13 ways to promote your restaurant business to local customers

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A creative menu

This article was originally published on June 20, 2018, and was updated on April 14th, 2020.

Owning a local restaurant is a great way to get involved in your community, make new friends and create memories. But just because you build it (your restaurant) doesn’t mean they (local customers) will come, and in the middle of the current pandemic, it’s important to adopt new procedures and policies to keep your team and your customers safe.

Let’s look at how you can actively promote your business and adapt to these new circumstances.

13 ways to promote your restaurant business

Here are 13 effective ways to market your restaurant to your local customers during these exceptional circumstances.

  1. Build a website.
  2. Create a regular email.
  3. Update the menu on a regular basis.
  4. Create a customer loyalty program.
  5. Come up with new ideas.
  6. Have a social media presence.
  7. Run contests and games.
  8. Leverage local media.
  9. Use effective SEO keywords.
  10. Partner with delivery services.
  11. Offer coupons and discounts.
  12. Team up with local vendors.
  13. Join the chamber of commerce.

Ready to attract more local diners? Let’s explore these tips in more detail.

1. Build a website

Your website is the heart of your restaurant’s brand, and it’s even more important now that people will be ordering online. It should be eye-catching, yet easy to navigate. Make sure it contains these items:

  • An easy-to-ready menu
  • Featured food items, including a description and nutrition information
  • Newsletter sign-up box
  • Order online button for pickup orders
  • Reservation button (which may not be relevant currently, but will be important in the future)
  • Social media icons that link to your social pages
  • Rewards
  • Gift cards
  • About
  • Contact
  • Location
  • Disclaimer
  • Careers
  • Newsroom

Related: How to build a restaurant website

Editor’s note: Still in need of a site? Consider GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing. You can create an online presence in less than an hour.

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2. Create a regular email

One successful way to promote your restaurant business to a local market is to ask customers to sign up for a regular email through your website and when they dine with you.

Use the email to showcase employees, new food items, discounts and other company-related news to keep your restaurant in front of your customers.

This is especially important for providing new information as circumstances change.

 

Keep customers up-to-date with your latest policies and procedures, and let them know how they can support you.

Related: 5 best practices for using email to communicate with customers during COVID-19

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3. Update the menu on a regular basis

Keep your customers coming back for more by keeping your menu fresh with an updated look and feel and adding new products (including those created with delivery in mind).

If you don’t have an in-house graphic designer, consider using a freelance platform like Upwork to find one.

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4. Create a customer loyalty program

Customer loyalty is more important than ever in these trying times. If you don’t already have a loyalty program, now is the time to start.

Establish how many points guests will earn per dollar spent, and come up with a wide range of compelling reward offerings, such as freebies, discounts or specialty promos.

Related: Customer loyalty apps to help nurture relationships with your patrons

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5. Come up with new ideas

Restaurants and businesses all over your city likely are scrambling to adapt to new requirements and safety procedures. This is the perfect opportunity to stand out with a novel, creative idea.

Are there unique products and services you can offer? Special promotions that can create buzz among your customers? Think outside the box here.

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6. Have a social media presence

Use Colorful Food Photos to Promote Local RestaurantCreating Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages are an essential way to promote your restaurant business to a local market. Use these platforms to spread the word about food specials, new food items, recent news and positive reviews — and of course, to interact with your loyal customers!

Related: Using social media to engage with customers in a crisis

Images

Make sure your food photos are bright and full of color so they stand out on social media and represent your offerings in the best possible way.

Related: How to optimize images for the web

Hashtags

Using hashtags such as #[Restaurantname]HappyHour, #TBT or #MouthWateringWednesdays will also help you gain more followers.

Related: How to hashtag on Instagram and Twitter

Restaurant updates

Social media is also a great way to keep customers updated on the latest developments in your business, such as new hours of operation, new company policies, or new products and services.

When posting, the timing should be strategic. For example, feature a savory food item or special a couple of hours before lunchtime so customers have time to plan their order.

Related: 5 ways to keep customers informed about changes to your business

Reviews

Having a Yelp account encourages customers to write reviews, and because these accounts can exist even if you don’t create one, it’s important to have an official Yelp account. Whether the reviews are negative or positive, always handle the feedback in a kind, professional manner.

Related: Update online reviews to increase trust in your business

Measure success

Lastly, don’t forget to monitor your social media success by using measurement tools such as Google Analytics and Hootsuite.

Related: Social media metrics and ROI — What your business needs to know

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7. Run contests and games

Engage customers while they’re stuck at home by running new contests and online games. For example, they could help name a new menu item, post personal photos related to your business in some way, or enter a drawing for a free meal.

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8. Leverage local media

Send out a press release when you have news to share about your restaurant. Make sure you also share the positive press on your website and social media pages to promote your restaurant business to local customers.

Related: What is a media kit and how do you create one?

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9. Use effective SEO keywords

When thinking about keywords for your restaurant, try inputting queries you think would be used to find a restaurant in your category and region, such as “[your city] restaurants,” “[your food category] [your city]” and “restaurants in [your city].”

Now that more people are searching for takeout restaurants and ordering online, SEO is more important than ever.

Related: GoDaddy guide to SEO for business

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10. Partner with delivery services

Today’s customers expect to be able to order from most local restaurants through delivery services. You may also be able to provide your own delivery services to accommodate these needs.

Related: Is your restaurant ready to offer food for delivery?

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11. Offer coupons and discounts

What better way to promote your restaurant business than by offering savings? Join a local ecommerce savings site, such as Groupon, to offer discounts where customers are already looking for local deals.

Related: Using coupons and promotions to help customers dealing with COVID-19

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12. Team up with local vendors

If your budget allows, team up with a local vendor who specializes in fresh produce or ingredients so you can both cross-promote your brands.

When two businesses have the same goals, it’s a win-win situation.

 

And during the pandemic, community support is more important than ever.

Related: How to market a local business through strategic collaboration

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13. Join the chamber of commerce

Joining your local chamber of commerce gives you valuable access to the local community and the opportunity to host events and parties for members.

You will also receive a link on its website, which can help with search engine rankings. This can also help you connect with mentors, advisers and other professionals to guide you as you try to reconstruct and redefine your business.

Related: U.S. state and local resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19

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In conclusion

Hopefully, these 13 tips will help you promote your restaurant business and bring more local traffic to your doorstep, even in these unusual circumstances.

If you need more help, check out GoDaddy’s Digital Marketing Suite, which includes tools that can help show up on the map so that customers can easily find you.

This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by Kateri Wozny.

Image by: Micheile Henderson on Unsplash