Drool-Worthy Restaurant Marketing Ideas [Infographic]

Last updated: April 19, 2019 | By Jessica Leone

As a restaurant owner, you’re selling a meal and a tangible experience customers will value and remember. Food brings people together, which is why restaurant marketing is so unique from other businesses.

Whether you’re a new restaurant or a veteran in the biz, you’ll have people drooling over your dishes in no time. Read through our guide or jump to the infographic for data-driven tips to market your restaurant in the best way possible.

Make Online Orders Easy

The top three features guests look for when choosing a restaurant are the ability to order online, make online reservations and free Wi-Fi.

Online ordering should be effortless. Domino’s has mastered the process. It streamlines ordering through every channel. You can place an order by phone, the website or through its app.

dominos

Online ordering systems like MenuDrive, Toast, ChowNow and Upserve are helpful for creating a streamlined and branded ordering experience. Monthly fees range from $90-$140. Your online ordering system should also sync with your POS system.

There is also a shift towards in-person technology options. 61% of diners agree servers with handheld tablets improve their guest experience. With a pay-at-the-table option, guests don’t have to wait as long. Keep customers happy by rolling out online and in-store tech improvements.

Pay Attention to Yelp

Yelp is a powerful tool in the restaurant industry. According to Astute Solutions, an additional star on your rating can yield a 5–9% increase in revenue. Spending a little time optimizing your Yelp account is worth the effort. Positive Yelp reviews can work wonders for your restaurant.

Claim your restaurant and build out your Yelp profile to include:

  • High-quality photos of your food
  • Hours and location
  • Menus
  • Price range
  • Wi-Fi
  • Outdoor seating
  • Parking details

Target Customers in Your Area

Your restaurant’s location impacts your potential customer base, as well as your theme, menu and decor. Most customers come from within a 5-mile radius but on average, consumers say they will drive 17 minutes to visit a restaurant. Cost is also a factor. About 38% of patrons will travel over 10 miles if they know they will get a discount.

Your goal should be to rank among your local competitors or within the top three spots that show up when users search for a specific keyword like “best tacos.” The three taco shops listed below will receive the most traffic simply because they are the top results users see for that area.

best-tacos-google-search

Tips to rank in those top three spots:

  • Build positive reviews on Yelp, Google, Facebook and other sites and frequently respond to your reviews.
  • Claim your business listing and ensure your restaurant information is consistent on Google My Business, Yelp, Foursquare and other review sites.
  • Update your website frequently with menus or promotions.

Shift Toward Healthier Menu Options (and Promote Them)

According to Consumer Trends, people reward restaurants that demonstrate a commitment to quality ingredients. In fact, 70% of diners say they’re more likely to choose a restaurant that offers healthy menu options.

Consumers are even willing to pay more for healthier quick-serve food options. By age group, people will pay the following premiums:

  • Millennials: $3.93
  • Gen X: $3.58
  • Baby boomers: $2.59
  • Seniors: $1.95

Even if your restaurant menu isn’t known as “healthy,” consider using feature-benefit selling to help promote your items. Highlight specific features of your dishes and how they’re beneficial for your customers.

For example, if you offer plant-based milk, promote your almond milk latte for breakfast-goers who may be lactose-intolerant. Or, if you partner with a local farm for fresh seasonal veggies, promote local, seasonal and organic options both on your menus and in your social media posts.

cafe-gratitude

Consider working in menu items that appeal to those who are vegetarian or vegan, allergy-sensitive or prefer to eat organic, local and seasonal foods. This shift is growing, as 75% of fast-casual operators have added vegetarian fare and 40% have added vegan fare in an attempt to increase sales.

cafe-gratitude

Be on Instagram. Period.

Restaurant operators report an increased use of Instagram for photo sharing can lead to more traffic.

Instagram is a great place to show off high-quality photos of your food and space. You can engage with your audience and check out customer photos in one platform.

sweet-green-instagram

Include images of your location and offerings for customers so they know what to expect before visiting or placing an order. Promote a special dish, sale or partnership to generate buzz. Or, share some behind-the-scenes action of your chef putting the finishing touches on a dish.

sweet-green-instagram

Other Instagram post ideas:

  • Food photos posted by guests
  • Funny or inspiring quotes
  • Sneak peeks at upcoming menu items
  • Day in the life of one of your staff members
  • Memes/GIFs
  • Contests
  • Promotions you’re running

Sell a Unique Dining Experience

61% of adults say they would rather spend money on an experience, such as a restaurant or other activity, compared to purchasing an item from a store.

From color schemes and furniture choices to background music and lighting design, each choice made in your restaurant can help you craft an inviting environment. Make choices that reflect the character of your brand and how it’s special.

Beyond just decor, think about function. Get guests out of their comfort zones with communal seating. Or, set up a game area complete with shuffleboard or cornhole.

nolita-hall-instagram

Target Food Bloggers and Influencers

About 40% of people learn about food through digital platforms — websites, blogs or social media. If you’re a new restaurant, it can be tough to generate initial reviews and buzz about your business. One way to do this is to invite food bloggers to your restaurant.

Find relevant influencers through a social media management system like Hootsuite, Sprout Social or Buffer. Below are a few tips on what to look for in a brand partner:

  • Look for local bloggers – A celebrity blogger with a national following won’t drive the same foot traffic as a foodie in your local area.
  • Search for high engagement rates – Aside from follower count, look for the influencer’s average engagement rate. If only 2% of their 100k followers actually like or comment on posts, the partnership may not be worth the cost.
  • Confirm the blogger’s brand voice – Make sure your restaurant values align with the influencer’s messaging and aesthetic for an authentic review.

Or, look up specific hashtags on Instagram and see which accounts come up. Reach out to a blogger with an offer for a free appetizer or meal, then simply ask them to share an honest, objective review with others.

food-blog-tacos

While you can’t guarantee the outcome, getting more information out there will help increase the buzz and interest for your restaurant. Some influencers have huge followings and this strategy can lead to big results.

Take Advantage of Foodie Events

The list of food holidays is truly never-ending. There are so many opportunities to get creative, from National Pizza Day to World Nutella Day.

Use holidays or big events to your advantage by planning a social media contest, promotion or discount around a specific food. A marketing calendar is helpful for planning and organizing opportunities.

Keep in mind the holidays couples usually eat out on. A Valentine’s Day meal, for example, can drive a 67% increase in visitors compared to an average day. Plan a special Valentine’s Day food and drink menu to draw lovebirds in.

Here are just a few other fun days/months to capitalize on:

  • National Barbecue Month – May
  • National Pancake Day – March 12
  • World Vegetarian Day – October 1
  • World Pasta Day – October 25


restaurant-marketing

Sources: Valpak 2018 AdMall AudienceSCAN® | Toast