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10 Marketing Strategies for Restaurants in 2021

Many people have accepted the distancing regulations of COVID-19 as a new way of life. Although consumers and entrepreneurs alike continue to adapt to these unique circumstances, sure business owners have been more adversely affected than others. Restaurant owners are particularly affected. You will need to use different marketing strategies if you have a restaurant that is reopening or has already reopened.

We have compiled a list of affordable marketing strategies to ensure that your business continues to thrive during these difficult times.

1. Use social media pages to create and promote your brand

Social media can be a powerful tool to attract new customers. Many restaurants have social media account. Even spending a small amount on advertising can help increase your followers and engagement. To make it easier for customers to interact with you and keep your page updated, start with one platform (most restaurants use Instagram or Facebook).

It is essential to establish a posting schedule when you first start using social media. You don’t need to post every day or every week. The more you keep potential customers updated with photos, deals, or traditional posts, the greater their likelihood of staying engaged.

These are just some ideas for what you could post.

Promotions and deals

It’s a great way of building a following by letting your followers know about exclusive deals and limited-time promotions. This ensures your customers stay connected and don’t miss any promotions. It’s also possible to test new deals and gauge interest before distributing them to a larger audience.

Display your food

The best way to market your restaurant is with tempting photos of the food. A picture of the food will allow customers to see what they might be eating. You can take a few pictures with your phone, but it might be worthwhile to hire a professional photographer if you are able. The investment is easier to manage if you consider that these photos can be used beyond social media.

Highlight your staff

People want to know more about you if you are a small local restaurant. They want to learn about your background, how you came up with the special burger seasoning, and who your employees are. Of course, you must first get their permission, but you can still showcase the unique qualities of your employees. Customers may find it easier to relate to your staff members if they shout out their favorite menu item.

Participation in the community

Why not talk about your involvement in your community? You can talk about your volunteer work, the causes that you support, and fundraising for non-profits. Of course, you must ensure that you can provide this support as part of your company’s mission. However, people would love to hear about it.

Run contests

A social media contest is an excellent way to help your customers while also promoting your restaurant. You can offer your followers a gift card or other prizes. They will be able to share, post photos, and use the hashtag you have created. You must ensure that contest rules are followed on any platform. It could quickly become a problem for your business and you.

2. Loyalty programs

You should already be giving back to your customers. A loyalty program is a great way to give back to your best customers. This program encourages customers to return to the store regularly and serves as a way to make new connections.

Here are some options to help you get started if you don’t know where to begin.

Points and punch cards

There are always options. You could offer a punch card or go traditional. You can offer special deals to customers who make a certain number of purchases or allow them to accumulate points that they can use for select items. Customers will find it more fun to visit your restaurant when they can get a reduced or free meal.

Birthday gifts

Offering birthday cakes, meals, and other treats to your customers can be a fun way of exciting them. You could even include a song if you wish. It will let them know you care and make it more enjoyable for you both.

Online loyalty program

A digital membership gives you more control over your loyalty program. It’s modern and easy to get one. Digital memberships make it easy for customers to track their progress and give you more insight into what interests them. It doesn’t take much to make a program. Instead of starting from scratch, you can use platforms like Belly and LevelUp to help you.

3. Discounts and coupons for Leverage

As we have already said, coupons and discounts can be a great way of bringing in more customers. Either go traditional with in-store promotions or newspaper ads, or you can go directly to your customers by using social media and partnering with sites such as Groupon to make your deals online. No matter what method you choose, make sure that your offer isn’t more expensive in the end.

You should offer something free if you are offering desserts, appetizers, or drinks. These items will not be as lucrative as your main entrees. On the other hand, you should not give away too much to the place you are selling at a loss. To predict how discounts might affect your business, your cash flow, income statement, and forecasts, as well as the number of sales required to break even, you should check them.

4. Create or upgrade a website for your business

A website is essential if you want to be able to reach customers online. Unfortunately, you don’t have a place to send customers online, nor do you have control over your digital brand. It is more likely that all your competitors have one, making it even more challenging to compete.

Your website can easily replicate most of what you have done in social media and traditional promotions. However, your restaurant’s food is the main focus, so a one-page website may be all you need to showcase your menu and provide any information. It’s worth checking if you have a website and haven’t updated it in a while to ensure it accurately represents your restaurant’s branding.

For some helpful tips, see our article on creating an irresistible restaurant site.

5. Search for your business

Websites give customers a place online to find you, but they often search with other methods that won’t show up first. Customers often search for recommendations via social media, and a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter page solves this problem. However, customers will need to search online for business information, whether they are looking on Google maps or Apple. These are the two most essential profiles you should create.

Register for a Google My Business account

A Google My Business profile allows people to search for your restaurant and view your hours of operation. It also lets them see open reservations times. Your business will be more visible to the public and promoted by providing all the information. In addition, it is possible to edit the data directly from a customer’s perspective, making it easier to get your listing right.

Register for a Yelp Account

Like Google My Business, a Yelp account can be just as important for getting your business’s name out. To make your menu more transparent to the public, you can also share it with them. You can also engage with negative and positive reviews. Yelp lets you communicate with the people in a way that will help to maintain the image and representation of your business. You can also inform them about pricing, hours, menu items, and pricing.

6. Focus on local digital ads

Local is better when it comes to digital advertising. Customers are looking for restaurants near them. It is the best way. They are using geo-targeted ads.

Geo-targeting lets you choose specific cities or areas within a certain radius of your restaurant to where ads will appear. It allows you to save money by eliminating people who are less likely to visit your restaurant because of their location. This option is available on all online advertising platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Google search.

These ads can be operated manually or automatically adjusted to bid within a specific price range. As a result, digital ads can be a cost-effective and effective marketing strategies that you can leverage if your advertising budget is small.

7. Use email marketing

An email is a powerful tool. With the right message, you can quickly convert a potential customer to a paying customer. Before you send emails, however, you must first build a contact database.

How to create an email list

Keep track of email addresses as you go. For example, ensure an email signup sheet for any local tasting events, business meetings, or trade shows.

Your business website should collect email addresses. A signup form can be created without the assistance of a web designer by using third-party sites such as Optin Monster or Google Forms. You can complete a pop-up form or an embedded form to collect user email addresses quickly.

It is a great way to promote your site on business cards, receipts, and any other places you can stick to your web address.

What should you send your customers?

Once your email list is created, you can start sending emails. You can offer special deals such as 50% off 2 drinks or half-off appetizers to entice customers to come in. Send invitations by email to invite guests to your event. Email marketing strategies can be a great way to attract new customers but also retain customers.

You should consider using an email service provider such as VerticalResponse or MailChimp if you send bulk emails. These provide valuable information such as open rates, actions on email links, and even if your email ended up in the spam folder. This optimization can make email a more efficient and effective way to bring in customers.

8. Offer additional services

You’ll likely have to change your operations to allow pick up or delivery if your restaurant is still open in the face of this crisis. These services might be required if you are opening and trying to attract customers. It can be challenging to get customers to come into your restaurant from outside, but it benefits.

Advertise on delivery apps

Delivery and pickup are now so easy that you don’t even have to create your delivery and pickup system. You can instead join apps such as DoorDash or PostMates that will handle your online orders. You can also collaborate with other users to create in-app deals and promotions that appear right at the top of customers’ searches for food.

Great call to action

These ordering systems can be embedded in your website. It can increase your web presence and ads. You don’t need to wait for food delivery, and potential customers can order directly from your website. In addition, you can set up triggers that will let you know when an ad leads to online order. It makes your return on investment easy to track.

9. Partner up

Partnering with established audiences is an excellent way of reaching them. It’s easier to establish trust with the influencer, brand, or product you are connected with. It is essential that any partnership feels natural and provides value to the new customer base.

Customers won’t accept a partnership that you just arranged. Therefore, it must be clear and transparent about why your favorite company is interested in working with you. To ensure that customers and potential customers understand the reason for a partnership, be clear and transparent in your announcement.

After overcoming this hurdle, it is possible to partner up with an influencer/business marketing strategies and quickly turn your dream into a reality.

10. Create content

It may seem odd to consider starting a blog or a video series when you own a restaurant. However, it’s an excellent way to build a following online and promote your restaurant. In addition, you can share customer testimonials and stories about your restaurant or the entire food industry.

You can also use any content that you create on social media, in email campaigns, and as material for digital ads. In addition, this content can be used to build on any other initiatives you have. Although it will take time and constant releases to make your content relevant, if you have a goal to achieve and are willing and able to try, creating content can be a great way to help your business.

Plan, test, and repeat

It will take time to perfect any new marketing strategies before they become successful. Therefore, before you implement any new marketing strategies, it is good to review your business goals and plan. These will be your guide and help you avoid overspending on marketing strategies or following unrelated metrics.

Disclaimer. The opinions and views expressed in this article are the authors Judge Napolitano.

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