Opening a new restaurant can be as rewarding an experience as it is nerve-racking. Despite owners’ and employees’ best intentions, 60 percent of new restaurants don’t make it past their first year, often due to a lack of exposure and accessibility.
For restaurateurs hoping to beat these odds, there are plenty of traditional and online marketing tools available to drive visibility (and diners) to your businesses. Here are 10 marketing ideas for restaurants to get over the first-year hump. Just remember, very few marketing strategies work for every single restaurant. Experiment with the strategies below – and measure your results – and determine what works best for you.
An online presence is a necessity, not a luxury, for almost all B2C businesses today. Making sure your website is optimized for viewing on mobile devices, however, is becoming just as important. According to BrightLocal, as of April 2015, 58 percent of consumers searched for a restaurant or bar on a mobile device, up from 31 percent in 2013. Looking for an inexpensive way to get a mobile optimized website? GrubHub will create one for you for free if you join our network for online ordering.
Creating Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles are a quick and cost-effective way to expand your restaurant’s online real estate, and engage diners directly with promotions, contests and news. But new restaurants shouldn’t feel pressured to master every social media channel simultaneously. Start by developing content and an audience base on a core profile before diversifying your strategy
According to Pew Research Center, 51 percent of adults find information about local bars and restaurants online, and primarily through search engines. Maintaining regular search engine optimization efforts (e.g., fine-tuning your website with relevant keywords) ensures that your name ranks high in diners’ search results.
An often-overlooked online marketing tool for new businesses is local listings websites. Google’s search algorithm frequently prioritizes links from Yellow Pages, Google Places and even Facebook Place Pages, so it’s important to “claim” your entries and keep them updated with accurate contact information, descriptions and images.
Similar to social media, maintaining a restaurant blog is a low-cost way to entice diners with useful and entertaining content. Consistently publishing short-form posts that showcase specific employees and menu items, or offer behind-the-scenes peeks at your restaurant’s culture, can go a long way to developing diner relationships.
Another useful marketing idea for restaurants trying to get the word out is public relations. The number of local food blogs and food writers across the country is growing steadily; nurturing relationships with these editorial contacts can result in (free) coverage of your grand opening, special events and community partnerships.
Once you start creating blog content, landing media coverage or instituting rotating promotions, you need a way to spread the news. Email marketing tools make it easy to reach thousands of diners and prospects – and drive traffic to your restaurant – with one email. (For more tips on how to start a restaurant email marketing campaign, check out our post here.)
Contrary to popular marketing lore, direct mail isn’t obsolete. Rather than wait for new diners to find your restaurant by word-of-mouth or walking by, direct mail lets you make the introduction. Direct mail can be expensive though, make sure you set up a program you can track so that you know if direct mail works for your restaurant.
Supporting local events is another way to build a solid reputation in your community. Street festivals, charity groups and professional associations regularly seek restaurants to cater, sponsor or host events throughout the year. These partnerships offer a captive audience who can help spread the word about your business long after the event is over.
A popular marketing idea for restaurants looking to boost exposure and revenue with one punch is to partner with an online ordering provider like GrubHub. Joining an online or mobile ordering service gives instant access to thousands of customers in your area, and adds third-party credibility to your growing brand. To learn more about online ordering, check out our latest whitepaper, The Restaurateur’s Guide to Online Ordering.