Restaurant Marketing and Promotions
Introduction to Marketing for Restaurants
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There is an old saying that a good restaurant will survive by word-of-mouth advertising. While it is true that good restaurants receive their share of repeat business and recommendations, countless loyal patrons who will never find you if you do no marketing or advertising.
What is Marketing?Simply put, marketing is how you make the world aware of you and what you stand for. A sign in the window stating you use local produce is marketing, just as a paid radio advertisement or a yellow pages listing is advertising.
Marketing is vital to restaurant success because it will fill your dining room. If people have never heard of you, they won't come. If you are not in a central location, they will not wander by. Marketing does not have to be expensive; on the contrary, the key to successful marketing is creativity.
Sidewalk SignsSandwich signs on the sidewalk garner attention from passers-by. Paint a sandwich sign with chalkboard paint so you can write your daily specials on the sign. A dry erase board is another idea that works well. If you are off the beaten path, talk to the people in your city or town offices about setting up a sign at a busy corner with an arrow pointing to your restaurant. It can be a sandwich sign that you put out and write the specials on every day, and take in every night.
Email Lists for Restaurant MarketingRecognize the power of staying in touch. Every bill holder in your restaurant should have an email form for interested parties to fill out. Send out a restaurant email once per week with news and information, such as specials, promotions, and more. Remind your email list to tell their friends about what is happening at your restaurant.
Website for Your RestaurantBe a presence on the Internet. Many people use online search engines to find places to dine out, especially when traveling. Your website should include a photograph of the front of your restaurant, your address and phone number, as well as clear directions on how to find you.
Local BusinessesDon't be shy about approaching other business owners about promoting your restaurant. For example, a local bed & breakfast may recommend you to their guests for dinner, and you may give the owner or manager of the B&B a few coupons or promotion in return.
Special events and holidays are great times to partner with local businesses. For example, customers who buy a dozen red roses on Valentine's Day at the local flower shop get a coupon to your restaurant for that evening.
Advertising in the Local PaperAdvertise in any small, neighborhood papers in your area. Not only will this serve as a reminder to the locals, you will come across as "one of us" and garner loyalty.
Be a Local Figure in the CommunityGive people reasons to think about you. Appear at community events and talk about your restaurant. If you need to run an errand during the workday, don't change your clothes. In you are in charge of the kitchen, go out in chef gear.
Yellow and White PagesPeople generally expect businesses to be listed in the phone books. These traditional methods of advertising are important to maintain. The easier you are to find, the more people will discover you.
Be creative when thinking about restaurant marketing. Take any opportunity that presents itself to hand out flyers, talk about your restaurant, or encourage people to come in for a meal.