attention from growling stomachs everywhere!
25. Use online reservation tools
Weekly or monthly trivia nights are always a hit with restaurants. Offer great prizes to the winners, good in-between music, and promote it on social media and your newsletters to spread the word.
26. Time those Tweets
We’ll leave you with some final tips to help you save time, maintain a positive reputation, and make the most of every penny and minute you spend marketing your restaurant.
- Google yourself regularly to identify any auto-created listings that need to be claimed so you can control their information.
- Set up Google Alerts to notify you when your business name (or other designated keyword term) appears in a new piece of content on the web.
- Invest in paid social media management tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to stay on top of posts, mentions, and direct messages.
How to market a restaurant [summary]:
That sums up our restaurant marketing guide. Hopefully you can put these restaurant marketing tips to good use!
- Develop your restaurant’s brand identity
- Get a website
- Establish your mission statement
- Set up your socials
- Get listed on restaurant apps
- Set up your Google Business Profile
- Have a sleek, functional online menu
Four different taquerias with four different looks and feels.
- Ask for reviews
- Respond to reviews
- Send out an email newsletter
- Turn your Facebook business page into a community
- Loyalty programs
- Local SEO
- Invest in paid ads
- Start a blog
- Offline marketing strategies
- Foodie photos
- Offer coupons & discounts
- Share your reviews
- Be an Insta-ham
- Food blogger outreach
- Show off your staff
- Share positive press
- Social media giveaways
- Partner up with delivery services
- Trivia nights
- Fishbowl business card giveaways
- Start a food truck
- Get creative with national days
- Final restaurant marketing tips
- Promote user-generated content
- Online reservation tools
- Time those Tweets
- Online reputation monitoring
Let customers drop their business cards into a bowl for a raffle. The reward can vary – a lunch for the winner and 10 friends, a 2-hour happy hour with discounted drinks, whatever you feel like!
- Category: eCommerce