Opening a new restaurant can be a thrilling endeavor, and each new restaurant entrepreneur starts with the best intentions of making the business a success. There are quite a few challenges with running a restaurant, including marketing, to ensure the business grows, but how can a small business owner effectively market their establishment while trying to run a restaurant?  We’ve gathered a few tried and true restaurant marketing ideas to bring in more customers.

Interesting facts about opening and running a restaurant to consider

restaurant factsAs with any small business, restaurant owners face a lot of challenges. Regardless of whether you just opened your doors or have been in business for years, the restaurant industry is a tough one, and competition is fierce. Here are a few fun facts to consider regarding restaurants:

  • Over 1 million restaurants in the US in 2019.
  • 90% of guests check out a restaurant online before eating there.
  • A one-star increase on Yelp can drive a restaurant’s profit by up to 9%.
  • 91% of restaurant-goers had visited a restaurant they’d never been to, based on a friend’s recommendation.
  • 75% of diners would avoid a place their friends said was terrible.
  • 80% of restaurant-goes will visit a new location if they have a coupon or discount code

What do all of these statistics have in common?  Marketing! Whether its social media marketing, local search marketing, word of mouth marketing, or email marketing, all these tactics can work together to bring in more customers. Let’s drill down a few marketing areas that are especially effective for restaurant marketers.

Social media marketing

restaurant social mediaRegardless of what industry you’re in, you need to be leveraging social media marketing. However, this is even more so the case for restaurants. Think about it:  how many times have you been to a restaurant and watched people take pictures of their food?  Maybe you’ve even done it yourself! The main product of a restaurant is its food, and food is visual. People love the foodie pictures! Food porn is alive and well on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and every other social media platform out there. What’s golden about social media and restaurants is that you can have an army of “marketers” doing the work for you, uploading pictures of your food to social sites. Of course, you also want to post your own pictures for your restaurant, as well. Take advantage of how powerful this network is. That also goes for checking in on social channels like Facebook, Swarm, etc. Encourage patrons to check-in and post their presence online. Here are a few platforms, in particular, to pay attention to:


Use Instagram to promote your restaurant’s best visual content. Show off the restaurant interior or showcase a few of your top dishes. Be sure to get creative with hashtags – whether using existing popular Twitter hashtags like #FoodFriday or inventing your own, hashtags are a great way to have some fun with restaurant fans online.


Facebook still has a vast audience, so ignore the naysayers that claim it’s on its way out. Facebook allows you to create and grow a community online where people can watch and post pictures, videos, and other content. Be sure to show people the culture of your restaurant; let them learn about your employees, so they feel like they’re one of your regulars before they step foot in your restaurant.


Compared to other industries on Twitter, Twitter users have the highest engagement with restaurants. Twitter is a live feed to your followers. Here are a couple of ways to use Twitter to market your restaurant:

  • Ask for feedback from guests
  • Promote a sudden menu special just for Twitter followers.
  • Give “insiders” a special deal just for following you
  • Reward people for retweeting your posts

Twitter is great for last-minute enticements to get people into your restaurant. There are many other platforms that restaurants can take advantage of. One of the most important reasons a restaurant should have social media accounts is communicating with customers. Social media helps you to keep in touch and build a personal connection with your customers.

Local search marketing

restaurant local searchLocal search is the use of search engines that allow users to submit geographically targeted searches of local business listings. Local search searches include not only information about “what” the site visitor is searching for, such as keywords, a business category, or the name of a consumer product, but also “where” information, such as a street address, city name, or zip code.

Google My Business

 People must be able to find your restaurant, so embrace Google My Business.  This is entirely about giving Google the best information possible about your business in their “yellow pages” directory, keeping the profile updated and active, and enabling Google to match queries with the best results.

Bing Places and Yahoo Maps

 Just like Google My Business, Bing Places, and Yahoo Maps helps potential customers find local restaurants like yours, view maps and get driving directions to your establishment. Make sure you’re on there with all your correct information, as well as some enticing photos and other information, so people have every reason to visit you.

Word of mouth marketing

Also known as referral marketing, word of mouth can make or break a restaurant, so be sure to encourage people to share their opinions about your restaurant with their friends.


Be sure to claim your business listing on Yelp. Why?  You won’t be able to add additional information about your business, correct any inaccurate information, or reply to reviews if you haven’t claimed your profile. Chances are, you’re already on Yelp; you need to claim your business. Once you’ve claimed your profile, showcase your business. Showcase photos of your menu items or daily specials or even the interiors of your restaurant to attract potential customers. Respond to customer reviews. Then, get a little creative by offering a check-in special for people on Yelp. Yelp provides a cool check-in button to businesses on the platform. When a user checks-in to a restaurant on Yelp, other users who are their friends can see this on their feed. Entice people that check-in with a freebie, discount, or simply a shout out.

Encourage people to share their opinions and spread the word but NEVER pay them to do so; that can get you in a world of trouble, and people can spot a phony review from a mile away.

Email marketing

restaurant couponEmail marketing is not dead. It’s alive and well, and people continue to depend on email to receive offers they might be interested in, so why not set up an email campaign that offers discounts and coupons?  Or you can use email to announce a new menu item, a special or an event you’re having at the restaurant. Remember, people consume information in different ways, so don’t just depend on your website or social presence to get the word out. Send the information to them to keep your customers in the know. Unsure if email marketing is right for your restaurant?  Check out these email stats by OptinMonster:

  • In the US alone, over 90% of adults use email.
  • The ROI of email is 28.5% better than for direct mail marketing.
  • Every dollar you spend on email marketing brings you $38 in return.

These are just a few restaurant marketing ideas to help grow your business. Don’t have time to implement these suggestions on your own? Strategic Marketing Services can help! Reach out to us to see how we can create a comprehensive restaurant marketing strategy to help your business grow.

Patty Hughes
Follow Us!