Restaurant Marketing

By Garrett Mickley •  Updated: 05/21/22 •  5 min read
Three photos of restaurants, teal overlay, pink text says Restaurant Marketing.

How I Would Market a Restaurant

Restaurants in South Florida come and go like the weather.

There are tons of opportunities for a restaurant to market themselves, and I don’t see them jumping on the opportunity.

I know it takes a lot to run a business like that, but there’s plenty of stuff one can do to improve sales with very little extra time spent on restaurant marketing.

Although I focus on cybersecurity marketing, if I were to be asked to consult for a restaurant, here’s how I would do it.

Table of Contents

    General Restaurant Marketing

    Always remember: it’s not about you but the customer. Harsh reality: they don’t care about you. They care about what you can do for them.

    Example: Today I saw an email for a coffee shop that said “Our cold brew towers create a smoother, less acidic coffee.”

    What does that mean? What does that do for me?

    I asked, and they said, “Well when coffee is brewed hot, it has less caffeine.”

    Ok, now I’m interested.

    What I would have said was:

    “Is coffee not giving you the ‘jolt’ you need in the morning? That’s because brewing coffee ‘burns off’ the caffeine. Our cold brew process keeps the caffeine in, giving you more energy to face the day.”

    This reminds me, whenever you put a question in restaurant marketing like that, it should always be a “yes” answer.

    You wouldn’t want to say, “Is your coffee giving you enough energy in the morning? If not…”

    You only want readers to be saying/thinking “yes” and nodding their heads to your questions and statements.

    Branding

    All businesses need a branding guide.

    This includes brand colors, fonts, logos, etc.

    Everything — social media posts, emails, flyers, need to follow the branding guide.

    Extra points for developing a brand voice and sticking to it.

    Email Marketing

    This is the biggest restaurant marketing opportunity.

    Collect emails from Toast, Square, Open Table, or any other way you can.

    Send out at least one email per week.

    More is good if there’s anything interesting going on, but don’t send more than one per day unless it’s a really special day.

    For example: for a Tex-Mex restaurant, on Cinco De Mayo I would send out 3 emails:

    1. One in the morning around 6 AM, so people could plan their day around it.
    2. Another one just before lunch, and a third one just before 5 PM to catch the people who were on the fence about what to do when they get out of work.
    3. A lot of things can be automated through systems like Toast, or on platforms like ConvertKit (my recommendation; affiliate link).

    One thing that should be automated is when a customer comes in for the first time, send them an email the next day asking for a review.

    Less automated, but you’ll improve sales even more if you have them reply with a screenshot of their review (Yelp, Google, whatever), and then send them a 10% off coupon for their next visit.

    Take screenshots of the best reviews and share them on social media. Also, post them around the website. Testimonials will often be the deciding factor for someone trying to pick where to go for dinner.

    Other email ideas: share blog posts (more on that below), events, and recipes if possible.

    The main thing about regular emails is that it keeps you “top of mind”. If someone’s looking to go out tonight and they just received an email from you, that increases the probability of them picking you by A LOT.

    Timing is important, too. Sending an email in the middle of dinner time isn’t going to convert well.

    SMS Marketing

    You can basically apply the same rules as Email Marketing, but shorter.

    Use these much more sparingly. Emails can go out all the time, but texts are more intrusive. Save it for particularly special days.

    Also remember: sending them too infrequently and people will think of it as spam. Send at least a couple per month so people are used to them.

    Blog

    Blog posts for restaurants don’t need to be very long. 300 words are easier to write than you think.

    Hit topics like happy hour. Why should they go to your happy hour over at the restaurant next door? Or some other place?

    You can also write about drinks or foods. Why do you serve custom drinks? What’s in them? Why do those ingredients work together so well?

    Social Media

    There are a ton of options out there for restaurant marketing on social media now, and you don’t have to use them all.

    That said, there are lots of tools you can use to post to all of them at once. I use Sociamonials if I’m only posting text and pics, and Postly for videos. CoSchedule is also good for text and images, and their requeue feature is very useful if you want to be more hands-off with the social media aspect of your restaurant marketing.

    You need to be posting at least one post per day. Unless it’s a holiday (like mentioned before), three posts per day max.

    Use social media to highlight specials, unique menu items, and customers’ favorites.

    Posting short videos of the chef, bartenders, etc (with their consent), talking about what they’re making (and what makes it unique), will get a really good response.

    Depending on the social platform, link to blog posts when you can.

    Another idea for posts: interesting facts related to the restaurant/food/drinks.

    This is all just digital marketing for restaurants. I didn’t even touch on print, radio, or even Facebook ads.

    Garrett Mickley

    Garrett Mickley has worked across the entire spectrum of digital marketing across a decade and a half.