29 Restaurant Marketing Ideas for 2022
Are you looking to supercharge your restaurant marketing this year? We've put together a list of 29 tried and tested marketing strategies that will get you on the path to success.
In the restaurant business, you always have to be looking ahead to stay ahead of the competition. It’s a tough world out there and especially in today’s difficult and expensive times, restaurants are going to have to get creative to succeed and beat out the competition.
So, to help you plan for 2022, here are 29 restaurant marketing ideas that will keep your business booming.
From new and innovative advertising campaigns to creative ways to engage with customers, these easy-to-implement ideas will help you keep your restaurant on the cutting edge.
Use as many or as few as you need to stay ahead of your competitors, stand out in your local area, and attract new customers!
- Give out free samples of your food
- Place flyers and coupons in local businesses
- Hold a competition - the winner gets a free meal or gift card
- Make a social media account and post pictures of your food regularly
- Give a discount to customers who show they've liked your restaurant on Facebook
- Have a loyalty program
- Get involved in your local community and sponsor events
- Start a blog or podcast about food and restaurant culture
- Hold cooking classes or wine tastings at your restaurant
- Offer catering services for special occasions
- Develop a unique menu item that will get people talking
- Partner with another local business to offer a joint promotion
- Create a mission statement
- List on restaurant directories and discovery apps
- Invite local bloggers to review your restaurant
- Create your Google Business profile
- Put your full menu online
- Send out regular email newsletters
- Run paid social media ad campaigns
- Share positive reviews and press coverage
- Promote UGC (user-generated content)
- Have live music nights
- Accept online reservations
- Jump on food trends
- Spotlight your team members and staff
- Offer set menus
- Offer masterclass sessions
- Offer restaurant gift cards
- Be kind to your guests
1. Give out free samples of your food
We know, we know, you’ve heard this before… But hear us out:
This is an age-old trick that many people forget today… Why? Because it seems to good to work when it really does!
By handing out bite-sized portions of your signature dishes, most decadent desserts, or best-loved entrées, you can give potential customers a taste of what your business has to offer.
When it’s done right, giving out free samples of your restaurant’s food can be an effective way to generate buzz and interest, as well as to build up a brand new customer base.
Of course, it's important to make sure that your samples are high quality and representative of what diners can expect from your restaurant. Don’t be giving out food that will go off quickly, will melt, or can be soured by getting warm… Otherwise, you run the risk of giving out subpar food that will only damage your reputation rather than improve it.
What’s more, make sure the member of your team giving out the samples is prepared with a sales script that explains everything there is to know about your restaurant - you don’t want to miss a potential selling opportunity right when you have people salivating!
2. Place flyers and coupons in local businesses
One cost-effective way to market your restaurant is to place flyers and coupons in local businesses. Now, this may seem like an old fashioned way of getting your business out there but there’s a reason why it worked before and that’s exactly why it’ll work again.
Flyering can be a great way to reach new customers who might not be aware of your restaurant as they’re browsing in your neighborhood.
When choosing businesses to target, consider those that are frequented by your target demographic. Strike up a conversation with the business owner or manager and explain your concept and how you’re looking to generate more interest in your restaurant.
Sometimes, it can be good to offer a reciprocal relationship where they help advertise you and you help advertise them. Everyone loves a win-win.
Let’s look at an example: if you are marketing a pizza restaurant, you might consider placing flyers in local grocery stores - where people are going to shop for food and when they might be hungry or lacking inspiration for what to cook for dinner this week.
Always make sure to get permission from the business owner before placing any flyers or leaflets, and make sure that the materials are high quality and professionally designed.
With a little effort, you can reach a whole new group of potential customers with this simple and often overlooked marketing strategy.
3. Hold a competition - the winner gets a free meal or gift card
A marketing competition is a great way to generate excitement and interest in your restaurant. By offering a free meal or gift card as a prize, you can encourage potential customers to learn more about your business and what it has to offer and as part of the competition process you can receive hundreds of pictures, vidoes, and interactions from people wanting to win the prize - all of which you can use in your marketing for your restaurant going forward.
To ensure that the competition is successful, you have to do two things: offer a really great prize people will desperately want to receive and make sure to promote it heavily in the weeks leading up to it and all throughout the competition period.
Use social media, email, and signage to spread the word, and make sure to clearly state the rules of the contest. You can also use the contest as an opportunity to collect customer feedback and learn more about what people are looking for in a dining experience.
Once the competition is over, hold a big unveiling on social media where you announce the winner - you can do this on a live stream or if you aren’t confident enough talking live, you can do a series of stories or posts counting down the time until you unveil the winner.
With a little planning, a restaurant marketing competition can be a powerful tool for driving business to your restaurant.
4. Make a social media account and post pictures of your food regularly
This one really goes without saying but you’d still be surprised how many restaurants don’t have social media…
In today's day and age, it is important to have an online presence for your business. One way to do this is to create a social media account and post pictures of your food regularly. This will help to market your restaurant and attract new customers.
Make sure to use high-quality pictures that showcase your food in the best light possible. Use descriptive captions and hashtags to give potential customers an idea of what they can expect from your restaurant.
With a little effort, you can soon start to see an uptick in business thanks to your social media marketing campaign.
5. Give a discount to customers who show they've liked your restaurant on Facebook
Even though other social media platforms get much more attention, Facebook is still a powerful tool for marketing your restaurant in 2022.
By offering a discount to customers who like your page, you can tap into a network of your followers and you can even reach a wider audience as your page followers share the discount or offer with their Facebook friends.
As a result, you can quickly expand your reach and build a community of loyal customers on Facebook that you can nurture and use to market your business to in the long term.
With its clear benefits, offering a Facebook discount is still an effective way to market your restaurant.
6. Have a loyalty program
A loyalty program is a great way to market your restaurant and it’s one that’s been proven to be successful time and time again.
By offering a stamp or a token for every meal eaten, and a reward at the end after completing a set number of meals or stamps, you encourage customers to come back again and again so they get the free meal at the end.
Done right, loyalty schemes work for both the restaurant and the customer. They reward people for being loyal to the restaurant and they reward the restaurant with consistent business in exchange for the occasional free meal.
7. Get involved in your local community and sponsor events
As a local business, your restaurant is an important part of the community. Not only do you provide delicious food and a gathering place for friends and families, but you also help to support the local economy - you employ people in the local community, you bring people from far and wide, and you get people talking about the place you’re located in.
One way to give back to the community who supports you is to get involved in sponsoring local events.
No matter where you are, you’ll have a wide range of local events and organizations that your restaurant could consider sponsoring and getting involved with.
Just think about it: you could sponsor a youth sports team, a charity run, or a community festival. If you have a large religious community in your area you could offer to cater or provide food during one religious ceremony.
By supporting the local community like this, you'll not only gain goodwill among potential customers but you'll also have an opportunity to market your restaurant to a wider audience of people who might never have heard of you before.
And who knows - maybe your involvement will even inspire others to start their own businesses!
8. Start a blog or podcast about food and restaurant culture
In today's ultra-competitive restaurant landscape, it's important to find ways to market your restaurant and reach new customers in ways other people aren’t.
One crazy effective way to do this is to start a blog or podcast about food and restaurant culture. As a restaurant owner you’re bound to be passionate about food and drink and for many restaurant owners, that passion for food comes from their life experience, their travels, or something they’ve been exposed to growing up.
Sharing these experiences - why you’re passionate about food, and why you chose to run and open a restaurant - can help you reach a wider audience and share your passion for food with others.
If you're not sure where to start, there are plenty of resources available online that can help you get started with creating a blog or podcast. These are some great ones:
- How to Start a Podcast: Your Lightning Fast Guide
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Starting a Podcast
- How To Start A Blog In 2022
Just remember: podcasting definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, so make sure you’re passionate and confident at speaking in public before diving into the world of podcasting. If you are, then you can definitely make a splash and gain some attention.
For starting a blog, you don’t need to be ultra-charismatic but you do need to be able to write. Make sure that you have someone proof-reading your words so that they make sense and so that they give valuable information.
Always remember that the goal for the podcast or the blog is to help promote your restaurant, so make sure to find effortless and effective ways to promote your brand in your posts and podcasts.
9. Hold cooking classes or wine tastings at your restaurant
If you’re looking for a fun and unique way to market your restaurant, consider holding cooking classes or wine tastings. These give you the perfect opportunity to show off your knowledge, invite people into your space, and demonstrate your outstanding cooking or wine cellar.
Plus, both events are a great opportunity to socialize and build relationships with potential customers. Everyone enjoys spending time chatting over food and wine, so these events are the perfect opportunity for your guests to learn more about you and your business, you to learn more about them, and for them to learn more about each other!
A well-run masterclass is a great thing that will get people talking about your restaurant and get people coming back again and again.
Just make sure that you keep the events small, that you have a practise session to run through everything that you’ll be demonstrating and doing, and have someone personable and authoritative running the session.
A poorly-run masterclass session does nobody any favours so make sure that if you do go down this road you have it mastered before you invite people in the door!
10. Offer catering services for special occasions
Many people enjoy hosting special occasions, but they often don't have the time or energy to cook for their guests - or the food they can cook is something their guests won’t want to eat! So, this is where catering comes in.
By offering catering services in your local area, you can make your restaurant the go-to destination for special occasions.
Think about it: by catering a small- or medium-sized event you’ll have the opportunity to showcase your food to a hugely captive audience of hungry people desperate to eat something.
Not only will this bring in extra revenue, but it will also help to spread the word about your restaurant. If you make sure to negotiate that you can have signage or can give our business cards or menus then this can be an extremely lucrative marketing opportunity.
When planning a catering menu, be sure to offer a variety of options to appeal to a wide range of tastes and work closely with the event host to guarantee a really good time.
11. Develop a unique menu item that will get people talking
A great way to market your restaurant is by developing a unique menu item that will get people talking.
Use your restaurant’s unique angle to your advantage by creating a meal that is unlike anything else people have tasted before. This could be something as simple as a new twist on an old classic or a completely original dish that reflects the restaurant's individual style.
Use social media or Pinterest for inspiration if you need to and create a series of mood boards for your to plan your ideas.
Whatever you come up with, make sure it is something that will excite and engage your diners. The dish must be photogenic and work well on social media - there’s no point creating something that looks amazing in person but awful on the screen.
So, with a little creativity you can develop a menu item that is both delicious and eye-catching, and that will help to bring new customers through your door.
Make sure to leverage your own marketing channels on social media and your website and newsletter for maximum impact.
12. Partner with another local business to offer a joint promotion
One way to market your restaurant in your local area and build ties in the community is by partnering with another local business to offer a joint promotion or partnership that benefits both of you.
Think about it: if you’re in an area that sees a lot of business travellers, you could partner with a nearby hotel that doesn’t have a great restaurant - or a restaurant at all - and offer a discount to guests who show their room key when they order at your restaurant.
By partnering with another businesses, you can reach new customers who are likely to be interested in your restaurant, people will be more likely to try your restaurant because of the approval you’ve gained from a brand or business they already trust, and the partnership scheme works the other way and helps grow your partner’s business, too.
It’s a win-win that’s great for everyone.
To make this work most well, make sure to pick the right kind of businesses to partner with. Think of ones that make sense to your core business offering rather than just approaching people you know well - especially if the partner business is completely unconnected to your restaurant!
There’s no sense in partnering with an auto shop as a Greek restaurant when both businesses are so different that customers really wouldn’t see any benefit in the partnership.
13. Create a mission statement
No matter what type of restaurant you are running, a well-crafted mission statement can be an invaluable marketing tool that helps set your business out from competitors, makes it easy for customers to identify with your brand, and communicates who you are really clearly.
To get thinking about your mission statement, ask yourself:
What type of food do you serve? What is your price range? Who is your competition?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you to create a mission statement that properly reflects your restaurant's goals and appeal and can help focus your mind on how you’re different from your competitors.
For example: if you’re opening a brand new fine dining establishment, your mission statement might be something like: "To provide an upscale dining experience with excellent service and boundary-pushing cuisine."
On the other hand, if you are opening a fast-food stall, your mission statement might be "To provide fresh, delicious food at an affordable price and spread food love to everyone."
The great thing about a mission statement is that you can incorporate it into all aspects of your business: from recruitment and staff retention to marketing and graphic design.
14. List on restaurant directories and discovery apps
In order to market your restaurant, it is important to list it on restaurant directories and discovery apps. Customers use these platforms to find new restaurants, and if your establishment is not listed, you may be missing out on potential business.
In addition to listing your restaurant, it is also important to provide accurate and up-to-date information. customers will be able to see your hours of operation, menu, and contact information.
By making it easy for customers to find and contact your restaurant, you can increase the likelihood that they will choose to do business with you.
While there are many different platform options available, some of the most popular include Yelp, Google Maps, and Foursquare.
By taking the time to list your restaurant on these platforms, you can reach a wider audience and grow your business.
15. Invite local bloggers to review your restaurant
If you're looking for a cost-effective way to market your restaurant, think about inviting local bloggers to review your establishment. This can be a great way to generate buzz and build up your customer base.
Blogging might seem old-hat but it’s anything but. Influential bloggers have huge clout in the restaurant industry and can be the catalyst for great success.
When you’re inviting bloggers to review your restaurant, be sure to select those who specialize in writing about food - they don’t have to be chef trained or former restaurateurs but you definitely want to invite people who know about food. You'll also want to extend an invitation to a variety of different bloggers - this will help to ensure that you get a range of different perspectives and have the greatest chance of reaching your target audience.
By taking the time to reach out to local bloggers, you can give your restaurant the exposure it deserves, get your food praised by people in the know, and launch yourself to a community of loyal followers.
16. Create your Google Business profile
Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps.
By verifying and editing your business information, you can both help customers find you and tell them the story of your business.
In addition to basic information like your restaurant's name, address, and hours of operation, you can also add photos, videos, and announcements to your profile. You can even use your Google My Business profile to post special offers and deals.
So if you're looking for a way to market your restaurant, creating a Google My Business profile is a great place to start.
17. Put your full menu online
This one’s a basic one but you’ll be surprised by just how many restaurants avoid this easy step!
As the restaurant industry continues to evolve, so does the way that customers find and select restaurants. In the past, potential diners would have to either visit the restaurant in person or call to obtain a copy of the menu.
Nowadays, customers expect to be able to find a restaurant's menu online. If they can’t, they won’t consider dining unless the establishment has huge hype that overcomes the uncertainty about the food being served.
By putting your full menu online you can make your restaurant more visible to potential customers and make it easier for them to decide whether your restaurant is right for them.
An online menu can help to build your brand identity and create a more professional image for your business. In today's competitive landscape, an online menu is essential for any restaurant that wants to attract new customers and grow its business.
18. Send out regular email newsletters
A well-curated email newsletter is a great way to keep your restaurant top of mind for potential customers.
Newsletters give you a chance to share your latest specials, events, and promotions, as well as highlights from your menu. They also provide an opportunity to build relationships with your customers by sharing behind-the-scenes stories and insights.
To be effective, your newsletters should be sent on a regular basis (monthly or quarterly is typically best) and should be visuals-heavy, with mouthwatering photos of your food.
If you can get creative with your newsletters and really capture the essence of your brand, you’ll soon see an uptick in business.
Discover how to craft a perfect email marketing strategy for your restaurant.
19. Run paid social media ad campaigns
Paid social media advertising is an effective way to reach new customers and promote your restaurant.
By targeting a specific audience and using relevant keywords, you can ensure that your ad reaches people who are likely to be interested in your business.
Paid social media advertising also allows you to track the performance of your ad campaign, so you can see how many people are clicking on your ad and visit your restaurant's website or social media page. Paid social media advertising is a great way to reach a larger audience and promote your restaurant.
20. Share positive reviews and press coverage
Good reviews and press coverage can be extremely helpful in marketing a restaurant. Both help to create a positive image for the restaurant, which can attract new customers.
Reviews also provide potential customers with valuable information about the food, service, and atmosphere of the restaurant. Press coverage can also help to generate buzz and interest in the restaurant.
In addition, both positive reviews and press coverage can be used to promote special events or promotions. By taking advantage of these powerful marketing tools, restaurants can reach a larger audience and maximize their chances of success.
21. Promote UGC (user-generated content)
User-generated content (UGC) is any form of content that has been created and published by unpaid contributors - in the restaurant world, that means paying guests!
UGC generally refers to online reviews, comments, and posts related to a business, so think online feedback and reviews, guest book comments, and posts on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
UGC can be an extremely valuable asset for restaurants, as it provides potential customers with an honest and unbiased look at the dining experience.
Because UGC is generated by real customers, it can be more relatable and trustworthy than traditional marketing content. What’s more, because it’s created by people who are often not professionals, it has a way more authentic look and feel than targeted restaurant marketing - because it is authentic!
There are a few different ways that restaurants can promote UGC. One common strategy is to offer incentives for customers to leave online reviews - at the end of the meal offer a reward to diners for leaving you 5* or a positive review. But be careful, some review platforms like Google and TripAdvisor prevent this in their terms and conditions - so make sure to check first.
Another is to encourage customers to tag the restaurant in photos and posts on social media. Put your handles and account names on your bills or leave a little correspondence slip with guests that has a QR code to take them to your profiles.
By actively promoting UGC, your restaurant can provide potential diners with valuable insights while also boosting their own visibility online. It’s a win-win you need to tap into!
22. Have live music nights
If you're looking for a way to increase foot traffic to your restaurant, hosting live music nights can be a really great option.
Most people will jump at the chance to see a cool band or singer live in concert and even if you’re offering people who are less well-known, live music nights can create an inviting and festive atmosphere that will make customers book early, stay late, and enjoy the show.
In addition, live music can help you reach a wider audience by attracting new customers who might not otherwise visit your restaurant. And because live music is often a draw for younger customers, it can help to create a more youthful and vibrant image for your business - perfect for new restaurants in college towns or where there are higher numbers of young people.
If you're thinking about starting live music nights at your restaurant, there are a few things to keep in mind…
First, you'll need to choose the right venue for your events. A small cafe or bar may work well for acoustic sets, while a larger club or theater is better suited for louder bands or DJs. Make sure to consider what your restaurant is best suited for and don’t try to overachieve.
Second, you'll need to promote your events effectively to ensure that people know about them. You can use social media, flyers, and word-of-mouth to get the word out. Promote it to your guests when they’re dining with you, promote it on your newsletter, and get the act you’re hosting to shout about it as much as you are.
And finally, you'll need to make sure that you have the right insurance coverage in place in case of any accidents or damage to equipment. It’s not likely that things can go wrong but you want to be covered just in case!
With a little planning and preparation, hosting live music nights can be a great way to increase business at your restaurant, make you the talk of the town, and have people come back again and again.
23. Accept online reservations
For any restaurant operating in 2022 it’s impossible not to have a website.
When you have a website it’s impossible not to accept online reservations…
By accepting bookings online, you will not only make it easier for potential customers to book a table at your restaurant - whether they’re planning ahead or acting impulsively - but you will also be able to reach a wider audience of people coming to town on holiday, looking to book for a special event or occasion or more.
What’s better, by accepting online reservations through services like OpenTable, Resy, or Tock, you will be able to better keep track of your bookings and make sure that your restaurant is running smoothly.
You’ll even be able to get access to insights into past performance, trends, and customer reviews.
Accepting online reservations is an essential part of marketing your restaurant in the 21st century. Don’t stay stuck in the 20th century while everyone zooms past you in the 21st.
24. Jump on food trends
In the fast-paced world of the food industry, it's important to stay on top of trends in order to keep your restaurant relevant. New diets, flavor profiles and technologies are constantly emerging, and those who are able to adapt quickly can often find themselves ahead of the competition.
But be careful: it's not enough to simply jump on every new trend that comes along. It's important to carefully consider how a given trend will fit with your restaurant's overall concept and identity.
For example, a fine dining establishment might choose to embrace a trend like molecular gastronomy, while a more casual eatery might instead focus on locally sourced ingredients.
Ultimately, the key is to be strategic in your approach, and to always keep your eye on the latest trends in the food industry. People can spot restaurants that jump on every food trend around and after a while it gets tiring.
Don’t be one of those - keep an eye on food trends and jump on them when they’re relevant to your restaurant, but make sure to stick to your core business all the time and don’t just become a passing fad.
25. Spotlight your team members and staff
At its heart, a restaurant is a team effort. From the chef who creates the menu to the servers who take care of customers, each member of the staff plays an important role in making the dining experience enjoyable, memorable and satisfying.
One way to show your appreciation for your team and market your restaurant at the same time is to spotlight your staff on social media by sharing photos, profiles, and spotlights.
Take great photos of your team in action, interview your staff about who they are, where they come from and what their professional background is and let your customers get to know the people who make your restaurant unique.
Not only will this help to build an emotional connection with your customers, but it will also encourage them to come back again and again to support your business. There’s nothing more powerful than an emotional connection to keep people coming back again and again.
So, next time you're looking for a way to show off your restaurant, don't forget about the most important ingredient: your team.
26. Offer set menus
A set menu is a great way to drum up business at weaker times of the day using a pre-selected list of dishes that are served together for a fixed price.
Set menus are often used to promote special events or holidays, or to showcase the restaurant's signature dishes - or to pump up demand at weaker times like in the off-season or during lunchtimes when business can be slow.
What’s more, by offering a set menu, restaurants can control the flow of customers and ensure that everyone enjoys a cohesive dining experience and can minimise wastage and over-ordering.
In addition, set menus can help to boost sales by encouraging customers to order more items than they would typically choose. Set menus that are satisfying but restrictive and are offered alongside upsells and add-ons can make restaurants more money than an a la carte offering.
While set menus may require some upfront planning, they can be an effective way to market your restaurant and boost your bottom line.
27. Offer masterclass sessions
As the owner of a restaurant, you are always looking for ways to market your business and attract new customers. One way to do this is by offering masterclasses.
These can be a great way to show off your culinary skills and give potential customers a taste of what your restaurant has to offer - especially if your chef is well-known in the local area or if your food is unique and different from your competitors.
You can also use the opportunity to promote any special events or promotions you may have coming up. By offering a masterclass, you can give potential customers a taste of what your restaurant has to offer, and you may even find that some of them become regulars.
28. Offer restaurant gift cards
A great way to increase your cashflow and keep people coming back in the long term is to offer restaurant giftcards.
Gift cards are a great way to promote your restaurant because they give potential customers a way to try out your food without any risk. Gift cards are also a powerful form of referral - there’s no stronger endorsement for your restaurant than someone paying for another person’s meal!
If you’ve been given a gift card then the restaurant must be good!
If you offer gift cards for your restaurant, be sure to promote them heavily both online and offline. You can use social media, printed materials, and even word-of-mouth to get the word out about your gift cards. Talk to your guests, display gift cards at all the point of sale areas, and make sure there’s a section of your menu that mentions gift cards.
With a little bit of effort, you can make sure that your restaurant gift cards are a success!
29. Be kind to your guests
We’ve saved the best for last… As the saying goes, "you never get a second chance to make a first impression."
This is especially true for restaurants, where diners will make up their mind about your business within seconds of walking through the door.
That's why it's so important to be kind to your guests, and to give them the best possible experience from the moment they arrive.
A warm welcome and a friendly smile can go a long way towards making your guests feel comfortable and helping them to have a positive impression of your restaurant. In addition, being attentive to their needs and providing outstanding service will help to ensure that they have a enjoyable meal and are likely to come back again.
By making your guests feel valued and appreciated, you'll not only improve their experience at your restaurant, but you'll also help to create loyal customers who will tell others about your business.
Reviews and referrals are all hugely powerful marketing tools that help restaurants grow and sustain themselves for years into the future. The easiest and most effective way to make sure you have a great reputation is to be kind to your guests.
Kindness costs nothing but it can have huge rewards in the long run.
Train your staff up so they know how to serve guests properly, how to keep people happy, and how to show people that they’re appreciated.
If you do it right, it’ll hugely pay off in the long term!
Start using these restaurant marketing ideas!
So, whether you’re a restaurateur who is just starting out and feeling overwhelmed by all of the options or an experienced pro looking for some new ideas to freshen up your marketing strategy, we hope that this list has given you some inspiration.
And if you’re still not sure where to start, don’t worry – let us do it for you.
Our team of experts are ready and waiting to partner with you to create first-class social media, email, and content marketing that drives sales and growth for your restaurant business.
We’ve been doing this for 7 years and we’re pros at helping restaurants grow. We’ve helped Badiani 1932 grow their delivery orders by 1,200%, we helped the Pear Tree have their highest week’s sales in 7 years, and we’ve launched dozens of independent restaurants in the most competitive of markets.
Check out all our marketing services here and then get started growing your restaurant professionally.