Restaurant Marketing Ideas

 In 1. David Scott Peters, Marketing, Sales

I find that restaurant owners are very interested in restaurant marketing ideas. As a restaurant expert and coach, I focus on using systems to decrease your costs and increase your sales. I warn independent restaurant owners about the dangers of marketing, especially when they don’t have their financial systems in place. Marketing costs money and the revenue you drive through promotions doesn’t always overcome the costs. Restaurant marketing can quickly put you in the red – so beware.

But I know marketing is sexy, so I always spend a little time on it in my workshop and always include some restaurant marketing ideas and principles in my monthly newsletter for members.

The goal is to find inexpensive ways to market your restaurant. When you’re lean on cash and can’t afford a lot of advertising — outside the four walls of your restaurant, such as in advertising — I encourage you to look inside your four walls for advertising opportunities, also known as four-wall marketing. You’ve got them in your doors, now you need to tell them what you do. Give them more reasons to come back.

Here are some of the best four-wall restaurant marketing ideas that will cost you very little and also keep you working on marketing.

  • Have a calendar of events to tell people what’s going on in your restaurant. Include everything from live music to the night when kids eat free. Include happy hours and special event celebrations, such as a prime rib dinner for two for New Year’s Eve. Put the calendar wherever it’s appropriate in your restaurant: on the tables, in your menu, on the walls, etc. But please make sure to keep it current. Replace those calendars on the first of the month without fail.
  • Put a fishbowl up front to collect business cards for a free lunch. Do a drawing for one winner a day for something small. Let your frequent diners win something. They won’t want to eat their free meal alone, so they’ll be sure to bring their friends. Or go bigger and pull a card a week for a happy hour for 10 of their closest friends. Include a set number of drinks and appetizers. They’ll have so much fun, they’ll stick around and spend more money. Then post who won and bring attention to the fact that your frequent customers are rewarded.
  • Try a bounce-back, something that encourages people to come back to earn their reward. This is like a frequent diner card. Give customers a card and once they get 10 punches, they get a free meal, appetizer, something. But make sure it matches what they’ve been spending. If you punch the card for sandwiches, reward them with a free sandwich, not a free drink or bag of chips. In full-service restaurants, give them a bounce-back coupon with their checks to drive other parts of the business. For example, for lunch customers, you could give a $1 off a breakfast order. Whatever your bounce-back is, make it worthwhile. Give them a reason to come back.

Marketing within your four walls to the people who are in your store is a great use of your marketing money.

If you would like to learn more about how to run a restaurant with systems and go beyond the traditional restaurant marketing ideas, read our free special report, Breaking Away from the Insanity: How to easily take control of your restaurant and make more money. Download it here

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