How to Advertise for Restaurants

Business owners

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Whether opening your first restaurant or going into your 10th year at an existing establishment, how you advertise is key to keeping your place in the public's eye.

Traditional advertising can be expensive, but inexpensive (even free) options exist which still work to effectively get the word out about your restaurant. Social media, once considered 'new media' is now a given for any small business. Using a few different social media platforms can reach a wide audience and help promote your restaurant in a viral word-of-mouth fashion. 

Advertising for a New Restaurant

New restaurants need advertising to get customers in the door. Before you begin placing newspaper ads and building a fan page on Facebook, identify who your target audience. Are you hoping to lure in families, business people, the after-hours crowd? Once you've decided who you want to attract, decide how much money you have to spend on your initial advertising campaign. Advertising for a new restaurant is not the place to be tripping over pennies. It is essential, so don't skimp on it. Don't worry, though, some of the best advertising ideas are free.

Social Media for Restaurants 

Social media offers restaurants a way to build a strong online presence, which in turn establishes brand loyalty with existing customers and attracts potential customers. Social media marketing campaigns offer restaurants great opportunities to sell products and services beyond the typical sit-down experience (think catering, merchandise, and gift certificates). 

Social media utilizes sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, Yelp, Foursquare, Stumbleupon, and Instagram. The online conversations and images these sites piece together help build online identities for businesses across virtually every industry. Most of these platforms also provide at least fundamental analytics as part of any business page; serving not only as valuable 'keeping the pulse' insight of business growth online, this information also helps measure which social media strategies are successful and which may need tweaking. Finally, social media allows restaurants to check up on the competition.

Advertising All Year Long

Restaurant advertising and marketing approaches should change with the seasons, from the busy holidays like Valentines and Mother's Day to the slow seasons in between. Find plenty of ideas to keep business coming in all year round, including wine tastings, drink specials, and catering. You will also find advice for keeping to-go menus updated and when to begin advertising for different seasons.

Restaurant Promotions

Restaurant promotions are great because they can run daily or weekly, all year long. They offer the perfect opportunity to show customer appreciation and bring in some extra business at the same time. Restaurant promotions can range from a nightly happy hour to an annual customer appreciation day, with drink and dinner specials.

Promotions can be traditional, such as two-for-one dinner specials or out of the ordinary, such as a name-the-microbrew beer contest. Asking for customer participation makes them feel important (because they are, right?) and spreads goodwill among them. In turn, they return to eat and drink at your restaurant and tell their friends to do the same. 

You can also integrate promotions with your social media campaign. For example, offer a contest for customers who post a selfie at your restaurant on Instagram or Facebook where any participant will be entered to win a $50 gift certificate, or a free t-shirt, etc.

This does two things: it invites customers to start a conversation about your restaurant with their social circle, showing how much they like it and it encourages others to like your pages and check out your business. 

Advertising for a restaurant doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming. It can actually be really fun if you invite your customers to be part of it.

The key to good advertising is consistency. Running ads and posting on social media on a regular basis helps keep your restaurant relevant online and serves gentle, fun reminders to customers that it's time they stop by for a drink and dinner.