Often, restaurant owners end up spending too much on marketing without getting great results. During some months, marketing efforts can even seem to have crossed the profits the restaurant made. Why? It all comes down to the wrong tactics.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go through all of that. Even with a small budget, you can create an outstanding marketing campaign if you know what to do. There are numerous ways to market your restaurant without even spending any money.
You shouldn’t limit your marketing efforts just because of a small marketing budget. All you need is the right strategy and creativity to effectively market with little investment and enjoy major success.
Let’s have a look at some effective strategies for inexpensive marketing for restaurants:
Get Your Restaurant on Google
The first thing you need to do is ensure your restaurant is on Google map. Google My Business is one of the best zero-budget marketing ideas that you should not ignore. The first thing your potential customers do is look up a restaurant on Google.
Having a Google listing is a must for any business. You should include your accurate address, contact details, ordering hours, and other details to make it easier for your customers to find you. It takes very little time to create a Google listing with absolutely no investment.
Show Off the Dishes
Food pictures are an ongoing trend on social media with thousands of hashtags that are food-related. Having high-quality pictures of your food is a marketing strategy you can’t ignore. These pictures will show your potential customers what they can enjoy when they come to your restaurant or order online.
There are multiple styles of photography you can use. If you can take good pictures of the food then you don’t have to spend the budget on professional photography. However, if your budget allows, it is wiser to hire a professional to take good pictures of your food.
Post these pictures on your social media with relevant hashtags and don’t forget to add them to your website.
Stay Active on Social Media
Building an online community and enhancing engagement on social media is a completely free way of marketing your business while maintaining the personality of your restaurant. Communicating with your existing and potential customers also helps in building trust.
Start by creating business accounts for your restaurant in the leading social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. After creating the profile, it is important that you stay active on all platforms. Here are a few things you can do:
- Share pictures of your restaurant and food to show what the customers can enjoy
- Promote the blogs you post on your website on these platforms to increase traffic on the website
- Ask questions or share advice to initiate dialog with the followers and increase engagement
- Request feedback and run polls
- Create shorter captions by taking information from the blogs
- Create videos of the food and other interesting food facts
This is certainly one of the best low-budget restaurant promotion ideas as it increases engagement and promotes your brand without much investment. However, be sure to be committed and consistent in the process to stay active.
Encourage Customers to Post Reviews
There are numerous customer review websites that list and rate restaurants based on the reviews. Getting good reviews of these websites and on Google can work as free promotions. Ask the happy customers to leave a review on your Facebook page and these websites.
Keep in mind that these websites might also contain negative reviews from customers but don’t run away from them. Instead, identify the problem and concern of the customer, apologize for the inconvenience, determine if the problem can be fixed to offer a solution, and request them to give you another chance to provide them with a better experience.
Other customers would notice the professional way you handled the situation and consider it a positive point for you. Being on top of the reviews will show customers that you do care and are willing to make things better for your customers.
Target Local SEO
Targeting local SEO is another effective low-cost marketing idea for small restaurants. The great element of Google’s algorithm is its focus on providing relevant, high-quality, and accurate content for the search results. You can benefit from this by incorporating local SEO in your marketing content.
Local SEO can be done free of cost but it takes time and effort to enjoy the rewards. The benefits can be massive if you do it the right way. You can always consult a professional to guide you. If you prefer to do it on your own, here are a few things to consider:
- Publish blogs and posts that are specific to the location and area your restaurant is based in.
- Get your restaurant listed in online directories, ensure all the details are accurate.
- Add keywords that are location-based in the body, headings, and titles of the content your post on your website.
Publish Informative Videos
Publishing informative and entertaining videos is another great affordable restaurant advertising idea that can increase the marketing and promotion efforts of your restaurant. Videos are highly popular across multiple platforms. DIY videos make for extremely popular content on social media.
You can show some recipes of drinks, desserts and appetizers or ways to set a table in these videos to gain the interest of your target audience. Videos are a great way to provide informative content to the users and gain engagement on your posts.
It helps in striking a connection with your target audience. Here are a few ideas:
- How-to and instructional videos
- Behind the scenes of your restaurant
- Short interview with your chefs and other staff
- Slideshows of customer testimonials and images of popular items on the menu
Be sure to add a branding message and the logo of the restaurant in the videos. Always finish with a call to action, like come visit our restaurant or place your online order today. Share these videos on all your social media platforms and emails.
Make Your Employees Brand Ambassadors
Word-of-mouth is an important marketing strategy for many small restaurants to boost their sales. Getting referrals from family and friends plays a major role in the decision-making process of individuals. How can you use this strategy? By encouraging your employees to become brand ambassadors.
You can benefit a lot by tapping into their networks. Your employees already have an interest in enhancing your business, making it a great opportunity to promote your restaurant through them.
Consider offering an exclusive discount to the family and friends of employees once in a while. Encourage your employees to share the social media profiles of the restaurant with their network. When your employees start tagging people, sharing posts and the status of the restaurant, it can certainly reach a wider audience than you can anticipate.
Establish an Email Marketing Plan
Email marketing is one of the most effective low-budget marketing ideas for your restaurant. It is a great means of increasing engagement and building relationships with your customers. While email marketing isn’t a new idea, it is still considered a reliable one.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating an email marketing plan:
- Subject lines should be creative and unique
- Each email should be informative and encourage the reader to go to your website
- Regularly monitor the progress of the campaign and run A/B testing
Host a Giveaway or Contest
Another great way of marketing your restaurant is by hosting a contest or giveaways on social media. It requires minimal resources and is highly effective. You can either offer a free meal or a nice prize for the winner but the number of people who participate will increase your potential leads.
You can utilize any type of contest or competition on social media. The main goal is to gain more tags, follows, and likes for your business to promote your restaurant name to potential customers.
You can broaden your reach on social media without spending any money by using the right hashtags on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more. Trending hashtags can assist you in promoting your brand identity but be sure to include other hashtags too.
Include location-based hashtags to reach a higher number of your target market. You can use short-tail and long-tail keywords on posts that offer advice or tips. Use multiple hashtags and ensure that all of them are relevant to your restaurant.
Offer Loyalty Programs
Offering royalty or loyalty programs to your customers is one of the most effective small restaurant marketing ideas that won’t cost you too much. It is cheaper to do marketing efforts on a repeat customer than to get a new one, which is why loyalty programs work well.
Loyalty programs include giving a free drink, dish, or dessert away to customers on their next trip. Many restaurants create loyalty cards in which customers get certain points for ordering in and once they have sufficient points, they can enjoy a free meal.
You can come up with your own idea following the basic one to encourage customers to return to your restaurant.
Having a small budget for your marketing plan doesn’t mean you can’t make big progress. There are so many unique restaurant promotion ideas you can utilize that are affordable and even free! You can create a cost-effective and simple marketing plan using these tips to generate more business.
You can also use MenuCRM to automate the process and make it easier for you and your staff. You can make MenuCRM your online ordering system, your restaurant website, customer communication system, CRM, and even a loyalty platform. It provides full features that can simplify processes for independent restaurant owners.