As the restaurant industry grows increasingly competitive, it's more important than ever to promote your small business. Business owners in the hospitality niche are turning away from traditional marketing channels and beginning to use a range of unique promotion methods.
With over 90% of consumers researching restaurants online before deciding on a dining location, you can no longer rely on traditional forms of promotion to keep customers walking through the door.
The creative promotion methods on my list can help you ...
- Connect with new customers using various digital marketing channels.
- Build restaurant recognition with local consumers.
- Leverage delivery services to expand your customer base.
- Build customer loyalty using automated rewards programs.
So, how can you use creative methods to promote your business in 2020 and beyond? Let's explore 10 unique restaurant promotion ideas and trends to help grow your business.
1. Build your social media platforms.
Social media is the new frontier of restaurant promotion. You can build online profiles, communicate with customers, display new offers and advertise to interested consumers. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media giants enable business owners to pinpoint the segments of the market that are likely interested in their food.
While Facebook has traditionally been the most popular social media platform for advertising restaurants, its subsidiary Instagram has become an industry titan. Some restaurants targeting younger clientele have even forgone traditional websites and now exclusively maintain Instagram accounts.
With over 60% of restaurant owners using social media for advertising, it's essential to match the efforts of your competitors. If you're unsure how to approach social media, you can contact a social media marketing team for assistance. Look for a company that specializes in marketing for restaurants.
2. Optimize your site for mobile.
Evidence suggests that over 60% of web traffic now originates from mobile phones, and this trend is still in its infancy. Building a website that isn't optimized for mobile devices will reduce your ability to connect with the majority of internet users and potential customers.
If you're using a website builder to create your restaurant's site, make sure it offers automatic mobile optimization. You need to make sure your online presence is responsive and viewable across all devices. Fortunately, many of the top website builders will automatically generate mobile sites that use the same template as your desktop website. [Looking for a website builder for your restaurant? Check out our best picks and reviews.]
3. Source a POS system with a built-in loyalty program.
Since 2012, over 30% of restaurants have offered loyalty programs to their customers. Considering a repeat customer is worth more than a first-time customer, it's in your restaurant's interest to retain a loyal customer base. Leading POS systems now offer built-in loyalty programs that allow you to create customer accounts, track spending and automate rewards.
Editor's note: Looking for the right POS system for your restaurant? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.
If your current POS software doesn't include a loyalty program, try to find a POS system for your restaurant that integrates with third-party applications offering this critical feature. Some restaurant POS systems have in-house tools that allow customers to sign up for newsletters, promotions or other content. Built-in tools for marketing can be an excellent way to source emails from current customers.
4. Attend local events.
If you run a locally owned restaurant, increasing your presence in the community can go a long way. While many restaurant owners focus on modern approaches to promotion, old-school events can also do the trick. If there's a local food fair or sports day in your area, it might be a good idea to hand out free samples or coupons.
Community forums, such as the Nextdoor app, advertise local events that may be of interest to your business. A Better Business Bureau survey revealed that over 80% of consumers are more trusting of local companies, so establishing your restaurant in your community can help build your brand.
5. Host a competition with food-based rewards.
Everyone loves to feel like a winner. Running competitions for free meals or gift cards is a cheap way to draw attention to your business. You can promote your competition online, in-store or at a local event.
Some restaurant owners ask customers to drop their business cards in a glass bowl to enter a monthly drawing for free food. The "glass bowl" drawing may seem old school, but it is still an excellent way to collect contact details for promotions and email lists.
You can also run food competitions on your social media pages. Many restaurants ask Instagram users to follow their account and tag a friend to enter competitions for gift cards or free meals.
The more creative your competition is, the more attention it will receive. Discuss with your staff members about ways you can promote your business with a fun and rewarding competition. Don't think of the prize as lost money; a competition can pay you back tenfold if it attracts the attention your business needs.
6. Contact influencers.
We discussed the importance of social media advertising earlier in this article. Using influencers is another excellent way to promote your restaurant on the internet's biggest platforms. Food bloggers, travel bloggers and Instagram influencers post viral content on their various channels, and getting a mention from one of them can mean a windfall of business for your restaurant. Contact influencers in your area and ask them to try your best food.
If you're unsure how to leverage influencers for your restaurant, some digital marketing agencies connect restaurant owners with relevant social media figures. Using an agency can help you streamline the process of hiring effective influencers.
7. Accept online reservations.
Accepting online reservations through your website or a third-party platform like OpenTable will help you connect with customers. Many customers enjoy planning their dinner, so an online reservation system can make you a target for well-organized dinners or special occasions. Accepting reservations also conveys the message that your restaurant is busy and in demand. Some POS systems also allow you to integrate with online reservation systems to automate accepting and managing reservations.
8. Partner with modern delivery platforms.
Whether you don't offer delivery to local customers or you have an in-house delivery team, there's never been a better time to upgrade to a modern delivery platform. DoorDash, UberEats, Postmates and a host of other services all offer streamlined teams of delivery workers. Best of all, by partnering with these platforms, your menu will be available on their popular apps. With the rising popularity of food delivery services, you're missing out on a large market segment if you don't have a presence on any of the top platforms.
9. Set up your business's location on Google.
Google currently holds over 88% of the search engine market share. It's essential to record your business's address and contact details on Google so potential customers have immediate access to correct information when they search for your restaurant. Search 'Google My Business' to begin uploading your restaurant's data.
Make sure to keep this information up to date. Considering that Google is the most used resource for internet searchers, it's critical that your contact details, address, opening hours and online menu are accurate.
10. Add details to top review sites.
Review sites like Yelp, Google Reviews and TripAdvisor are trusted resources for many consumers. Set up an account, post photos, and respond to customers' praise and criticism. While it can be stressful waiting for your first review, it's crucial to have a presence on the top review sites if you want to promote your restaurant online.
Not only does this give you ample promotion, but it also keeps you accountable as a business owner. If you don't ask for feedback directly from customers, online review sites are an excellent way to keep track of your business's performance and potential shortcomings.
By using these 10 ideas, you'll be uniquely positioned to increase the foot traffic in your restaurant. A comprehensive approach to promoting your food can help grow your business's revenue. It's time to get started!