35 Restaurant Marketing Ideas: How to Market a Restaurant


Restaurant Marketing


Restaurant marketing is getting more and more complex. It’s a crowded marketplace as restaurants continue to be one of our favourite ways to socialise.

You need creative and up to date restaurant marketing ideas to drive customers to your restaurant and keep them coming back for more!

While traditional marketing in your local area is still important, the advent of the digital world and research-savvy customers means that you need to mix the physical and online marketing to create the most successful marketing for your restaurant.

This way you can reach your target audience across more than one platform, which will increase the likelihood of getting the results you want from your marketing.

Here are our best restaurant marketing ideas that will bring you the results you desire. You can use the quick links below to find content that you want to read:

    1. Kick-start word of mouth
    2. Offer amazing customer service
    3. Develop your restaurant’s brand identity
    4. Build an easy to use website that’s mobile friendly
    5. Have an easy to navigate online menu
    6. Make sure you can be found on every online listing
    7. Make sure your restaurant’s online details are accurate
    8. Stay on top of review sites
    9. Utilise social media
    10. Be Insta-credible
    11. Throw competitions on social media
    12. Take advantage of hashtags on social media
    13. Show off your staff
    14. Automate the Twitter-sphere
    15. Pin your food photos on Pinterest
    16. Pay for geo-targeted ads
    17. Become a Google AdWords expert
    18. Dabble in influencer marketing
    19. Promote user-generated content
    20. Start a Blog
    21. Get handy at SEO
    22. Find restaurant food bloggers
    23. Implement loyalty program
    24. Take advantage of email marketing
    25. Use SMS marketing
    26. Host events
    27. Form partnerships
    28. Consider online food ordering mediums
    29. Offer freebies, coupons and discounts
    30. Experiment with pop-ups
    31. Get fresh off the press
    32. Go mobile with a food truck
    33. Set up Google alerts
    34. Implement online reservations tools
    35. Create a gift card for your restaurant

1. Kick-start Word of Mouth

Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing mediums there is. When done right, peer to peer referrals can snowball, leading to free customers.

Kimberly Whitler (Forbes) discussed in a recent interview, that one of the most important factors for successful WOMM is to give your customers a reason to talk.


Word of Mouth Marketing Perfect Venue


If your restaurant’s food is average or the service is poor then it doesn’t matter how much you spend, your marketing results will suffer. The better your restaurant is, the more likely word of mouth and your restaurant marketing will work.

Spend on your restaurant first and perfect your service. It’s sustainable financially, and you will get amazing results in the long run, consistently.


2. Offer Amazing Customer Service

Great customer service is essential for your restaurant marketing efforts, especially for word of mouth marketing. It is essential that your customer service be memorable and consistent.

It can be as simple as having hosts greet your customers with a smile and genuine conversation. Train your staff to be friendly, personable, and make sure they make recommendations based on customer preferences.

Jeff Mowatt’s experience from his time in Greece is a perfect example of how to greet customers as they walk in.


Restaurant Marketing Customer Service


Create an ambiance that’s worthy of the queen and train managers to stop by every table and ask about the customer’s experience and what they can do to improve it.

Marketing is all about planting the seed for a future sale, and by delivering unforgettable customer service, you will stay top of mind of customers who will want to come back.


3. Develop Your Restaurant’s Brand Identity

Your restaurant is a brand and you need to have an identity and core values. By deciding upon your target audience, you can then build your brand with them in mind.

This makes restaurant marketing easier as you know who you’re targeting and the messages you want to send will be clearer and have more of an impact.

For example, if you own a vegetarian restaurant your target patrons are clearly going to be vegetarians. You can reflect their interests in all your marketing efforts.

To learn who your target audience is, for your brand identity, Sameer Panjwani (Mondovo) suggests to ‘pay attention to the customers that you see at your restaurant each day’.

‘Use social media by checking out the comments section to determine the type of people who enjoy your restaurant, or brand, the most.’


4. Build an Easy to Use Website That’s Mobile Friendly

The world has gone digital.

‘Your website is a sales tool. If you factor the cost of maintenance and compare that to the salary or commission of a potential salesperson, then investing the right amount of money for a good website is a no brainer.’ Ian Mukrit (MVMG).


Restaurant Web Design

Customers, more than ever, are using mobile and the internet for finding and booking restaurants.

If someone wants to book a restaurant, the chances that they take the time to pull out their computer are very slim. They are likely already on the go and will use a mobile to quickly find a restaurant.

Here are our top tips for a successful website:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Make sure it’s friendly on every single device, especially mobiles
  3. Implement a simple booking platform
  4. Use lead magnets to capture data
  5. Have a digital menu on your site

Having a beautiful and easy to navigate website allows you to begin the dining experience at your restaurant before the customer even walks in.


5. Have an Easy to Navigate Online Menu

You should have your menu published on your website as it’s probably the #1 piece of information potential customers are looking for when visiting your site.

A lot of people like to do research online before visiting or ordering from a restaurant. It should be easy to find (from the homepage), easy to read, up to date and simple to open. It’s best to have it displayed on the site rather than downloadable as a PDF.

If you don’t have a good menu online and available for customers, they’ll simply look elsewhere.

Check out Ian Ferguson’s article on ‘Online Restaurant Menu’s That Sell’ for some pro tips.


6. Make Sure You Can Be Found on Every Online Listing

There’s no point investing in a brilliant website if no one can find it. As part of your restaurant marketing plan you need to list the website on as many websites and apps that you can.

Most are free, think Google Local, Yelp and TripAdvisor.


Restaurant Marketing On Google


You can also find lots of apps by visiting the ‘App Stores’ and searching by category for food and drink. You’ll find all the top apps there that can list restaurants like yours.

Bloc for example, is an app that goes one step further than just listing your restaurant.

Instead, it incentivises people to attend by rewarding them with real money, so your customers can earn real money by attending your restaurant.

It’s free to try with £150 ad credit which is 75 customers for free. After that it’s only £2 (inc. VAT) for every customer that attends (using geo-location).


7. Make Sure Your Restaurant’s Online Details Are Accurate

Did you know that the restaurant industry is the most searched consumer industry on mobile and browser?

Ryan Pinkham, a demand expert at SmartBear, analysed a recent study that found that ‘81% of consumers have searched for a restaurant on a mobile device’.

It’s incredibly important to make sure your restaurant’s online details are accurate, up-to-date and that all the links work.


8. Stay on Top of Review Sites

Did you know that customers read restaurant reviews more than any other industry?

Monitoring review sites is incredibly important for discovering what your target audience is saying about your restaurant.

If you’re getting good reviews it means customers are far more likely to recommend your restaurant. Positive reviews are essential for restaurant marketing success.

If you’re getting bad reviews, then take it as constructive criticism and listen to them to continuously improve your service.

You should be constantly tweaking and improving your restaurant so your customers can only leave positive reviews.


Restaurant bad customer experience


There are many websites where people can leave reviews but the main ones are TripAdvisor, Google and Yelp.

Note that on platforms such as these, customers can leave a review even if you haven’t submitted your restaurant’s details yourself.

Invest your time into analysing all the reviews across the internet. Most of these platforms allow you, as the verified owner, to reply to reviews.

Acknowledging and thanking reviews is good practice, even if they’re negative. Always reply in a polite and professional manner and avoid getting in disagreements, even if you strongly disagree with the review.

This can be damaging to your brand.

Rexly Penaflorida 11’s ‘7 steps to handling negative reviews’ are clear and work for turning unhappy customers into happy ones:

  1. Contact the reviewer.
  2. Comment first with “Thank You.”
  3. Apologise and be sympathetic.
  4. Take responsibility for the experience.
  5. Correct the situation.
  6. Take the matter offline.
  7. Try for a second chance.

In ‘a new Harvard Business School study by Michael Luca, which set out to ascertain whether “online consumer reviews affect restaurant demand,” determined that a restaurant can increase its Yelp score by 1 star and can see revenues increase from five to nine percent.’ Bianca Bosker (Huff Post)


9. Utilise Social Media

Social media has become one the most powerful tools available for successful restaurant marketing. Social media helps with increasing sales, building a brand and retaining loyal customers.

To get started you need to create a Facebook business page, a Twitter account, an Instagram account and Pinterest account.

With this setup, you’ll be able to showcase your restaurant’s food with high quality photos, show happy customers and give customers a sneak peak of behind the scenes and show off your staff.


Restaurant marketing on social media


You’ll also be able to share special discounts, exclusive deals and promote your news.

Most importantly you’ll be able to connect with your customers by commenting and direct messaging to build rapport for repeat customers.

It’s vital that you keep on top of your social media accounts as non-active accounts are a lot worse than not having an account at all.

It’s not too time-consuming and photos can be shared across multiple platforms with one click.

‘Restaurants that respond to customers on social media have an advantage, since 71 percent of customers say they’re more likely to recommend a company that responds quickly to them on social media.’ Migs Bassigs, (ReviewTrackers)

The biggest trick for utilising social media for free isn’t actually on your handles, but actually making sure your customers and snapping away and sharing their experience.

A restaurant marketing hack is to make sure your food is ‘Instagrammable’ and you can reach thousands of potential customers for free.

Each customer can be become a free social influencer, you just need to make it easy for them to be one.


10. Be Insta-Credible

If you use Instagram, you’ll know that you can’t scroll more than 3 seconds to find another picture of food or drink on your newsfeeds.

Food porn is alive and well.

Instagram is one of the best ways to promote your restaurant on social media, as visual content is in high demand.

Having high-quality and drool-inducing photos is a sure-fire way for drawing in hungry customers and is essential for successful restaurant marketing.


Instagrammable Food


Barbara Lee, a renowned restaurant industry writer, has 6 tips to make your restaurant more Instagrammable;

1. Have beautiful food plating – i.e. the composition of the elements on the plate (think blueberries added to a plate with a single croissant)
2. Involve interesting plate wear – make it fun, unique and in line with your brand identity (for example, funky vintage ceramic plates)
3. Kitschy and cool décor – having something that is quirky and fun means more Instagram pictures (think swing chairs and neon signs)
4. One super unique and novel menu item – coming up with something novel (and something outrageous) might get you in the press and get people taking photos (a burger for £100 for example)
5. Have good lighting – no one ever took a great photo without good lighting.
6. Live plants (especially succulents) – even a simple plant wall could add a touch of green, Instagram gold.

You should also use Instagram to relay your brand messages to your target audience and is a stage to play around with your brand identity.

For example, a restaurant marketing themselves with a focus on health might share photos of people exercising, hiking or practising yoga. Basically, content that you think your fan base will enjoy.

You should also bear in mind that many people, millennials especially, attend restaurants just so they can photograph the food and show off that they have attended.

You should come up with something unique, creative and ‘Instagrammable’ that people won’t be able to resist taking a photo of.

Pro Tip: If your restaurant has been tagged by one of your customers you can repost it on your page. Free content for you and they will appreciate the repost.

You need to give them credit by tagging them in the caption so other people will want to come try your restaurant in hopes of getting their photos reposted too.


11. Throw Competitions on Social Media

Throwing competitions on your social media is an easy way to gain more followers, raise awareness of your brand and increase revenue.

Everyone loves winning free things so the reach can be amazing.

The best way to run your competitions is for the entries to be some form of ‘spreading’ technique.


Restaurant marketing competition idea


For example, to enter they just need to comment by tagging two friends. These two friends will then see the post and possibly enter themselves by tagging two other friends.

See how this can snowball?

Some successful restaurant marketing competitions have reached hundreds of thousands of people. Could yours?

Katie Sawyer (Eventbrite), has written an excellent article that gives you 6 different ways to throw a competition on social media. More importantly she dives into how to avoid social media content fails with tips and rules to abide to.


12. Take Advantage of Hashtags on Social Media

Learning how to use hashtags on social media is a great way to build awareness of your brand and to increase engagement which will lead to more customers.

The first thing you need to do is come up with 2-5 hashtags that are unique to your restaurant and use them consistently.

One or two should be your brands hashtag/s and the others for your local area.

This will encourage your followers and customers to use it as well. This increases engagement and builds a community of customers because hashtags can be searched.

Also, you should have fun with hashtags by jumping on the hype of existing popular Twitter hashtags like #FridayFeeling or inventing your own, hashtags are a great way to have some fun with fans.

Here are 56 of the best hashtags for restaurants from Jessica Miller (Shortstack).


13. Show Off Your Staff

An indirect effort for successful restaurant marketing comes in the form of happy employees. Happy employees say a lot about your business. Your followers on social media and customers will take notice if you show them off.

Joyful workers are also more likely to go above and beyond in terms of customer service which you will benefit from in terms of word of mouth marketing.

You are also far more likely to get positive reviews.


Restaurant Staff Show Off

‘Thanking your employees is probably the easiest thing you can do, yet it’s so often overlooked. Be liberal with your thanks to show staff that you truly appreciate the work they do. A staff that feels appreciated will give you their best.’ – Lorri Mealey (The Balance).


14. Automate the Twitter-Sphere

Twitter is making a huge come back so should be considered to be included in your restaurant marketing campaign.

More people are Tweeting than ever before.

It’s become a very important platform for restaurants to be active on. Customer complaints can be responded to and you can showcase your restaurants latest happenings.

Brad Bortone (Upserve), has 10 top tips for restaurant social media marketing that you can follow.

‘Don’t get frustrated if your followers list is a little lean the first month. It takes time.’

It’s true, your Twitter account following will grow in time, be patient with it and stick to it.

Twitter doesn’t need to suck up all of your time either. Tweets can and should be automated and scheduled for optimum times when your customers might actually want to make a booking.


15. Pin Your Food Photos on Pinterest

Like Instagram, Pinterest is incredibly visual so it’s another powerful platform for showcasing your restaurant’s best photos.

Corey Eridon (nextrestaurants.com), correctly points out that businesses and restaurant owners are still not taking advantage of Pinterest in their restaurant marketing campaigns. Here’s his formula:

New and popular social media platform + A bunch of businesses that are too scared to use it = Big returns for the early adopters.’


Pinterest for Restaurants


Don’t be scared and follow Corey’s guide in getting started with Pinterest and find out if it works for your restaurant.

The basics are you can pin photos of your best dishes that you can link to your website and social media.

Pins are then pinned by other users and re-pinned which creates an endless marketing cycle for your restaurant.

Make sure that your name and brand is attached to your pins. That way when people come across them, they know exactly where to go to eat them.


16. Pay for Geo-Targeted Ads

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Bloc are platforms where you can pay to reach a highly targeted audience in your local area, referred to as geo-targeting ads.

You create an ad creative, choose your audience and pay for clicks, impressions or a specific event like a table booking on your site.

You should trial these services with a small budget first (you can get started with less than £100).

This way you can learn all the different techniques and best practices before spending more. Even if you outsource this to a 3rd party it’s a good idea to get a basic understanding yourself.

Why geo-targeted ads?

Most people are looking for restaurants close to home, so you’ll get the most value out of your budget if you spend on geo-targeted ads.

It’s more expensive when you target a more specific audience. But because this target audience is the most relevant to you, you will also see an increase in conversions, which is better for your business, Chelsea Allenby (Resto Connection).


Pinterest for Restaurants


Geo-targeting ensures that only users in a specific radius see your ads (removing non-relevant clicks).

Although targeted ads can be a lot cheaper than traditional advertisements, like billboard advertising, it’s sometimes difficult to know if you’re actually getting the results you want, a customer in your venue, spending.

It’s important to track the analytics to see if the results are actually worth the money.

Pro Tip: You should run ‘specific’ campaigns with a clear purpose and set up a method of being able to track the results outside of the specific platforms analytics.

For example, you could advertise a ‘buy one get one free’ dish in your restaurant exclusive to the ad campaign. At the end of each week you could see how many of these were ‘cashed’ in and compare them to your analytics.

This is a good way to know if it’s actually working or not.


17. Become A Google AdWords Expert

You now know that a very high percentage of the population is searching for restaurants to attend on their mobile and desktop.

Google, of course, is the platform most customers are using to search for restaurants. It’s one of the most important elements of successful restaurant marketing.

Google Adwords is Google’s answer to geo-targeted ads.

When someone searches for ‘mexican food in London’ on Google you can pay, using Google Adwords, to be at the top of the search results for that search phrase.

That customer can then click on your website and make a booking, it’s as simple as that.

You can use Google Keyword Planner to find the keywords that are relevant to your restaurant.

Relevance is key, there’s no point in your restaurant appearing for ‘Indian restaurant in London’ if you’re a Lebanese restaurant in London.

Google Keyword Planner will tell you the forecasted search volume and historical search volume for phrases that you enquire on, so you can get a rough idea of how many potential customers you could have from Google.

Use a simple spreadsheet to understand whether you will get the results you want from Adwords. You can see if this method of marketing is then affordable or not for your restaurant, Ryan Andrews (Eat).

Pro Tip: Google Adword’s can be a bit daunting at first because it’s been developed over the years to have a lot of features.

Google have an amazing free customer service team that are ready and waiting to help you get setup so you can get the best results from it. Book a time slot with a professional as it’s well worth it.


 18. Dabble in Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has been around for a few years since the rise of Instagram.

In terms of restaurant marketing, it mainly involves tapping into the foodie market and getting influencers to post photos of your dishes and restaurant. They already have a loyal following that will listen to their recommendations and advice.

The easiest way to get influencers to promote your restaurant is to invite them to come and try it for free.

Have the agreement in place that they have to post photos on their platforms and give an honest review. Make sure that they tag your restaurant and the content is of high quality.

Potential customers will pay attention and be far more likely convinced by a influencers post.


Restaurant influencers


Influencers have an advantage over ‘paid geo-targeted ads’ because they are from a human referral and not just an advertisement by a platform.

‘Influencer marketing drives a better-quality customer than PPC to your website, as they are further along in their buying cycle and are more likely to consider and purchase due to the third-party influence.’ Alicia Russell (Onalytica).

92% of individuals trust referrals from their peers over advertisements.

Individuals don’t care for ‘salesy’ ads from advertisers. They trust their friends.

Utilize content that normal individuals post to advance your image.

We recommend you don’t just agree to one post. Agree to get a couple of posts, a story of the night, some Tweets and a plug on Snapchat too.

Influencers are usually on multiple platforms so make sure you get on all of them. Kathi Kruse has written a very useful article on the ‘power of 7 and social media.’ It’s well worth a read.

If you get amazing results from one influencer you should keep inviting them back for more, with the same agreement.

If their followers see multiple posts about your restaurant then they will truly start believing it’s worth a visit.

Top Tip: You can make every customer an influencer by offering an ‘Instagrammable’ welcome cocktail or amuse-bouche. If it’s Insta worthy, and it’s posted, those customers are promoting your restaurant to their followers.


19. Promote User-Generated Content

People are constantly taking photos of their food and posting it online, and they love doing it. As a restaurant you will have access to lots of user generated content. Or at least you should have.

It’s an amazing indicator whether your restaurant is on the right track.

If customers are promoting your restaurant this is just like them giving you a postive review and makes you seem like a trustworthy and reliable brand.

If people are attending your restaurant and not taking photos, then you should know something is not right.

User-generated content is also a great way to increase engagement and create rapport with your customers because you can re-post them.


Restaurant marketing user-generated content


By using content that your followers post it will save you time and therefore money.

Utilizing content from your following encourages you as a brand to connect with individuals on a human level and makes you seem to be trustworthy.

Check out this hilarious article from Kate Bernot that shows the lengths some restaurants are going to for user-generated content.

To take the user-generated content idea to the next level you could host a photo competition by asking customers to share their favourite meal at your restaurant.

You can then offer lucky winners’ free meals in your restaurant as a prize.

This will not only entice customers to your restaurant to take the photos in the first place, but it will also leave you with hundreds or thousands of photos that you can use in the future.

Not to mention the happy winners who will then spread word.


20. Start a Blog

Blogging may seem like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be.

It’s quality over quantity so you don’t have to post that often, if you don’t want to.

It’s a great way to build a loyal fan base.

You could share recipes, cooking tips and tricks, share the story of your restaurant and announce news.

Writing a blog actually has many benefits.


Restaurant blogger


The biggest being that it increases your chance of being displayed at the top of Google’s organic search results.

It also gives your social media accounts more depth as you can share your new content on them.

Another benefit that isn’t mentioned too often is that it creates an opportunity to engage with real people that might be useful for your business.

For example, you could mention and link a journalist who has written a healthy food article that relates to your restaurant.

This then gives you a reason to reach out to this journalist so you can build a relationship with them which could lead to your restaurant being mentioned in a popular medium.


21. Get Handy at SEO

SEO, local SEO more specifically, is vital for restaurants.

When people Google restaurants in your local area, you need to be appearing near the top of the search results. If you’re not appearing at all, you can’t expect to get much business.

Appearing at the top in your area is a huge competitive advantage over your competition because you will be clicked first.

SEO takes time, commitment and knowledge but if you’re willing you can get lots of free customers, so it’ll pay dividends in the long run.

There’s a lot of credibility that comes with being ranked well by Google, so your potential customers will land on your website trusting you from the beginning.

Google’s ‘local pack’, also known as ‘the top three’, refers to the top 3 results Google shows when a user searches for a specific search term.

For example, if someone searches for ‘best indian restaurant’, you want to try and be in the top 3 search results or local pack.

These top three restaurants get the most clicks because a user will see these first and are very likely to click on them.

Stasia Avet (SE Ranking) has put together a really useful guide and checklist for how to get to the top of Google’s Local Pack.


22. Find Restaurant & Food Bloggers

Bloggers are similar to social influencers; except they write articles, usually reviewing a restaurant.

Food bloggers have the power to make or break a restaurant, so if you do invite a food blogger to your restaurant, make sure you offer an amazing experience.

‘Foodies’ are your best social influencers for word of mouth, and they follow food bloggers.

If you can get the food bloggers to write an article about your restaurant, then you can build an army of food influencers which can result in incredible results for your business.

To find bloggers you can go on Instagram and use hashtags to find them, e.g. #foodblogger.


Restaurant blogger blogging


Make sure that they are in your area. There’s no point in reaching out to them if they aren’t less than an hour away.

A lot of them have their emails in their profiles so you can build a database and then reach out. It’s a numbers game in terms of results.

Take the time to build a big database and be persistent. Send personalised emails to each one every 3 months and some are bound to take you up on your offer.

You can’t ask for a positive article because that would be dishonest, instead make sure it will be by offering an exemplary service and serving up delicious food.

Similar method to influencers, you should offer them a free experience of your restaurant as the future profits will definitely outweigh the short-term cost.

‘Developing relationships with food bloggers is one of the best ways to integrate your marketing strategy when it comes to restaurant marketing.’ Nicola Barcellona, (Forketers).


23. Implement Loyalty Programs

Getting repeat customers is one of the biggest challenges for restaurants.

Most people like to try restaurants once or twice and are then reluctant to come back. There are so many good restaurants out there to try.

Loyalty programs are a great way to increase your chance of repeat customers.

A benchmark for a successful loyalty program is Nando’s. It’s digital, so customers simply present their card and earn rewards on certain milestones that they hit.

The rewards are worthwhile and it’s easy.


Restaurant Loyalty Program


If you don’t want to set up your own loyalty program there are apps out there that can do this for you.

Online apps encourage visitors to check out your restaurant through gamification and reward schemes. They then offer visitors a free purchase or discount for visiting a certain number of times.

If you’re not ready to go digital, you can trial your loyalty program with punch or stamp cards. Each time a customer attends, you simply stamp the card and once they have visited enough times you can offer them a reward.

Top Tip: You can also have a separate loyalty program for influencers. The more they post on social media, the more you reward them; this is a good way to get repeat promotions from your army of influencers.


24. Take Advantage of Email Marketing

Email marketing is an excellent way to reach your desired patrons.

First, you need to build your list of email addresses, there are different ways to do this:

  1. Create a lead magnet and landing page on your website. This is an enticing pop-up or button on your website that asks for their email address in exchange for a reward. For example, you could offer 20% off the bill if they attend within a month.
  2. A lot of customers will want to connect to your WiFi (you should offer this for free), but if they want to get on, ask them to submit their email.
  3. You can throw competitions on your social media or from within your venue. When they submit their entry, you can ask them to submit their email too.


Lead Magnet


Once you have their email address you can send (the occasional) promotion to entice them to your restaurant.

Always include a hook so your email adds value otherwise you will find your restaurant unsubscribed and your hard work will be undone.

Soribel Fernandez (Blueliner Marketing), suggests as a top tip that ‘Once you have built your email list, you can use segmentation to make offers to those on your list based on gender, drink preferences, the day they prefer to come into the bar/restaurant, and more.’

For some great ideas for email templates specifically for restaurants check out Brandon Hull’s ‘5 ideas for better email marketing templates for restaurants.’


25. Use SMS Marketing

SMS marketing isn’t for every restaurant as it has its benefits and downfalls.

First, the benefits.

It’s incredibly effective when used by the right type of restaurant and used in the correct way in terms of time.

Its effectiveness is down to the impact of the medium (who doesn’t check their texts), so the text is very likely to be seen and taken onboard.

If you have a delivery service side to your business and text on a Sunday night (the most popular nights for takeaways) you’re likely to get good, worthwhile results.


Restaurant SMS marketing


However, the negatives come with how SMS marketing is received.

Many takeaway joints such as Domino’s etc have caught onto the fact of the effectiveness of texting on a Sunday night (with a link to order).

This means SMS marketing is associated with cheaper takeaway brands. If you’re not churning out cheap pizzas then it could de-value your brand experimenting with SMS marketing, so tread with caution.

If you are going to adopt this medium for marketing your restaurant then you should be careful not to text too much and only text at optimum times when orders will be made.

Texting around the holidays and with special deals is good practice too.

Here are 10 examples of restaurants using mobile that you could benchmark from.


26. Host Events

Your restaurant should be worthy of hosting different types of events.

From charity events to product launches and birthdays. These types of events bring in large crowds and do wonders for your social media reach as usually many photos are taken.

These types of events are more likely to attract celebrities, influencers, journalists and bloggers so it’s a good chance to get free publicity.

Allowing your venue to be available for venue hire is a good idea if you’re always quiet on certain days, e.g. Monday’s or Tuesday’s.


Food event


There are sites such as Hire Space, where they will list your venue for you and you can choose when the venue is available for hire.

Top Tip: Chaz Van de Motter, (Elite Marketing Studios), recommends to host an event at your restaurant specifically for local influencers.

Offer free food and drinks, along with VIP treatment during the event, in exchange for a story or exclusive content.


27. Form Partnerships

Partnering with different brands, sports team and clubs could secure a constant stream of revenue for your restaurant.

Offering a percentage discount to these organisations results in a win-win.

You could even arrange it so it’s valid when you’re quiet, so it fills empty seats when nothing else is working.

Buddha Bar in Knightsbridge London has partnered with BMW.

BMW’s staff get a 20% discount off food. With this partnership in play both brands plug each other on their social media so lots of benefits come from it.

Try and partner with a local business or two and you could have a constant stream of business.


28. Consider Online Food Ordering Mediums

The world is being re-built for convenience.

People are turning to apps and online mediums to order their food so it can get delivered.

This isn’t only for the pizza joints or Chinese restaurants anymore.

From a couple of taps on a smartphone, a user can order food from top restaurants and have it delivered within 20 minutes.

Pretty much every cuisine can be ordered online now and it’s an excellent extra revenue stream for your restaurant business.

You can keep the experience high-end by keeping it exclusive to certain apps like UberEats, Just Eat or Deliveroo.


Deliveroo Riders


These apps have a good reputation and fast delivery infrastructure which means you won’t lose quality in your service.

Mansoor Iqbal (Business of Apps), shares that ‘working with Deliveroo has been worth a total of £470 million ($582 million) in revenue to partner restaurants and supply chains in the UK.’

And to put that into perspective, they only have 23% of the market in the UK and U.S combined..

In today’s online-driven environment, convenience is very important. Many online delivery services make it incredibly easy to order food and get it delivered incredibly quickly.

Some customers may even find your restaurant for the first time through services such as these!


29. Offer Freebies, Coupons and Discounts

People love receiving things for free.

As a restaurant you have the ability to give people what they really want for free, food.

If your restaurant is positioned on a busy road with a lot of foot traffic, you could offer free samples to lure people in.


Free samples


Offering freebies goes further than just getting customers to come to your restaurant in the first place. You can get social media content, better reviews, email addresses, word of mouth spreading and lots more.

McDonald’s ran a campaign at Reading Festival where they offered free nuggets to festival goers if they took a picture with a giant chicken nugget.

They could then use these snaps on their social media. The campaign was a huge success because it created buzz online that reached millions of people.

Top Tip: Try advertising a discount on sites like Groupon. These have thousands of freebie and discount hunters waiting to find the next best deal.

Limit the number of sales via this route though as it will cost you due to the hefty portion of sales they take.


 30. Experiment With Pop-ups

There are lots of events nowadays like food festivals where established restaurants with permanent addresses are popping up.

Offering a few staples from the menu means you can reach different people in different locations and is great for brand awareness.

If you’re thinking about opening a new restaurant as an extension from your original one, you can trial it with a pop-up first.

Just because your restaurant is a hit in one town, doesn’t mean it necessarily will be in another.


Festival Food Pop-Up


Fredirik Nielsen (Billetto), has written a really useful guide called ‘how to start a pop-up restaurant in 10 steps’.


31. Get Fresh Off the Press

Everyone who owns a business aspires to getting free press and restaurant owners are no different.

Getting in CN Traveller or Culture Trip can go a long way for your restaurant.

Influencers and celebrities could be readers and it goes a long way for SEO (getting reputable backlinks).

Top Tip: when you’re mentioned in a news outlet or magazine, show off your good publicity on your website and your social media.

You’ll increase engagement as fans will help spread the word, and newcomers will be encouraged to visit in person when they see trusted sources celebrating your restaurant.


32. Go Mobile with a Food Truck

Although not relevant for a lot of different types of restaurants, going mobile with a food truck is big business.

Starting a food truck isn’t as straight forward as one might think.

It can be very pricey and there are different laws surrounding where you can park your truck in different geographical areas. If you go down this route, make sure you’re up to date with local laws and permits.


Food truck


A food truck enables you to dish out your food to customers you might never normally come in contact with.

You can greatly extend your reach, build more press, and acquire new customers who become fans of your brick and mortar restaurant as well.


33. Set Up Google Alerts

Google Alerts are alerts Google email you when a specific term is used on the internet. They are very useful as they can notify you when your restaurant name (or other designated keyword term) appears in a new piece of content on the internet. This makes it easy to keep tabs on who is talking about you and your news.


34. Implement Online Reservation Tools

There are a number of online reservation tools you can tap into, such as Open Table. They make it seamless for customers to make a booking online.

The biggest benefit about using software such as Open Table is that they already have a base of loyal customers that they can drive to your restaurant.


Open Table



Here are the some online reservation systems available for restaurants you can explore:


  1. Eat App
  2. OpenTable
  3. TableIn
  4. Resy
  5. Yelp
  6. Eveve

35. Create a Gift Card for Your Restaurant

By allowing customers to buy gift cards it means they can gift them to other people, for birthday’s and Christmas for example.

This is a clever tactic for finding new customers and is basically a referral, wrapped up nicely.


Gift Card


Once you have gift cards made you can use them for giveaways, competitions and to give to celebrities, influencers and bloggers.

That concludes our restaurant marketing and advertising ideas. Hopefully you can put these 35 restaurant marketing tips to good use.


About Josh Wood

Entrepreneur | Founder | Writer | Tech Enthusiast