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Ultimate Restaurant Marketing Guide

The best restaurant marketing guide giving small restaurant business owners the skills to increase traffic, grab the attention of their desired customers, and boost their sales.

Our Ultimate Restaurant Marketing Guide

Hello there, restaurant owner! Feeling frustrated about not getting enough customers through your doors, visitors to your website, and turning into revenue?

Our clients have been there, too! And it’s super frustrating!

Many restaurant owners struggle with low foot and web traffic, customers not finding them online, and low sales.

Get A FREE Consultation!

Do you want a FREE 30-minute consultation to discuss your business marketing needs? Learn how we can increase your traffic to earn higher-quality customers and convert them into sales!

That’s why I created this ultimate restaurant marketing guide that will guide you into boosting your foot and web traffic alike.

After applying most if not all the restaurant marketing ideas, you’ll feel confident, relieved, and prosperous.

Introducing…

The Ultimate Restaurant Marketing Guide.

This guide is exclusively designed for restaurant owners like yourself. We at Four Peaks SEO want to eliminate your frustration.

And this guide will help you do just that!

1. High-Quality Food Photography

High Quality Food Photography - Restaurant Marketing - Four Peaks SEO

Have you ever logged on to Instagram and browsed through all the “food porn”? High-quality foodie photos is arguably the best way to promote your restaurant online. 

Visual content is in high-demand in 2019, and going into 2020 as well. 

Post mouth-watering photos on your website and across all social media channels for drawing in the hungriest of customers.

You don’t need to hire a professional photographer to pull this off. Thankfully, the latest smartphones are nearly just as good.

Keep in mind that lighting is a key factor in. Use the popular top down for certain dishes or get close to fill the entire frame. The trick here is to see all the mouth-watering, little details.

Learn more about how to take a perfect food photo in this Gizmodo article.

2. Using Instagram for Effective Restaurant Marketing

Using Instagram for Effective Restaurant Marketing - Four Peaks SEO

Did you know that pizza is the most popular Instagrammed food, with sushi and chicken taking 2nd and 3rd place, respectively? (Source)

One of the most powerful methods for attracting attention to your restaurant is connecting with other food bloggers on Instagram. Food bloggers on Instagram are skillful in boosting business for restaurants.

Use food bloggers to your advantage by taking high-quality photos of your most popular dishes and tag them in the photo. The rule of thumb here is to connect with food bloggers with around 20,000 to 50,000 followers.

Sadly, many restaurants do not allow customers to take photos, which, frankly, doesn’t make sense. Allowing  your customers to take photos of your food, the decor, and other elements is practically free marketing. One of the greatest benefits in this is they “geo-tag” your business location, letting a wider audience know where you’re located.

Many restaurants conduct photo contests for their customers, which we will get into in a bit.

Take advantage of hashtags. Hashtags will increase your search results on Instagram which then in turn increases visibility for your business. Use the most frequently used hashtags in addition to location based tags for greater visibility.

Some popular food related hashtags on Instagram include:

  • #Foodie (47 million)
  • #Foodporn (104 million)
  • #Foodgasm (21 million)
  • #Food (195 million)

“Regramming” is a good practice, too. It is the concept of reposting an image or video on your account. Best practice includes tagging the original author of that post. This is an amazing strategy for restaurant owners.

You can use reposting software like “Repost for Instagram”, “Video Saver for Instagram” and others to accomplish this.

An additional benefit to reposting is that all their Instagram followers will see the repost. This means their friends will be more likely to check out your brand.

Another great restaurant marketing with Instagram method is to interact with your customers. Always interact with them because they are more likely to return to your restaurant if you’re lively, and engaging. The same is true for both online and offline. Interacting with your customers or audience shows your dedication for valued customer service, creating a positive image for your restaurant.

Lastly, use the “business tools” for your Instagram account to better understand what content receives most engagement, when to post, and more.

3. Leverage the Power of Facebook & Twitter

Leverage the Power of Facebook & Twitter - Four Peaks SEO

It goes without saying that social media marketing strategies are an undeniable force in today’s world. Slipping pamphlets and delivery menus under doorways just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Any restaurant with a strong social media presence as part of their restaurant marketing plan often fare the best. So ignoring social media in 2019, and in 2020, is like a death sentence.

Create a Facebook business page and a Twitter account. Share special discounts, exclusive coupons, information about events, photos of your latest dishes, and more.

Setting up these accounts is only half the battle. It is crucial to have a posting schedule that is consistent and on par with when your audience engages with your content the most.

Utilize the power of both free and paid social media management tools.

Here’s a couple free options:

  • HootSuite: A one-stop dashboard for keeping tabs on all your social media networks. You can create custom streams, schedule posts, and more.
  • Buffer: Buffer makes it easy to find, schedule, and share articles across your networks. Staying active and posting valuable articles (that your fan base will enjoy) is key for social success.

If you want to manually manage when you post content on Facebook and want to use a free content tool, I highly recommend using Canva. Canva is a great tool for creating a personal brand with. You can create content for email headers, newsletters, social media profiles, blogs, and so much more.

Rule of thumb for all social media profiles: make sure all sections are thoroughly filled out and all images are crisp, clean, describing who you are. Just like your Google My Business listing, include your business name, phone number, and address. If you have a website, include that as well.

The more information your customers have to find and know you by, the better.

Twitter has a similar process to Instagram as well. Share the right content with the appropriate hashtags and more to increase visibility. Use Twitter’s business tools to learn more about your audience.

4. Run Photo Contests to Increase Engagement and Personal Branding

Run Photo Contests to Increase Engagement and Personal Branding - Four Peaks SEO

Photo contests are a popular medium among restaurant owners and food bloggers across various social media platforms.

You can start by asking customers to share a photo of their favorite meal at your restaurant.

Share these photos as entries on a dedicated contest page on your website. Then, share the content to all of your social media channels to increase engagement and visibility.

Award the lucky contestants with a free appetizer or other prizes!

Running photo contests shows customers you appreciate them, turning them from casual visitors to brand loyal customers.

LET US HELP YOUR RESTAURANT GROW!

Running a restaurant is hard enough as it is. And you don’t always have the time or know-how to market your restaurant. That’s where we come in. Let us be your guide in helping you reach your restaurant marketing goals!

5. Food Blogger Outreach

Food Blogger Outreach - Four Peaks SEO

It’s tough as it is running a restaurant, but it’s more rough when you’re a new restaurant with not a lot of reviews, if any at all. You might be finding it difficult to generate reviews, getting enough press.

That is where food bloggers come in.

Invite food bloggers to your restaurant to give you a try. Offer a free meal or appetizer or maybe a discount to get them in the door. Politely ask them to leave a review and share their experience online.

Keep in mind you can not directly ask for a positive review. It is okay however to ask for an objective restaurant review. This tactic may not always work but the more you ask, the greater your chances.

Some food bloggers have large followings on social media so getting their attention can mean have a positive influence on your restaurant.

6. Customer Loyalty Program & Apps

Customer Loyalty Program & Apps - Four Peaks SEO

Doesn’t matter if you’re new or have been around for 10 years, partnering with an online food app should always be a consideration for your restaurant marketing plan. Partnering with online apps encourages visitors to check out your restaurant via customer loyalty programs. These loyalty programs should offer visitors a free drink or appetizer or discount for visiting a certain amount of times.

Think of it like that stamp card.

Here are a few popular loyalty program apps you can use today:

If you want to keep your loyalty program nice and simple, just opt in for old school hand out punch cards. Not as awesome as apps, but they’re just as valuable, showing your customers how much you appreciate their loyalty.

7. Business Card Giveaways

Business Card Giveaways - Four Peaks SEO

More commonly known as “Fish Bowl Business Card Giveaways”, lets customers drop their business cards into a bowl for a raffle. Rewards can vary i.e. lunch for the winner and 5 friends, discounted drinks or food, whatever you’d like!

Here’s the kicker: you can use the email addresses from the business cards to email those who didn’t win to sign up for your newsletter. This way they can be notified of upcoming events, contests, learn more about discounts and more.

Voila!

You now have yourself valuable newsletter subscribers!

Which brings us to our next section!

8. Send Your Visitors an Email Newsletter

Send Your Visitors an Email Newsletter - Four Peaks SEO

Let’s turn those business cards and loyalty programs into valuable email newsletter subscribers!

Quick tip: Never flood your subscribers inbox.

Your email newsletter can be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, whenever you choose. Use email newsletters to celebrate your success, promote new menu items, events, and more.

We use MailChimp for our email newsletter but go with one that best suits your needs. Here is a list of the top 10 most popular email newsletter software:

We use Canva to create custom images for our email newsletters and more.

9. Create a Restaurant Blog

Create a Restaurant Blog - Four Peaks SEO

Email newsletters are wonderful but a restaurant blog can be just as powerful, if not more than. It’s also a great way to build a community and engage with your customers.

Blogging allows you to define your restaurants brand identity, voice, and more. Have routine announcements? Blog about them! Want to show off an event or share new recipes? You know what to do!

Pro tip: Connect your email newsletter subscribers with your restaurant blog updates as well for more traffic and engagement.

Here are some quick tips for types of posts you can include in your restaurant blog:

  • Share Successes and Struggles
  • Funny Stories
  • Menu Recipes
  • Event Promotions
  • Anything You Feel Will Engage Your Customers

You can keep your blog as simple or complex as you’d like.

When building your restaurant blog, keep these in mind:

  • Quality Over Quantity
    • No need to create 20 posts per month
    • 3 – 5 per month are just as effective as 20
  • Your restaurant blog must be mobile-friendly
    • If it’s difficult to read or engage with, your visitors or customers won’t care about it.
  • Must load in under 3 seconds on desktop, mobile, and tablets!
    • I can’t stress this enough how important this is!

Next, have a functional, sleek, online menu!

10. Have a Sleek, Functional Online Menu

Have a Sleek, Functional Online Menu - Four Peaks SEO

When people search online for a business, they’re just doing research first. Your visitors will do the same before ordering from or visiting your restaurant.

If your visitors can’t find a menu, it’s low-quality, or out of date and not accurate, you just lost precious business.

Make sure your online menu is:

  • Easy to read
  • High-quality
  • Up to date & Accurate

We recommend using Open Menu to help build and publish your online menu for FREE. Open Menu does have affordable, paid monthly options as well that’s worth looking into. Additionally, Open Menu comes with the ability to publish your menu on social media no matter your plan, free or paid.

From our experience and data alike, visitors view your online menu FIRST before looking at other pages or content. Next, they’re looking at when you’re open, where you’re located, and contact information.

Don’t have or want an online menu? Well, without it, the majority of these other tips will render useless.

In 2019, and going into 2020, customers need an online menu. Otherwise, they’ll take their business elsewhere.

Now you have an online menu and your visitors want to make a reservation. What now?

LET US HELP YOUR RESTAURANT GROW!

Running a restaurant is hard enough as it is. And you don’t always have the time or know-how to market your restaurant. That’s where we come in. Let us be your guide in helping you reach your restaurant marketing goals!

11. Use An Online Reservation Tool

Use An Online Reservation Tool - Four Peaks SEO

Alright, so your visitors have checked out your menu, they’re hungry, and your business requires reservations first. What now?

Consider signing up for OpenTable.

OpenTable is an online reservation tool allowing customers to book reservations through your restaurant website or blog.

Customers want something simple so give it to them by signing up for OpenTable.

Pro Tip: Include a link to your online reservation tool in your Google My Business listing as well!

12. Partner Up With Delivery Services

Partner Up With Delivery Services - Four Peaks SEO

Like I said, customers want you to make their lives easier. So, ease-of-use is the name of the game! Consider partnering up with an online delivery service to streamline the ordering process. This is a largely untapped market despite the number of available delivery apps today.

Just a few examples of online delivery services:

Each have their own benefits, costs, etc. so do your research to determine what’s going to be the best fit for your business.

DoorDash Partner fees can range from 10-25% depending on the restaurant and market they’re operating in. The delivery fee charged to the customer is on average between $5-$8. The average fee goes to the driver.

UberEats and Postmates charges 15-30% per order.

One added benefit is some customers may discover your restaurant through any one of these listed apps.

13. Show Off Your Staff

Show Off Your Staff - Four Peaks SEO

Despite automated phone calls, reps, and self-driving cars, the vast majority of us still want that special human element. Show off your staff doing what they do best: serving your customers an exceptional experience.

People want to see happy, smiling employees. And it does wonders for your restaurant’s reputation.

Happy workers says A LOT about a restaurant. Your fans will sure take notice.

14. Get A Food Truck

Get A Food Truck - Four Peaks SEO

Starting a food truck is a wonderful way to expand your restaurant’s reach to people you may normally never considering reaching out to. This helps build more press, build a community, get some new fans, and more.

Something to keep in mind though: a food truck isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be an extremely expensive endeavour but can still work out for your restaurant in the long term also.

15. Source Local Ingredients

Source Local Ingredients - Four Peaks SEO

Over the last decade, people looking for “fresh” or “local” ingredients has been on the rise. Sourcing local ingredients can help boost your loyalty base, giving your restaurant a needed positive reputation in the community.

Sure, farm fresh ingredients can often be more expensive than some other options but its value pays off quickly.

Now let’s get into the more technical details.

16. Set up Google Alerts

Set up Google Alerts - Four Peaks SEO

Google Alerts notifies you when your restaurant name or other relevant keyword appears in a new piece of content on the internet. Basically, see who’s talking about your restaurant.

When your restaurant pops up in others feeds, you can quickly do a “shout out” message to show thanks or respond (positively) to negative reviews.

17. Build Some Business Directories like Yelp

Build Some Business Directories like Yelp - Four Peaks SEO

Yelp LOVES the restaurant industry. It’s arguably the best directory service for restaurants.

People can and will review your restaurant even if you don’t have an account. As a restaurant, it’s extremely important to set up an official Yelp account.

Add the following information in full to stand out more:

  • Restaurant Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Online Menu
  • Price Range(s)
  • Photos (Lot’s of ‘em)
  • Events
    • Live Music
    • Sports
    • Paint Nights
    • Whatever it may be
  • Features
    • Wi-Fi
    • Outdoor Seating
    • Parking

The more details, the better.

It is also highly recommended to add the exact same information when setting up accounts on white pages, yellow pages, Google My Business listing, and more.

18. Create & Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

Create & Optimize Your Google My Business Listing - Four Peaks SEO

I can not stress this enough how important having a Google My Business (GMB) listing is. 

A GMB listing is a free business profile on Google which helps you reach and engage with visitors through Google Search, Google Images, and Google Maps.

Your optimized restaurant website/blog and business directories must all have the same information, without fail. Each site will work hand-in-hand with each other for better Local SEO results.

Similar to Yelp, visitors can and will post reviews in your Google My Business listing. We highly recommend responding to each and every review, no matter if it’s positive or negative. It is imperative to respond to every single negative review.

Get our FREE guide on how to completely optimize your Google My Business listing for positive results.

19. Reviews – Respond to ALL Positive & Negative Reviews

Reviews - Respond to ALL Positive & Negative Reviews - Four Peaks SEO

Reviews are going to happen for any business – that’s a given. As we research a business, we’re more likely to judge a business based on its reviews, especially negative reviews. What’s more is people will judge your restaurant based on HOW you respond to negative reviews as well.

Quick tip: Always be professional, graceful when responding to negative reviews.

Always be professional and graceful when responding to both positive and negative reviews. If it’s negative, thank the reviewer for their feedback, apologize for the incident, and offer them a benefit for returning to your restaurant.

A powerful response is also offering them a way to privately contact your restaurant for more information. Some restaurant owners will offer gift cards as an incentive for the customers return.

Most times, people are flattered by custom (not cookie-cutter) responses to their negative reviews. This shows them how valued their opinion is and are more likely to return even without an added benefit for doing so.

Have a positive review?

Thank the reviewer by being professional and graceful.

Share that awesome review on social media as well.

Again, you can not directly ask for a positive review. It is okay however to ask for an objective restaurant review. This tactic may not always work but the more you ask, the greater your chances.

20. Run Some Online Ads (Google, Facebook, Instagram)

Run Some Online Ads (Google, Facebook, Instagram) - Four Peaks SEO

When I say online ads I mean geo-targeted ads. More specifically, local ads. Running local ads helps you to save money and only targets your customers in specific areas near your restaurant.

Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) is a popular platform for getting attention from Google Search.

Facebook Ads (now integrated with Instagram Ads) allows you to target your visitors on Facebook and Instagram both.

Both Google and Facebook Ads allow you to set a specific radius relative to your restaurant location which helps save money, time, and effort.

When you run optimized Google Ads, the ad will appear at the top of search engines for a given search term or phrase. For Facebook Ads, they’ll appear in the Facebook News Feed.

We also specialize in creating and managing both Google and Facebook Ads. Get in contact with us today to learn more.

LET US HELP YOUR RESTAURANT GROW!

Running a restaurant is hard enough as it is. And you don’t always have the time or know-how to market your restaurant. That’s where we come in. Let us be your guide in helping you reach your restaurant marketing goals!

21. Text-Message Marketing

Text-Message Marketing - Four Peaks SEO

Text-Message Marketing is a little bit wild because it hasn’t been around for too long just yet, BUT it is powerful!

“Text message marketing – or SMS marketing – is the act of sending coupons, special deals, announcements, current events and other information to your customers via text message. In short, SMS marketing is simply a quicker, easier and direct way of reaching your customer.” – Blue Compass

The average American checks their phone every 12 minutes. That’s nearly 80 times per day. Compared to email marketing, text-message marketing open rate is a whopping 98%!

Simply put, text-message marketing has the best engagement rate of 90%, is a trackable platform, it’s interactive, allows you to add a personal touch, and so much more.

Here’s an example of text-message marketing (which we might have seen once or twice before):

“Text “FLAVORS” to 123456 for our flavor of the day!”

Use this to your advantage for your restaurant if you’re promoting happy-hour, an event, a new menu item, gift cards, etc. Additionally you can talk about coupons, run drip campaigns, run polls, contests, and more.

It’s a pretty easy concept – practically similar to email marketing.

A few popular text-message marketing platforms are:

22. Spread The Word With Local Media

Spread The Word With Local Media - Four Peaks SEO

Yes, we are in the digital age and there’s no sign of slowing down any time soon, but your local newspapers and radio stations are still as relevant.

Just like Google or Facebook Ads, take an ad out with your local newspaper or radio station with an attractive offer. Offers such as discounts or free appetizers/drinks and more especially effective. Spread these vouchers with other local businesses as well.

Additionally, get involved with your local schools and events. Offer a discount for ticket holders for dinner after the event or show.

Is there a holiday coming up? Celebrate with holiday themed drinks and food.

More awareness equals more customers.

23. Offer Your Employees Cash Rewards

Offer Your Employees Cash Rewards - Four Peaks SEO

Who doesn’t want a little extra cash in their pockets? Your employees especially want to get some extra cash.

Motivate your employees with cash rewards!

Highly Persuasive has the right idea for motivating your wait staff:

“Offer your wait staff a cash reward to sell every dish on the menu, generate the highest revenue per table or focus on pushing essential menu items with high-profit margins.

Employee incentives can be a great way to generate higher value orders and profit margins by providing strong motivation for hourly employees to sell more.”

24. Video Marketing Is Crucial As Well

Video Marketing Is Crucial As Well - Four Peaks SEO

We highly recommend using short, enticing video posts on Facebook to drive traffic and engagement. Your Facebook users are looking to be entertained because they’re on a social platform. And video has quickly become the go-to post type for increasing engagement among Facebook users.

For example, video views doubled from 4 billion to 8 billion from April to May 2015.

I myself am guilty of watching random videos for longer than I care to admit.

A couple of tips for driving video engagement for your restaurant:

  • Keep it short and sweet
    • 30-60 seconds
    • Some content only requires 10-15 seconds
  • Have a visually engaging thumbnail

In short, video marketing influences people’s purchasing decisions. The same is true for restaurants.

Conclusion

Use this guide to your benefit as it is all tried and true methods from the last ten years.

It has helped drive traffic, engagement, and an increase in sales for our restaurant clients. Let this guide help you do the same for your restaurant as well.

At Four Peaks SEO, we specialize in all marketing methods listed in this guide. Feel free to reach out to us to learn more about how we can help market your business to the online world, today.

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