Diving Deep Into Marketing for Restaurants (My Takeaways)

I’m lucky to dwell in a metropolis that has a thriving restaurant scene (it’s most identified for its barbecue and Tex-Mex, if that offers you any trace). And whereas I don’t think about 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 tendencies surrounding the restaurant business.

To do that, I observe plenty of eating places on social media. I additionally subscribe to their newsletters, attend their particular occasions, enter their giveaways, and join their rewards applications.

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And since my advertising mind by no means shuts off, I can’t assist however be interested by these restaurant advertising methods. How effectively do they work? Which channels do these eating places carry out greatest 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 purchasers.

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

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

She provides, “With an enormous stock of choices and a comparatively quick time to succeed, individuals should know your restaurant not solely exists however can also 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 convey extra individuals into your restaurant, listed below are examples of profitable restaurant advertising methods and campaigns to take inspiration from.

Buyer-First Content material

An important restaurant advertising technique is to focus in your prospects. This is applicable not solely to the way in which you market your restaurant but additionally 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 prospects.

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

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Right here’s the backstory: It’s widespread for Chipotle prospects to seize a stack of napkins to retailer of their vehicles on their approach out of the restaurant.

As a substitute of reprimanding its prospects for stocking up on napkins, Chipotle created a possibility for elevated model loyalty by making a branded automotive 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 prospects 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 taking note of their prospects’ behaviors and what they’re sharing on-line concerning the restaurant, Chipotle was capable of create a viral second out of it.

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

To make use of this technique, get to know your prospects on a deep degree. Immerse your self within the platforms they spend their time on, whether or not that’s Instagram or TikTok, and make word of their pursuits, behaviors, and objectives.

Nostalgic Advertising and marketing

To this present day, 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 advertising campaigns this yr to focus on its now-adult millennial viewers.

The campaigns embrace a industrial 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 preferred technique lately as many companies’ goal audiences are rising up. Should you’re a longtime restaurant, don’t be afraid to rehash the previous.

This might imply bringing again an previous 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 additionally 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 likely to generate plenty 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 received’t discover any photos 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, typically submitted by followers.

The account shares an image of its signal with a brand new message day by day 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 stay up for seeing — and sharing — day by day.

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 forged 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 could possibly be a mural or an indication that individuals need to take photos of or a singular menu merchandise that will 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 understood for utilizing the colour pink in all the pieces — 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 typically evokes a sense of playfulness, optimism, and femininity, that are all phrases I’d use to explain Taquero Mucho.

Creating a robust model is an effective way to make your restaurant memorable, as a signature model basically markets your restaurant for you.

Model Partnerships

“One in every of our favourite and simplest 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 approach to attract on what you have already got — a terrific restaurant and a terrific menu. You may “leverage that via one other model that shares the same ethos and has entry to prospects the restaurant may not,” she notes

An instance of a profitable partnership Ayotte’s group developed and executed was between the dessert model, Girl M Confections, Netflix, and Pearl Studio prematurely 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 have fun the discharge, Girl M created a mooncake lantern. As soon as the partnership was able to be introduced, Ayotte’s group 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 greatest 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 via Instagram, my subsequent step is all the time to take a look at the restaurant’s web site. Having a web site to your restaurant is a necessity.

“Even when a restaurant has one of the best service and greatest meals on the earth, friends want a method to discover out info and join in a roundabout way,” states Ayotte. “In our expertise designing web sites for eating places, we emphasize the necessity for commonly up to date, user-friendly codecs that make it straightforward for friends to see the menu, hours, location, and learn how 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 have to have web site growth expertise to construct an efficient web site. “Eating places don’t want a massively complicated web site to achieve success,” says Ayotte. “An internet site will be comparatively easy if designed effectively.”

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 Enterprise Profile.

Your Google Enterprise Profile is the profile that pops up on the precise facet of the display screen when somebody searches for what you are promoting. This snapshot of what you are promoting creates a primary impression to searchers who need to see what sort of meals to anticipate and what the ambiance is like.

It additionally shows info they’re almost definitely in search of immediately, corresponding to hours, location, and opinions.

It’s necessary to maintain your profile up to date so prospects have essentially the most correct and up-to-date info. Eating places that actively preserve this info get 89% extra calls, web site visits, and route requests, and 79% extra opinions, in accordance with information from Cell.io.

Right here’s an instance of a Google Enterprise Profile for a neighborhood pizza restaurant right here in Austin known as Through 313:

restaurant marketing ideas, via313

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The profile contains the restaurant’s important info corresponding to location, hours, and cellphone quantity. However it additionally contains issues that may assist diners make their resolution, just like the menu, service choices, opinions, and loads of photographs.

Professional tip: You may add your personal photographs to your profile should you don’t need it to solely characteristic pictures from buyer opinions.

3. Observe on-line opinions.

“Folks like to broadcast unfavourable experiences and opinions,” Ayotte states. “This could hang-out a restaurant for years.”

Whilst you can’t management what individuals write of their opinions, you possibly can select the way you reply. Take the time to learn and reply to each constructive and unfavourable opinions.

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

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

Greatest for: Monitoring your restaurant’s on-line opinions isn’t solely so you possibly can keep on prime of unfavourable opinions. You too can use buyer suggestions to enhance your restaurant service, get inspiration for brand new dishes, or acquire constructive opinions 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 prospects helps persuade me to strive a restaurant. That is known as user-generated content material, or UGC.

UGC establishes social proof, which is the idea that prospects are influenced by different prospects’ experiences, habits, and proposals.

For instance, the Reel beneath 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 good brunch spot within the metropolis!).

The restaurant shared the video by itself web page to amplify the influencer’s constructive suggestion.

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, however it additionally provides you loads of content material to share, so that you by no means run out of issues to publish.

5. Be part of a reservation platform.

If you wish to get prospects within the door, it’s a must to make it straightforward for them to come back. This typically 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 recent prospects.

On the shopper facet, these platforms are handy. Reserving platforms typically curate eating places for patrons, organizing them into classes corresponding to “High Rated” or “Greatest Brunches” so individuals can navigate their choices higher.

Resy, for example, even has a class known as “E-book 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: Should you supply reservations or group eating, make it straightforward to your prospects to ebook a desk by including a reservation web page or plugin in your web site.

6. Interact prospects instantly with electronic mail advertising.

In 2023, I had one in all 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 identify “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 achieved 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 method to attain your prospects 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 dwell in the identical metropolis and may’t simply drop in each time I would like.

Nonetheless, when you’ve got sufficient information in your prospects, you would ship extra customized emails relying on their places, demographic, and eating historical past with you. As an example, if you already know your prospects’ birthdays, you possibly can ship them rewards to redeem on their particular days.

Greatest for: If you wish to talk necessary info or share upcoming occasions together with your prospects, electronic mail advertising is usually a extra direct channel than social media.

7. Create shareable moments.

Shareable content material is essential to succeeding on social media. Whenever you create content material that draws and resonates with individuals, they’re extra prone to share it and aid you improve your restaurant’s on-line attain.

There are a number of methods to create moments or content material that individuals need to share. A technique is to make your dishes Instagram-worthy so prospects are compelled to take photos 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 season.

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

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One other approach is to design your restaurant in a approach 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 is usually a enjoyable method to encourage prospects to turn into frequent guests to earn free meals and drinks.

McDonald’s gives a terrific instance of learn how to execute a rewards program. To encourage individuals to make use of its app, McDonald’s gives prospects free massive fries once 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 have to have a flowery app or be a big restaurant chain like McDonald’s to begin a loyalty program.

My native espresso store, Sorrento’s Espresso, gives a rewards program that’s arrange via its POS system, Sq..

Each time you purchase a drink, you get factors. 140 factors get you one free drink. (Which jogs my memory — appears 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.

Greatest for: Loyalty applications are supposed to reward frequent prospects. In my expertise, the rewards applications I’ve been almost definitely to take part in are locations that I already frequent.

These applications work nice with espresso retailers or lunch spots in a busy workplace space — wherever the place you’re prone to see the identical prospects frequently.

9. Create branded merchandise.

Creating bodily merchandise or branded merchandise is an effective way to let your prospects do your advertising for you.

Just like the Chipotle marketing campaign I shared above, branded merchandise is a good 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 also be one thing your prospects would take pleasure in.

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 effectively to different gift-type objects like doormats, coasters, and taking part in playing cards, just like the merchandise beneath.

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 an effective way to encourage prospects to advertise your model for you and improve word-of-mouth.

10. Companion with comparable manufacturers.

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

To get essentially the most out of your model partnership, associate with a model that has a special but like-minded viewers. It doesn’t even have to be one other restaurant or meals model. The objective is to be launched to a brand new viewers that will profit from or take pleasure in your product.

As an example, should you’re a small native restaurant that simply opened in your city’s fundamental avenue, you would associate 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 helpful. Contemplate what the opposite get together will obtain in return for partnering with you once you make your pitch.

What I Realized About Restaurant Advertising and marketing

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

There’s no proper or flawed approach. Eating places can incorporate tendencies of their social posts or persist with publishing high-quality pictures of their dishes. They’ll attempt to get in entrance of recent audiences by partnering with comparable manufacturers, or they’ll construct loyalty with present prospects via electronic mail advertising.

The important factor your restaurant must succeed is a web site with the next key info:

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

The most effective restaurant advertising technique is to grasp your model and your prospects. From there, you possibly can experiment with totally different on-line and in-person channels to execute your imaginative and prescient and convey extra individuals into your restaurant for years to come back.

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