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5 restaurant marketing ideas to try in 2020

Gary Bartley Gary Bartley September 17th 2019 5 Minute Read
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Gary Bartley

September 17th 2019

5 Minute Read

What are the ingredients you need for creating a great restaurant marketing plan?

Of course, the venue is vital: both its location and ambience. Then there’s hiring a great chef and kitchen staff, developing a fantastic menu and providing top notch service.

But as someone working in the hospitality industry, you know all of that.

You also know that the cherry on the cake is effective marketing which will help you fill your restaurant with happy diners who want to eat your food and tell the world about it.

Getting a good marketing plan that works allows you to focus on your passion of providing great food and hospitality to your customers.

However, creating a restaurant marketing plan isn’t as easy as it sounds. That’s why we’ve put together your must-have list of 5 restaurant marketing ideas to succeed in 2020.


1. Build a value-led rewards program full of your happiest customers

You know that the seasonal nature of the industry means that there are inevitable peaks and troughs in your restaurant. But building a rewards program exclusively for your happiest customers is a great way of giving extra value to them and in turn driving new business.

Gathering regular feedback in real-time is a great starting point for building a relationship with your happy customers by finding out how happy they are. After all, customer feelings should be the cornerstone of any restaurant marketing plan.

Asking for feedback gives you the perfect opportunity to gain consent to market to a customer and gather their marketing details.

Use this insight to market directly to your happiest customers, inviting them to a rewards program where you can reach out to them with offers, advance details of your new menu, exclusive notice of any special events or taster evenings, or even a glass of wine when they arrive. Your rewards program should always be value led and not discount led.

Happy customers are key to growing your business because they tell their friends, family and loved ones how great you are. Encourage and reward them for any referrals to your restaurant, and you will soon see the benefits.


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2. Actively manage your online reputation

Building a relationship with your customer has got to be at the heart of any restaurant marketing strategy you put together.

And don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your relationship with your customers is simply confined to the time they are enjoying your food.

A combination of social media, review sites, and mobile technology means we are living in a new relationship era. That means customers are doing their research on you online before they book, before posting about you afterwards. All of this affects your online reputation, both good and bad.

Too many businesses see review sites as a problem. But actually it’s the greatest free marketing platform for hospitality ever created, so you owe it to yourself to make the most of it. Even when you get a bad review.

Yes, you run a good business, but everyone is going to make mistakes or have a bad night. The reality is that you have got less than 24 hours to resolve a customer complaint before they post it on review sites such as TripAdvisor. The clock’s ticking, it’s time to actively manage your online reputation.

Be proactive and deal with any complaints immediately to resolve any issues before they make their way online. Keeping it out of the public domain is vital for your reputation, plus you might be able to earn a second chance with the customer too.

Don’t forget your happiest customers though. Stand out from your competitors by thanking them for their feedback, showing how much you care about their thoughts. This is the perfect way to build your relationship and then use the opportunity to ask them to tell the world and leave you an online review.

By reminding happy customers to leave you reviews, you’ll get a higher quantity of reviews, as well as better quality reviews thanks to your relationship with the customer.

By actively managing your online reputation, you’ll bring lots of new customers through your doors for free!


3. Post mouthwatering foodie photos on social media with relevant and local hashtags

Give your customers a flavour of the great dining experience you offer by posting mouth-watering foodie photographs on your social channels.

For example, when you launch a new menu post photos of it on Instagram and make sure you are calling out to your target marketing using relevant and specific hashtags.

You can gain great traction with relevant and local hashtags, which will help people find you, or remember how nice your food is.

When diners share their photos of your restaurant and food, this is a huge opportunity for you. Make sure you comment and respond to them to help more people see the post, and to build an even stronger relationship with your customers.

Great photos are invaluable, no matter who from. They say every picture tells 1000 words so a good foodie photo should promote your business better than any blog post could. You have to make the most of them.

How? You don’t need to be a professional photographer to take a good photo. Just make sure you capture your signature dishes in good light, and without any distractions in the background. Don’t be afraid to tell a story and show what makes you different and better than the rest.

Now you’ve got the photos to whet people’s appetite, next, consider when to post the photo. Choose times when you know your customers they are likely to be hungry, just before lunch and late afternoon are the best in our experience.


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4. Set up Google My Business and make Google work for you

While it may feel like Google is a corporate monolith which has taken over the world, one of the bedrocks of its success is the way it supports small businesses and helps them get their name out there.

Google My Business helps people find you easily online and serves as a local directory that helps you target people in your neighbourhood.

It also gives you a range of tools that will help you set yourself apart from your competitors and win in local search. Add photos to your listing, add your address so you appear in Google Maps, enable Google reviews so potential customers can see how great your are. 

Google’s tools are designed to help, plus they’re free! Make sure you’re using them.


 5. Targeting ads by location (close to your restaurant)

Gone are the days when advertising was simply a case of hit and hope. Now you can attract customers and segment them based on their age, relationship status, where they live, their hobbies, and whether or not they eat meat. Platforms such as Google and Facebook all enable you to really hone your marketing message.

Set aside a small budget and boost your social media posts to your local target market to attract diners searching for somewhere to eat in your area. You can get clever with this too. Try targeting vegans with your vegan options, existing customers with your new menu and friends of your existing customers with a new customer taster menu. Local online advertising done well will give your restaurant a real shot in the arm.


It’s time to take action

All of these tactics will work in your business so it’s time to take action. Transform your restaurant marketing strategy into something guaranteed to deliver continuous improvement and results. 

It’s time to focus on building customer relationships and impressing them every time they interact with you, in your business, before booking, after their meal or online. Happy customers will help you generate more business and create a happier business as a result.


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Gary Bartley Gary Bartley

Gary is on a mission to help businesses understand the role that customer and employee happiness plays in their success.

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