8 Tips For Successful Restaurant Marketing

Effective restaurant marketing is particularly important since customers are spending discretionary income. Eating out is not a requirement like paying the electric bill. You must find ways to improve revenue and get the word out to succeed in this ever-challenging environment. Below are some tips to follow.

1. Develop a signature dish
Successful restaurants have a signature dish. They develop a reputation for having the best something in town. Some have an entire line of menu items that are unique to the industry. Signature dishes are continually upgraded to prevent boredom. Many restaurants open and keep the same menu items available throughout their lifetime. Do not be one of this group.

2. Get involved with the community
Community involvement can play a huge role in promoting your restaurant. Volunteer at local fund-raising events. Sponsor a community event. Find a worthy cause and support it both financially and emotionally. Many customers seek out firms that support their local community. Make sure your restaurant is part of this.

3. Make a stand-out video
YouTube has over one billion hits monthly. Take advantage of this. Produce a video that introduces your eatery to the world. Describe why you are different. Talk about the owner’s background and why the business was started. Viewers love learning about background information.

4. Start a YouTube Channel
Start your own online channel and develop a worldwide market using links for free. Use your city’s location as a keyword to target local customers. Upload your videos to your channel. Develop a professional About page to give viewers more information about your eatery and you.

5. Send out birthday cards
Birthday cards are wonderful ways to market your eatery. According to industry statistics, birthdays are the most profitable marketing technique used by restaurants. Offer new and current customers a discounted or free meal on their special day. Some restaurants offer a free dessert instead of an entire meal. The choice is yours.

6. Offer ambiance
A pleasant ambiance makes for a fantastic promotional tool. Customers who enjoy eating in your restaurant will tell their friends, social media contacts and associates about their experience. Make certain you provide something worth remembering. Covering a wall with autographed celebrity photos is one option. One restaurant stood out by having wall-sized photos of the founding husband and wife in clear dining view.

7. Get interviewed
Use your local television and radio stations to get interviewed. Interviewing is a wonderful way to promote you and your restaurant. Have something newsworthy to share like a new dish, industry recognition, write-up in a national publication or other similar happening. Share news about an employee’s recent awards or other accomplishments. Be sure to mention your eatery’s location and contact information. The same holds true for being interviewed on your local radio station.

8. Use email
Email is a wonderful promotional tool. Optimize it by regularly communicating with customers. You can send out a short message notifying readers of a special event. You can also develop a newsletter and electronically send it out on a regular basis. Have a sign-up sheet in your restaurant and on your website. Remember you must get prior approval before sending any email communication. Include coupons for special deals that apply only for email list members in your email.

Restaurant marketing involves creativity and consistency. Do it properly and watch your customer base grow.

Amanda Cusack is a Technology and Business writer, who offers her perspective on everything from strategy to the latest gadgets, including restaurant marketing.


Importance of your Menu to Promote your Restaurant – Restaurant Promotion Idea #11

Promotion Ideas #11 – Restaurant Menu

Importance of your menu to promote your restaurant is often overlooked in most restaurants. Like I have mentioned in my Previous Post “Creating Great Customer Service Culture”, first impression counts. Remember that the entire menu will compliment the restaurant theme. If your menu is not appetizing to look at, people will have the same impression of your food. Most restaurants put fancy words to describe their food. But fancy words and fancy fonts to me can be a deterrent for people to order something different from what they know. Most people will not take a chance in ordering an item that they are not sure about or they might not like. Also avoid jargons or terms that only a few people can understand. I have seen some menus that are so beautiful like a works of art, a masterpiece but if your customers finds it hard to read then what’s the point. It’s like a beautifully painted house without any door, you can’t get in. The menu must also be easily readable, so the size of the font is equally as important as what font you plan to use. The lighting in your place is another factor to consider when choosing your characters. If your place is designed to be dimly lit, then a bright colored font will be great. Usually, dark colored font on a white or light colored paper is much easier to read. I worked in a pub where the words in the menu were luminous as the place was dark. I felt that this is a great idea.

My Menu Design

Recently in the Coffeeshop that I manage, I have added pictures of the food to our menu. I recently took up another hobby. Its photography which I took up after our owner gave the hotel a DSLR camera. Reason is he saw that with today’s technology we could add food pictures to our printed materials and didn’t need a professional to take out the photos for us. We could do it by ourselves and put in on the menu easily. By adding pictures next to the description of the food, I have noticed that the customers were more adventurous. Trying out different items. But make sure your kitchen brings out the food exactly as what is in the picture, or else you will have a lot of problems. Take mouthwatering shots like the pink area of a lamb, the juicy part of the steak. I usually use Google Image to see what other restaurants use to get an idea on how my pictures should look like. In this sense the saying “A picture says a thousand words” it’s true. A beautifully photographed picture of your food is thousand times better than all the description you can write.

The Inside of the Menu is also Important

Also pay attention to how your menu looks. If it’s old and tattered discard it. A dirty menu will also turn away the guest.








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Resources to turn your good restaurant into a great business


Knowing how to run a restaurant is no guarantee of restaurant success. That’s because operating a restaurant and building a thriving business requires totally different skills and expertise.

Join our community of thousands of independent restaurant operators who are learning new skills, making better business decisions, applying new tools and improving their results.

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Featured Resources

DOWNLOAD: Menu & Recipe Cost Spreadsheet Template

The Menu & Recipe Cost Template is a Microsoft Excel® set of spreadsheets designed to help you prepare an accurate costing for all your menu items and recipes. Once you’ve completed the setup for each menu item then all you need to do is to enter current purchase prices for ingredients you buy, then watch as each recipe and menu item is automatically updated with current costs.

To see other resources, please click here RestaurantOwner.com


Giving Unique Corporate Gifts – Restaurant Promotion Ideas #10

Corporate Gift – Calligraphy Scroll

My #10 Restaurant Promotion Idea is giving unique corporate gifts out to company and potential customers

A colleague gave me this idea when we were discussing how we can show our local regulars that we value their support. It was for one of our corporate gift that we give to our regulars during festivals. You can read about this in my previous post, Promoting your Restaurant through Great Customer Service. As a majority of our local regulars are Chinese Business Men who are farmers or traders by trade, we had to come out with an idea which they can use and appreciate it. So the normal corporate gift like pens, paperweights or even cardholders were out of the question. These people usually entertain their clients in our restaurants, we needed to come out with a unique corporate gift that will stand out.

Gift for Good Luck- Calligraphy Scroll

Chinese Koi FishWhat we did was print some Chinese calligraphy scroll with our logo and address at the bottom. Then we went around presenting it personally to our local regulars for them to hang in their office or places of business. They were very happy with these gift as the words on it meant for them to have a prosperous business. So as they hung the scroll on the wall, they will always have a constant reminder of our restaurant in front of them. It’s because we have printed our logo and address at the bottom. This is also a type free advertisement for us. When their friends or clients visit them, they will sure to see the scroll with our logo and address. Scrolls are easy to hang as they are light and only use a string to hang it up.

Decorative Chinese calligraphy scroll are normally given as a gift to bestow good fortune on the recipient. On it is written with artistic Chinese characters expressing best wishes or good luck. Some scrolls have a red background because red is the traditional color for luck. But I personally feel a white or cream color scroll with black letter looks more beautiful on the wall of someone’s office. Some scroll have brushstroke landscape paintings together with the characters, as with many traditional Chinese scroll paintings. For business, the picture of koi fishes is preferred as it symbolizes persistence and willingness to continue on the face of difficulties. Koi is known to swim against the current.

Romantic Gift – Romantic Scroll

Even for special occasion like honeymoon, marriage proposals, wedding anniversary and so on you can do a scroll with some romantic poem on it. Roll it up and tie with a ribbon. Give it to the couple with a pen, so as they can sign on it together. Sort of a declaration of love document. Maybe with a small portion at the bottom of the scroll where the couple can tear off and enjoy a candlelight dinner to celebrate their sixth month anniversary at your place with a special price. When I was working in a hotel in Thailand, what we did for those couples that book the honeymoon package was to have a romantic scroll in their rooms. You can get some free poems from the net. You also engage the services of a professional printer to print your gift.


Let Customers Promote your Restaurant by Sending Postcards -Restaurant Promotion Idea # 9

Promotion Ideas #9. Using Postcards

Let your customers promote your restaurant by sending postcards. At the entrance of your restaurant, place beautiful postcards of your signature dishes or restaurant. So customers can send out to their friends.
When I stay in hotels, I’ve noticed that most of the hotels give out a postcard or two in their rooms for their guest to mail to their friends. They normally put pictures of their buildings or their interiors on it. I feel that this is also a great promotional tool for a restaurant too.

Promoting your Speciality with Postcards

You can create Postcards with photos of your restaurant’s signature dishes on the front and put it at the entrance of your restaurant where your customers can take it. They might mail it out to their friends and family or keep it as a souvenir. When they mail it out, they will be promoting your restaurant for you. Just imagine the number of people that will see your dishes cause the picture is not hidden in an envelope. A postcard passes through a few hands before it reaches its destination. And also the customer pays for the postage. Take mouthwatering shots like the pink area in the lamb or beef when you cut it. If you can afford it, get help from a professional food photographer to take out beautiful shots. Food shots is better than pictures of your restaurant interiors as I feel most people are use too seeing buildings and architecture on the postcard. So it will be just another postcard with a picture of a building. If your restaurant is part of the hotel, why don’t put photos of your signature dishes on the front and give to your guests instead of the normal practice of putting photos of your building or interiors.

Postcards as Greeting Cards

For festivals or birthdays, instead of using the normal greeting cards do something different. Do a postcard maybe with all your restaurant staff in their festive garb. You can send to your regulars a Beautiful Postcard wishing them a Merry Christmas instead of a greeting card that’s in an envelope. No matter how beautiful your greeting card is, only the one receiving can view it. But a postcard can be viewed immediately as there is no envelope to open first. You can even create a thank you postcard to send to your customer. These simple gestures will make your restaurant customers feel that they are appreciated. For more ways of making your customer feel appreciated, please go to my previous post Promoting your Restaurant through Great Customer Service
Instead of sending coupons in envelope, put in on a postcard. Most people throw away letters from unknown senders without even opening it. Whereas a postcard gets noticed before its discarded.
The back of the postcard is equally important as the picture in front. Don’t forget to put your restaurant name, address, contact details and maybe a little map. Vary your pictures, don’t always use the same ones. Don’t always do the same design, you might not know that maybe the postcards from your restaurant might be a collectors item like baseball cards.


Do Little Tournaments – Restaurant Promotion Ideas #5

Promote your Bar with Tournaments

Do Little Tournaments to promote your restaurant or your sports bar.As part of our restaurant promotion on weekends we did little dart tournaments.

We had a lounge in the hotel where I worked, that was not doing too well. We hired a band during festive holidays but people still didn’t come. Furthermore the salary of the band was eating into my profits. I noticed that customers preferred watching live football matches on the big screen than listening to the band. So I stopped the band, invested in some dartboards, bought another big screen TV and converted the whole bar into a sports bar. Business was great on weekends when the hotel was full and there were live matches. Now I needed a way to get in business on the weekdays. I found out that there were quite a number of avid darters in our area. So I organized on a bi monthly basis small dart tournaments. Below are the steps I took.

How I organised a Dart Tournament

Step #1. Decide What Prizes you Want to put up for Your Tournament
Brainstorm and decide what you want offer. Do a little research with the dart community in your area. Make sure the prizes are enticing to the darters. As for me prize money is always the favorite. But make sure the prize money doesn’t eat up your profit. What we did was collect registration fees and uses it for the prize money. How we did it was to divide the collection, where the winner got 50% of the collection. The second place got 25% and the third got 10%. So if the collection was $400, the winner got $200, second got $100 and the third got $40. And the balance 15% goes back to cover whatever miscellaneous expenses you spend. By doing this you don’t have to fork out a lot of money. You can also get sponsors from your suppliers.

Step #2. Tournament Promotional Materials

Now we come to promoting your tournaments. There are numerous ways. If you are using banners, make the design suits the location where you will put it up. Example if placed at the side of the road it should be short and simple, people driving will have little time to read it. Try not to use fancy fonts. As for us it was only five lines with the prize money on the side. We also created posters to put up in offices bulletin boards.

Step #3. Collect Names and Entry Fees
Start early by collecting names. With this you will be able to plan how many dart boards you need to have. You can also foresee how many days you need to run the competition. Create a form where the participants can fill in their details. Later you keep the address in the form for your mailing list.

Step #4-Organize your Tournament Bracket
After you got your marketing activities going. Now its time to choose your tournament bracket. We chose the round robin preliminaries with the best of three. To us Round Robin was the best cause every player gets a chance to play and you might sell more drinks due to it takes a long time to finish the game. Put all the names in a hat or bucket and pull them out randomly to decide who will compete against whom first. But if there is too much players than you need to split in two to three groups and play for two or three days. Order of play can either be decided by each throwing a dart at the center of the bull, the nearest being the player to throw first, or by a toss of a coin. We chose the nearest to bull.

The Outcome
Our first dart competition was a success, we received 25 participants. After deducting everything we broke even. The plus point is we managed to get additional orders of beverages and also free advertisement that we have a sports bar in our hotel. So we intend to do this tournament every two months.