9 Effective Restaurant Marketing Tips and Tricks

Help make your time running a restaurant a lot smoother with these 9 tips.
Amanda Hamel

If you've ever considered opening a restaurant, you know it's not an easy decision. You need to think about everything from location and food quality to marketing and customer experience. But if you're serious about making a go of it as a restaurateur and making sure that customers keep coming back–know this: your success will be determined by how well you engage with your customers through each step of their eating experience at your restaurant. Here are 9 restaurant marketing tips and tricks all restaurant owners should know:

1. Create a clear, cohesive brand identity.

One of the best ways to stand out from your competitors is by focusing on what makes your restaurant unique. Showcase your personality and make sure that customers know they are in good hands with you. A brand identity is the visual representation of your restaurant. Having a strong, consistent brand will help you stand out from other restaurants and make it easier for customers to recognize you when they see you on screen. When developing your restaurant's look and feel, keep in mind that it should be cohesive across all media (online ads, print materials, social media posts). You want people to know what kind of experience they're getting when they visit your dining room. If potential diners can't tell how different restaurants are from each other based on looks alone, then there's no point in having custom-designed signage or menus!

Your brand also needs to reflect the mission statement behind what brings people back again and again. If this isn't clear from their name or logo alone, and if someone can't easily tell where one place ends up rubbing shoulders with another, then maybe it doesn't matter how much money was spent designing something new anyway.

2. Use great photos of your food and drink.

Showing off your delicious menu to guests before they enter your restaurant will help grab their attention. You’ll want to use high-quality photos of your food and drink so that people can see what they're missing out on if they don't visit your restaurant. Show them the food in its best light, as well as how it looks when you're serving it. Photos should also show a variety of angles and light sources, not just one or two! Make sure your photos are clear and well-lit, without any shadows obscuring their view. This will make them feel like they're eating in a professional kitchen!

3. Offer upsells and add-ons to increase profits.

Offer a variety of add-ons. If you have an interesting menu, offer some extras that people can order with their main meal. This will make your restaurant stand out from the rest and give customers another reason to return often. Another way to increase profits is by making the ordering process as simple as possible for your customers, and making sure they always know what they're paying for when they place their orders online or over the phone.

A straightforward way to promote upsells is by making sure the menu is clear and easy to read. You can print menus in large format so people don't have trouble reading them, or even looking at them. A well-designed full-color menu is key because it shows off all the great food options available at your restaurant, including those specialties that aren't featured on regular menus!

A great guest experience hinges on the ability to know what your guests are ordering and recommend the right items. Upselling is made easy when it’s combined with your online ordering system. Using an AI-powered recommendation engine you’ll be able to autonomously suggest upsells and cross-sells as guests checkout via the restaurant's app or branded web ordering. 

4. Use a loyalty program.

People build a higher-level connection with a business when they feel they’re being appreciated. Loyalty programs make it easy to build a connection with your guests that is past the surface level. On average it costs a business 5x more to acquire new customers than it does to keep existing ones. Implementing a strategy to incentivize current customers into returning time after time will help boost your restaurant’s revenue! Loyalty programs are a simple and effective way to encourage repeat guests and increase your restaurant's overall customer retention rate!

5. Capture the guest's first impression.

A guest’s first impression will heavily impact their chances of returning. Their evaluation begins even before stepping foot into your restaurant. It’s important to present your business in a welcoming and professional manner at all times. Make sure the restaurant is clean, inviting, and well-lit. Use bright lights for accent lighting and make sure all surfaces are clean. If there is any clutter on the tables or floors, clear it out so that people feel comfortable walking through your space without having to worry about tripping over something.

Ensure enough parking is available for customers who want to eat at your establishment. If it's hard finding parking in busy areas like downtowns during evenings when restaurants tend to have higher traffic volumes, consider adding valet services as an option for patrons who don't mind paying a premium price per hour ($10-$15 per hour). This will help alleviate some of these issues while still providing excellent customer service!

6. Make your restaurant easy to book.

If you're using a calendar or app that shows availability, make sure it's clear when reservations can be made. You should also give customers the option of booking from their mobile devices as well. This can help you increase your restaurant's presence on social media and other platforms, which will trigger more bookings in the future.

Provide multiple ways to book! If there is more than one way for customers to make reservations at your restaurant (for example, through an online portal), consider integrating these services into one centralized booking system so that all information is accessible at any time during business hours or after hours if necessary. With an online portal, customers can browse menus and make reservations directly through the website/app, and they won't need access codes such as phone numbers because all requests will be processed automatically.

When using a phone call center for restaurant bookings, customers can call directly into your office during normal business hours with questions about availability before making a reservation online. If no answer comes back within five minutes then we recommend calling again after ten minutes have passed—this keeps us accountable for responding quickly enough even though there may not always be another person available on staff right away!

7. Engage your customers with contests and giveaways.

Engaging with your customers by using contests and giveaways is a great way to keep them coming back for more! It’s also an excellent way to promote your brand through social media! If you have a Facebook page or Instagram account, you can use this as an opportunity to promote contests for followers. This will also help you gain more exposure by giving people who haven't already heard about the restaurant an incentive to check it out.

Have fun with it and make it memorable for your guests who participate. Prizes are always fun! They give people something they want while also reminding them of what they're missing if they don't enter the contest. The prize doesn't have to be anything crazy. Your guests will be happy with a free meal and maybe some restaurant merch as well! Just make sure you’ll still be making a profit when hosting contests and giveaways. 

8. Promote your other channels online.

Don’t be afraid of self-promotion. Having multiple digital channels is a great way for your guests to continue engaging with your restaurant even after they leave. The best way to reach out to customers is through social media, and it's a good idea to leverage the power of Facebook and Instagram as much as possible. If you have an established following on these platforms, using them will make you more visible to new customers looking for a place where they can find information about what you do or find out about new products or services that might interest them.

Running a restaurant blog gives potential customers another way of finding information about what you're doing, and if this is written well enough, it may even convince them that visiting your physical location would be worth their time! Plus, having something published regularly means all of those in the industry know all about how great the food tastes at your restaurant!

9. If you prioritize the guest experience, customers will come back!

If you want your restaurant to be successful, the customer experience must be just as good as the food. A good guest experience will help build loyalty among your customers, who are more likely to return and recommend your business when they had a positive experience with it.

We think the best restaurant marketing ideas and trends are those that focus on creating a great user experience for customers, who will then return again and again. We know that people love your food, but we also want them to have great experiences when they come in. By using all of these tips, you can make sure that your restaurant lives up to customer expectations!