21 Restaurant Marketing Strategy: Ideas and Trends in 2019

Marketing strategy is a plan of action which is created by the manager to promote the product and sell it. Having a marketing strategy is equally important for a new restaurants.

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. 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 the food anywhere, then why you? So we have this article to tell you how can you market your restaurant and make customers fall in love with your food.

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, let's dive into some restaurant marketing ideas and strategies.

Some of the Main Restaurant Marketing Ideas from this article:

Listing on Marketplaces
Relationship Building
Storytelling in Restaurant Marketing
Social media Marketing
How to Maintain positive reviews
Contests and interaction with Customer
Signature Food
Pamphlet Marketing
Local SEO For Restaurant Marketing
Local audience targeting
Token of appreciation
Collaborating with other business
Membership and referral program
Packaging
Happy hour
Connecting with old customers
Tip to increase average food order value
Partnership for bulk and regular order
Food bloggers meet
Competitors analysis
Additional Tips

Restaurant Marketing Ideas:

List on food delivery apps & Marketplaces

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

Here are the factors which affect your revenue from food delivery apps:

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

You will need to plan and do all kinds of permutation to come up with a strategy to optimize for maximum profits from your restaurant startup.

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 customers who visit your restaurant regularly. For that, you can occasionally provide personalised discounts or coupons.

As you are a new restaurant startup, you can deliver their food personally, take a selfie and put across all social media channels and also ask the customer to do so. This is one of the best restaurant marketing hack.

Storytelling in Restaurant Marketing

Try to write story-based articles about your restaurant or hire graphic designers to make comical posts for social media. It's gonna be your best investment. You can share these stories on social media like Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. Few content ideas on which you can work are:

  • How do we deliver food to our first customer?
  • Why our biryani is best
  • Your conversation with the customers
  • How you helped a customer by delivering food fastest?
  • Special delivery to destinations like railway station, bus stop, etc. to show your reach

Make profiles on all social media channels

Social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram (which draw visual attention instead of text) are a great way to showcase your awesome cuisines. Put mouth-watering images which make people drool for the food. Display your restaurant's 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 food apps, Google and Facebook

After you are done listing 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 to do so. These are the places where new users check before ordering.

Every rating is important. Here are the things you can ask them to do:

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

If customers are not doing it for free you can try a giveaway, discount or free drink on their next order. Once they review your food/restaurant, do appreciate their efforts with a thank you reply. You just need to do this for sometime until you build a reputation among the foodies.

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 users as well as get new followers. Ask people to tag your restaurant on Facebook and Instagram and win free food.

A restaurant in my locality take some random alphabet and ask followers to tag their 10 friends whose name contains all those letters. They can win a free pizza from that restaurant. It does a great engagement and bring new followers.

You can also ask old customers and lovers to name the new food items that the want to add in your 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"? 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: McDonalds' burger, KFC's Fried Chicken bucket etc.

Signature can't only be on the basis of taste but also the way you present. Like if you serve Biryani in a printed Handi that will also be your signature. You can replace slow moving items or low profit making with innovative style.

Give your own pamphlets in delivery

Giving your 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 your site or dine-in (You can save 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 phrases like "our best-selling item", "more than 80k plates sold" etc.

Local SEO is the most important

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

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

Focus more on Local SEO, it is the key to winning 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 to find users who would be interested in your food.

Do a grand opening/ anniversary celebration and invite all local people. Later, you can conduct some local event like food festival, food testing, cooking classes based on your demographics. You can promote it by posting in relevant Facebook group. Additionally, you can do sponsored ads based on pincode 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 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 customized name letter keychain in bulk it will hardly cost you INR 7-10 per piece. You can put your brand logo on one side and other side name letter of customer. Ask people to post this giveaway on their social media to flaunt.

Collaborating with other business

You can tie-up with other businesses like beauty salon and create offers. For an instance, if someone billed more than INR 1000 then they will get 10-20% discount coupons for that particular parlor. You can target kitty parties, where you can give these kind of discount to every woman there.

Healthy Food

Try a healthy menu with less oil and no refined flour. You need to do research and finalize 10-15 new healthy dishes. Also focus on having healthy balanced dishes. Brands like Eat.fit and Grow.fit are only focusing on them. Many people nowadays, wants to have plain food for regular dining.

Eco-Friendly cutlery

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

Membership and referral program

You can have a membership program where each time people come with membership card they will get discount of a certain percentage or a free dessert. Or if someone comes through referral of any member, he/she will get some discount.

Great packaging

Do a creative packaging and also focus on the quality of the package. Small things like good quality reusable containers, 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 females on women’s day. This keeps your brand in talk among people.

Keep connected with old customers

Use the emails that you collect from the marketplace/website 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.

Tip to increase average food order value

Tell people that this particular dish is best tasted with this + side dish. So they will order it 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 guest houses where they do not offer food. Build good relationship for recurring order.  

Combo offer

You can combine low-selling items with something popular and offer them at a little discounted price.

Food bloggers meet

Every restaurant should have a good connection with food bloggers. It helps you to outreach to their audience, improve 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. It works like a charm for restaurant startups.You must consider this as a part of restaurant marketing.

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.

Additional Tips For your Restaurnt Startup:

  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. Never compromise with the quality of the food

Conclusion

Keep experimenting based on trends, location and interest. Make a brand in any one item so that people remember you for that dish.
Also, if you plan to hire any digital marketing agency to take care of your social media you should set pricing based on performance and engagement not just number of published post. This might be obvious but as a restaurant startup, many entrepreneurs do not have much knowledge marketing. Hence, they become vulnerable to be cheated by small marketing agencies.
If you know any other restaurant marketing idea let us know in the comments below.

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About Shubham Kumar

Founder @StartupTalky. IIT KGP grad. Learner. Dedicated to the service of the startup Ecosystem. Love meeting people. Let's connect - [email protected]
  • Bangalore