In 2020, restaurant marketing is a difficult landscape to navigate. By now I am sure all of you have been told: get on social media, get a website, use a customer loyalty program, pay for advertisements, etc. These are all tried and true basic methods of driving business, but if you want to be more than average, there are a few tricks you can try to set your business apart from the crowd. Here are 5 restaurant marketing tips that will elevate your game.

1. Google My Business – One of the most powerful tools out there for marketing restaurants are free and easy to set-up through Google. Google My Business is becoming important industry wide and helps locals discover businesses that are in their local area. It also helps customers make decisions with the ability to read reviews of past guests. Visitors don’t have to visit your website to find out information like directions, phone number, hours of operation, etc. Being able to interact and learn about your business within the Google platform helps build trust in a matter of minutes.

How To Setup A Google My Business Account
Go to the Google My Business website and sign in at the top-right corner (you may need to create one)
Enter in your business’ address
Choose if you would like your business to show up on Maps
Search and select a business category
Enter your website URL and phone number and select finish
You will then be prompted to verify your business. You may choose to skip this for now but it is essential that you complete it.

Diners love to do research online – in fact, 89% of consumers research a restaurant online prior to dining. This is why it’s of vital importance that all your restaurant details are online and up-to-date, including address, phone number & hours. The stronger and more accurate your online details are, the better.

2. Get in the Media – With the rise of sponsored content and paid social media influencers, earned media doesn’t end up in most marketing plans, but a well written feel-good story or prominent seasonal event coverage can be powerful business driving tools. Do you have an employee with an extraordinary story? Do you participate in a popular community event? What is your stance on local political matters? Send it in to your local newspapers, radio & television stations. Remember, it doesn’t need to be breaking news to be newsworthy. When you get coverage of any kind, be sure to show off your good publicity on your website and via social media. Fans will spread the word, and newcomers will be encouraged to visit in person when they see trusted sources celebrating your restaurant.

3. Make sure your menu is online – If you don’t have a good menu online and available for customers, most of your other restaurant marketing strategies are basically useless! Don’t make users scramble to find your menu – publish a high-quality, easy to read menu that is up to date and accurate. you’ll want to make sure to have your menu published on your website and any other promotional site that will allow it, since that’s often the #1 piece of information users are looking for (along with hours, location, and contact info). In this day and age customers need to have access to an online menu, otherwise they’ll simply look elsewhere.

4. Be social about your social media – Often times, people think social media marketing lives entirely online, this is leaving money on the table. By merging online and offline experiences, brands stand out against the noise of a saturated digital landscape. Instead of relying on your customers to interact with your brand on their own, simply asking them for a follow or to share a post of their meal can go a long way. When interacting with your customers in person, do not be shy to promote what happens online. Here are some suggestion:
Print social media channels on the bottom of menus and table ads
Hold hashtag contests and offer prizes
Offer discounts for sharing meals online
promote customer content on your social channels in exchange
Experiential marketing and in-store interactions leave a long and lasting impression on shoppers, while digital tactics build that relationship beyond the initial experience.

5. Support the community – This one is a real win/win situation. Nothing tells your customers you mean business like supporting the community. Whatever you’re doing for the community, whether it is helping the elderly, sponsoring a little league team or picking up trash in the park, your brand will make a lasting impact on those around you. Community involvement is directly tied to the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR is more than just a trend; it’s a new way of doing business. An estimated 82 percent of U.S. consumers say that corporate social responsibility factors into their decision-making process when choosing where they will spend their money. By establishing themselves as pillars of the community, an owner can add real, immeasurable value to their business.

Let’s face it, not every effort will lead to major gains, but by expanding your marketing toolbox beyond the basics, you position your restaurant to pick up business others are missing out on.