In this article, I’m going to show you how to market your restaurant, coffee shop, or local food service business.
In order to run a successful restaurant business, it comes down to six things:
- Social Media
Let’s get into it.
1. Optimizing your physical location
This is more of a business decision, but important for marketing nonetheless.
You can choose to set up shop in high traffic areas such as a downtown area, but there are downsides that come along with this.
- More expensive
- A lot more competitive
The key, however, is to get people to want to come in and you can do that with attractive interior designing.
There are very simple interior design things that you can do to attract more customers like using a cool sign, a mural, etc.
“Y A ESTE, QUEIN LO INVITO” a clever sign from The Taco Stand (Miami) that says “who invited this guy”?
A great bonus of interior designing is that you can get free advertising.
Dr. Smood is a cafe here in Miami with a lot of space, amazing lighting, and cool stuff on their shelves.
Read the full case study with Dr Smood
They’ve done a great job of making people want to come in and take pictures and create content in there.
As a result, people upload their content on social media and tag the location.
Note: you don’t need to be good at interior designing. Hiring someone (which is well worth it) should get the job done.
2. Don’t forget your product
Honestly, I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this, but I felt I had to add it.
If you run a food service business, serve good food.
I feel the need to say it because, well, so many restaurant serve garbage food.
The quality of your product is what will drive your restaurant’s word of mouth.
You can add a bunch of stuff to your business but if your food isn’t great, your business won’t survive very long.
3. Building a presence on social media
There’s a ton of different social media platforms, but for your restaurant business, all you have to focus on is Instagram.
Don’t overcomplicate things or burn your resources – you need to dominate the platform.
Hire a content creator
The number one hire for a restaurant business isn’t a marketing agency, but actually a content creator.
Content creators capture experiences and photos which they can then send back to your customers for them to share it on their social media.
You are basically taking photos for your customers and giving them the option to take those photos and post it on their social media profiles.
Grow your following through locking your wifi
A lot of restaurants require an email in order to access their wifi, but that doesn’t work too well because people usually put in fake emails.
What you want to do instead is make them follow your Instagram profile in exchange for wifi access.
Even if they unfollow you in the future, the Facebook ad platform allows you to remarket to anyone who has visited your Instagram profile.
Pretty amazing, right?
That means you don’t need to get people to follow you, just to visit your profile. Then you can set up ads to recapture those people in the future with discounts, specials…whatever.
Read more about Instagram remarketing here.
Turn happy customers into promoters
Encourage people to share on social media. You can do that by going around to your customers and simply asking them if they enjoyed their experience.
Here’s a sample conversation:
“Hey, did you enjoy your experience here?”
If yes, you can respond with:
“Great. We’re offering this very special discount where if you come back, we’ll give you 30% off if you post a photo of you being here on Instagram.”
You can also promote coupons or giveaways and have your servers do this.
Give your space to local groups
At the personal level, this is something I wish businesses did more.
I host a monthly networking event for entrepreneurs – we run it out of our office but it’s always overflowing with people.
You can find events like this and offer to host them in your space. It’s a simple process:
- Go to meetup.com
- Find the most popular meetup groups in your area
- Offer to host these meetups for free and let them use space in your restaurant
This allows you to get people into your business for free. They’ll probably buy something while there, but they’ll also be sharing their experience on social media and tagging your space.
Leverage local influencers
They don’t necessarily have to be the most popular ones, but you can work with influencers.
What we did with Dr. Smood (a cafe in Miami) was something we called influencer lunches, where we brought in 5-10 influencers and offered up a platter of food, coffee, etc.
We also brought along a videographer to document the experiences.
View this post on Instagram
Clips from our influencer luncheon @drsmood … So much thought goes into every detail!
After the event we reached out to each influencer who showed up with a thank you note (and a request):
We really appreciate you coming in to our event last week.
Just wanted to let you know we captured some really cool moments of you and made a short video.
I bet it would look really cool on Instagram (just saying…)”
It’s an even exchange – influencers are always looking for content to keep their audiences up to date. Giving them a professionally shot and edited video is a no brainer for them to post.
4. Be present in organic search
When people are searching for a restaurant, they typically search Google for two different queries.
Search query #1
“restaurants near me” or “coffee shop near me.”
Searching this will trigger what’s called the “local maps pack“.
Every day there are dozens of people near you looking for a place to eat – being present here will bring a steady flow of new customers, daily.
This is long process that I don’t want to detail here, so I wrote a full guide here – check it out and leave me some comments there!
One thing I do want to cover here is reviews. They’re critical to getting ranked in the Maps pack, but equally important to converting people.
The number of reviews that you have shows Google that you have an active, popular business. Google wants so showcase the best of the best, so will reviews go along way to increase your performance.
Reviews can be challenging to get, but there’s a number of tactics you can try.
I like to think back on my amazing trip to Madeira, Portgual.
View this post on Instagram
The food was amazing, the service was even better…and the waiters were incredibly forward about asking for positive reviews on TripAdvisor after the meal. They consistently offered a free dessert at most restaurants we ate at.
Honestly, even without the free dessert I was happy to leave one.
If you have a great product and great service, people will be happy to leave you a review.
Don’t feel like you can’t ask.
Search query #2
“best restaurant in [area]” or “best coffee shop in [area]”
Google isn’t going to rank a website here – it’s not a good match for the query.
The searchers will trigger results that are blogs, media articles – anything that’s giving the searcher multiple options to review, from a reputable source.
While you can’t rank your website, you can get featured in these posts – it’s PR 101.
- Make a list of the articles that rank for these keywords
- Find the author, follow them on every social media platform they’re on
- Share their content, like their posts, etc
- Send them a DM or email with a pitch for them to come in and try a few dishes from your menu
- Ask them to include you in that article (or a future one)
This drips perfectly into the next tips…
5. Reach out to press outlets
To get featured on articles and media outlets, all you have to do is…oh wait, I just told you.
You can make it interesting though, by pitching a range of things:
- Tell an interesting story about a really cool product you have or a unique story about your business
- Offer an exchange of value. You can do this by offering a free meal in exchange for a review or a feature on an article
- Offer them payment (frowned upon, but it works)
Everyone loves free stuff, so offering these to articles and media outlets is a great way to get free publicity.
6. Spread your reach with ads
For advertising campaigns, focus solely on Facebook and Instagram ads.
In all honesty, if you get good enough at Instagram ads you can build a business off this.
Facebook owns Instagram (in case you didn’t know), so both placements are available through Facebook ads.
With Facebook ads, you can drop a pin on your business’ location and target people within a certain radius around your location.
Then you can target people within a certain demographic, age, sex, and a bunch of other targeting options.
Again, we can get insanely detailed here, but I want to keep this post more high level.
Read this post if you want to dive deep into Facebook Advertising strategy.
Wrapping It Up
Running any business is difficult, and a restaurant is no exception.
If I missed anything or if you have any questions, drop a comment below and I’ll reach out to you as soon as I can.