Opening a restaurant can be a long and expensive undertaking. There is an exhaustive list of details to attend to: finding the right location, perfecting the menu, choosing the right colors and textures for the décor, interviewing and training an all-star staff and that’s before you have even opened your doors to the public. When the doors are finally ready to be opened many restauranteurs are usually left with very little, if any money to tell the world about their amazing new restaurant and begin to make money!
The restaurant industry works with very tight margins, often profit is less than 15% which leaves many operators struggling to find the best bang for their marketing buck.
To help you attract more customers and increase your marketing ROI we have put together 10 affordable marketing tactics that will get happy butts in your seats or booths or even stools.
1. Create Partnerships – Get to know the other businesses in your community. Are there businesses that cater to the same type of customers? Cross promotion is a win-win for the companies taking part as they receive free ad placement and the customers as they learn of new businesses that appeal to their tastes.
2. Support a sports team – the average sports team consists of 10-20 players plus spouses and friends. Offer a percentage discount for every player and their guest which they will receive back in cash at the end of the season. Paying them at the end of the season instead of the beginning ensures that they will continue to come out week after week and fill your restaurant with VIP guests.
3. Host theme nights – there are so many options here but the latest one we just love is rock and roll bingo – guests receive a bingo card and cross off a square when they hear that artist’s song in your restaurant. Winners get free swag and many will stay for that extra drink just to try and get that last bingo square!
4. Join festivals and trade shows – Imagine if you could get thousands of potential customers who all love the same thing in one place at the same time and THEN get yourself and your products in front of them. That is exactly what trade shows and festivals do. Take the guess work out of trying to connect with foodies where you think they might be and go straight to where they gather. Want to put yourself in front of customers who frequent western restaurants in Taiwan? The Kaohsiung International Food Festival is this October and draws more than 12,000 foodies over 2 days!
5. Collect Email addresses - send weekly or monthly email newsletters with discounts and news of special events – If Mark Twain was still alive I am sure he would have stated that “The rumors of the death of email are greatly exaggerated” year after year email still reigns supreme as the #1 form of communication. Haven’t started an email database yet? What’s stopping you? Collect email addresses when your guests pay their bills and send them a weekly or monthly newsletter directly to their inbox with specials and discounts only for email subscribers. Create an incentive for workers who collect the most emails to really jump start your efforts. Don’t think you have the skill or time to write a restaurant newsletter? Mailchimp is easy, free and has amazing templates.
6. Support local charities – Host a charity event or ask your staff to choose a charity that the company will volunteer at once a year. Your restaurant gets to give back to the community and get exposure and you get to take part in a great team building exercise.
7. Ask staff to share on social media – If you have created a great work environment then your staff will love to share your posts or create their own on social media which will expand your messages reach and even serve your recruitment efforts. We recommend being proactive and creating very clear social media policies. Here is a template to get you started
8. Write a press release – Make it super simple for the press to publish a story about your food and drink and do half the work for them. Don’t know how to write a press release about your restaurant?– here is a great template that will guide you step by step
9. Register with online directories – Customers can’t buy from you if they can’t find you! Do an exhaustive search for all directories in your city and provide them with all your contact information including pictures!
10. Win a yearly award – nothing creates a buzz like winning an award for being the best at something. Foster Hewitt’s is a 2 time Best Burger Champion at the Kaohsiung International Food Festival, ask their owners Luke and Phil how this honor has impacted their business and I am sure you will want to win one for your business as well. The Best of Kaohsiung Awards have 8 categories from which your restaurant could win. Share with your customers and increase your chances to win http://kaohsiungfoodfestival.weebly.com/bestofkaohsiung.html
Has your Restaurant tried any of these? We would love to hear how it went or if you have any other tactics that have worked. Kindly share in the comments below.