I’m lucky to stay in a metropolis that has a thriving restaurant scene (it’s most identified for its barbecue and Tex-Mex, if that provides you any trace). And whereas I don’t contemplate myself a meals connoisseur by any means, I used to be a meals journalist in a previous life, so I proceed to remain on prime of the newest tales and developments surrounding the restaurant business.

restaurant ideas in action at a business

To do that, I comply with quite a lot of eating places on social media. I additionally subscribe to their newsletters, attend their particular occasions, enter their giveaways, and join their rewards packages.

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And since my advertising mind by no means shuts off, I can’t assist however be inquisitive about these restaurant marketing strategies. How nicely do they work? Which channels do these eating places carry out finest on? How do established eating places preserve curiosity after the grand opening buzz wears down?

To determine the solutions to those questions, I’m digging deep into restaurant advertising concepts, methods, and real-life campaigns.

Restaurant Advertising and marketing Methods That Work

I needed to get extra perception into the world of restaurant advertising, so I spoke with Rachel Ayotte, the founder and CEO of Bread and Butter, a communications company that works with hospitality shoppers.

Why do eating places of all sizes want a advertising technique? What does an efficient marketing campaign appear like as of late?

“In New York Metropolis alone, there are over 25,000 eating places, which might take the common individual 22 years to strive,” shares Ayotte.

She provides, “With an enormous stock of choices and a comparatively brief time to succeed, individuals should know your restaurant not solely exists however can be someplace they need to go.”

Because of this having a restaurant advertising technique is crucial.

If you wish to stand out on-line and produce extra individuals into your restaurant, listed below are examples of profitable restaurant advertising methods and campaigns to take inspiration from.

Buyer-First Content material

A vital restaurant advertising technique is to focus in your clients. This is applicable not solely to the way in which you market your restaurant but in addition to the menu objects and merchandise you create.

One artistic instance of that is Chipotle’s restricted version Serviette Holder, which is impressed by its clients.

Marketing strategy for restaurants examples: Chipotle’s car napkin holder in action.

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Right here’s the backstory: It’s frequent for Chipotle clients to seize a stack of napkins to retailer of their vehicles on their method out of the restaurant.

As a substitute of reprimanding its clients for stocking up on napkins, Chipotle created a chance for elevated model loyalty by making a branded automobile serviette holder.

Creative restaurant marketing ideas: Chipotle created a limited edition car napkin holder inspired by its customers.

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As a bonus, the marketing campaign launched across the holidays, making it an ideal gifting alternative. Every serviette holder additionally got here with a present card for a free entree to encourage clients to go to a restaurant to “restock” their serviette provide.

Chipotle’s restricted version Serviette Holder was not solely a wonderful customer-inspired product, however the marketing campaign was additionally an ideal instance of social listening in motion.

By being attentive to their clients’ behaviors and what they’re sharing on-line concerning the restaurant, Chipotle was capable of create a viral second out of it.

Chipotle’s aim on social is to “meet [their] followers the place they’re,” according to Candice Beck, the restaurant’s director of social, influencers, and Web3, and this marketing campaign utterly aligns with that technique.

To make use of this technique, get to know your clients on a deep stage. Immerse your self within the platforms they spend their time on, whether or not that’s Instagram or TikTok, and make be aware of their pursuits, behaviors, and targets.

Nostalgic Advertising and marketing

To at the present time, I can’t hear the phrases “child again ribs” and never consider Chili’s. That’s as a result of I, like many millennials, grew up listening to the enduring “I would like my child again ribs” jingle on TV and the radio.

Chili’s has tapped into its Y2K previous and created a number of nostalgic marketing campaigns this yr to focus on its now-adult millennial viewers.

The campaigns embody a business that introduced again the restaurant’s well-known jingle, now sung by Boyz II Males (one other popular culture fixture of the 90s and 2000s).

Utilizing nostalgia in advertising has been a well-liked technique lately as many companies’ goal audiences are rising up. For those who’re a longtime restaurant, don’t be afraid to rehash the previous.

This might imply bringing again an outdated menu merchandise, promoting merchandise with retro branding, and even sharing flashbacks from all through your restaurant’s historical past.

Nostalgic advertising works not solely as a result of it faucets into individuals’s reminiscences and feelings but in addition as a result of it serves as a reminder of how lengthy you’ve been round.

Social-Pushed Content material

In my expertise, eating places that prioritize social media of their advertising technique are inclined to generate quite a lot of on-line buzz.

An instance of a restaurant that creates social-driven content material is Austin-based El Arroyo. Though El Arroyo is a Mexican restaurant, you gained’t discover any footage of meals on its Instagram.

With virtually 700K followers, the restaurant is as a substitute identified for its real-life marquee signal that shows cheeky jokes and ideas, usually submitted by followers.

The account shares an image of its signal with a brand new message on daily basis on Instagram.

Creative restaurant marketing ideas: Austin-based restaurant El Arroyo is famous for its marquee sign that displays cheeky sayings and jokes.

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El Arroyo has constructed a big following round its each day signal, giving its viewers one thing to look ahead to seeing — and sharing — on daily basis.

The restaurant additionally makes use of its signal to tie in present occasions or make main bulletins. For instance, when the hit Netflix present, Queer Eye, was filming in Austin, El Arroyo partnered with the solid to generate buzz.

Creative restaurant marketing ideas: The cast of Queer Eye poses in front of El Arroyo’s marquee sign to promote the show.

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If you wish to use social media to drive site visitors to your restaurant, create one thing shareable. This may very well be a mural or an indication that individuals need to take footage of or a novel menu merchandise that might stand out within the feed.

Signature Model

Once I consider a restaurant with a signature, distinct, and memorable model, the primary place that involves thoughts is Taquero Mucho.

Restaurant marketing ideas: Austin-based Taquero Mucho infuses its signature pink into everything from its dining tables and chairs to its margaritas.

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The Austin-based restaurant is thought for utilizing the colour pink in every thing — from its decor to its margaritas — even the tortillas are pink.

Creative restaurant marketing ideas: A plate of Taquero Mucho’s signature pink tortilla tacos.

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Pink is splashed throughout its model imagery, making it unmissable on-line and in social media feeds. The colour pink usually evokes a sense of playfulness, optimism, and femininity, that are all phrases I’d use to explain Taquero Mucho.

Creating a robust model is a good way to make your restaurant memorable, as a signature model primarily markets your restaurant for you.

Model Partnerships

“Considered one of our favourite and only advertising concepts for eating places to maximise consciousness is a partnership with a like-minded model to faucet into their viewers,” shares Ayotte.

Ayotte says it is a low-lift method to attract on what you have already got — an important restaurant and an important menu. You’ll be able to “leverage that by way of one other model that shares an identical ethos and has entry to clients the restaurant may not,” she notes

An instance of a profitable partnership Ayotte’s crew developed and executed was between the dessert model, Lady M Confections, Netflix, and Pearl Studio upfront of the discharge of the extremely anticipated musical Over the Moon.

Restaurant marketing ideas: Dessert brand Lady M created a limited edition mooncake lantern in partnership with Netflix.

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To celebrate the release, Girl M created a mooncake lantern. As soon as the partnership was able to be introduced, Ayotte’s crew reached out to media and influencers to share the information, in addition to samples of the mooncake lanterns.

“The partnership was a convincing success,” Ayotte recollects. “It [resulted] in an enormous bump in gross sales for Girl M [and generated] over 1.7 million impressions and 19,804 complete social engagements.”

10 Restaurant Advertising and marketing Concepts for 2024

Primarily based on the methods above, together with extra perception from Rachel Ayotte and my private encounters with restaurant advertising that works, listed below are ten restaurant advertising concepts and finest practices to do that yr and past.

1. Construct a easy but efficient web site.

Whether or not I’m trying to find a restaurant close to me on Google or I’ve found a brand new place by way of Instagram, my subsequent step is at all times to take a look at the restaurant’s web site. Having a website for your restaurant is a necessity.

“Even when a restaurant has the perfect service and finest meals on the planet, friends want a option to discover out data and join indirectly,” states Ayotte. “In our expertise designing web sites for eating places, we emphasize the necessity for repeatedly up to date, user-friendly codecs that make it simple for friends to see the menu, hours, location, and the right way to make a reservation.”

Restaurant marketing ideas: A simple website for the restaurant Bodega in San Francisco. The web page includes contact information, hours, and a reservation link.

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What we like: The excellent news is you don’t must have web site improvement expertise to construct an efficient web site. “Eating places don’t want a massively advanced web site to achieve success,” says Ayotte. “An internet site may be comparatively easy if designed nicely.”

2. Handle and replace your Google Enterprise Profile.

Along with their web site, one other factor I instantly check out when trying to find eating places is their Google Business Profile.

Your Google Enterprise Profile is the profile that pops up on the correct facet of the display screen when somebody searches for your enterprise. This snapshot of your enterprise creates a primary impression to searchers who need to see what kind of meals to count on and what the environment is like.

It additionally shows data they’re probably on the lookout for immediately, resembling hours, location, and critiques.

It’s essential to maintain your profile up to date so clients have probably the most correct and up-to-date data. Eating places that actively preserve this data get 89% extra calls, web site visits, and path requests, and 79% extra critiques, based on knowledge from Mobile.io.

Right here’s an instance of a Google Enterprise Profile for an area pizza restaurant right here in Austin referred to as Via 313:

restaurant marketing ideas, via313

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The profile consists of the restaurant’s important data resembling location, hours, and cellphone quantity. However it additionally consists of issues that may assist diners make their resolution, just like the menu, service choices, critiques, and loads of photographs.

Professional tip: You’ll be able to add your individual photographs to your profile in case you don’t need it to solely characteristic pictures from buyer critiques.

3. Observe on-line critiques.

“Individuals like to broadcast unfavorable experiences and critiques,” Ayotte states. “This will hang-out a restaurant for years.”

When you can’t management what individuals write of their critiques, you may select the way you reply. Take the time to learn and reply to each optimistic and unfavorable critiques.

Right here’s one other instance from By way of 313, the pizza store I discussed above. The restaurant takes the time to thoughtfully reply to each buyer overview on Google, even acknowledging their suggestions when clients share it.

Restaurant marketing ideas: A five-star Google review for Via 313 that includes a response from the business owner.

Finest for: Monitoring your restaurant’s on-line critiques isn’t solely so you may keep on prime of unfavorable critiques. You can too use buyer suggestions to enhance your restaurant service, get inspiration for brand spanking new dishes, or acquire optimistic critiques as social proof in your web site and social media posts.

4. Share UGC (user-generated content material).

For me, seeing posts created by different accounts and clients helps persuade me to strive a restaurant. That is referred to as user-generated content material, or UGC.

UGC establishes social proof, which is the idea that clients are influenced by different clients’ experiences, conduct, and suggestions.

For instance, the Reel under was created by a meals influencer sharing their expertise on the New Orleans-based restaurant Willa Jean (which, by the way in which, I can affirm is a superb brunch spot within the metropolis!).

The restaurant shared the video by itself web page to amplify the influencer’s optimistic advice.

Creative restaurant marketing ideas: An influencer post that Willa Jean, a New Orleans restaurant, reshared on its Instagram page.

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What we like: Not solely does UGC present social proof to your restaurant, nevertheless it additionally offers you loads of content material to share, so that you by no means run out of issues to submit.

5. Be a part of a reservation platform.

If you wish to get clients within the door, you need to make it simple for them to come back. This usually means assembly them the place they’re, which, within the case of upscale eating, is on the reservation platforms.

Reservation platforms like Resy or Tock are nice channels for eating places to extend their discoverability and get in entrance of latest clients.

On the shopper facet, these platforms are handy. Reserving platforms usually curate eating places for patrons, organizing them into classes resembling “Prime Rated” or “Finest Brunches” so individuals can navigate their choices higher.

Resy, as an example, even has a class referred to as “Ebook Tonight” that shows openings for last-minute reservations.

Restaurant marketing ideas: Reservation platform Resy displays restaurant availability for quick and convenient booking.

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Professional tip: For those who supply reservations or group eating, make it simple to your clients to ebook a desk by including a reservation web page or plugin in your web site.

6. Have interaction clients instantly with electronic mail advertising.

In 2023, I had one among my most memorable eating experiences at Bar Marilou in New Orleans. From the library-inspired inside design to the mouth-watering bites and flavorful drinks, the expertise has caught with me for almost a yr.

So, in fact, anytime I see the title “Bar Marilou” pop up in my inbox, I instantly open the e-mail simply to be reminded of my magical expertise.

Restaurant marketing ideas: An email newsletter from New Orleans-based restaurant Bar Marilou. The email includes a high-quality photo of plated dishes, CTA buttons to see the menu or make a reservation, and information about two upcoming events.

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That is the facility of electronic mail advertising. When executed proper, emails can be utilized to extend buyer loyalty and function a reminder of your story, your menu, or your occasions. E mail is a option to attain your clients instantly, whereas social media posts can get misplaced in a sea of content material.

Bar Marilou solely sends out emails as soon as a month (typically much less) to share upcoming occasions or updates. This cadence is sufficient for me since I don’t even stay in the identical metropolis and may’t simply drop in at any time when I would like.

Nevertheless, in case you have sufficient knowledge in your clients, you possibly can ship extra customized emails relying on their places, demographic, and eating historical past with you. As an example, if you recognize your clients’ birthdays, you may ship them rewards to redeem on their particular days.

Finest for: If you wish to talk essential data or share upcoming occasions along with your clients, electronic mail advertising generally is a extra direct channel than social media.

7. Create shareable moments.

Shareable content material is vital to succeeding on social media. Once you create content material that pulls and resonates with individuals, they’re extra more likely to share it and assist you to improve your restaurant’s on-line attain.

There are a couple of methods to create moments or content material that individuals need to share. A method is to make your dishes Instagram-worthy so clients are compelled to take footage and share them.

Right here’s one other instance from the pink restaurant, Taquero Mucho, I discussed earlier. The restaurant creates a enjoyable new drink each month and shares it on Instagram. This one aligned with the Barbie film that premiered final summer time.

Creative marketing ideas: A pink Barbie-themed drink from Taquero Mucho Austin.

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One other method is to design your restaurant in a method that’s share-worthy by creating an Instagrammable spot inside or outdoors of your area, like a mural.

8. Begin a loyalty or rewards program.

Everybody loves free stuff. A rewards program generally is a enjoyable option to encourage clients to develop into frequent guests to earn free meals and drinks.

McDonald’s gives an important instance of the right way to execute a rewards program. To encourage individuals to make use of its app, McDonald’s gives clients free massive fries after they make a purchase order.

The extra orders you make within the app, the extra factors you get and may use in direction of future orders.

Restaurant marketing ideas: McDonald’s

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However you don’t must have a elaborate app or be a big restaurant chain like McDonald’s to start out a loyalty program.

My native espresso store, Sorrento’s Coffee, gives a rewards program that’s arrange by way of its POS system, Square.

Each time you purchase a drink, you get factors. 140 factors get you one free drink. (Which jogs my memory — appears to be like like I’ve a free espresso or two ready for me!).

Creative restaurant marketing ideas: An overview of my local coffee shop’s customer loyalty program which involves earning points for free drinks.

Finest for: Loyalty packages are supposed to reward frequent clients. In my expertise, the rewards packages I’ve been probably to take part in are locations that I already frequent.

These packages work nice with espresso outlets or lunch spots in a busy workplace space — wherever the place you’re more likely to see the identical clients regularly.

9. Create branded merchandise.

Creating bodily merchandise or branded merchandise is a good way to let your clients do your advertising for you.

Just like the Chipotle marketing campaign I shared above, branded merchandise is a superb advertising thought for eating places with a loyal buyer base. The important thing to creating branded merchandise is to create a product that not solely displays your model however can be one thing your clients would get pleasure from.

For instance, El Arroyo, the restaurant with the well-known marquee signal, additionally gives a full line of merchandise that’s synonymous with its signal. The cheeky nature of the signal lends itself nicely to different gift-type objects like doormats, coasters, and enjoying playing cards, just like the merchandise under.

Creative restaurant marketing ideas: El Arroyo sells products like doormats and coasters with its signature messages on them.

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What we like: Branded merchandise is a good way to encourage clients to advertise your model for you and improve word-of-mouth.

10. Accomplice with related manufacturers.

As Ayotte talked about earlier when speaking about restaurant advertising methods, model partnerships are an efficient option to amplify your model by getting it in entrance of latest audiences.

To get probably the most out of your model partnership, accomplice with a model that has a special but like-minded viewers. It doesn’t even must be one other restaurant or meals model. The aim is to be launched to a brand new viewers that might profit from or get pleasure from your product.

As an example, in case you’re a small native restaurant that simply opened in your city’s principal road, you possibly can accomplice with different small companies on the block for an in-person occasion or a social media giveaway.

Professional tip: Model partnerships needs to be mutually useful. Think about what the opposite occasion will obtain in return for partnering with you while you make your pitch.

What I Discovered About Restaurant Advertising and marketing

The most important factor I’ve discovered from digging into totally different restaurant campaigns and methods is that there’s a ton of room to be artistic with restaurant advertising.

There’s no proper or mistaken method. Eating places can incorporate developments of their social posts or follow publishing high-quality pictures of their dishes. They’ll attempt to get in entrance of latest audiences by partnering with related manufacturers, or they’ll construct loyalty with present clients by way of electronic mail advertising.

The important factor your restaurant must succeed is an internet site with the next key data:

  • Menu
  • Hours
  • Location
  • Cellphone quantity
  • E mail
  • Reservations (if relevant)

The perfect restaurant advertising technique is to know your model and your clients. From there, you may experiment with totally different on-line and in-person channels to execute your imaginative and prescient and produce extra individuals into your restaurant for years to come back.

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