As a restaurant owner, the basics of restaurant promotion will have been drilled into you ad nauseam over the years; be active on Facebook, create a Google business profile, invest in online marketing. Sure, these strategies are popular because they work, but the reality is that every restaurant owner worth their salt is going to be doing the exact same thing.
For your marketing to truly stand out, you need to take a slightly different tack.
The beauty of restaurant promotion is that it can be fun, creative and incredibly cheap. Unlike a plumber or an accountant, your business is built around people having a good time. This gives you a fantastic amount of scope to trial fun and fresh marketing strategies on your potential clientele.
Here are five creative promotional ideas for your restaurant.
1) Collect customer testimonials
Despite the long history of advertising – from doctors in lab coats promoting cigarettes to the hyper-targeted world of social media – nothing has ever come close to the effectiveness of word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM). And almost no other industry is quite as reliant on WOMM as hospitality.
As a restaurateur, you can get WOMM working in your favour, and you can do it in a creative way. If it’s obvious that a diner is having the night of his or her life, why not ask for a testimonial from them to use in a promotion? You can either note it down, or – if they’re willing – film it! This strategy is best used on regular customers who you’ve built a relationship with, and can be helped a lot by a glass of Shiraz or two!
2) Offer a secret surprise to your social media followers
Sure, subscribing to a restaurant’s social accounts may not cost anything, but a customer is still investing their time, and you need to make it worth their while.
One of the most creative and fun ways of giving your followers real value is to offer a secret free menu item to those who mention a particular post. Perhaps you can offer a free dessert, or a complimentary bottle of wine. This will make your followers feel special, and will help to get bodies through the door. It should also result in some nice WOMM!
3) Host a regular event
Event nights, particularly when it’s a regular part of your calendar (be it weekly or monthly) can serve to give your marketing efforts a point of focus. Regular events will also aid in creating return business from both old and new customers.
The atmosphere of your restaurant should define your choice of event. If your establishment has an elegant and refined air, a wine tasting night may be in order. For restaurants that are a little more homely and salt-of-the-earth, try live music or a themed evening (e.g. taco Tuesday).
4) Get creative with your uniforms
Your staff are the lifeblood of your business – more than you as the owner or even the clientele, they are responsible for creating the sort of atmosphere that makes the restaurant your customers’ preferred destination.
To give your restaurant some serious character, go over and above with your uniforms. Rather than just picking the most basic combination out of the catalogue, a creative uniform can put your staff in a better mood, can become a conversation piece amongst diners, and can give your establishment an X-factor that will translate into even more WOMM.
5) Use more offbeat social media channels
Remember back in 2006/2007, when Myspace users were a little cagey and hesitant about jumping onto this new “Facebook” thing? Well, the early adopters certainly got a leg up, and they haven’t looked back.
Lesser known – but still wildly popular – social media channels can go underused by businesses. But the potential of platforms such as Pinterest and Snapchat is there for everyone to see. By jumping on early, you’ve got the opportunity to be on the right side of social media history, and gain an audience that may never have otherwise heard of you!
The promotion of your restaurant should be a fun process. And by thinking outside the box and having a willingness to try new things, you could not only enjoy your marketing efforts, but they could seriously pay off.