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The Old and The New: Approaches to Restaurant Promotion

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There are a multitude of approaches to restaurant promotion, some as old as time, some new and novel. The way in which you promote your restaurant should reflect what you’re trying to achieve through the promotion. This can range from branding and positioning your eatery, to increasing the frequency with which people visit.

Let’s take a look at what we can aim for and how we can tailor our approach to promoting a restaurant accordingly.

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Strategic Branding

Not all marketing is offering discounts and giveaways to drive immediate sales. A strong branding strategy will position your restaurant firmly in people’s mind and foster a connection between them and you. Ultimately this increases sales and your bottom line by developing strong awareness and associations with your future customers.

There are many approaches to promoting your restaurant’s brand. The easiest and most common way currently is through social media. Post photos, articles, memes, and statuses which encompass your brand. This will demonstrate to your current and future customers what you’re all about.

Other methods to consider include sponsoring or supporting a charity which aligns with your brand, or hosting business events for businesses within industries which also fit.

Increasing Business During Quiet Periods

Getting more people through the doors on quieter nights or times of day is one of the staple aims of restaurant marketing.

Tried and tested approaches to filling tables during down times include offering discounts such as two-for-one offers, meal deals, happy hours, discounts on whole checks or certain items, and freebies with particular purchases.

More novel approaches include treat receipts, where customers who purchase something at a peak time can bring their receipt back between certain hours (quiet hours) and receive a giveaway.

Another is “Toss Up Tuesdays”, where patrons can toss a coin to win their meal for free. This is more fun and unique than a standard discounted or free meal offer, and will also have punters racking up larger bills because of the prospect that they may not have to pay.

Fostering Customer Loyalty

Keeping current customers happy is critical for any restaurant. They’re your spokespeople on the street, advocating for your restaurant when people ask them for advice, and they’re the ones who regularly keep you in business. Rewarding customers is a major focus for restaurant marketing efforts.

Traditional approaches are usually loyalty cards or similar, where you receive a free gift after a certain number of visits.

These days restaurants are thinking outside the box and running promotions for regular customers such as menu bingo, where customers are given a card with a grid containing 25 menu items for them to cross off once they’ve ordered them. Upon completing a line or the whole grid they receive a reward. This is also a great way to promote new or unusual menu items.

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Getting New People Through the Door

There are some classic offline marketing methods to getting new people through the door of your restaurant. This is basic stuff like flyer drops and TV ads. There’s also ideas like hosting themed nights for holidays or sports games, or running promotions where people get a free drink on their birthday.

The 2016 approach to attracting new visitors to your restaurant is all about social media. The great thing about marketing on social media is that your efforts aren’t just working toward one outcome. You can be interacting with existing customers whilst improving your branding whilst attracting new customers.

For every like or share that you get on Facebook from one of your existing customers you’re reaching hundreds of potential customers, as this activity will come up on the newsfeed of each friend of the customer.

You can harness the power of social media promotion by offering special deals to your Twitter followers, set up a poll on Facebook to allow followers to vote for the next menu item, or run a competition on Instagram where customers have to upload and tag pictures of your restaurant.

Alongside tried and tested approaches to restaurant promotion, there are new and emerging trends which can be leveraged to increase your bottom line. Decide what you want to achieve from your marketing, whether it’s attracting new customers or raising awareness of your restaurant, and go from there.

Alex Sizer

Alex Sizer is a red wine lover, content writer and social media marketing specialist. When she's not writing her own travel blog, she's writing for The Social Savior's content team.

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