6 Ways to Promote Your Restaurant and Attract New Customers

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A server pours wine at a restaurant for two guests.
Inspiration counts

It seems like you should always be promoting your restaurant. After all, people can't dine there if they don’t know about it. But there are more efficient ways to keep up your marketing without having to place too much time and energy into doing so.

This is especially true for new restaurant owners. Wouldn’t you rather spend time on your menu and interacting with customers in your restaurant than spend too much time on promoting?

Here is a list of ways to help you find this balance. From going online to getting a little creative, there are plenty of ways you can keep up sustainable marketing while still focusing on what you do best: creating awesome dishes.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

Loyalty programs

Menus

Social media

Merchandise

Online ordering

Community

Let your customers find joy in your food and keep them coming back for more.

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1. Incorporate loyalty programs

A tried-and-true method of attracting customers (and keeping them coming back) is through loyalty programs. By rewarding customers for coming in and coming back, you’ll attract more patrons and this will serve as great marketing for your restaurant as well.

All of this comes down to the restaurant management software you use. For instance, your software and POS system should allow you to: 

Help customers sign up and earn rewards.

Follow the trends of what your customers are purchasing, so you can offer deals on those items and keep them coming back.

Keep a customer database to gather names, email addresses, and phone numbers to use for marketing, gift cards, and loyalty programs.

In addition to converting your new customers into loyal ones, you should also coach your employees so that they perform better. Train them to show genuine interest in your customers and offer anticipatory gestures. All of this will contribute to more loyal customers and a happier dining environment.

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2. Change up the menu

Attracting customers means keeping up with your menu. While some signature dishes and classic favorites are great to keep, try experimenting with new dishes to entice customers to come in and take a peek.

You can easily do this by using a digital menu. This menu allows you to:

Customize your menu whenever you need.

Advertise promotions, happy hours, and special offers.

Easily update your menu with nutritional information and more.

Keep your restaurant environmentally friendly.

Express your brand through customized designs.

One of the things you shouldn’t do in your restaurant is keep your menu completely the same month after month. By changing up your menu and offering new items, you’ll attract new and returning customers alike and keep patrons interested in your selection.

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3. Keep up on social media

One of the most effective ways to promote your restaurant is through social media. Social media is a great way to keep up with your customers and share updates and events coming out of your restaurant.

Social media allows you to connect with your customers outside of your restaurant. It’s a great way to settle complaints, get feedback, and promote all the new dishes and events you have going on. That’s why when promoting on social media, you should be sure that you:

Keep your branding consistent. By keeping your brand consistent across multiple social media platforms, you’ll come off as more professional and trustworthy as a business.

Use the platforms your customers are using. Depending on the patrons at your restaurant, you may use different platforms. For instance, younger generations use Instagram and Snapchat more frequently than older generations. If your customers are younger, consider posting on platforms like these in addition to Facebook and Twitter.

Give a compelling reason to visit your restaurant. Make yourself accessible through your social media profiles and promote events and new items at your restaurant. You can even run giveaways or other contests to attract new customers.

There are many ways you can engage with customers on social media, but be sure to take the right approach that will attract customers and encourage them to check out your restaurant. Post meaningful content regularly and interact with customers online. This will help create lasting relationships with your patrons. 

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4. Offer merchandise

Have you ever walked into a gift shop or other venue and immediately been drawn to the branded merchandise for sale? Jump on those consumer inclinations and offer branded merchandise at your restaurant. By using a platform for creating custom merchandise, you can offer lots of items, such as:

T-shirts

Sweatshirts

Tank tops

Branded merchandise also doubles as extra marketing for your restaurant. When customers walk around wearing a branded t-shirt, others will notice your logo and start to recognize it when they see it. This can lead to even more customers showing up to try your food.

Offering merchandise is a great way to get customers to linger in your restaurant, increase sales, and further promote your business to others. When you use a great design and offer a variety of items, you’ll be on your way to developing a great marketing strategy.

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5. Offer online ordering

If you want to secure more business for your restaurant and attract new customers, a great method to use is online ordering. Online ordering allows you to reach more people and ensures accuracy in the order, which leads to happier customers. It also streamlines the payment process by helping you complete it online.

Overall, you should look for POS software that integrates with an online ordering system. By doing this, you’ll be able to:

Increase your bottom line

Reach out to new customers

Meet the growing consumer expectation of being able to order food online

Allow your staff to focus on dine-in customers, rather than balancing both dine-in and phoned-in orders

When designing your restaurant’s website, it’s also important to keep the branding consistent and customize its appearance so that it appeals to potential customers (learn more about this here). 

The same goes for placing online orders specifically. Make sure your online ordering platform is embedded into your website and easy to navigate, as well as branded to your venue. This will entice customers to try out your restaurant and keep them coming back if the process is convenient.

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6. Get involved in the community

The last method we want to discuss doesn’t always occur to restaurant owners, but it can be an impactful way to find new business and promote your food.

Get involved in your community.

This means attending events like city-planned block parties, doing cross-promotion with neighboring businesses, and more. The best exposure you can get comes from stepping out of your own doors and into the greater community.

Here are a few fun ways to get involved:

Attend neighborhood events. Many cities and towns have events where streets are blocked off for foot traffic and vendors can set up stations to promote their products. Attend some of these events with a setup of samples and/or full entrees and meet some of your neighbors and potential customers.

Add on a food truck. Get on the road and promote your restaurant with a food truck. Go around to events like concerts in the park and sell your food to gain exposure to even more customers. When they like your food, they’ll be more likely to seek out your restaurant in the future.

Try cross-promotion. Cross-promoting with other local businesses is a great way to get your restaurant on the map. For example, if you’re running a coffee shop, team up with the local indie bookstore down the block. You can promote their reading events and they can promote your shop as a great place to work and eat!

Getting involved in your local community is an excellent way to expand your customer base, and it also reflects well on your restaurant and its commitment to supporting the community overall. Meet new customers and forge relationships that will keep your business alive and well for years and years to come.

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Stay involved

Promoting your restaurant and seeking new customers don’t have to be huge challenges. If you invest in the right resources and explore opportunities to promote online and in your local community, you’ll have a much higher chance of success. 

Try out new items on your menu. Offer online ordering. Keep in contact with your customers through loyalty programs and social media. All of this will serve you well as your restaurant grows. Now try out these strategies for yourself.

Saleem Khatri is the Chief Executive Officer of Lavu. Saleem has a "founder’s mentality,” with a track record of working with high-growth software companies. He is a rare breed of someone who is both a hands-on leader and a strategic visionary and brings with him a myriad of inspiration, technical acumen, and a passion for our products, services, and customers. Prior to Lavu, Saleem successfully launched software and hardware products at start-ups via Y Combinator and managed a $79 billion investment portfolio on behalf of the United States Department of the Treasury. Saleem earned his MBA from the Harvard Business School and his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor.

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