Social Media MarketingSocial ListeningFacebook MarketingInstagram MarketingTikTok Marketing
Try Mandala For Free

35 Restaurant Marketing Ideas to Drive More Customers [2024]

35 Restaurant Marketing Ideas to Drive More Customers [2024]

You have any idea what’s one of the most competitive businesses in the market? For many, the answer is easy; it’s the restaurant business. When running a diner, the biggest question is: how can you make your restaurant stand out among ten thousand (or even more) options? Don’t worry, we are here with you on this journey. 

Let’s look at some strategic and creative approaches to restaurant marketing ideas, so you can attract foodies from everywhere to taste your delicious meals and drive your business growth.

35 Creative Restaurant Marketing Ideas 2024 

1. Build Your Brand Identity

Since we all know the restaurant industry is highly competitive, your brand has to let your customers know who you really are, what your value is, and how your food or drinks differ from other brands. This underscores the importance of developing a unique brand identity.

Once you have developed your brand identity, it will affect how you position your brand in other aspects too, such as slogan, logo, price, product, promotion, place, decorations, etc. If you want to build a strong identity, make sure everything is cohesive and aligns with each other.

McDonald's brand identity

2. Make A Website & Optimize It

Imagine if people search for your restaurant on a search engine site, and they can’t find your website, or worse, they find your outdated website. That could be a game-changer. 

What you have to do is build your restaurant website first if you still haven’t done so. Next, make sure you put all the important business information on that site, such as your menu, contact information, operating hours, location, and branches. Most importantly, ensure your website is also mobile-friendly since the majority of people will check out your site on their phones after all.

3. Never Forget Social Media Marketing

Need we say more about how important social media marketing is nowadays? Because you should have registered a few brand accounts by now — whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or Twitter, all top-used social media platforms.

Of course, you don’t need to be on every platform. Try to consider and choose some of them, then put effort into keeping your page or profile constantly updated. This is really important if you want to stay relevant in the fast-paced field.

4. Drive More Engagement On Your Social Media

Next, once you’re on a social media platform, don’t just set up a profile and have a one-sided conversation by only posting your content. The key to an effective social media marketing strategy is to boost engagement, and that can be elevated by engaging with your customers or followers. 

Remember, engaging with followers can be done in many different ways. The easiest way is to reply back to your customers’ comments. Or you can even ask them to give feedback on anything – from customer experience, seasonal menu, to the new logo.

5. Encourage More User-Generated Content

This can be counted as a subset of the previous tip because it’s another way to drive social media engagement: encouraging User-generated Content (UGCs) on your business page. 

For people who have never heard of this term before, User-generated Content is content made by users instead of brands. But brands can be responsible for encouraging more and more of it, either via Q&As, giveaways, or promotional campaigns. 

Ultimately, never forget to repost or share if someone has made User-generated Content for you!

6. Register Profiles on Major Directories

Have you ever typed “Restaurants near me” in some sort of map application before to see the results? Because this feature seems to be super convenient for many people, your restaurant can also be a part of it. It’s very easy to get your restaurant to show up in these searches; you just need to set up your profile on applications like Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, or Airbnb. 

Like food delivery apps, some of these major directories will offer a deal so you can be on the Sponsored Listings, and that totally depends on your strategy.

7. Set Up Google My Business Profile

We’ve talked about creating business profiles on major directories, one of which is Google. If you haven’t set up your account on Google My Business, here are the reasons why you need to do so as soon as possible.

Here, you can add details that your customers want to know in one place, such as hours of operation, special hours, holidays, free Wi-Fi in the restaurant, outdoor seating, and etc. All in all, Google My Business is free, user-friendly, and acts as a one-stop service for you to manage your presence across every Google application (e.g., search, maps, and others).

Set up Google Business profile for restaurants

8. Promote Your Restaurant With Search Engine Ads

We’ve all searched for restaurants on search engine websites. The number speaks similarly, as research indicates that over 80% of customers have searched for a restaurant using a mobile app, and a whopping 92% have done so through a web browser in the last six months. So, you can take this opportunity to further increase exposure by adopting advertising services on search engine sites, such as Google Ads. 

Guess what? The average Return on Investment (ROI) for Google Ads is quite impressive, at around 200%.

9. Promote Your Restaurant On Food Delivery Apps

If you are running a restaurant in this day and age, it’s almost impossible to escape from being on third-party delivery apps. These applications serve as a middleman marketplace; they can increase your reach, visibility, and overall sales. 

On top of that, some applications might even offer an extra deal. In other words, pay some extra fees so that you can be on the top of sponsored listings or promotional listings. This can also be a good deal for you, so you can take it into consideration.

10. Promote Your Restaurant On Reservation Apps

Promote your restaurant on reservation apps

With the convenience of the digital world, more and more customers turn to restaurant reservation apps to find places to dine, making their lives easier. The number of people who use reservation apps might surprise you, because four out of ten tables are booked through a reservation, according to statistics. 

Hence, being present on these apps should be part of your marketing strategy, as it can increase reach, visibility, and attract new customers, just like being present on Food Delivery Apps.

11. Respond to Reviews, Professionally

We’ve mentioned how important it is to set up your profile on major directories, or even review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor because so many people use them to explore new places to eat. But, aside from filling out your profile and including all the details, it’s equally important to respond to reviews – whether they’re positive or negative. 

Positive reviews are easier to respond to because they can be replied to within a few minutes with words like “Thank you for…”. But responding to negative comments requires some thoughtful processes. Make sure to acknowledge your flaws and promise to do better with a polite and professional tone as much as possible.

12. Impress Customers With the Online Menu

Statistics show that around 77% of potential customers tend to visit a restaurant’s website before they dine in or order from that particular place. Therefore, you have to inform them about the dishes and drinks you offer on your website and keep it regularly updated. 

Restaurant's online menu

Also, make sure your menu is user-friendly and easy to read as much as possible. Remember, if they find it difficult to navigate through your online menu, this can be a big turnoff.

13. Put Effort In Food Photography

A single photo can express millions of words, especially when it comes to advertising techniques for food. With more than tens of thousands of mouth-watering pictures out there, you really can’t underestimate the significance of food photography. 

Firstly, food photographs need to be delicious-looking. Secondly, they need to be of top quality, with natural light, a clean and neutral background, and meticulously chosen elements (e.g., tableware). Ultimately, you might want to encourage your photographers to find new and unconventional angles to boost creativity.

14. Put Effort In Designing Signage

Don’t underestimate the power of signage, whether it’s in front of your restaurant, inside your restaurant, a digital display, a banner, or a sidewalk sign – they all play a vital part in promoting your brand. This can be your potential customers’ first impression or a turnoff from the moment they are introduced to your brand.

When choosing or designing signage, make sure that it’s readable, concise, easy to remember, and also outstanding. Words, colors, aesthetics, and where you place the signage — they all matter. 

15. Take Good Care Of Your Loyal Customers

For a food business, nothing beats having customers who return to dine at your place repeatedly. If you have loyal customers, you should appreciate them because they can actually increase your sales by up to 30%.

While it’s challenging to earn customer loyalty, it’s even more challenging to maintain it. But, one of the recommended tactics is to create a restaurant rewards program, such as a point-collecting membership where the customer receives free drinks or food once they reach a particular number of points.

16. Utilize Email Marketing

Some people see ‘Email Marketing’ and think that email is outdated. But not at all, more than 50% of people still admit that marketing emails influence their purchase decisions. 

McDonald's email marketing

If you’ve got no clue how to start email marketing as a restaurant business, first of all, you can build an email list and send emails to your subscribers. Email marketing strategy can include important announcements, providing special promotions to your customers, etc.

Related blog: Email Marketing Statistics, Email Marketing Tips

17. Send Emails Regularly Via Newsletter

When speaking of email marketing, one of the most common strategies is an email newsletter, in other words, sending your restaurant’s latest news or updates to your customers. 

To be more specific, it can include blog posts, staff stories, current restaurant promotions, recipes, seasonal dishes, and more. But, this has to be updated regularly – whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

One of the greatest benefits of regularly updating your restaurant’s newsletter is fostering the relationship between your brand and your customers in the long run.

18. Utilize SMS Marketing, It Never Dies!

Although SMS (Short Message Service) might be seen as an outdated restaurant marketing idea in some people’s eyes, recently, there was a report that found that SMS is the number one way restaurants keep in touch with their customers.

And if you don’t know where to begin, first, build a list of contacts and create an opt-in process to ask for customers’ consent to receive messages.

Once that is done, similar to email marketing, SMS can strengthen the bond of your relationship with customers, announce promotions and discounts, and increase brand awareness.

Restaurant's SMS marketing

19. Get Into The World of Digital Advertising

Once you have started social media marketing, it’s almost equally important to equip your restaurant with digital advertising as it allows you to target your ads to specific groups of audiences, which can be categorized by factors such as gender, age, location, and more.

Due to the fact that digital marketing requires a certain budget, known as cost per click (CPC), you might want to calculate whether this aligns with your overall strategy or not.

For those curious about experimenting, digital advertising is typically conducted on platforms such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads Manager, so you can start on these platforms.

20. Improve Your SEO Strategy

Here comes another digital marketing strategy you should incorporate into your plan: SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Just like its name suggests, SEO is an optimization strategy to make sure that your website will pop up when people search for products or services related to your restaurant on search engine sites. Hence, your website will gain more traffic.

This can be achieved in many ways, such as including frequently-searched relevant terms in your pages, designing your website to be responsive on both mobile and desktop devices, and so on.

21. Team Up with Influencers (or Food Bloggers)

In this day and age, your marketing strategy must include teaming up with influencers or food bloggers. Of course, food bloggers with a lot of followers can bring attention to your restaurant in the blink of an eye, but you can also choose micro-influencers if their target audience aligns with yours.

Try inviting these individuals (and the press) to your restaurant and offer them a full-on, complimentary meal. Ask whether they are willing to review your dishes and share the experience online. Even better, encourage them to be totally themselves and to be outright honest with their online reviews.

22. Invite Critics To Do Their Job

Even though there are many influencers and food bloggers nowadays, there are still ‘critics’ or people who taste food and write reviews as their jobs, and these people’s comments still matter. Therefore, it’s a good idea to invite these well-respected individuals in the industry to visit and try out your menus. 

If your review is great, or even better, if your review comes out as excellent, sooner or later people will line up waiting to dine in your restaurant. 

23. Repost Positive Reviews About Your Restaurant

Many businesses are willing to pay for positive reviews, but if you’re receiving them for free, you should appreciate their value as they can significantly boost your reputation. Therefore, if your restaurant is featured in positive reviews or news, or receives any sort of award, regardless of the size of the media outlet, you should never forget to REPOST or SHARE.

This will increase the likelihood of your restaurant being featured on online TV, newspapers, traditional television, and radio stations, which will in turn attract more customers to your restaurant, guaranteed.

24. The Classic Promotion and Discounts

Attract customers with restaurant's promotion

Promotion is a classic and timeless method to attract customers to your restaurant. There are many ways you can offer people coupons and discounts – whether they’re your regulars or potential customers. You can offer promotions on special occasions (holidays, the restaurant’s anniversary, etc.), provide a free dish through your email newsletter, or distribute physical coupons within a brochure. You can also utilize online channels such as Groupon or LivingSocial to gain more exposure.

However, make sure you have calculated the expected profit and ensure that it will be worth it because these online apps typically ask for a portion of sales.

25. Spice Things Up With Food Holidays

Next, we have one of the creative marketing ideas – celebrating food holidays. On this earth, there are plenty of fun food holidays waiting to be celebrated! Don’t tell us you’ve never heard of ‘National Pizza Day,’ ‘National Margarita Day,’ or even something controversial like ‘National Carrot Cake Day’ before.

You can have fun and spice up your marketing game a bit during these holidays (or many others). Include the holiday hashtag in your posts to gain more exposure, or maybe go the extra mile and offer a special promotion to your customers. 

26. Run a Giveaway or Contest

What’s the best way to engage with your customers and make them happy at the same time? It’s launching a contest or a giveaway!

No need to be overly fancy. You can hold a small, friendly, and simple social media giveaway (the most classic: “like, follow, and tag to win”), an online challenge/contest where you offer prizes to the winner(s), or a physical gift-card giveaway in your physical stores.

The statistics speak for themselves; many brands have found 34% of new customers through contests alone.

Run s restaurant giveaway

27. Turn WiFi Into a Marketing Strategy

Most of the time, you will set up a wifi router at your restaurant. This can be turned into free wifi access for your customers, and guess what, it counts as one of the marketing strategies.

“Why is that?” you may ask. Because when you offer free wifi access, you can ask for the customer’s name, phone number, social media account, or email in exchange, and this data can be collected for future use, such as sending newsletters or promotions.

28. Events. Events. Events.

Events and food are a couple that are meant to be together. When there’s an opportunity to attend events like food festivals, food halls, or farmers markets, consider joining them. Not only should you consider food-related events, but also many other types of events like music festivals and art markets, where food booths are also sought after. 

This might be a golden opportunity to expand your customer base, which could be a completely new avenue to explore, and also a golden opportunity to build relationships with other businesses at the same time.

29. Good Games and Music Are Never Boring

Attract customers with LIVE music in your restaurant

If joining events is too costly for your restaurant, there’s a small restaurant marketing idea you can try. Why not consider holding mini-events by yourself? Good games or good music alongside good food is always a winner!

You could host a “game night special” with specific themes, or monthly trivia nights as fun activities for people in the community. Another classic option is inviting musicians, such as newly rising stars, to come and play at your restaurant, and the list of options goes on.

Make sure you never forget to take time to promote these events before the event day, so that you can keep the buzz going for a little while.

30. Don’t Forget Local Advertising

By now, if you have already tried optimizing your website for local SEO and targeting your ads to people in nearby locations, there’s still another way to go with local advertising.

Try searching for neighborhood and city-wide social media groups, as members in these groups are usually people who are interested in anything related to their local area – including your local business! Hence, you can swoop in and promote yourself in the group (but not too often, as that can annoy some people instead).

31. Driving Around With A Food Truck

Food truck marketing strategy

Driving around with a food truck is another great marketing strategy to expand your customer base, as you can change the location of sale day by day.

However, one should note that starting a food truck isn’t an easy task; it requires a lot of preparation and planning, and the budget isn’t low either. You should consider whether your business suits this strategy and whether it will cover the potential time and budget losses.

This doesn’t mean to worry you too much. On the bright side, if your food truck does well, you might gain more new fans who are willing to find out about your truck and support you in person!

32. Create Your Own Restaurant’s Application

If you have many branches and a sufficient budget, you might want to consider building a mobile application. 

Around 60% of customers prefer to order via their mobile phones these days. However, using an ordering app made by other companies will require you to pay some fees. Therefore, if you have your own application, not only will it make your customers’ ordering process even more convenient, but it can also potentially increase your profits in the long run.

Create restaurant apps

33. Show Your Social Responsibility

Businesses showing their social responsibility is generally known as ‘CSR’ (Corporate Social Responsibility). But, you don’t need to be a big corporation only to do CSR.

Don’t forget that people tend to love businesses with genuine good causes, and you can make statements to show who you are and what you care about. 

The causes can be something big like ensuring your food business promotes sustainability, or smaller causes like encouraging family bonding time. Whatever cause or mission you care about, tell your customers, and fulfill your promises.

34. Share Your Recipes, Share Your Tastiness

This might seem counterintuitive to some people, as most restaurant owners prefer to keep their recipes secret out of fear of being copied. However, dishes that come out of the chef’s kitchen and a typical kitchen, even made by the same recipe, won’t taste exactly the same. Additionally, most people don’t have the time to cook for themselves all the time.

So, even if they know how you prepare a particular dish, they would still visit your restaurant regardless. In fact, they might even be more inclined to eat that dish!

35. Offline Marketing Strategies Still Exist

Although we have emphasized the importance of your online presence, you should never underestimate offline marketing strategies. 

Many tactics from our good old days still work a treat today, especially if you’re just starting your business. Examples include creating cute and inviting postcards, handing out physical menus, offering free samples to passersby, and distributing care packages to those in need. Moreover, you can also utilize traditional media outlets such as local newspapers, radio, and TV.

Your Restaurant Success!

All of the 35 restaurant marketing ideas above are just the tip of the iceberg; there’s still an ocean for you to explore. 

Don’t lose heart yet; we totally understand that running a restaurant isn’t easy, and marketing your restaurant is even more exhausting. That’s why people look for a great handy assistant who can help promote your restaurant, and Mandala AI is one of the most effective tools out there. It’s a powerful analytics tool that is able to identify trends beforehand, provide you with real-time data, and is designed to let you manage your social media accounts better than ever.

You can check out a free plan that comes with basic features or a more professional plan that includes a variety of features you can experiment with. It’s now or never; trust us.

Mandala Free Trial
  • Topic :
Subscribe to our Free Marketing Content

We will email you the new content on a weekly basis.

This email is already subscribe.