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The 10 Commandments of Small Restaurant Marketing

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More often than not, the marketing your small independent restaurant is the job of you, the small independent restaurant owner. You don’t have access to the limitless funds of a multi-national chain to hire the sharpest advertising experts. You need to work out an efficient, productive and cost-effective way to market to your potential clientele.

Like some sort of restaurant Moses coming down the hill with a couple of chiseled stone tablets, this article is here to guide you through those murky small restaurant marketing waters. You want 10 commandments? I’ll give you 10 commandments.

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1. Thou shalt market to your current client base

The greatest way to increase your bottom line is to market to those who already choose your establishment over others. These people are already sold on your products and service, now it’s up to you to get them through your doors as often as possible. It is imperative that you get some contact information from these customers, so that you can market to them.

2. Thou shalt promote giveaways over minor discounts

What do you think is more effective; a 100 percent discount given once, or a 10 percent discount given 10 times over? While both strategies will cost your restaurant the same amount, I’ll tell you which your customers will remember – that meal, drink or dessert that they scored absolutely free.

3. Thou shalt market from a customer’s perspective

When creating marketing material, it’s vital that you write with a customer’s perspective in mind. The changes in wording may be very subtle, but can ultimately be very effective. As an example, instead of saying “buy one, get one free”, use “get one free with every purchase.”

4. Thou shalt be the hometown hero

Small local restaurants have an inherent advantage over larger chains, in that they’re relatable. They can take an active interest in local affairs, without coming across insincere or obligated. Use this advantage, and support local causes, donate food to a local event or sponsor a sports team.

Pure, unadulterated goodwill can do more for your reputation than almost any other marketing effort.

5. Thou shalt be active on social media

Another way to connect with your current customer base and be active within your community is to create and maintain a strong social media presence. This will allow your customers to give you fantastically direct feedback, and will keep your name in front of people’s faces.

6. Thou shalt combine marketing with interior design

Over and above billboards, internet banners and radio ads, the four walls of your restaurant are your most useful marketing space. Think carefully about your interior design, ensuring that you allocate plenty of areas for things like specials boards, event posters and happy hour signs.

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7. Thou shalt be on the lookout for marketing inspiration

Every marketing strategy you’ll ever think up has likely already been done. Rather than this being a bad thing, it’s actually great news. There are a wealth of restaurant marketing ideas out there, all ripe to be picked and moulded to suit your situation. Don’t be shy about borrowing inspiration.

8. Thou shalt be unique

In such a competitive market as the restaurant biz, a little bit of X-factor goes a long, long way. Rather than ‘just another restaurant’, you want to be “THAT restaurant.” Whether it be a weekly event, a trademark dish, a kooky feature or a stunning special, having a unique identifier will help you stand out from the crowd.

9. Thou shalt act as a person, not a company

Once again, small independent restaurants have a huge edge on larger chains, in that they can bring a personal touch to the dining experience. Be sure to mingle among the tables every now and again, and get to know those that frequent your business. If a problem arises, sort it out in a pragmatic, personal way, rather than referring to an inflexible policy.

10. Thou shalt analyze

Any marketing campaign that you do end up running needs to be closely monitored. Data is king – it will allow you to dissect what worked and what didn’t, and will help you improve your marketing in the future.

Restaurant marketing Moses has spoken. It’s now up to you to put these commandments into action, and part the choppy marketing seas.

Michael Catford

Michael has a love of travel that quickly developed into a love of writing while he was trying to document his adventures. A bearded Australian with a taste for sport and beer, often simultaneously, the web content knowledge gained from running his own travel site has allowed Michael to expand his fields of expertise. We look forward to him sharing his thoughts as part of The Social Savior content team!

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