We all know the head-scratching frustration of making sure you’ve always got a successful restaurant promotion in the pipeline. If you ever struggle to come up with that next best idea, we’ve made something for you. Welcome to the 100 best restaurant promotion ideas. Ready to have your mind blown?
Bonus: Download the free PDF to access these 100 promotion ideas any time!
1. Go Viral
This one is for the adventurous only!
Pizza chain Hell Pizza famously served up a restaurant promotion where customers could order any pizza, and opt in to their “Pizza Roulette challenge”.
Tongue blistering, one slice of that pizza would be doused with a chilli sauce they claimed to be as hot as police pepper spray.
Now it doesn’t have to be that extreme, but it gives you an idea of what gets attention.
Just make sure it’s something unique, memorable, and bound to get social media abuzz with exposure for your restaurant.
2. Think of Their Furry Friends
Follow Shake Shack’s lead and give your customers a doggie bag or some doggie treats with every meal. Shake Shack even have a special menu just for dogs, with ice creams and dog biscuits, right next to their normal menu.
Almost always, people are crazy about their pets, and by showing your customers your softer side, you’ll talk to them on a powerful emotional level.
Brands that connect on an emotional level get 200% more word of mouth marketing from their customers.
3. Steal a Competitor’s Customer for the Price of a Coffee
Offer anyone with a competitor’s loyalty card (e.g. coffee card) and offer to trade it in for a free coffee at your restaurant.
Firstly, you’ll take a loyal customer away from your competitor, and secondly, you just got your own loyal customer for the price of a coffee.
4. Make Money Even When You’re Not Serving Meals
What do your restaurant and an office have in common?
Tables, chairs, wifi… seems pretty similar right? So why not use your restaurant as shared office space when you’re not in service during the day?
In terms of restaurant promotion ideas, it’s both creative and lucrative.
Indeed, people who use coworking spaces in the U.S. will increase to over a whopping 5.1 million people in 2022.
All you have to do is turn on the lights, provide some wifi, and you’re making money even when you’re not making meals. And these customers won’t leave dirty plates.
5. Rev up the Food Truck
What’s not to love about a mobile restaurant that’s also a traveling billboard for your restaurant?
And that billboard also happens to come with smell-o-vision technology to attract customers from all around!
Ultimately, it’s a great way to get your food around town and to people that wouldn’t normally come into your restaurant.
Oh, and did we mention you might want to be a part of the $1.2 billion (with a b!) food truck market in the USA?
6. Don’t Offer Water
Hang on, we don’t mean you can’t serve water, just don’t automatically put it on the table.
When your customers see other drinks on the menu, they’re way more likely to pay for that tastier treat.
And just like that you’ve turned a labor cost into a profit at every table.
7. Connect with Other Restaurants
We hear you – why on earth would you link up with another restaurant?
Well, that restaurant likely has its own dedicated following that may not have heard of you. By doing something as simple as collaborating with them on a local dish, your reach on social media now includes their audience.
It’s a restaurant promotion idea that’s a win-win for all involved.
8. Let Your Customers Peek Behind the Curtain
You may see your restaurant as just a normal business, but to a diner, there is always a little bit of intrigue about what happens behind the scenes.
If you have a new dish, that’s your new baby to show the world. If you get a new staff member, proudly introduce them to your customers.
Peel back the curtain just a little bit and they’ll feel much more connected to you.
9. Share the Love
If they love a dish, share the recipe – there’s no nicer way to win over a customer.
And you can guarantee they’ll come back to compare their cooking to yours!
With 69% of customers spending more with companies that have better customer service, it’s bound to reap rewards.
10. Don’t Let Them Pick the Cheapest Dish
Okay, this one is a little devious, but hear us out.
Even if your customer is on a budget, they won’t usually pick the cheapest option, as they might assume it won’t be that satisfying.
So by slightly increasing the price of your second cheapest item, you’ll increase profits as they will naturally be attracted to that option.
No doubt a cheeky way to increase profits!
11. Make Money from Your Food Waste
Now of course that’s a big problem, but there is a way you can help, and make money too.
There are companies like BuffetGo and Food For All, that allow customers to buy your leftover meals at discounted prices.
Look at you, saving the environment, and increasing profits at the same time!
12. Create a Cooking Lesson Video
While an in-house cooking lesson is a great restaurant promotion, it might not be practical if you’re always busy.
Or if your chef isn’t exactly a people person.
By creating online cooking videos, you’ll create a legion of followers, salivating every time you post a new video online.
13. Pop-Up Somewhere Unexpected
We’re willing to bet your community has a reasonably busy calendar of events throughout the year, especially in the warmer months.
Craft festivals, food markets, or music events are all great places to have a small pop-up restaurant.
It’s a terrific restaurant promotion, as it’s only a short term investment, and you get a brand new audience to try your food. You’ll also plant the seed to attract them through your restaurant doors later on.
14. Be Interactive with Your Customers
This is all about being interactive with your customers in an ever-competitive dining market.
So it can be as simple as having board games at the tables, or letting your customers roll a dice to choose their drinks.
Returning customers spend 300% more; so it’s a great way to get them to come back.
15. Go All in on Your Brand
Genius? Also Yes.
This is a real demonstration of going all in on your brand and embracing everything about it.
If you’re a ribs restaurant, print your menu on your napkins. If you serve seafood, make the kitchen windows submarine portholes.
Figure out what makes your brand tick, and turn the dial up to 11. In today’s competitive market, having something a bit weird leads to an explosion of customers through your doors.
16. Make Mouths Water with Pictures
The big food brands know what they’re doing when they show you those mouth-watering images of their food.
These pictures trigger powerful reward centers in your brain and encourage impulse purchasing.
So if you look at an image of one of your own dishes and don’t feel the exact same way, it’s time to update your food photography for your restaurant’s promotion.
Hire a local food photographer to come by for an hour each month and capture some awesome shots of your dishes. Or, you can try it yourself with this Gizmodo lesson.
17. Get on Top of Your Google My Business Listing
Picture this – your potential customer is feeling hunger pangs – they Google your restaurant name, but they can’t see your opening hours right away.
Just like that, you’ve lost them.
That may sound over the top, but people expect this information immediately, or they’ll simply lose patience and move on.
Head over to Google My Business and set up your restaurant for free, and make sure your customers have everything they need to find you.
18. SMS The Masses
So this restaurant promotion idea is especially well suited if you have an older target audience. Even if they’re not as attached to the internet as your average millennial, they should still be quite familiar with text messaging/SMS.
Offer your customers weekly, exclusive discounts if they sign up to your SMS list. This is a great way for getting this audience through your doors on quiet nights.
19. Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile-Ready
72% of people searching for food do it from their mobile phone. For this reason, it’s critical that people don’t have to squint their eyes or bend their fingers backwards to see the info they need.
Head to Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test to see if you are up to scratch. If you’re not, never fear – the changes needed should be able to be done by your web developer pretty easily.
20. Talk to Your Customers
Of course you talk to your customers, right? Unfortunately, after all the years you’ve been asking “how was your meal?”, it can become sort of a ‘nothing’ question.
So, look to rethink exactly how your customers see you as a restaurant and a brand with an outside opinion. Have their friends recently been interested in low-carb meals but struggle to find them on your menu? What other trends have they seen in other restaurants they’ve enjoyed?
In other words, the better you target your restaurant promotion, you’ll find your customers will be of a higher quality and spend a lot more per visit.
21. Have a Delivery Partner Work for You
For better or worse, online delivery companies are here to stay, so you should make it work for you. Uber Eats alone covers 70% of the United States and delivers for over 100,000 restaurants.
Notably, you’ll cut down on table service costs and get a bump in restaurant promotion through their apps.
22. Embrace Local Ingredients
Well no, it’s probably not the cheapest way to source your ingredients, but we promise it’ll be well received by your customers.
Better local tastes means more loyalty from your community, which means more regular customers, which means more revenue.
It’ll also attract tourists who want a genuine taste of the local specialties.
23. Make Sure Your Menu Is Really, Really, Really Easy to Read
Oh of course they can read our menu we hear you say!
But when was the last time you tried to read your menu from a phone? If it’s something they need to zoom, pinch, twist and turn to read, you will drive your customers mad.
And that equals customers giving up and going away.
Keep those customers by getting your menu sorted at a place like OpenMenu – you won’t believe what a difference this simple change will make to your bottom line.
24. Place Your Window Seats First
This is a simple one – place your first customers by the window.
It’ll make your restaurant look full, and every passerby can get food envy when they see your customers chowing down.
There’s probably no better restaurant promotion to get people off the street and in your chairs.
25. Rely on Experts
We’re going to guess that you’re pretty darn good at running a restaurant. You might even be good at marketing it too, but that’s not where you should be putting your precious time.
Take some of the burden off your shoulders, and spend your time doing what you’re good at – running a great restaurant.
Above all, hiring a restaurant marketing agency for your restaurant promotion is the most cost effective way to get real marketing specialists on your team.
26. Place Pics of Your Expensive Items on Your Menu
They say a picture paints a thousand words, and it sure will sell an expensive dish better than just a price tag.
Mouth-watering images will help your customers forget about paying the premium price if they’re too busy drooling.
Also, it’s an easy way to attract their eyes to your most profitable dish immediately.
27. Hire a Guest Chef
Chances are you probably know a few good chefs around town. Why not bring one in as part of your restaurant promotion?
And you could even swap chefs with another restaurant to create interest through cross-promotion, doubling your audience immediately.
Bonus points if you can get a chef that already has exposure online.
28. Make Your Customers Famous on Instagram
People love a bit of digital validation, so why not give it to them on Instagram, by making them famous for a day?
Encourage your customers to post pictures of your delicious looking meals and pick a winner once a week/month for a free meal. Praise them for their fine choice in dining as well as their photography skills.
Also, it’s great for customer retention – keeping just 5% of your customer base will increase your profitability by 75%. That’s smart marketing.
29. Be Proudly Local
This one’s all about emotional engagement with your customers.
Put up some local memorabilia, such as old sports photos, or famous stories from your community’s past.
Hey, you could even dig up that first photo you took of you outside your restaurant.
It’s all local history that your customers can identify with and will really make you feel like part of their own lives. That sort of engagement is super important when it comes to keeping your customers loyal.
30. Answer That Bad Review
Look, we get it, reading people’s complaints about your restaurant isn’t high up on your daily to-do list.
But even if it’s a trivial complaint, responding to their criticism in a meaningful and friendly way is a powerful restaurant promotion tool for your reputation.
Returning customers will always be your best customers, so by looking after them, you will see familiar faces filling tables consistently every night.
31. NAP Everywhere
Sorry fans of napping, in this case we mean “Name, Address, and Phone number”.
The more Google can find your NAPs around the internet, the higher they will list you on their searches – that means more brand new customers for you.
Happily, you can visit this free tool from Yext to look up all of your listings and make sure your NAPs are correct.
32. Have Your Customers Promote for You on Instagram
We live in odd times, where some people enjoy taking photos of their food – perhaps even more than eating it.
Let your snap-happy foodies do some free restaurant promotion for you by encouraging them to share their images on Instagram. Find out how to use Instagram effectively for restaurant marketing here.
This is free advertising from your customers themselves. There is no better advertising than word of mouth, which means new customers guaranteed.
33. Advertise on Facebook
If you’re not on the gigantic marketing train that is Facebook yet, it’s time to jump aboard.
You can really get down to the nitty-gritty when it comes to targeting an audience. Are you looking for people who like Italian food, who live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and are retired? Facebook has you covered.
Happily, you can get started with a budget of $5 a day. For a small investment, you’ll be able to target your perfect audience and turn them into new customers.
And bless the internet, you can have a look at this handy free guide to get you started.
34. Keep ‘em Loyal
Put simply, customers in loyalty programs return 200% more often.
So upgrade your old-school punch card to something a little more 2019, like a mobile solution such as CandyBar.co.
35. Make Yelp Work For You
Look, even if you haven’t made your own Yelp page, someone else will, so it’s best you take control yourself.
You should monitor your Yelp page daily, like it was your restaurant’s blood pressure.
Yes, this form of restaurant promotion is that important – a half-star difference on a Yelp review rating can affect restaurant business by a huge 27%.
Here’s a good guide to make sure people only see good things about you – which you guessed it, means more new customers.
36. Be Involved in Your Community
So you know those schools, sports teams and clubs you drive past every day? They’re not just buildings, but hubs of your community – with thousands of potential customers.
Whether it’s sponsoring the local little league team or feeding volunteers on a charity drive, get involved where you can.
And it’s not just about being nice either – 58% of customers share positive experiences of a company on social media. Invest your time in your community and they’ll repay you with full tables.
37. Blow Your Own Trumpet
We know you’re an active, stand-up member of your community, so you’ll probably get some unsolicited free publicity in the local media.
Now’s not the time to be shy, show it off!
Post it all over your social media, and let people know trusted community sources are celebrating your business.
Your community will want to know what all the fuss is about and this gives them another excuse to walk through your doors to find out.
38. Start Business Card Giveaways (With a Twist)
Yes, this is an old restaurant promotion, but it’s simple and effective. Offer customers the chance to win a free meal for two if they drop their business card in the bowl.
The twist is you can then email them and tell them that they didn’t win this time, but they can join your email newsletter list (make sure you ask them) to win other prizes.
And in one easy swoop, you’ve recruited a whole bunch of people for your email marketing program, which has a magical 3,700% return.
39. Just Ask!
If you need an online review, or if you want to know what a customer really thinks, just ask!
Sometimes we’re too busy running the cogs of the restaurant to connect with customers.
Make a point of engaging with one customer a night to see what they really think – it’ll provide great insight for improving your restaurant.
In fact, 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service, so it’s well worth your time.
40. Draw a Box Around Your Best Menu Item
This one is so simple it hurts.
Pick your dish that has the highest gross profit. When you place that item on your menu, put a simple box around it – “There’s no single better way to draw attention to a high-profit menu item”.
You’re now far more likely to sell your highest profit dish.
41. Host Themed Parties
Ok, you’re probably not going to do this if you’re a Michelin Star restaurant, but for the rest of us, it’s a great restaurant promotion.
It’s a terrific way to bring in groups from all walks of life. Those that are regulars will recruit their friends, attracting a whole new audience.
Whether the theme is Christmas, Halloween or Movie Night, put all of your photos of the events on your social media for people to tag and share.
42. Hire a Micro-influencer
Well, at one end, you have Kim Kardashian with eleventy-billion Instagram followers. That’s a macro-influencer.
At the other end, you have regular, passionate people, with a dedicated following of just a few thousand people. That’s a micro-influencer.
So in our case, we’re looking for local foodies that enjoy experiencing what your community has to offer.
Go through your social media and see who is commenting. Is there someone with 1,000+ followers?
Reach out to them, thank them for their interaction, and invite them for a full-service meal at no expense. In exchange, all you ask for is a post about their experience with you.
And for just the cost of a meal, you’ve reached out to thousands of people who really value what the micro-influencer thinks.
43. Achieve a Massive Return on Investment with Email Marketing
No, you haven’t stumbled across a restaurant promotion article from 2006 – email marketing may still be the most cost-effective promotion strategy in 2019. For every $1 spent on email marketing, it generates $38 in revenue. That’s a 3,700% return.
Above all, speak to your readers as though they’re a part of your family and share with them what’s important to you, whether it’s a new meal or if one of your staff got promoted.
This idea really only costs you your time, so you don’t need to spend big bucks. Start tapping your keyboard and work on getting a 3,700% return on your time.
44. Be on Top of Google Searches
So if you’re a Greek restaurant in Fresno, California, you better be in those first five results if someone Googles “Greek restaurants Fresno”.
You can either pay to do this with ads, or do it “organically” with Search Engine Optimization.
Have a quick Google for a guide, or get a restaurant promotion agency to do it for you.
45. Join Your Chamber of Commerce
This one is all about becoming a part of the fabric of your community, and in turn, being the favored restaurant in your area.
Additionally, you can network with local businesses, and even host events at your restaurant.
You should also be able to get a link on their website which Google will love to see.
Ultimately, this will make you a much busier restaurant and give you more revenue.
46. Fix That Annoying Problem
Be honest now – how many little, but common complaints do you have in your operation that you just never get around to fixing?
You can spend 15 minutes a week dedicated to fixing just one problem.
You’ll be glad you did, as 70% of unhappy customers whose problems are resolved are willing to shop with a business again.
47. Gain More Reviews
Did you know Google ranks you higher if you have more total reviews, even if some of them are bad reviews?
So maybe once a month, jump on social media and ask your community to put a review on Yelp.
And it’s not just about restaurant promotion either – you’re doing it in an effort to give them a better experience. Before you know it, your presence on Google and review sites will be boosted significantly.
48. Bad Reviews Can Be Good
It’s hard not to take a bad review personally right?
And y’know, mistakes happen.
But if those bad reviews and mistakes are happening over and over, you have a problem that’s affecting your bottom line.
Use bad reviews as a learning experience to create a better restaurant that keeps people coming back for more.
49. Play with Price on Your Menu
Everybody loves eating, but paying for it, well, not so much.
Believe it or not, getting rid of dollar signs on your menu will increase your restaurant sales. For this same reason, you should spell out your prices with words instead of numbers.
Oh, and don’t put your prices in a column on the right, put them right next to the meal’s description. This will stop people from scanning the menu for the cheapest dish.
50. Spend Time with Your Customers
It’s easy to lock yourself in the office and hope to get some work done in peace and quiet.
But if you really want your restaurant to be a household name, you need to dedicate a good portion of serving hours in front of your customers.
This is low-key restaurant promotion, but they’ll get to know you (and vice versa), and by extension, they’ll feel like your restaurant is part of their lives too.
51. Bribe Customers for Social Likes
Yep, blatant bribery works.
Tell your Facebook followers to like your post and you’ll pick someone to win dinner for two. After all, 79% of people like a company Facebook page for free stuff.
Oh, and all of their friends will also see that they liked your post, giving you a whole heap of exposure.
52. Retarget Using Facebook
Weirdly enough, Facebook can tell if someone has visited your website.
So if someone does visit your website, Facebook can retarget that person afterward, and show them ads for your restaurant to keep you top of mind.
By reminding people about you on the world’s most popular social media site, you’ll have a great chance of eventually getting them through your doors.
And, the studies we conducted internally indicate that the most effective way to retarget is by calling your audience out specifically. In fact, using terms like “ATTENTION SUSHI LOVERS” and “ALERT PAST SUSHIYA CUSTOMERS” increased clickthrough rates by an average of 57% and conversion rates by an average of 39%.
53. Put It in Black and White
If your target market is more likely to be glued to the local newspaper than their phone, an ad in your community publication is still a good restaurant promotion idea.
Continual branding campaigns in newspapers can get expensive, so stick to offering compelling offers that will get people through your doors.
54. Share the Process
We bet you have a bunch of curious customers who would love to see how your kitchen operates.
If it’s a quieter night, offer to take them behind the scenes to see how it all works.
Encourage them to post photos on social media for added exposure with their network of friends.
55. Make an Effort on Special Days
Every community has special days in the calendar, such as town anniversaries, or celebrations for the local sports team.
So go the extra mile for these days and theme your restaurant with decorations and special themed deals.
Customers will love to see the lengths you’ve gone to to support the community and will pay you back in full tables.
56. Drop Traditional Media
Just drop it.
Honestly, it’s 2019 and there are better ways to get the word out there. Newspapers, radio, magazines – they’re all super expensive and aren’t always well targeted.
On the other hand, digital restaurant promotion is relatively inexpensive, supremely targeted, and totally measurable.
Jump on the digital train to keep your marketing overheads low, and your return on investment high.
57. Offer Shareable Meals
There’s nothing worse than food envy, right?
So don’t let your customers go through that pain, and add platters and other shareable meals to your menu.
It’ll create more conversation about the food, and valuable word of mouth marketing for your restaurant.
58. Keep Your Restaurant Top of Mind
Keeping your brand ‘top of mind’ means knowing that if your customer was to think of ‘restaurants’, you’d be on their short list.
Social media gives this restaurant promotion idea a way to tap your customers on the shoulder once or twice a week to remind them who you are.
Keep it simple, something like an Instagram pic of a new dish – definitely don’t make it a hard sell.
Bottom line – top of mind awareness means more customers through your door.
59. Give Your Local Media a Call
Just like marketers, journalists are always looking for a good story. Give your local newspaper or TV station a call and see what sort of stories they might be looking for.
You’re an established part of the community, so you’re bound to create an idea together that will get you some great exposure.
60. Make it Right, Right Away
We won’t’ beat around the bush with this one – if a customer has a legitimate complaint, fix it, and fix it fast.
78% of customers who complain to a brand online want a response within an hour, so the quicker, the better.
61. Time Your Tweets
Timing is everything, especially in social media.
You want to make sure that when you post for restaurant promotion, people will be around to read it.
We recommend Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
This will get people during their mid-week slump who might be looking for a pick me up with some delicious food after work.
62. Make Their Decision for Them
We’ve all been there – head stuck in a menu, having no idea what to order.
Well why not help your customers by just recommending a popular dish on the menu.
Set aside part of the menu under a heading like “Can’t Decide?”, and suggest a high profit, but popular dish for them to order.
And just like that, you have a much better chance of them ordering a high-profit dish, all while speeding up table turnover.
63. Ask Your Customers to Vote Back an Old Dish
So this is a fun restaurant promotion to engage your customers on social media.
Rummage around your old menus and look for dishes that were popular back in the day. It might even be something super-retro like fondue.
Then you can put a poll on social media and ask your customers to vote for their favorite dish from yesteryear.
Above all, this is a great way to get some online word of mouth marketing, and it’s all generated by your customers.
64. Support a Local Cause
We’re sure you have a cause that’s close to your heart, so why not let your customers know?
Support your cause publicly, and your customers will no doubt be impressed with your integrity.
And it’s popular with the 80 million millennials in America too – 90% of them will switch from one business to another if it supports a charitable cause.
65. Define Your USP
Your USP is your Unique Selling Point. What is it you do that no other restaurant can say they do?
Do you have the best ribs in town? Maybe you have the most expensive cocktail around?
It can be silly too – we’ve seen a whole campaign written around a waiter with a wooden leg – it really can be anything.
This one can take a while and needs to be leveraged properly, so Google a restaurant promotion agency that can help you.
66. Incentivize Your Customers to Check In
Having your customers check in at your restaurant on social media is great exposure.
Put a little note in your menu saying that you often give out spot prizes for people who check in to your restaurant on social media.
So perhaps a few times a week, randomly pick a customer who has checked in and surprise them at their table with free drinks, or a free dessert.
It’s a great way to both get exposure and create loyal customers.
67. Look Outside Before You Post
Poke your head out the window. Is it raining?
Well, you might want to tell your social media followers about your comforting warm dishes.
Are people’s’ shoes melting to the sidewalk?
Then you should tell them about those ice cold beverages that are waiting for them at your bar!
68. Don’t Forget the Millennials
They may seem like a different species that are part smart phone-part human, but nonetheless, they will have $1.4 trillion in buying power by 2020.
Some key points to remember when you talk to your millennial market:
- Be genuine, they hate a hard sell.
- Make sure they can find everything about you with a simple online search. Location, hours, specialties, reviews, even if you take mobile payments.
- They want seamless online service that requires minimum effort to make their transaction.
- They’re looking for an established social media presence for them to engage in.
At the end of the day, Millennials are the next big thing in restaurant marketing, so if you need a hand, reach out to a restaurant promotion specialist.
69. Sell Your ingredients
It’s pretty simple really, which would you rather buy?
“Hand caught wild salmon from the pristine waters of Western Alaska.”
Put some effort into the way you word your menu items and you’ll see your sales go up.
70. Organize a Food Festival
This is one you might want to collaborate with other restaurants on, especially if they’re on the same street as you.
Promote the event as a celebration of local cuisine, and get all of the retailers on your street involved.
Hand out flyers, offer discounts and encourage people to come in and try a dish made by the people in their own community.
71. Thrust Your Website into 2019
You’d be shocked at the number of restaurant websites that look like they’re straight out of the Clinton era.
So, take an honest look at your website and think about how it looks to your customers.
If it’s not a concise, good looking website that reflects you as a brand and dining experience, you really need to update it.
72. Hire the Big Guns with a Celebrity Host
Every community has its heroes, so why not bring one onboard for your restaurant promotion? Bonus points if you can make it a fundraiser for a charity, to really make it about the community.
And as an added extra, you’ll no doubt get plenty of local media coverage.
73. Surprise Your Loyal Customers
If you notice a customer that’s starting to become a regular, why not let them know you appreciate their face being in your restaurant?
Go and introduce yourself and offer a drink or dessert on the house.
You’ll be amazed at how far that will go – in fact, happy customers will refer about 11 new customers for you!
74. Offer Free Wifi
Hey look, if you want your customers to plaster your name on social media for your restaurant’s promotion, make it easy for them!
And to be cheeky, the password can be “tag-us-on-social-media”, to really get the point across!
75. Modernize Your Reservation System
In 2019, people expect technology to make every aspect of their lives easier, and restaurant reservations are no different.
You should absolutely allow people to book online at their leisure and for their convenience.
These days, online reservations are probably considered more a necessity than a luxury.
76. Make Your Menu the Centerpiece of Your Website
You’d always put your menu on your front window for all to see, and it’s no different on your website.
Make sure your menu is first and foremost as a clickable option on your website so that potential customers can get straight to the good stuff.
77. Your Restaurant Front is a Living Billboard
This restaurant promotion is all about street appeal. The windows of your restaurant are the best on-street advertising you can have.
Everyone is attracted to a busy restaurant, so make sure you put your first customers next to the window.
And now, when people from the outside look in, they’ll see happy customers laughing, drinking, dining and enjoying their time with you. That should be more than enough for them to walk through your doors.
78. Pump Up the Music Outside
For the price of an inexpensive Bluetooth speaker, you can get the curiosity of people from half a block away.
It’s been proven to work too – 90% of people would select a business that was playing music over one that wasn’t.
Just make sure it’s on theme with your restaurant – no mariachi music if you’re an Indian restaurant.
79. Reward Staff for Excellence
It’s an understatement to say your staff are your ultimate restaurant promoters.
And yes, it can be hard to find good staff, but that’s why you should celebrate good work.
It doesn’t have to be a cheesy “Employee of the Month” type deal, but just a quiet meal voucher handed over in recognition of a job well done.
It’ll help you identify rising stars for promotion, and your staff will pay you back with hard work.
80. Jam out with Live Music
This restaurant promotion is a double whammy.
Not only will you attract fans of your restaurant who are looking for an excuse to head out, but fans of the live band as well.
Assuming the band is in theme with your cuisine, it’ll also enhance your restaurant’s general ambiance.
81. Pay for Social Media Exposure
And it’s for this reason there are no shortage of companies that have the expertise to help you skyrocket your social media performance.
The search for a restaurant promotion agency is only a Google away!
82. Keep up with the Times
Trends are a fickle thing, but it’s important to keep up with them, especially when it comes to restaurant promotion.
Things like the paleo diet, low carb, and even plant-based burgers will be trends in 2019, so keep on top of the game by staying up to date with food blogs.
By doing this, you’ll make sure you’ll always be relevant to your customers, and have a long and healthy life as a profitable restaurant.
83. Corporate Isn’t Always Best
America has more than its fair share of slick, corporate-looking restaurants, so don’t get sucked into the trap of trying to match them.
If they zig, you should zag, with a unique experience for your customers that reflects your community and the people in it.
Embrace your own identity and you’ll create a strong following from your customers.
84. Create a Cooking Class
Your chefs might be staff members to you, but to many a foodie, they’re rockstars.
Invite your customers in for a cooking lesson with your chef, and we promise you, you’ll have a customer for life, all while charging them for the experience.
85. Tell a Story with Your Menu’s Material
Oh yes, even the material your menu is made from is important when it comes to restaurant promotion.
If you’re a Michelin Star restaurant, you probably wouldn’t have your menu on a paper napkin. But if you were a ribs restaurant, that might actually be a good idea. The details tell the story!
86. Challenge Your Customers to an Eat-Off
Okay, we admit it, this restaurant promotion is a bit low brow, but it’s also a lot of fun.
Whether it’s speed, spice or quantity, challenge your customers to an eating competition to win the adoration of their fans, as well as…well, more food.
87. Use a Bad Review to Get a Better Customer
Let’s say someone online gives you two stars for your food being too simple. Boooo.
You could use this as an opportunity to attract another customer. Yes, perhaps in their eyes the food was simple, but you aim to do wholesome, food for the soul. That’s bound to be a selling point for someone else.
88. Offer Samples Outside Your Restaurant
If you have one or two dishes that always score big with customers, have a staff member outside the restaurant offering bite-sized samples to passersby.
There’s nothing like getting the taste buds going to bring in a new customer from the street.
89. Make Your Ads Geo-Targeted
Those smart people who make cell phones figured out how to tell where a person is when they search from something on their phone.
So if they’re in your zip code, or even your street, you can target an ad just for them.
Talk to a restaurant promotion agency about how you can get this clever tactic working for you.
90. Surprise a Business in Your Community
You’re surrounded by business that are literally made up of thousands of potential customers. So once a week, stop into a local business with a platter of some of your specialties.
Totally free, on the house.
It’ll be such a nice surprise for the workers, that we’re sure you’ll get some new fans and customers out of it.
91. Show off the Quality of Your Ingredients
These days, there is a clear industry shift towards quality. So make sure you specify whether you have something a little bit special in a dish, or if you’re using an ingredient you can only find locally.
Your customers will appreciate the attention to detail and will feel like they’re eating something special.
92. Assure Speedy Service
Don’t leave your customers hanging!
While you might need to invest more in staff and processes, if you can develop a reputation for speedy service, you’ll develop a reputation as the place to eat.
Also, it’ll speed up table service, increasing traffic and revenue.
93. Create a Showstopper Meal
You might remember when cronuts (half donut, half croissant) hit Instagram and became an obsession with many a sweet-toothed foodie.
All of that buzz was generated by one clever person who tried to think outside the box.
Is there a dish you could create in-house that could really get people talking? Sit down with your chef and see what you can come up to make a splash on social media.
94. Offer Exclusive Deals
Everybody wants to feel special right?
Well why not offer exclusive deals to different groups of people? It could be just for retired people, Instagram followers, or local volunteers.
Make your customers feel cared for in your restaurant promotions, and they will pay you back with full cash registers.
95. Sell the Benefits, Not the Just the Features
This is an old school marketing tactic and works really well in restaurant menus.
Instead of just saying how much your steak fillet weighs, tell them how it will make them feel, after it melts in their mouth and leaves them feeling full, content and at peace with the world.
This way you’ll help your customers fully imagine the well-rounded emotions that come with a great meal.
96. SEO All of Your Content
Yes, that’s a fancy marketing term – it simply means Search Engine Optimization.
It’s really just making sure that your website and other online content has all the right words for Google to find you.
So for example, if you’re a Mexican Restaurant in Lincoln, Nebraska, you want to make sure those words are scattered in all of your content.
You can do this yourself with a bit of research, but we’d suggest you save yourself the time and find a restaurant promotion agency to do it for you.
97. Update Your Restaurant Signage
If your outdoor restaurant signage is looking tired, that reflects on your restaurant.
It’s easy for a customer to assume that if your signage is past its use-by date, maybe your dishes are too.
Talk to a local signwriter and see what they can come up with to reinvigorate your street frontage, and get a fresh batch of customers through your doors.
98. Combo Up
No, combos aren’t just restaurant promotions for fast food joints. It can be a great way to pair dishes with wines, and other components to complete a dining experience.
And of course, by making these combo prices a little bit cheaper than buying it all individually, it’s a great upsell to diners who want the full experience.
99. Make Their Eyes Dance Across Your Menu
Diners will scan through your menu in less than 2 minutes.
That’s 2 minutes to get their attention, direct, guide and seduce their eyes to what you want them to order for maximum profitability.
We suggest starting by decluttering your menu, limiting it to 7 options per category, and adding images of only your most profitable dishes.
All of this will help direct your diners to your most profitable dishes.
100. Advertise on Instagram
A staggering 1 billion people use Instagram, and we’ve agreed most of them use it to post photos of their food.
Okay, again we jest, but there’s no doubt Instagram is a match made in heaven for restaurant promotion.
Post some professional photos of your meals, and even encourage your customers to post too – it’s a great way to engage your customers and get exposure through their social networks.
101. Over-Deliver, Always
Whether it’s more quantity, quality, or attention, always endeavor to give your customers just a little bit more than they were expecting.
93% of customers will purchase with you again if they receive excellent customer service, so it’s a form of restaurant promotion well worth striving for.
There you have it, 100 (plus 1) restaurant promotion ideas you can start implementing yourself, right now.
Okay then, maybe after a quick nap from reading all of that!
With all of these ideas, it’s guaranteed you’ll find something you can start today. The hardest part is getting started, so commit to one idea and get the ball rolling.
We promise you’ll see results, and the revenue snowball will only get bigger and bigger once you implement more and more restaurant promotion ideas.
Want an easy way to save this list so you can refer to it again and again? We created a simple PDF that you can access any time that you need inspiration and more sales.
What are you waiting for?