Wondering how to attract more customers to your restaurant? You’re not alone. With the ample availability of vaccines in many countries around the globe and the number of fully vaccinated citizens on the rise, restaurant owners are expecting a spike in the number of customers. This has gotten restaurateurs looking for modern & unique restaurant promotion ideas to drive sales and make up for the losses incurred during the past year.
Whether you run a chain of restaurants or are a standalone restaurant owner, having a promotional strategy always helps in increasing sales. Considering how technology has evolved in the past decade, you need to jump on the bandwagon and opt for digital marketing in addition to the traditional offline promotional strategies. Creating the right balance between online and offline can not only make the investment worth it but also increase brand awareness significantly.
Before investing your money or efforts in any idea, make sure to get a deep understanding of your core audience or the customers you want to target. Who is your most loyal and consistent audience? Having a clear idea of this will help you to refine your strategy to cater to your target audiences’ liking. After all, you can’t use an old-school reference written on a board outside your cafe that intends to attract a GenZ. It has to be something they relate to.
To help you out, we have compiled a list of some of the best restaurant promotion ideas in 2021.
Do a popup
To promote your restaurant and increase brand awareness, you can participate in pop-ups and flea markets at different locations around town. You can rent a stall at the pop-up or do your own pop-up by renting a food truck. The intent is to go someplace new and give people a glimpse of what you serve so they are encouraged to visit your restaurant.
A lot of restaurants in the West started doing a monthly pop-up in a food truck in a different area each time. It was for only one day a week for which they constantly marketed when and where they would be parking their food trucks. This ensured customers living in and around the area remembered about it and made sure to visit. This proved to be a clever strategy to expand their customer base.
Participating in local events with a few bestsellers from your menu exposes your restaurant to new customers. You can make the experience for the customers richer by offering them a one-time discount when they visit the restaurant. Having a discount coupon encourages a customer to visit the restaurant and if they have a positive experience when they dine-in, you would have gained a new customer and recovered your rent for the pop-up stall.
Get local business’s onboard
One of the best ways to promote a restaurant is to tie up with other businesses in the area and offer discounts for catering at their events. You can curate packages as per your liking that include small platters that are easy to eat (for instance, sandwiches, burgers, rolls) or an elaborate buffet spread.
Serving quick ready-to-eat menu items at a corporate event like a conference gets more people to notice your food and encourages them to visit the restaurant next time they are stepping out to eat. You can take it a step ahead by leaving the event guest with a discount coupon applicable when they dine in the restaurant.
If the event attendees love your food, it leads to a positive word-of-mouth promotion as well. Not only is it a predictable sales opportunity (since it’s pre-booked and you get a security deposit) and exposes you to a large number of new customers in a single event, but also allows you the flexibility to choose which events you want to cater at.
Leverage restaurant tech tools
There is a reason young people love technology so much. It simplifies things, saves time, and makes the whole process effortless. Self-ordering kiosks allow people to come and choose whatever food they want and just pick it up from the designated counter without having to interact with anyone.
Having a barcode scan menu allows customers to explore the menu and take their time while ordering their food. They can place the order through the app and select the table number, reducing the need to come in contact with a printed menu touched by multiple people. Similarly, KDS (Kitchen Display System) often seen in popular fast-food chain restaurants like Domino’s and McDonald’s make it easy for customers to know their wait time.
Introducing all these tech tools give you an extra edge over other similar restaurant chains that rely on quick-moving crowds. In addition to KDS, you can also make use of a KOT (Kitchen Order Ticket) system, POS system, and restaurant management system. All of these not only make your restaurant more technology-driven but simplify the process of restaurant management.
Build a stellar social media presence
Social media marketing has become a must for restaurants to survive in 2021. The reason being the next generation relying completely on their smartphones & the internet for everything. The millennials and GenZ search everything on social media whether they are ordering something online or visiting a restaurant.
Social media opens up the channels for your customers to interact with you, share their opinion about your services, and enquire about anything. This means they get to look at the content you share to see what you’re serving at the restaurant and read the comments to see how people found your food, restaurant ambiance, and the services.
This makes it vital to have an engaging social media presence and try to connect with your audience online. Uploading reels showing the process of a menu item being cooked can tempt the customer into wanting to try it. Similarly, aesthetically pleasing pictures of your restaurant can entice them to come and eat at the restaurant.
You can also share promotional offers and run contests to keep your audience engaged. For instance, Onestà, a popular fast-food chain runs a #NameOfTheWeek campaign where they declare a name on their social media handles every Monday, and the person with that name can come and enjoy an unlimited pizza party. It’s not surprising that they have a huge following and an active audience on social media!
SMS your way into their thoughts:
Ever noticed Zomato’s texts/app notifications? It sends one-liners at time slots when people are most likely to think about food and appeals to their hunger. The result? People explore the link to order something. Here’s a list of funny notifications a Twitter user @jdeepmishra posted to show the consistency of Zomato’s efforts. Needless to say, some of these are hilarious and convince you to tap and order.
It is important to keep in mind that not everyone is comfortable stepping out just yet. Moreover, people have gotten comfortable ordering and eating from the comfort of their homes in the pandemic. Staying in touch with your audience through restaurant promotion messages and reminding them to order food at home is a great way to drive sales. Make sure to use popular food references and leverage current trends to get your customer’s attention.
Bring in entertainment:
To ensure your customers have a good time at the restaurant and stay longer, you can host gigs to entertain them. The longer they stay, the more food & drinks they order. Support local music bands and stand-up comedians by inviting them to perform in your restaurant. Since hosting events on weekends may reduce your table turnover, you can schedule these events on quiet weekdays.
Most restaurants experience less footfall on weekdays, hosting an entertaining event like Karaoke Night can help in driving customers. Events like these introduce your restaurant to new people. If they are excited about the event, it gives them a good reason to try out a new place. Make sure you encourage them to tag your restaurant’s social media handle when they post about the event online.
Get innovative with the events – quiz nights, speed dating, sports live stream, etc based on the kind of your restaurant setup. Out of the Blue, a popular restaurant in Mumbai frequently hosts live performances by some of the best stand-up comedians to entertain you while you eat. They ensure the performing artists also talk about their gig on social media so there is ample cross-promotion online.
Request online reviews
To encourage customers to visit your restaurant, you need to ensure there is enough positive information available online. If I was heading out to eat at a place, I would definitely explore the restaurant on Google and see what people have to say about its food, its ambiance, the kind of crowd it attracts, and its bestsellers.
When a customer is done dining at your restaurant, politely request them to leave their review about their experience on your website, social media, or apps like Zomato. It is very important to always respond to online reviews, regardless of it being positive or negative. Ignoring criticism shows a lack of accountability and shows the reader that you do not care about the customer’s opinion.
When someone leaves a positive review, make sure to thank them in the reply and show interest in them dining at your restaurant in the future. If it is a negative review, try to understand why the customer had a negative experience, apologize for your mistakes in the right tone, and work on improving that aspect.
Danny Meyer, restaurateur and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, says, “A great restaurant doesn’t distinguish itself by how few mistakes it makes but by how well they handle those mistakes.” Even if the customer’s concern is invalid, a well-crafted positive response to their negative review has the power to turn them into loyal customers.
Taking advantage of holidays to encourage customers to visit your restaurant is the most common restaurant promotion strategy. People get together with their friends and family on holidays and other festive occasions which gives them an excuse to dine out. You can add to their excitement by crafting a menu that honors the holiday.
Not just traditional holidays, you can also hop on to the less popular days like International Beer Day, National Ice Cream Day, National Pizza Day, National Fried Chicken Day, and more. Curate a special menu for these days and share it online to let your customers know what to expect when they attend the event.
There are a plethora of other small occasions around which you can create a promotion. You can offer Buy-one-Get-one discounts on popular days like Valentine’s Day, Friendship Day, Mother’s Day, FIFA World Cup, Cricket World Cup, etc. You can also hold small contests online surrounding the theme of such days and winners can get a reward when they visit. For instance, a one-time unlimited beer coupon on winning a contest on International Beer Day.
Even the most popular restaurants have experienced the driest days in the past one year. We hope these unique restaurant promotion ideas will help drive more customers into your restaurant and increase profitability. Do you own a restaurant? What promotion ideas have proven to be helpful for your restaurant? Share them in the comments below!
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