20 Restaurant Marketing Ideas: How to Market a Restaurant

Hello StartupTalkers!

Food industry is one of the heavily crowded and therefore a competitive industry. Some restaurants are making great profits while some are losing the game. I think one of the major reasons for the failure of any startup especially a restaurant or food startup, is not able to build a relationship with the customers. People can buy biryani anywhere, so why you?

It's the unique experience which people remember and visit your restaurant again and again. Over the time you connect and create a bond which also helps you get word of mouth publicity. Now, without wasting much time let's dive into.

How can we market our restaurant and provide that unique experience

List on food delivery apps / Marketplaces

If you are starting, the first thing you need to do is list restaurants on all food delivery apps like Zomato or Swiggy. They take a commission per order so its a win-win for both. Try to list on popular as well as non-popular(local) apps too. After some time you can just focus in top 3-4 from where most of the conversion is coming. Well, there is 4 Indian marketplace which are quite popular: Zomato, Swiggy, UberEats and FoodPanda.

Here are the things which affect the revenue on delivery apps:

Price Reduce Price Increase
Offers Delivery charges
Lesser price Packaging Charges
Market Place Commission Taxes

You need to do all kind of permutation and come up with strategy optimize maximum sales and revenue.

Build the relationship with customers

According to  data, loyal customers constitutes about 53-76% in a restaurant’s business. You should try to retain and build a relationship with them. For that, you can send their favorite dish for free, one every month.

Deliver it personally, take a selfie and put on all social media site and ask the customer to do so.

Storytelling is the way

The world already has lots of content. No one wants to read another boring story. Try to write story-based articles about your restaurant. It's gonna be your best investment. You can also share these stories on social media like Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn.  Few content ideas on which you can work are:

  • How did we deliver food to our first customer
  • Why our biryani is best, (tell them u make it with love not just masala)
  • Your conversation with the customers
  • How you helped a customer by delivering food fastest
  • Delivering it to railway station instead of home or something like that.

Make profiles on all social media channels

Social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram (draw visual attention, no text) are a great way to showcase your awesome cuisines. Put mouth-watering images which make people drool for the food. Display your cuisines and their uniqueness with quality images.

Click photos of the dishes and upload them with name, price, history from where it emerged. This will help to get shares and will grow your page organically. If possible try to make more videos then images for more engagement.

Maintain positive reviews on MarketPlace, Google and Facebook

After you are done listed on the marketplaces, add your business to google my business, Facebook and other local listing sites. Once you are listed, try to get positive reviews and ratings by asking customers. These are the place where new users check before ordering.

Take every order seriously. Every rating is so important. Here are the things you can ask them:

  • Ask them to do Facebook check in when they enter your place.
  • For review ask them to click a picture and post and tag.
  • Ask them to tag 3 friends whom they think should visit this place.

If customers are not doing it for free you can try to give away/discount/ free drink on their next order. Once they review you, do appreciate their efforts with a thank you reply. You just need to this for some time, once your reputation is built, people will come themselves.

Conduct Contests and interact with your audience

Through social media channels post real images and engage with your followers. Content are the best way to engage with current as well as get new followers. Ask people to tag your restaurant on Facebook and Instagram and win free food. One restaurant I know take some random alphabet and ask followers to tag their friends which name contain all those letters and they win a free pizza. It makes a great engagement. Try to be social. We are already dealing with so many bots!

You can also ask previous customers and lovers to name the new food items that are added to their menu.

Customize food to make it your signature

You cannot convince people to like the whole menu. Try to become customers first choice for a particular dish in the market. Make your own signature food by customizing food which no one offers. It creates loyalty in customers and it's like asking yourself a question "why should people buy from me"? Just try to make 2-3 dishes famous to build your brand value. Put these food under star/signature in your menu. It's a long-term view. Eg: Qd's momos, McDonalds burger's, etc .

Signature just can't be on the basis of taste but also the way you present like if you serve biryani in a printed handi that will also work.  You can replace slow moving items or low profit making with innovative style. But at last its the taste which matters!

Give your own pamphlets in delivery

Giving our you own pamphlets while making delivery from delivery apps will help your customer to know more about your restaurant. You can add some offers like 10-15% discount if they directly order from their site or in-dine. (You are saving marketplace commission here).  You can put pamphlets on your signature food if the order is not including anyone of those dishes & ask them to try once. Include words like our best selling item, more than 80k handi sold etc.

Local SEO is the most important

Find your business keywords and check how your competitors are using the keywords. Write relevant quality content around the keywords. Start with free strategy and long term strategy SEO - Keywords, URL structuring, content, good domain, hosting space, social media optimization, get quality backlinks with off page strategy.

Neil Patel, one of the best digital marketer, explaining some strategies of free local SEO

Focus more on Local SEO, it is the key to win restaurant business.

Local audience targeting

Create a Facebook and Instagram page and always mention location of your restaurant through Google Maps so that people can reach you easily. Data from google analytics can help you a lot find user interested in your food.  
Do a grand opening/ anniversary celebration and invite all local people. Later, you can conduct some local event food festival, food testing, cooking classes based on your demographics. You can promote it as sponsored or by posting in Facebook group. You can ads do sponsored ads based on pin code of users. If the ad in local newspapers is too costly then try putting pamphlets in the newspapers.

Token of appreciation

Give a small memento like a small gift piece or a fridge magnet or a beautiful jute bag over with the name of your restaurant printed on it. This would generate top of mind recall. Generally, people associate themselves with these gifts and become your advocate.
You can also order customize name letter keychain in bulk it will hardly cost you 7-10 per piece. You can brand put your logo one side and other side name letter of customer. Ask people to post this giveaway on their social media to flaunt.

Collaboration is the key to success

You can tie up with beauty salon and create offers like if someone billed more than INR 1000 then they will get coupons for parlors which will give them 10-20% discount. You can target "kitty parties, where you will give something to every women who orders on that day.

Healthy works

Try a healthy menu with less oil and no refined flour. You need to do r&d and finalize 10 to 15 new healthy dishes. Also focus on having healthy balanced dishes. Brands like eat.fir and grow.fit are focusing on this only. Everyone wants to have plain food for regular dining.

Green cutlery

You can use eco-friendly cultery to aware your customers about how they contribute to environment each time they order from your restaurant. Yeah, it may make price go a little high but extra number of orders will balance out the loss.

Membership and referral program

You can have a membership program where each time people come with membership card they will get discount of certain a percentage or a free dessert. Or if someone comes through referral of any member, he/she will get some discount. I personally believe giving a discount is the last thing you should try, first try to sell organically.

Great packaging

Make great packaging. small things like good quality reusable containers, coin tissue and a small discount code for next order goes a long way.

Happy hour

Well, happy hours are not just for pubs and bars. You can also do happy hours specific to target audience say just for kids, old, or female on women’s day. This keeps your brand in talk among people.

Keep connected with old customers

The database that you collect from the marketplace/website you can use it to send monthly newsletter/update about your restaurant. You can message the guests about the latest offers, new menus and other information. You can wish the guests on the festival and special occasions. It is a great way to engage with your old customers.

Increase average food order value

Tell people this is best tasted with this + side dish. So they will order side this along with the main dish and hence your total order value will increase.

Partnership for bulk and regular order

Try to partner with social events and functions for bulk orders. You can also try offices and nearby hotels where they do not offer food. Build good relationship for recurring order.  

Combo offer

I won't talk much about this as everyone knows about it. You can combine low-selling items with something popular and offer them at same or little discounted price.

Food bloggers meet

I believe every restaurant should have a good connection with food bloggers. It helps you to outreach to their audience, SEO, Promote exclusive events and signature food. For more engagement you can also take them live and ask them to taste the food and give a live review. Works like charm!  

Competitors analysis

Keep an eye on top competitors around. Do a weekly checkup and analyse what they are up to. Try to execute those ideas in a better way after some time. You can checkout their website, social media and google for the same.

Things you must take care:

  1. Always have the best chefs from the industry, Keep him/her happy.
  2. Always think how can you improve things, it's your full-time job.
  3. Brand consistency
  4. Never ignore loyal customers.
  5. Food should Feel fresh


Finally, I would say No one formula is good. Keep experimenting based on trends, location and interest. Make a brand in any one item so that people remember you for that thing.

Also, if you plan to hire any digital marketing agency to take care of your social media you should set pricing based in performance and engagement not just number of published post.

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