I’m lucky to stay in a metropolis that has a thriving restaurant scene (it’s most recognized 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 traits surrounding the restaurant business.
To do that, I comply with 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.
And since my advertising mind by no means shuts off, I can’t assist however be interested in these restaurant advertising methods. How nicely do they work? Which channels do these eating places carry out finest on? How do established eating places keep 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 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 as of late?
“In New York Metropolis alone, there are over 25,000 eating places, which might take the common particular person 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.”
For this reason having a restaurant advertising technique is important.
If you wish to stand out on-line and produce extra individuals into your restaurant, listed here 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 clients. This is applicable not solely to the best way you market your restaurant but in addition to the menu gadgets and merchandise you create.
One artistic instance of that is Chipotle’s restricted version Serviette Holder, which is impressed by its clients.
Right here’s the backstory: It’s frequent for Chipotle clients to seize a stack of napkins to retailer of their vehicles on their approach out of the restaurant.
As an alternative of reprimanding its clients for stocking up on napkins, Chipotle created a chance for elevated model loyalty by making a branded automobile serviette holder.
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 listening to their clients’ behaviors and what they’re sharing on-line concerning the restaurant, Chipotle was in a position to create a viral second out of it.
Chipotle’s purpose on social is to “meet [their] followers the place they’re,” in response 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 degree. Immerse your self within the platforms they spend their time on, whether or not that’s Instagram or TikTok, and make notice of their pursuits, behaviors, and objectives.
To today, 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 long-lasting “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 embody 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. For those who’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 recollections 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 likely to generate plenty of on-line buzz.
An instance of a restaurant that creates social-driven content material is Austin-based El Arroyo. Although El Arroyo is a Mexican restaurant, you received’t discover any photos of meals on its Instagram.
With nearly 700K followers, the restaurant is as a substitute recognized 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 each day on Instagram.
El Arroyo has constructed a big following round its day by day signal, giving its viewers one thing to look ahead to seeing — and sharing — each 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 solid to generate buzz.
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 folks need to take photos of or a singular menu merchandise that will stand out within the feed.
Once I consider a restaurant with a signature, distinct, and memorable model, the primary place that involves thoughts is Taquero Mucho.
The Austin-based restaurant is understood for utilizing the colour pink in all the things — from its decor to its margaritas — even the tortillas are pink.
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.
“One in all our favourite and best 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 — an incredible restaurant and an incredible menu. You possibly can “leverage that via one other model that shares an analogous ethos and has entry to clients the restaurant won’t,” she notes
An instance of a profitable partnership Ayotte’s workforce developed and executed was between the dessert model, Woman M Confections, Netflix, and Pearl Studio upfront of the discharge of the extremely anticipated musical Over the Moon.
To have fun the discharge, Woman M created a mooncake lantern. As soon as the partnership was able to be introduced, Ayotte’s workforce reached out to media and influencers to share the information, in addition to samples of the mooncake lanterns.
“The partnership was a powerful success,” Ayotte recollects. “It [resulted] in an enormous bump in gross sales for Woman M [and generated] over 1.7 million impressions and 19,804 whole social engagements.”
10 Restaurant Advertising 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 here are ten restaurant advertising concepts and finest practices to do this 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 at all times 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 finest meals on the earth, visitors want a method to discover out info and join indirectly,” states Ayotte. “In our expertise designing web sites for eating places, we emphasize the necessity for frequently up to date, user-friendly codecs that make it straightforward for visitors to see the menu, hours, location, and the best way to make a reservation.”
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 vastly advanced web site to achieve success,” says Ayotte. “An internet site might 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 Enterprise Profile.
Your Google Enterprise Profile is the profile that pops up on the proper facet of the display when somebody searches for your online business. This snapshot of your online business creates a primary impression to searchers who need to see what kind of meals to count on and what the ambiance is like.
It additionally shows info they’re probably searching for straight away, resembling hours, location, and opinions.
It’s essential to maintain your profile up to date so clients have probably the most correct and up-to-date info. Eating places that actively keep this info get 89% extra calls, web site visits, and course requests, and 79% extra opinions, in response to information from Cellular.io.
Right here’s an instance of a Google Enterprise Profile for an area pizza restaurant right here in Austin known as Through 313:
The profile contains the restaurant’s important info resembling location, hours, and telephone quantity. Nevertheless it additionally contains issues that may assist diners make their resolution, just like the menu, service choices, opinions, and loads of pictures.
Professional tip: You possibly can add your personal pictures to your profile for those who don’t need it to solely characteristic photos from buyer opinions.
3. Observe on-line opinions.
“Folks like to broadcast detrimental experiences and opinions,” Ayotte states. “This could hang-out a restaurant for years.”
When you can’t management what individuals write of their opinions, you’ll be able to select the way you reply. Take the time to learn and reply to each optimistic and detrimental 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 evaluation on Google, even acknowledging their suggestions when clients share it.
Greatest for: Monitoring your restaurant’s on-line opinions isn’t solely so you’ll be able to keep on prime of detrimental opinions. You can too use buyer suggestions to enhance your restaurant service, get inspiration for brand new dishes, or accumulate optimistic 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 clients 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 clients are influenced by different clients’ experiences, habits, and suggestions.
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 best way, I can verify is a good brunch spot within the metropolis!).
The restaurant shared the video by itself web page to amplify the influencer’s optimistic advice.
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 publish.
5. Be a part of a reservation platform.
If you wish to get clients within the door, it’s important to make it straightforward for them to return. 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 purchasers, organizing them into classes resembling “Prime Rated” or “Greatest Brunches” so individuals can navigate their choices higher.
Resy, for example, even has a class known as “Guide Tonight” that shows openings for last-minute reservations.
Professional tip: For those who supply reservations or group eating, make it straightforward to your clients to guide a desk by including a reservation web page or plugin in your web site.
6. Interact clients immediately with e-mail advertising.
In 2023, I had considered one of 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 practically 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.
That is the ability of e-mail advertising. When accomplished 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 clients immediately, 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 each time I would like.
Nevertheless, in case you have sufficient information in your clients, you can ship extra personalised emails relying on their places, demographic, and eating historical past with you. For example, if you realize your clients’ birthdays, you’ll be able to ship them rewards to redeem on their particular days.
Greatest for: If you wish to talk essential info or share upcoming occasions together with your clients, e-mail advertising could be a extra direct channel than social media.
7. Create shareable moments.
Shareable content material is vital to succeeding on social media. If you create content material that draws and resonates with individuals, they’re extra more likely to share it and allow you to improve your restaurant’s on-line attain.
There are a number of methods to create moments or content material that folks need to share. A technique is to make your dishes Instagram-worthy so clients 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 time.
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 could be a enjoyable method to encourage clients to change into frequent guests to earn free meals and drinks.
McDonald’s presents an incredible instance of the best way to execute a rewards program. To encourage individuals to make use of its app, McDonald’s presents clients free giant fries after they make a purchase order.
The extra orders you make within the app, the extra factors you get and may use in the direction of future orders.
However you don’t must have a flowery app or be a big restaurant chain like McDonald’s to start out a loyalty program.
My native espresso store, Sorrento’s Espresso, presents 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 — seems to be like I’ve a free espresso or two ready for me!).
Greatest for: Loyalty applications are supposed to reward frequent clients. In my expertise, the rewards applications I’ve been probably to take part in are locations that I already frequent.
These applications 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 good advertising concept 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 clients would get pleasure from.
For instance, El Arroyo, the restaurant with the well-known marquee signal, additionally presents a full line of merchandise that’s synonymous with its signal. The cheeky nature of the signal lends itself nicely to different gift-type gadgets like doormats, coasters, and taking part in playing cards, just like the merchandise beneath.
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 method to amplify your model by getting it in entrance of latest audiences.
To get probably the most out of your model partnership, companion with a model that has a distinct but like-minded viewers. It doesn’t even should be one other restaurant or meals model. The purpose is to be launched to a brand new viewers that will profit from or get pleasure from your product.
For example, for those who’re a small native restaurant that simply opened in your city’s fundamental avenue, you can companion with different small companies on the block for an in-person occasion or a social media giveaway.
Professional tip: Model partnerships ought to be mutually helpful. Contemplate what the opposite celebration will obtain in return for partnering with you while you make your pitch.
What I Discovered About Restaurant Advertising
The largest 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 incorrect approach. Eating places can incorporate traits of their social posts or keep on with publishing high-quality photos of their dishes. They will attempt to get in entrance of latest audiences by partnering with related manufacturers, or they will construct loyalty with present clients via e-mail advertising.
The important factor your restaurant must succeed is a web site with the next key info:
- Telephone quantity
- Reservations (if relevant)
The very best restaurant advertising technique is to know your model and your clients. From there, you’ll be able to 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 return.