5 Ways to Market Your Restaurant Without Needing an Expert on Staff

Published June 29, 2021

No marketing team, no problem: 5 tips for cost-effectively marketing your restaurant


An amazing menu, delightful service and a picture-worthy location is great–but without customers, it’s difficult to thrive. And that’s why marketing is an important part of a thriving business. But not every restaurant has an entire marketing team that can focus their energy on getting your restaurant out into the world, whether it’s due to lack of resources, funding or personnel. So how can you still have effective marketing without a dedicated marketing resource? It’s easier and more cost-effective than you might think.

With the right technology and team, your restaurant will be able to stand out among your competition. Just follow our helpful tips and tricks and your restaurant will be a marketing leader in no time.

Leverage existing marketing tools

There are countless existing tools at your disposal to help your restaurant stand out from the rest. For example, download this free digital marketing toolkit that gives your business insider tips and resources to drive stellar curbside pickup, take out and dine-in service.

Use or purchase low-cost software to make professional-looking designs in minutes, such as Canva.comMailchimp, and Google Analytics. Free to use, Canva has eye-catching templates for social media posts, catchy flyers, striking posters and more. Mailchimp is a great email marketing tool that comes with a support network to answer any questions and a free plan for users with less than 2,000 subscribers. Google Analytics is another tool that allows you to easily see how your messages and websites are performing.

Related: How to list your restaurant at the top of the Google search page

Say cheese!

Don’t underestimate a good picture or video. Like the saying goes, a picture is worth more than a thousand words. And videos are just as vital, if not more. That’s why you need to know how to capture the magic of your food behind the camera. And taking pictures or videos isn’t just about clicking a button; it involves much more. 

In the marketing toolkit, you’ll learn what makes a good picture or a stunning video—the lighting, angles, and details make a difference. To grab your customers’ attention (and your competitors) make sure your camera captures the magic of your business. Also, keep in mind that your pictures and videos should tell a story. Need ideas? Try taking pictures of behind-the-scenes recipes or signature dishes. Create a slow-motion video of your top cocktail. There are so many ways to share the magic of your restaurant, it’s up to you to choose how to showcase them—and pictures and videos are the perfect medium to help you do it.

Build a community of fans online

Your business’ digital presence matters and social media is a great tool to utilize if you don’t have a marketing team.

By building up a solid list of followers, you can create a close-knit, virtual community of customers who count on authentic interactions which you can then use for spreading information about your business. How do you do this? By posting consistently, keeping in mind that quality, authentic content is important—go beyond posting enticing pictures of food. 

With customers in your social feeds, you can also increase customer loyalty by offering deals online. Include relevant hashtags in all your posts so customers can find you and your posts easily, which will attract new viewers and filter related content.

See if your current team members are interested in social media. For example, some of your employees might have a passion for Instagram or YouTube and have a large following themselves, so they could add valuable content of their own that you can use on your business’ page. Many restaurant workers are younger and are most likely engaged in social media. As a restaurant operator, you can leverage this by encouraging your employees to advocate for your restaurant on their personal pages. An example would be mentioning your restaurant's social media in their Instagram bio or posting it on their story. By enabling them to post on your stories, they create content and give their followers behind-the-scenes looks of your restaurant in ways that showcase your brand.

Chipotle recently increased their digital presence, which resulted in their revenue more than doubling. The restaurant first built their online ordering platform in 2008, a solid decade ahead of most chains. But what really kickstarted their revenue growth was their technology.

They began filming testimonial videos of their farmers and employees, showing the public that human-centered approaches always win.

But they didn’t stop there. Chipotle also tapped into consumers’ desire for sustainability and transparency in food. They added the Real Foodprint to their app where, after making their burrito or burrito bowl, customers can track the statistics that demonstrate how their meal (the sustainable practices that go into making it) impacts the world. In real-time, their customers can see the amount of water, carbon, antibiotics saved, and more. Chipotle saw a need in the market and found a way to appeal to the crowd in a revolutionary way.

Did you see my text?

Not every business is the same, but digital presence has great potential for all of them, just as Chipotle saw. And your restaurant can learn from their discoveries.

Many businesses are turning to texting as a way to reach customers more effectively than email.

Nowadays, almost everyone has a mobile device and they check it constantly throughout the day. On average, 20 percent of emails get read when sent. But 98 percent of texts are read within minutes; a stark contrast.

So it seems like a no brainer that businesses should be sending their customers text messages, yet less than a third of them are. If your restaurant doesn’t have the resources to fund a marketing team, you should definitely consider using texting as a straight-forward option to reach more customers.

Do you have peak times and slower times of the day? Send out a text message with a discount during the slow hours to bring in more customers. Not sure how your customers feel about their experience in your restaurant? Text out a short survey for them to fill out and give feedback, even offering a reward or incentive for completing it.

Texting your customers can be a great method of engaging with them and increasing their loyalty in a quick and cheap way, keeping in mind there are boundaries. Don’t text too often; one to three times a week is sufficient. Also, consider time as a factor when sending texts. Don’t send texts too early in the morning or too late at night.

Related: 7 statistics to get you fired up about SMS marketing

Google yourself

Think we’re kidding? Nope. Googling your business is a smart way to see how reviews and other information affect your business.

Today, most people look up a restaurant’s menu online before choosing where to eat. That means it’s vital for your business to be ahead of the game with an up-to-date menu easily available online.

Add keywords in your website to increase your site’s search engine optimization (SEO). This helps your restaurant rise to the top in online searches and helps build brand awareness by showing your customers what you’re selling. Look for keywords that you might search when looking for your restaurant, such as the type of food you serve. Take time to determine the right SEO strategy and keywords.

Another great resource to up your SEO is through Google My Business Listing, “The easiest and fastest way to show up in the search feed.” The free tool lets businesses look at their ranking as well as increase key areas. Follow these steps to see your business on their site. Add important details about your business, such as outdoor seating or complimentary wi-fi, to make your restaurant stand out.

With these tips, your restaurant will be ready to step up

Of course, it would be great to have a full team of marketers creating campaigns that showcase your brand and get your loyal and new customers placing orders and dining in as often as possible. But now you can see that there are ways to effectively set your business apart from the competition—without breaking the bank.

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