How to Market Your Restaurant: Socially Savvy and Savory

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color cutleryMarketing your new business is crucial. You don’t want to end up like those restaurants that go out of business right as people are beginning to realize they exist. Making a big splash in the market right away ensures that people will at least know you’re open for business and have you in the back of their minds next time they’re deciding where to eat.

Great marketing requires creativity because you need to connect your business with the customer base in your area, and not every customer base is the same. While phonebook and newspaper ads are a go-to form of advertising, they should by no means be your only methods, especially since hardly anyone is reading the newspaper or looking in a phonebook nowadays anyways.

Every advertising dollar you consider spending should be compared to the number of prospective customers that can be reached, and when you follow that formula, you will realize that the cost of buying print ads is not necessarily the best way to go.

When it comes to distributing flyers and menus in the community, it’s best to stick to your immediate area, at least initially. It’s easy for new businesses to invest their entire advertising budget on a million flyers and pass them out from here to Timbuktu, but it usually won’t draw in the herds of customers you are expecting. It’s best to focus this kind of marketing to the lunch crowd in the vicinity of your business such as offices and shops where you think employees might leave for lunch.

A better way to market your restaurant is to actually set up as a vendor at community events like festivals, fairs, and celebrations. You can get the maximum public exposure while actually making money, a win-win. Just offer a few simple options and make sure it tastes awesome. If you aren’t up for being a vendor, consider just showing up to pass out menus and possibly bite sized samples of something from your restaurant.

Good press is a great way to market your business and can be ridiculously easy to get. You don’t have to bribe the newspaper to announce your opening. If you know that a charity event is going on in your community, offer to show up and cater it for free. You will most likely end up on the evening news in a very positive spotlight.

Last but not least, the internet should be your advertising best friend. Any reputable restaurant should have a website with their menu on it. Most people look up restaurants on their cell phones, so you want to do everything possible to make your business searchable online. Facebook is a great way to connect to the community, but be prepared to put some effort into your page or it will have no effect. You should post interesting updates relating to your business as well as the community as a whole so people actually want to visit your page. You may even want to hire someone to do this for you. You should offer Facebook coupons to encourage “likes” which will inevitably spread the word about your business through social circles. Contests are also a great marketing technique that will encourage people to visit your Facebook page and generate interest in your restaurant.

Great marketing is not just about letting people know you exist, but also making your business seem relevant in the community. Since no two communities are the same, you really need to think outside of the box to determine the best strategy for you, but with these basic suggestions you should be able to get a great start.

Last modified: April 22, 2013
Sasha Smith


This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.

Category: internet marketing, marketing, MPR Authored, Restaurants, Small Business, Small Business Corner, small business owners, social media, tips

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