13 ways to promote your restaurant business to local customers

Fill those seats

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. You need to actively promote your restaurant business if you want it to succeed.

13 ways to promote your restaurant business

Here are 13 effective ways to market your restaurant to your local market.

  1. Build a website.

  2. Create a monthly email.

  3. Update the menu on a regular basis.

  4. Create a customer loyalty program.

  5. Offer an online reservation tool.

  6. Have a social media presence.

  7. Run contests and games.

  8. Leverage local writers and food bloggers.

  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 bring in 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. It should be eye-catching, yet easy to navigate. Make sure it contains these items:

  • An easy-to-ready menu — you can use an app such as OpenMenu to manage and share yours
  • Featured food items, including a description and nutrition information
  • Newsletter sign-up box
  • Order online button for pickup orders
  • Reservation button
  • Social media icons that link to your social pages
  • Rewards
  • Gift cards
  • About
  • Contact
  • Location
  • Disclaimer
  • Careers
  • Newsroom

Editor’s note: Still in need of a site? Consider GoDaddy’s GoCentral Website Builder. You can create an online presence in less than an hour, complete with a beautiful menu and industry-specific layouts and imagery.

2. Create a monthly email

One successful way to promote your restaurant business to a local market is to ask customers to sign up for a monthly 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.

Email marketing services, such as GoDaddy Email Marketing, make is easy to create and send your email newsletter, plus track results.

Promote Your Restaurant Business GEM

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

4. Create a customer loyalty program

According to Punchh, points-based rewards systems remain the most popular loyalty program models among restaurants. 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. Apps such as Foursquare and OpenTable can help you achieve this.

5. Offer an online reservation tool

OpenTable can also help you with online reservations. Customers can use it to select an exact reservation time, browse menu items, and view ratings.

Promote Your Restaurant Business Opentable

6. Have a social media presence

Creating 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.

Make sure your food photos are bright and full of color so they don’t come off as bland or unappetizing. Using hashtags such as #[Restaurantname]HappyHour, #TBT or #MouthWateringWednesdays will also help you gain more followers.

Encourage customers to post photos of your restaurant and the food, and tag the location on their social media pages.

 

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 visit. Or if you’re promoting happy hour, make sure you post about your specials before and during the specific timeframe.

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. According to WordStream, it’s important to communicate information through your account like photos, store hours, location, menu, price range, WiFi, outdoor seating, parking and more. Whether the reviews are negative or positive, always handle the feedback in a kind, professional manner.

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

7. Run contests and games

Engage customers while they’re enjoying their meal by allowing them to participate in a contest or game. They could help name a new menu item or enter a raffle for a free meal. This can be effective in your restaurant, as well as on your social media channels.

8. Leverage local writers and food bloggers

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

9. Use effective SEO keywords

According to Vision Advertising, 72 percent of all searches are related to local content. Restaurant Engine recommends creating a Google Plus page, then using Google Adwords to learn what people are searching. 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].”

10. Partner with delivery services

Today’s customers expect to be able to order from most local restaurants through delivery services. Eat 24 and Delivery.com are two to consider teaming up with.

Promote Your Restaurant Business Eat24

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.

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.

13. Join the chamber of commerce

According to Fit Small Business, 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 helps with search engine rankings.

In conclusion

Hopefully, these 13 tips will help you promote your restaurant business and bring more local traffic to your doorstep. So fire up the kitchen and start plating those meals!

Kateri Wozny
Kateri Wozny is an award-winning journalist with a background in print, digital, TV and radio news. Her work has appeared in outlets such as the Chicago Sun-Times Media Group, Gatehouse Media, Pepperdine University, UC - Santa Barbara and local publications throughout Southern California. She is also the owner and blogger of SoCalShuffle.net, a lifestyle blog in Southern California. Kateri resides in the Greater Los Angeles area and enjoys writing, shopping, wine tasting, live music and volunteering in her community. Connect with Kateri on LinkedIn.