Seven Creative Ideas for Restaurant Marketing

Marketing can make or break your restaurant. But if you’re still doing the same old things and hoping they’ll be enough, you may be missing out on major opportunities to broaden your reach and your impact. Consider these seven creative ways to get the word out about your restaurant.

1. Show, don’t tell.

We’ve all heard the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This sentiment has never meant more than it does in today’s selfie foodie culture. Instagram, Facebook, and your website are just a few of the spots to post photos designed to draw diners to your restaurant.

Of course, not all pictures are created equal. If possible, hire a professional to take photos that will display your food in the most compelling way. For a more budget-friendly option, try a clip-on lens like this one by Bitplay, named one of the top five best iPhone camera lenses by Digital Trends.

2. Implement a loyalty program.

Diners love freebies. What better way to encourage them to return to your restaurant than by providing them with incentives? But step away from the punch cards. Today’s foodie apps make this easier than ever with integrated loyalty programs incorporating gamification and customer loyalty programs.

3. Harness the full power of online reviews.

Online reviews are extremely powerful—especially for restaurants, the leading business type regularly searched on Yelp. In fact, according to statistics shared in an Entrepreneur article, more than a third of people won’t eat at a restaurant with fewer than four stars. Meanwhile, two Berkeley economists determined that improving your Yelp rating by a mere half-star could improve your restaurant’s chances of selling out during peak hours by as much as 49 percent.

Beyond serving up delicious food and excellent customer service, what can you do to build your restaurant’s reputation through online reviews? For starters, ask your best customers to rate your restaurant. Also vital is monitoring review sites and responding to both positive and negative feedback. Lastly, claim your restaurant listing on Yelp and other review sites to boost your visibility, access, and functionality.

4. Leverage your satisfied diners.

Another way to put your diners to work for you is with user-generated content (UGC). Encourage them to share their photos and experiences across your social media sites. In addition to being a marketing tool, this is also a customer service win as it shows your diners that you value them. Again, to sweeten the deal, offer incentives, such as photo contests with rewards.

5. Embrace geo-targeting.

Whether we like it or not, we’re living in the era of Big Brother. Why not use this to your advantage? Geo-targeted ads harness the power of location services and geo-targeting by letting you reach users who are nearby and therefore more likely to eat at your restaurant.

6. Make your Tweets timely.

If you’ve ever gone to the grocery store on an empty stomach, you’ve probably ended up buying more than you intended to buy. The same applies to the timing of your Tweets. If you target your Tweets to reach empty stomachs at the right time of day, they’re likely to go much further—not only in terms of merely reaching diners but also in prompting them to visit your restaurant for their next meal.

7. Hit the road.

We get so caught up in today’s digital marketing possibilities that we forget about the value of face-to-face interactions. Grab a few sample menus—and some coupons, if possible—and head to nearby businesses to invite them to visit your establishment. For the biggest impact, restaurant owners and managers should personally take on this task as opposed to delegating it to their employees.

What’s the best part of marketing in today’s era of innovation? These seven creative marketing ideas are just the start. From using mobile ads to partnering with an online delivery service, there are many more ways to maximize your restaurant marketing—and, in the process, your restaurant profits.