Every business requires a strategy for marketing; restaurants are no exception. In fact, some may argue that restaurants have to fight for every customer even more than retail stores because it seems that in rough economic times, families are excluding (or at least reducing) dining out from their budgets. Therefore, figuring out how to market a restaurant correctly can hold the key to a restaurant’s survival in one of the most competitive and fierce industries out there.

The right marketing and advertising techniques of a restaurant will enable it to acquaint itself with its target customer, competition, brand-building techniques and advertising opportunities.

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Every restaurant attracts a certain group of people and you will need to study the market (customers, competitors, and environment) to figure out how to market a restaurant even before you open one. If you are going for a local fast food restaurant, you will need different ways to market your restaurant than the techniques utilized by a fine dining restaurant offering wine lists and caviar since they both target different segments of the market.

Developing your marketing plan requires you to have knowledge of your target customer. Research things such as the needs and wants of your customers, what makes them choose to eat outside the home and what they will pay for a dinner out. Every small detail matters when it comes to studying your target customers, be it their age range, income, social level, or culture.

For example, some dishes might be offensive and forbidden in certain regions around the world (e.g. cow meat for Hindus, pig meat for Muslims, etc) while others might be all-time favorites that you cannot afford to disregard in your menu. This will also help you if you are planning how to market a restaurant that is theme-based; you want the theme to be inspired by your customers’ life style and history.

Once you know how to market a restaurant among the customers’ segment that you are targeting, you will need to move on to the next step: the competition. In order to stand out among your fierce competitors, you must know and study what they are offering, their strengths, weaknesses, and the reasons their diners are loyal to them. You need to turn their weaknesses into strength points for yourself and capitalize on them along with your own strengths.

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Creating marketing and advertising opportunities for your restaurant allows you to increase generating of loyal customers. Many hotels allow restaurants to leave menus and coupons in the hotel rooms and lobby areas.

If your restaurant is near a convention center, maximize your opportunity for business during events by leaving menus and coupons or sponsoring an event. Offering gift certificates is a marketing strategy in itself, as one person is buying the certificate in order for another to visit your restaurant. Offer entrée samples in busy locations to entice hungry guests to visit your restaurant. Run specials through local publications with coupons for new products, dollars off or free products with purchase.

Also, enter your restaurant into contests through magazines, newspapers and other sponsor organizations.

You may try out these steps to advertise your restaurant:-

  1. Create A Web Presence:-

Nowadays, digital marketing has become a vital tool that you need to utilize to know how to market a restaurant or any other business successfully. You need to ask yourself those questions: can local customers find you online? Do you have a mobile optimized website? Is your contact information and location clearly marked and easy to find? Do you have a content marketing plan that helps your website’s SEO?

If you want to beat the competition, you need to find ways to help your target customer find you before they find other restaurants. Creating relevant blogs posts or pages about your specialty or menu items, daily specials, and even coverage relevant to the local food industry could be worthwhile.

With more and more customers searching for locations on mobile devices, it would be wise to have a website that scales too.

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2. Search For Local Food Bloggers:-

Getting reviews and backlinks to your website can boost your presence both online and offline. Look for local food or restaurant bloggers and ask them if they would be willing to review your restaurant and/or food. You could offer them a coupon, a free meal, or other incentives to bring them in.

On the other hand, make sure to monitor online reviews. What are your customers saying about you on restaurant review sites like Google? These reviews may provide insights into how to market a restaurant better and help you create and improve a better customer experience.

If you receive criticism in your reviews, don’t hide from it. Instead, use the review as an opportunity to show the online community that you are listening and responding to feedback, and are making improvements based on that feedback. This is one of the best ways to build credibility and trust with your customer base, as well as set a strong impression that you are committed to feedback and improvement.

3. Implement A Customer Loyalty Program:-

Offer exclusive deals, complementary meals, or other incentives through a customer loyalty program. This can be a great way to grow your email list or ‘Facebook’ likes as well (i.e. by offering special deals that they can’t find elsewhere).

Also, online contests have been a rising trend in the food industry lately, and they deserve to be; they are engaging, interesting and they offer a reward. It’s a win-win situation for both the restaurant and the customer as long as the restaurant keeps its promises.

When your subscribers see communication coming from you on a regular basis, you will stay top-of-mind, compelling your customer to come back to see what’s new.

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4. Update Your Menu:-

Your menu is one of your most valuable marketing tools. If your menu doesn’t look good, or is generally boring or outdated, you are far less likely to make a good impression on the customer. First impressions do matter.

Practically speaking, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the layout. Is the menu organized? Is it easy to read? Have you put your most profitable items towards the beginning and the end? You may also want to consider whether or not you have too many dishes, as a higher number of choices can seem overwhelming to the patrons.

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5. Host Events:-

Events provide you with a great opportunity to bring in the local community. Live music, parties, networking events, business functions, community events, comedy and a variety of other types of gatherings can introduce new patrons to your restaurant.

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6- Distributing flyers:-

Flyers help you promote your restaurant only if you use them correctly by distributing them in active areas and targeting your audience in specific places such as banks, malls and Public Bulletin Boards.

Flyers are not business cards, hence you should draw the customer attention by adding colors (red, orange and yellow simulate hunger, according to multiple researches) and pictures that will encourage customers to go out and check them.

There are a variety of ways to market these events including social media and email, flyers and posters, local listings, cards or displays, and so on. Creating a great company culture is an investment that pays dividends; happy employees send strong messages to patrons that should not be overlooked.

Finally, don’t forget to study and observe trends and case studies on an on-going basis as they would provide you with a constantly updating guide on how to market a restaurant. Continue to look for ways to improve upon your marketing plan, and remember to stay on top of technology as new advancements continue to emerge.

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