Cost Effective Marketing Strategies for Small Restaurant Owners
The face of marketing has changed. Direct advertising is no longer the best alternative. It is not only expensive but also has low returns on investment. Today’s consumer doesn’t watch TV ads and read newspapers as frequently. If you’re a restaurant owner, looking to promote your restaurant through direct advertising, think again.
It’s important to maintain an online presence in this digital era and capitalize on other effective strategies that enable you to stand apart from your competitors and increase the footfall in your restaurant. Here are some specific low-cost strategies that will help your restaurant achieve just that.
1. Design a great website and start a blog
Even though you might not be an expert in this field, creating a website is no longer a complicated task and can also be pretty inexpensive. The main reason for creating a website is to create an online presence for your restaurant, where you’ll be able to share your restaurant’s location, pictures, menu as well as other customer reviews. The website is also a great outlet for customers to make their reservations in advance without going through the hassle of calling.
Another great idea is to create a blog about food and link it to your website, so that your restaurant’s website keeps getting updated with new content and has greater outreach. Some simple blogging ideas include:
Favourite recipes from your restaurant
Nutritional diet plans
Quick dishes that can be created in under 5 minutes
Importance of good presentation
Updates about new menu items, etc.
Over time, as you keep posting great articles and drive more traffic to your blog, your restaurant’s visibility will also grow. This increases your chances of being spotted by more local people online.
Pro-Tip: Pay special attention to your website’s aesthetic. It should be eye-catching and in line with your brand’s theme.
2. Create a well-designed menu
This might be something that may not have crossed your mind but a well-designed menu can do wonders for your business. It acts as a branding medium for your restaurant with both existing and potential customers. Your menu should convince people to give your restaurant a try. Include pictures of your best dishes, mouthwatering descriptions and opt for an attractive layout that goes well with your restaurant’s theme.
Creating a digital menu is just as crucial these days. This is the menu that will be displayed on your website and your social media platforms. You can even use this for digital signage.
It might sound overwhelming but designing a menu is no longer a complicated task with digital tools and websites like PosterMyWall that provide you with a wide range of professionally designed free menu templates.
Pro-Tip: It’s a great idea to embark on the seasonal holiday spirit and create special menus for special occasions like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Halloween and more.
People are more likely to dine in on these occasions and incorporating these themes in your decor, menu design etc will help increase your footfall during these special times.
3. Partner with Charitable Organizations
A great idea for all small restaurant owners is to work with charitable organizations in order to run themed “Dine Out” nights. The idea is to gather people at your restaurant to raise money for a good cause. A certain portion of the proceeds earned that night will go toward the cause. At the end of the night, not only will you be able to increase your revenue, but also earn greater goodwill and visibility in the local community.
Such events will help establish your restaurant as an honest and hardworking business that cares for the community and works towards its welfare. As James Daily, Head of the Content Department at Flashessay.com notes, “Charitable events will always work in favour of the business that hosts them”.
4. Choose a couple of social media platforms for an online presence
Almost everyone uses online social media platforms to entertain themselves and communicate with their friends and family. Social media platforms are also a great opportunity for businesses to communicate with their potential target market and make their online presence even more visible.
Pick out a couple of social media platforms to begin. A good idea is to start with Facebook and Instagram. You can use these platforms to share your stories, recipes, new dishes, deals, customer reviews, restaurant images and more.
Featuring your staff and customers in your pictures can also help make your business look more approachable and friendly. Another great idea to increase engagement on your social media platforms is to post engaging posts such as:
What is your favourite dish? When did you last eat it?
Post giveaways like “Tag 3 friends in the comment section. Ask them to follow the page. 3 Lucky Winners will be chosen at random for a giveaway meal”.
What is your comfort food?
Poll: Are you a healthy eater? What motivates you to eat healthy?
Share a picture of your favourite meal
Pro-Tip: Do not forget to maintain your brand aesthetic on your social media platforms. Use engaging social media templates like these for greater reach and engagement:
5. Begin an email campaign
Starting your own email campaign doesn’t have to be hard. There are just a few things you need to take into consideration to make this work. The first thing you need to do is gather contacts.
Here are a couple of ways to do this:
Ask people to sign up for your email list when they are browsing your website.
Distribute your business cards to customers and inform them that signing up will allow them to benefit from exclusive deals and giveaways.
The cost for this may seem high initially but it has great long term benefits. Once you have a mailing list, create email campaigns that share some of your most popular blog posts, share discounts and deals, new dishes, loyalty programs and more. Email campaigns are a great way to stay in touch with your customers and let them know you’re present.
6. Distribute Restaurant Flyers in your local vicinity
Although digital marketing is rage these days, your restaurant is likely to lose out if you surpass the conventional methods of marketing altogether. There’s no alternative for putting up posters and flyers for your restaurant and distributing them in your local vicinity. Use eye-catching restaurant flyers and posters that align well with your restaurant’s theme and distribute then in your community.
Pro-Tip: Make sure to include all relevant details about your restaurant. Partner up with other local businesses and display your flyers at their outlets for greater exposure.
Here are some examples of eye-catching restaurant flyer templates:
7. Have tasting events for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch.
Tasting events will always be popular with people of all ages. The best way to run such events and attract more people is by offering small sample portions of some of your most popular items for limited time periods.
You can announce this event on your social media accounts, website and through your email marketing campaigns. Ask your customers to bring a friend and make sure you have enough delicious samples in order to make those potential customers want to come back for more.
8. Create an SMS campaign
Last but not least, another marketing strategy you can use is SMS marketing. While this might seem less effective than social media tactics, it can still help you reach out to certain groups of customers who SMS frequently.
You can use this method in order to make announcements of specials, to provide a link to an interesting blog article, and to hand out discount codes and coupons. Dylan Lowe, marketing specialist for Resumes Centre notes, “SMS marketing can be a much more direct way to approach a customer and the fact that they won’t require an internet connection to view your message can work greatly in your advantage”.
Using the right marketing strategies for your small restaurant’s growth
Marketing a small business does not have to break your budget. These strategies, over time, should increase your customer base. Serving great food is only part of the success, the way you market your restaurant will essentially be the biggest reason why someone new will choose to eat at your restaurant.
Which of these marketing strategies would you like to try for your own small restaurant?