Promoting a New Restaurant: 10 Ideas That Actually Work

As an owner, it can be equally exciting and nerve-wracking to start a new restaurant. Especially when more and more restaurants shut down within a year of operations.

A restaurant owner is always juggling between staff, raw material, operation, finances and other decisions. When you’ve so much on your plate to take care of, often marketing takes a sideline. This leads to less exposure for the restaurants and a constant fight to stand out from the crowd.

In fact, we’ve heard countless restaurants ask these questions:

  • How can I make more customers aware of us?
  • What will be the best offers to run?
  • How can I use my social media effectively?

To help you answer these and countless other questions, we’ve put together a list of things you should do to promote a new restaurant.

Ready? Let’s start!

Set Up Online Ordering

Your online order system is essential for all delivery orders and even your restaurant’s own brand image. When opening a new outlet, it’s important to set it up and optimise it for a good user experience. Here are a few things you can do for better promotion on your restaurant website:

  • Offer a special promo code for first-time customers on the website
  • Include a special tab for table booking and/or bulk orders
  • Show lots of real images of the restaurant’s dishes
  • Collect customer data to engage with them later and provide special offers.
Online Ordering Website
Salad Company’s online ordering menu

Develop a Unique Branding

As a new restaurant, if you don’t want to get lost in the crowd, you’ll have to build a remarkable brand. We understand that this happens over time but a good start is with building a unique brand identity, something that creates an instant brand recall in your customer’s mind.

If dine-in focused:
When running a branding process for a dine-in restaurant, include the unique elements of your branding in the restaurant’s interiors and menu. Find whatever the focus of your restaurant’s food offering is and bring it out through the branding.

If delivery focused:
For delivery focused restaurants, make your brand stand out through stunning and robust packaging, your restaurant website, and menus. Think of your branding as an empty canvas and jot down all the ideas as you would like to see your brand be recognised in the future. These branding elements can also be used in your social media presence.

Search Optimisation

It’s very important to optimise for search as this is the way that people will discover your restaurant online. These are a few things that every new restaurant should get done:

  • Use keywords: whether they are neighbourhood and city-related or cuisine and dishes related, use keywords on your website to attract the right visitors.
  • Sign up for Google My Business: this is how your restaurant will get on Google Maps and increase its legitimacy on the search engine results pages.
  • Run search engine advertisements: 81% of people search for a restaurant on a mobile device. This is the first way they can discover you. Running ads through Google Adwords and other search engines will help in reaching more customers. Also, ensure that your website is mobile friendly for these people searching for your restaurant on the mobile.

    Google search results

Grand Opening

Promote your opening well on social media, invite food bloggers and other stakeholders to it. This is your chance to shine and show everyone what your restaurant is all about.
Prepare some fun activities and live performances on the day to keep your guests entertained.

Be Social

Customers today are influenced by reviews and comments online. It’s essential for a restaurant to have a digital strategy for their opening and promotion. When it comes to posting and engaging with users on social media platforms, here are a few ideas you can begin with:

  • Ask questions regarding your customer’s food choices and interests.
  • Incorporate customer-generated content related to your restaurant.
  • Share the stories behind your start and special dishes
  • Share special offers and plans for your restaurant

Local Listings

It’s important to claim your restaurant profile and keep it updated with accurate contact information, images and description on all local listings and third-party platforms like Zomato, Swiggy etc. A lot of customers discover and order through these platforms and you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to market yourself here.

Giveaways and Contest

We love free things and contests – it’s human nature. When trying to do a giveaway or a for your new restaurant, think of ways in which you can engage the customers. Get over the old idea of reposts and ask them a fun thing to do or an interesting question to answer. Even better if you relate it with a recent trend for more visibility.

Contest
Friendship Day Contest by Chaayos

In rewards, you can offer them a free meal or even a free item at every visit they make over a period of time. At times, giving good discounts also works.

Media Outreach

Traditional PR with a special twist – including the growing number of food writers and bloggers works well for any upcoming restaurant.
#Tip: Rather than approaching them to cover your restaurant directly, include some special element like a community event to arouse interest and invite them.

Loyalty

Implementing a loyalty program at the start of a new restaurant is super important to gain as well as retain the customers. It not only attracts customers to order again but also gets you data to understand their preferences and choices better. Redeeming loyalty points is a major motivation for customers and can do wonders for a new restaurant’s referral and awareness.

[Need some ideas to get started with a loyalty program? We’ve got you covered!]

Build a Relationship

SMS Campaign
Customer relationship management through SMS campaigns

Collecting customer data digitally is important. It works great in customer relationship management through emails and SMS campaigns. After all, you want your first-time customers to be your lifetime fans right? Build a relationship with them by doing little things like offering a birthday/anniversary discount, telling them about special events at your restaurant and more.

Over to You:

It takes weeks and months to build a sustainable marketing and promotional strategy. Though the key lies in experimenting with all the ideas mentioned above, measuring the results and determining what works the best for you.

Are you opening a new restaurant soon? We’d love to know about it and hear your marketing plans. Share in the comments!

Promoting a New Restaurant: 10 Ideas That Actually Work
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Niharika Maggo

Niharika Maggo

Niharika is a Content Marketer at LimeTray. When she’s not busy wearing down the keys on her keyboard, she's found listening to podcasts, reading or drinking tea. She can be reached at marketing@limetray.com.