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6 profitable marketing ideas for your restaurant business

14th September 2015 by Arif

While running a restaurant business can be a lot of fun, it’s also a very competitive area of business. If you don’t play your cards right, you could end up with a face full of dirt. And we’re not talking Mississippi mud pie either. So if you’ve got empty seats costing you money night after night, what you need is a great marketing idea to raise your profile and put more bums on seats. To help you out, we’ve created this list. Pick one or pick them all.

Themed menus around local events

Say your restaurant is in London. How much business do you do on marathon day? Assuming you open at all that is. Considering that some 38,000 people applied to run the race this year, don’t you think you could be missing out? That number doesn’t even include spectators. That’s a lot of people. And there are so many ways you could capitalise on the London Marathon. What about a high-calorie menu for before & after race meals? A street kitchen serving food to spectators near the start or finish line? Or if you’re feeling really brave, you could run the marathon yourself, and raise funds for a healthy eating program.

Loyalty programs

How many of your customers have eaten in your restaurant before? Chances are, you probably don’t know. So what better way to find out than to run a loyalty program? On the face of it, you could argue that it’s going to cost you money – and to start with, it will. But in the long term, it offers the kind of insight into your customers that delivers excellent returns. Once you build a profile of who eats what and when, you can start to develop promotions in your most popular areas. Crucially, customers signing up to loyalty schemes are also giving you permission to contact them. So long as you don’t over-do it, you can now text, email or write your customers, inviting them to new menu launches, special events or themed nights.

Invest in the best photography

With the internet becoming a bigger part of everyone’s marketing year by year, how your menu – and restaurant – looks in photographs is probably more important than ever. Badly shot meals can seriously damage your bottom line, as can unappealing photos of your dining room. It’s worth spending good money on a professional photographer to get this essential part of your marketing as good as possible. Pro tip: find someone with experience photographing food, and make sure your kitchen is primed to create your best dishes as perfectly as possible.

Online reservations

So you’ve got mouth-watering professional photos of your haute cuisine all over your website? What’s the next step? How about allowing people to book their table online? You save time dealing with phone calls, writing down details, and so on, and instead, your website does the heavy lifting for you. It’s simple and obvious, but it’s amazing how many restaurants have yet to get on board. If you get there early, you stand to benefit the most. Be careful though – you’re dealing with people’s personal information, so you need to be professional and secure. We recommend going to a professional web developer who specialises in this kind of system such as Digital Restaurant, London.

Business card raffles

Another fun way of building a database of customers you can use to target promotions, seasonal specials or one-off events is a business card raffle. It’s as simple as it sounds. You have a box at the counter for people to drop their business cards into, with a weekly/ monthly/ annual raffle – whatever suits you best. The winner gets a slap up family/ office meal, and you get to fatten up your mailing list with business class customers.

Install a photo booth

The resurgence in popularity of the photo booth is something of a recent phenomenon. With everyone carrying a portable camera around in their pocket, who would have thought they’d be so popular. But they are. And they’re great for marketing. In addition to adding a touch of fun to your diners’ mealtimes, they’re a great way to populate your social media profiles with the happy faces of restaurant customers. You could even hold a contest for the best selfie.

Easy when you know how isn’t it? Now all that’s left is for you to hire extra kitchen and waiting staff to make sure your service can cope with all the extra customers. Bon appetit!

6 profitable marketing ideas for your restaurant business