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Mastering Restaurant Marketing Strategies for Success

Everyone loves a good restaurant, right? But why do some establishments have that thing that keeps customers coming back for more while others don’t? We’ve all seen those restaurants that seem destined for success surprisingly fall by the wayside. So, what’s the deal? Well, in addition to culinary quality, it comes down to restaurant marketing strategies.

CallPage Team

Just because a restaurant serves food and beverages doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be treated like a regular business. If you want your eatery to be packed from open to close, then it’s time to spice up your game. That’s why we’re here to break down the ins and outs of restaurant marketing. Follow our tips and tricks and watch as your establishment transcends into something more than just a place where people come to eat.

TL;DR — Best Restaurant Marketing Ideas

  • Have a Restaurant Marketing Plan: Don't leave your marketing efforts to chance. Plan what you want to do and how you want to reach your customers.
  • Boost Online Presence: A great website, engaging social media, and a blog can put your restaurant on the digital map.
  • Engage Online: Respond to online comments and reviews to build a community around your brand.
  • Local Involvement: Participate in community events and collaborate with nearby businesses to increase local visibility.
  • Local SEO: Use local keywords and claim your Google My Business listing to appear in local searches.
  • Simplify Reservations: Implement tools like CallPage’s Click-to-Call for easy booking and inquiries.
  • Foster Customer Loyalty: Train staff well, keep your restaurant looking great, and price menu items appropriately to ensure repeat business.

How to Build an Online Brand — Restaurant Marketing Ideas

Three hands holding smartphones with images of food

If your restaurant isn’t making a splash in the online world, then you’re missing out on a massive opportunity. Online branding tells customers and potential customers what the establishment represents and what can be expected from the dining experience. Using the right online restaurant marketing strategy will help you build an identity that people can follow.

Online Branding Strategies:

  • Tell Your Story
  • Design a Professional Website
  • Post Interesting Social Media Content
  • Respond to Customer Comments and Reviews (Good and Bad)
  • Create a Blog

Tell your story

First things first, what’s the restaurant’s story? How does it stand out from the other nearby eateries? On your website and social media accounts, you should captivate people with the establishment’s history or purpose. If your restaurant is family-owned, uses traditional ingredients, or has unique cooking methods, tell us about it–we want to know! 

Sharing the restaurant’s special identity will add to the customers’ overall dining experience. So, consider hiring a professional writer or videographer to help you share your story with the world!

Design a professional website

Your website should be an extension of the quality people can expect from visiting your restaurant. An easy way to deter people from your establishment is by having a janky website that looks bleh. The good news is that it’s never been easier to create a professional-looking website.

On web-designing sites like Squarespace and WordPress, there are affordable premade website themes that look stunning. By uploading a few professional photos of the restaurant, the story of the establishment, and an online menu, you’ll be ready to go!

Post interesting social media content

Just posting random pictures on social media isn’t going to cut it. If you want to build an online brand, you need to bring your content to the next level. That doesn’t mean you have to allocate a massive budget for content creation–nope! Using a smartphone with a quality camera is all you need for effective social media marketing.

Here are a few interesting social media content ideas:

  • Staged food photos
  • Videos of the cooking process
  • Behind-the-scene videos of the restaurant
  • Staff introductions
  • Shoutouts to valued customers

Here's an example of a simple yet mouthwatering image by Frenchie Wine Bistro, a restaurant from Boston. I don't know about you, but I got hungry just by looking at it!

Screenshot from restaurant social media post by Frenchie Boston

Respond to customer comments and online reviews (good and bad)

Developing an online brand requires you to have an online presence. When customers comment on your social media posts, respond to them! By doing so, you’ll tell the world that you care enough to give your customers the time of day.

Even simple replies like these ones from Frenchie make customers feel they're seen and valuable, which increases the chance they'll actually come and dine in your establishment.

Instagram post by Frenchie Boston with replies to comments made by users

Likewise, responding to reviews — both good and bad ones — shows that you’re paying attention to feedback and criticism. So, don’t hide from the online world. Embrace it and use it to your advantage.

Create a blog

Creating a blog is a wonderful way to drive new traffic to your restaurant. The content you post doesn’t have to be directly related to your establishment. Instead, you could post informative pieces that people in your target audience are frequently searching for on the internet.

For example, if you own a vegan restaurant, you could start a blog section that shares easy, vegan recipes to cook at home, the health benefits of being vegan, and important foods and nutrients vegans need in their diets. Your blog will establish your restaurant as a source of information, turning it into something more than a place that serves food.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Once you've got your blog up and running, you want it to attract traffic, right? This is where SEO plays its role. It's essential to ensure your blog and website show up in search results. When people are searching for "best vegan restaurants" or "easy vegan recipes," you want your site to be among the top results.

To make this happen, sprinkle relevant keywords throughout your blog posts, marketing materials and website content. Remember, keywords are like the herbs and spices of your content – they should enhance, not overwhelm. Your content should be a delightful feast for the eyes – captivating, enlightening, and so satisfying that your readers are eager for the next serving.

Also, regularly refresh your website with new content. It's like regularly changing the specials on your menu; it keeps things exciting and signals to search engines that your site is bustling and up-to-date, giving your rankings a hearty boost.

Now, let's talk about some restaurant marketing tips involving SEO. Backlinks are like secret ingredients here. By collaborating with local food bloggers or influencers and getting them to feature your restaurant, not only do you boost your online presence, but you also add a pinch of credibility to your brand.

How to Market a Restaurant Locally

Local coffee shop with a man waving from the booth

Restaurants are usually local businesses, so your local community is going to be your primary clientele. Unless your establishment is on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, you need your community for support. So, how do you get the people in your area to care about your restaurant? Easy: Get involved! Here are a few restaurant marketing strategies tips to make a name for your restaurant in the local region.

How to Market Restaurants Locally:

  • Participate in Community Events
  • Host Special Events
  • Network with Nearby Businesses

Participate in community events

Participating in local events will catch the attention of the community. Hey! Isn’t that the new restaurant that just opened? We should try it out this weekend! Having a booth at the farmers’ market or the Fourth of July celebration will also establish your restaurant as a part of the team, as an entity that doesn’t just want to exist but also wants to shape the atmosphere of the town.

Keep close tabs on upcoming events. As soon as you’re able to apply for a spot, jump on the opportunity. Make sure to bring a camera along and capture all those Instagram-worthy moments that will surely arise!

Host special events

You don’t have to wait for local gatherings to connect with the community. Why not? Because you can host your own! Once a quarter, use your restaurant space to lure people in for a fun night of activities. If you can do it properly, your self-hosted events could become something that community members look forward to attending, enticing them to invite friends and family.

Here are a few event ideas:

  • Cooking Classes
  • Food and Drink Tastings
  • Fundraisers
  • Open-Mic Night
  • Holiday-Themed Parties

Whatever type of event you choose, make it fun and memorable! It shouldn’t feel like a gimmicky sales pitch to bring in more new customers. Instead, it should be a nod to the community and show that your restaurant is here for them.

Network with nearby businesses

Other businesses in the community are your friends. Okay, maybe not competing restaurants. But other nearby shops are excellent entities to network and collaborate with. When choosing other businesses to work with, choose the ones that would appeal to your target audience. If you own a vegan restaurant, well, it wouldn’t make much sense to partner up with the local hunting store.

Make your restaurant more available by utilizing CallPage’s Meetings tool. The application encourages website visitors to schedule an appointment via a pop-up invitation. It’s a wonderful restaurant marketing tool to help you establish more connections with other businesses and clients.

Once you establish the right relationship with the right business, it’s time to implement some restaurant marketing strategies. Try things like offering customer referrals, hosting shared events, sharing knowledge, or posting information about each other’s businesses.

Make use of local SEO

Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is vital for any local business, especially in the restaurant industry. When people in your area search for places to eat, you want your restaurant to pop up at the top of those search results. How do you do that? By optimizing your online presence for local searches.

Start by claiming your Google My Business listing. This allows you to manage your restaurant's information on Google Maps and Search, making it easier for locals to find you. Regularly update your listing with photos, menu updates, and special events. Encourage customers to leave reviews – positive feedback can significantly boost your restaurant's online visibility.

Also, optimize your website with local keywords. For instance, if you're a pizza place in Austin, include phrases like “Best pizza in Austin” or “Austin pizza restaurant” in your website's content and meta descriptions. This helps search engines understand what your business offers and where it's located.

READ ALSO: Local Lead Generation: 10 Strategies for Quick Results

How to Maximize Reservations, Online Ordering, and Inquiries

Man ordering delivery and another man on a scooter bringing it to his door

Making reservations and ordering food online should be a walk in the park. If your current scheduling or online ordering system is out of date or non-existent, then you’re potentially losing out on big business! Another important factor is ensuring that customers can reach you quickly. That’s where CallPage’s effective click-to-call tool comes into play, which we’ll go into more detail on.

Maximizing Reservations, Online Ordering, and Inquiries:

  • Sign Up for Online Delivery Platforms
  • Install Easy Reservation Methods
  • Responsive Communication

Sign-up for online delivery platforms

Mobile delivery services and applications have changed the game. In fact, the food delivery industry has more than tripled since 2017! Signing up for platforms like UberEats, Grubhub, DoorDash, and Postmates enables you to easily expand your reach. This can be monumental during times like rainy days when restaurants typically see a decrease in business.

When you sign up for these platforms, you need to be ready. Your staff should be trained to properly package meals and know who’s in charge of what. You’ll also want to ensure you have high-quality photos and proper pricing.

Install an online reservation system

Making a reservation should be a quick and easy process for customers. A great way to achieve that is by putting a reservation system on your website. With a few clicks of a button, customers can select a timeslot and verify that their table is reserved.

For the restaurant, it will help keep everything more organized. Your staff will have a better understanding of wait times and how busy the lunch or dinner rushes will be. Additionally, by automating the system, your staff will have more time to take phone calls and deal with other tasks.

Responsive communication

Never let an inquiry slip by again by implementing CallPage’s click-to-call tool. When you install this program onto your website, customers will be prompted to request a call in real time. Businesses that have utilized the click-to-call tool have seen a 75% increase in conversion rates. That means customers will be more likely to contact your restaurant to make a reservation and inquire about special requests, such as booking large tables or hosting events.

The easier it is for people to speak with your restaurant, the more likely they will become customers. Not to mention, the tool will give you access to contact details and the rates of successful calls. Callpage’s tool is currently one of the top restaurant marketing strategies, so don’t miss out!

Check out these other top-notch tools to generate leads for your business!

How to Get Returning, Loyal Customers

Woman customers being served food by a waiter, happy with her order

The goal of all restaurants is customer loyalty. Loyal customers will come to your establishment time and time again. If they feel like they are being treated right and are impressed with the quality, these customers are a word-of-mouth gold mine. And that’s the best marketing for restaurants. So, how do you build trust and loyalty?

Establishing Customer Loyalty:

  • Educate the Staff
  • Maintain Appearances
  • Establish the Right Prices

Educate your staff

Your staff should be as exceptional as they come. Even if you don’t run a five-star restaurant, that’s no excuse to have an untrained, uneducated staff. The waiters and waitresses should know exactly what the menu entails and how dishes are prepared. When customers ask for recommendations, your staff shouldn’t have to think twice about it.

Take the time to give your staff the proper training. You want your customers to feel confident that everyone from the host to the waitress to the chef is going to take care of them every step of the dining experience. An exceptional staff is a fool-proof restaurant marketing strategy.

Maintain appearances

Every time a customer walks into your restaurant, it should be stunning. Maintaining appearances, including cleanliness and the staff’s uniform, plays an important part in the customer experience. No one wants to go to an establishment that’s clean one day and filthy the next. That would break customers’ trust and bring down the brand’s overall reputation.

A consistent appearance will also be beneficial for employee morale and performance. If the staff feels proud of the establishment, they’ll be more willing to go above and beyond in their roles. So, don’t overlook the importance of this tip.

Establish the right prices

Establishing the right prices is a tricky process, but it’s important. Customers don’t want to feel as if they are being taken advantage of. Instead, customers want fair prices for the overall experience. When the check lands on the table, you shouldn’t see eyebrows lift up. That’s a telltale sign that your customer sees a disconnect between the experience and the price.

Proper pricing will also keep your business competitive. If competing restaurant owners offer a similar dining experience for 30% less, customers are going to choose your competitors over your establishment. Be realistic about your pricing, and don’t squeeze your customers dry.

Final Thoughts

There are an endless number of digital marketing channels and strategies for your restaurant business. Finding the right methods for your business will take some experimentation.

So, don’t expect to find the perfect solutions on your first attempt. Each time you try a new tactic, record the data and compare the success and failures of different strategies. If you’re interested in introducing CallPage’s click-to-call tool to your website, you can sign up for a free trial. But don’t be surprised if you notice an increase in inquiries and reservations right away.

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