No need to open up endless tabs of articles to build a list of current restaurant marketing ideas. Here is a list of 80 proven and attainable marketing ideas to boost sales, available on one page!
With the rise of social media and technological developments, restaurant marketing has never been so broad. Here are dine-in, event, social media, and more types of promos, united under this umbrella term.
Promote Restaurant Online
1. Local directories
Remember Yellow Pages? There are hundreds of directories online that can list your restaurant. Updating directories with the correct phone, email, and address will help customers find you and improve Google search results.
2 . Google My Business
With more people searching restaurants on Google, your listing may be a diner’s first impression of you. What better way to promote for free by uploading attractive pictures, a compelling description, and contact info?
3. Update Yelp
Whether you like it or not, someone will create your Yelp page if you don’t. You might as well update it with the correct information.
4. Online reviews
86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses. A good review can bring more business without a single cost.
6. Share cooking tips, guides
Teach your customers some valuable cooking tips on your website or create a guide. Be more than a restaurant, but also showcase your expertise in your industry.
7. Press releases
Write or hire someone to write and get the word out about any restaurant news, premiers, or events.
8. Blog posts
Update your website with blog posts hitting on topics that will interest your ideal customers or what potential customers are looking for. Share stories about your staff, fun events, or your stance on the environment. Communicate your story and connect on a more personal level.
9. Email newsletters
Email is not dead! In fact, 80% of business professionals believe email marketing increases customer retention. Send newsletters, deals, holiday specials, events and more through email to keep your restaurant in your customer’s heads!
10. Restaurant promos
90% of consumers use coupons in some way. Offer promos as a marketing tactic to entice customers to try out your restaurant!
Learn more about the importance of restaurant promotions in our guide.
Text marketing is also growing. Easily send mass text reminders about specials, events, or to ask for feedback.
12. Delivery apps
For better or worse, 3rd party delivery is likely here to stay. At least having it as an option will get you exposure to delivery app users looking for restaurants to order from.
13. Paid media promotion
If you have a dish, activities, or niche that get highly searched and you have a decent budget for trial and error, paid ads may be a good way to reach the right potential customers.
14. Geofencing advertising
Geo Targeted ads can allow restaurants to set virtual perimeters in which their ad will show across mobile devices within the set boundaries.
Social Media Marketing for Restaurants
15. Food pictures
Pictures of food are still popular on social media feeds! What better way to get free marketing by having someone scroll and eat your food through their eyes first?
16. Social media giveaways
Running contests for a free giveaway is a great way to get people to share your post and increase brand awareness on social media! You can ask people to like/follow your restaurant page and draw a random winner.
Foodie influencers on Instagram can have massive numbers of followers. Offer them a free meal at your restaurant in exchange for a social post where they feature your restaurant to thousands of foodies!
Learn more about restaurant influencers.
18. Bribes for likes
Motivate people to ‘like’ or comment on a post by offering to draw a lucky winner for a discounted meal or free dessert.
19. Check-ins online
Ask customers to ‘check-in’ at your restaurant on Facebook. It shows their friends that they actively use and enjoy your service/food. Free brand endorsement and awareness in one action!
20. Ask for page follows
Ask satisfied customers to follow your page on Facebook or Instagram. That way, you have the opportunity to keep in touch with them through any updates.
21. Show off staff
Business and online transparency is becoming increasingly important. Show off the warm, welcoming faces of your staff on social media for people to connect with.
Get found for free with hashtags on your social media posts! You can have up to 30 for each post and get discovered in specific circles. For example, you can share a vegan dish with vegans using the hashtag #veganlovers
Again, transparency is more important than ever! Show behind the scenes footage of your cooking process or day in the life of your restaurant staff to connect with audiences.
24. Themed content
Does your restaurant have a Greek, Outdoorsy, jazz, safari, or any other distinct theme? If yes, then content ideas are endless! Share news, fun facts, memes, videos or anything else that’s interesting and relevant to your theme.
25. Share helpful articles
Do your customers fit a certain mold or belong to a subculture? Sharing articles and resources on social media that appeal to them can help maintain customer relationships.
26. Social media holidays
Running out of ideas for social content? The good news is every day is a holiday! There are many social media calendars online that you can use to plan promotional events and more. For example, you can offer a gumbo special on gumbo appreciation day or teachers discount on teachers appreciation day.
Dine-In Promotion Ideas
27. Pet-friendly, pet menu
Animal cafes are booming! Animal cafes like dog cafes, is where people can interact with animals while eating or drinking. Allow people to bring their dogs and have dog treats in stock. People love their pets and love others who love their pets too!
28. Business card fishbowl
Old but gold. Ask guests to drop their business card in a container to enter into a raffle for a prize. Promote it online to encourage dine-in visits. You can also use the contact info from cards to add to your email list.
29. Seasonal dishes
Pumpkin-infused everything and eggnog. Take advantage of season changes and offer vegetables and fruits that are most ripe in that season for a limited time!
30. Day of the week specials
Come up with catchy everyday specials that stick in the customers head. Example include: Taco Tuesday, Wine Wednesday, Wing Wednesday, and Fish’n Fries Friday.
31. Lunch specials
Lunch hour, typically from 12 – 1 pm, is the time when employees take a break from work and many go out for a quick bite. Leverage this hour by offering lunch specials to attract them.
32. Time of the day promos
You don’t have to only offer lunch specials. Are Wednesday nights your generally slow days? Try offering reduced prices on certain drinks on Wednesdays.
33. Happy hour
Classic marketing term. Offer reduced prices on drinks, menu items, or free appetizers. Plan them on strategic times like when everyone gets off work.
34. Multi-buy specials
Upsell with multi-buy promos like buy 1 get 1 or buy 2 get 1. For example: buy two orders of buffalo wings and get 1 beer.
Upsell through combo meals such as a drink and appetizer with the main course. The combo rewards them savings as they buy more.
T.Vs with changeable channels, arcade games, ping pong tables, and pool tables can sometimes be the deciding factor for people who want to hangout as they dine.
41. Dance party
People love to dance! Plan salsa, swing, or square dance nights or have a dance floor open every weekend accompanied with a good DJ.
Have a local celebrity that you can convince to tend the bar for the night? You can even tie in a theme that represents a new film production they are in.
43. Celebrity chefs
Invite a guest chef to come in and serve up some new dishes for the evening. Celebrity chefs can bring in huge crowds!
44. Overdeliver service
Give the best possible customer service and it speaks volumes about your restaurant brand. Guests will associate your restaurant with warm, welcoming feelings that they’ll want to feel again.
45. Speedy service
People seem to be getting busier. If you have fast service or use self-service kiosks you can appeal to busy people by marketing your restaurant’s speedy service.
46. Don’t be afraid to be weird
Don’t be afraid to be unique and stand out! Market unusual features that will draw attention like green ketchup, bacon-wrapped oreos, or maybe ask people to come talk to your bartender with a wooden eye.
47. ‘Instagrammable’ interior
In addition to food pictures, an aesthetic or fun interior design also make for great social posts that get shared and discovered by new eyes.
48. Remodel outside sign
Many restaurants still have an old beat up sign from 20+ years ago. Invest in getting an updated sign to bring a sense of newness and overcome the “old restaurant in the corner” image.
49. Give samples in front
Cut up bits of a main course or side dish and offer them to passerbys as samples. You might just get them hooked and reel them in!
50. Play music outside
Invest in some outside speakers and play music to create a more welcoming presence at the front door.
51. Loyalty program
Set up a loyalty program to give customers an incentive to keep coming back. For example: points are earned for every Chipotle order an can accumulate into a free entree.
52. Mug club
If you have a bar, you can start a mug club. Mug clubs are memberships that offer members free gifts, discounts, special offers, and more after paying a membership fee. Design a special mug for members and watch people bring in their friends.
53. Other memberships
If applicable, you may be able to start members-only clubs like a book club or other activities like chess, trivia, pool, and more.
Restaurant Event Ideas
54. Themed events
Halloween, Christmas, 80’s, and Mardi Gras or Hawaiin Luah. People enjoy dressing up and being something else for a night.
55. Live music
Many people will choose to go to a restaurant if there is live music. Invite solo artists or bands to play. With performances scheduled in advance, you can send reminders to your current guests about artists they would like to see.
56. Open mic night
Karaoke night, open jam nights, stand up comedy, or spoken word is likely to help bring a consistent crowd weekly.
57. Game nights
Bingo, trivia, or poker nights also draw in regulars who are looking to fill in their evening hours around familiar and new people.
Ethical & Healthy Restaurant Image Ideas
Farm-to-table is a social movement to source produce from local farms directly. Marketing your ingredients as farm-to-table will earn your restaurant points as a supporter of local farms and your community.
55. Food waste
Food waste is a massive problem that is garnering more and more action. Implementing best practices to eliminate food waste will earn respect in your customers’ eyes. There are also food waste apps that help you sell soon-to-be-expired food at a discount.
56. Health Trends
Keto, whole30, paleo, vegan, and more. These lifestyle trends have become more normalized and less of a fad. Having meals that meet the criteria of these diets will help you accommodate more lifestyles.
Local Marketing Ideas
57. Be proudly local
Your restaurant is more than just a place to eat, it’s a part of a community and adds to the local flavor. Be proud in branding yourself local and neighboring customers will want to support.
58. Community involvement
Connect with locals in your community by supporting local fundraisers, joining tasting events for charity, or sponsoring school sports teams. Your restaurant will get exposure while building truly genuine relationships.
59. Join chamber of commerce
Joining the chamber of commerce may be a good idea for certain restaurants. Many chambers have access to a large audience and can host numerous events throughout the year for your restaurant to participate in.
60. Local media
Have a story that local media might want to report? Get the local news station, newspaper, or radio to meet you pitch a story that will get your restaurant exposure.
61. Support a local cause
Show your empathy for your community by partnering up with nonprofits or charities. Maybe there’s a fire or hurricane that occurred in your area. Look at the pain points of your community and respond.
62. Sponsor a local sports team
If your city is home to a sports team, sponsor them and have your restaurant brand associated with the team.
Restaurant Branding Ideas
63. Merch store
Your restaurant is a brand so why not sell merch products with your restaurant name on it? T-shirts, mugs, aprons, and your signature bbq sauce are just a few of many possibilities. Plus with apparel, customers are billboards.
64. Show off quality
The quality shown in food preparation, ingredients, all the way down to social media posts will help brand your restaurant as quality. Little things done with care can make a huge impact.
65. Benefits > features
When creating campaigns or menu descriptions try highlighting benefits to be more memorable. For example, describing the tenderness, melting in the mouth, or taste that will remind them of a specific place.
66. Tell your story
Humans have been telling stories since the earliest civilizations. Was your secret seasoning discovered by accident? Is your restaurant a family legacy spanning generations? If you have an interesting story, share it and connect with people!
67. Cook for marketing buzz
If you have an outrageous looking dish that never fails to get attention, you can share it online and hope that it goes viral!
New Restaurant Promo Ideas
68. Food truck
Make your restaurant mobile and expand anywhere without renting new space. Food trucks make effective moving billboards while driving to various locations.
69. Cook-it-yourself kits
Package ingredients and cooking instructions for your popular meals. Customers will love them and share it with friends/family, getting your meals exposed in the process!
Restaurant Event Marketing
70. Get creative with present
Notice anything unusual happening in your area? Maybe you can leverage it to come up with a spontaneous promo. Example: Discount on hot beverages during an unexpected blizzard
71. Nearby concert
Is Taylor Swift performing in your city? Leverage this by offering discounts to ticket holders! There will be many people before and after the show looking to catch a quick bite!
There are probably countless events such as conventions and trade shows hosted in your area. Conventions like Comic-Con bring thousands of out-of-state visitors alone so why not leverage this and promote discounts to convention goers?
73. Free food to surrounding businesses
How many businesses is your restaurant surrounded by? Neighboring businesses have great potential to become your lunch-time regulars. Drop off some samples or free meals to local businesses and make a first impression that will bring returns!
74. Collaborate with restaurants
A high tide raises all ships, the saying goes. Likewise, collaborating with other restaurants on an event or program will bring greater exposure.
Be Online-User Friendly
75. Online reservations
There are many services that enable seamless online reservations to your restaurant, showing table availability in real-time. Wine and dine restaurants can increase their sales rate by making reservations easy.
Chatbots are spiking in popularity because they can automate answers to general inquiries online, freeing your time up. Chatbots can boost sales by directing customers to menu specials, delivery options, and more.
77. Online menu
More and more people are checking online menus before making a final decision on a restaurant. Give people the option to check your menu on your website but make sure you have enticing descriptions and mouth-savoring pictures to go along with it!
78. Update Google listing
With so many people finding restaurants on Google, it’s imperative to keep your listing updated. Make sure it shows the correct services available such as dine-in, delivery, or takeaway. You can even add your menu and dishes for easy viewing.
79. Optimize website for SEO
Page speed, keywords, blogs, image sizes, sitemaps, and more all add up to how well you rank in search engines. Invest some time into optimizing your website for search and remember to periodically update it.
80. Online order/pickup
Since Covid-19, online ordering and pickup has surged. As a result, adopting a pickup and online ordering component can help bring in extra sales.
Looking for a fun way to get more dine-in customers? ChowEasy is a platform dedicated to helping restaurants get new, quality customers from the local area. Attract passionate foodies with promos that run on your schedule and on your terms with your restaurant name revealed only to committed diners. No upfront costs or commitments! Learn more now.