If you wanted to invest your life’s savings of $5,000 in the stock market, would you invest in something that’s high-risk and high-reward, or would you invest in something that you know is going to turn your $5,000 into $25,000?
Restaurant advertising is no different. You make a monetary investment and should get more money in return. The question is: what is the best restaurant advertising campaign that you know will generate more profit?
While nothing in life is a guarantee, here are 6 restaurant advertising tactics that are proven to increase sales when done consistently.
1. Coupon Advertising for Restaurants
To be specific, grocery store receipt coupons for restaurants. This type of advertising can unlock access to new customers who wouldn’t have come into your restaurant otherwise.
So, how does the grocery store advertise your restaurant? Everybody who buys groceries still receives a paper receipt. And statistically, that happens 1-2 times a week. The back of those receipts (as you may have already noticed) is some prime real estate for ads. Get your restaurant’s coupon on the grocery store’s receipt tape that’s closest to your location. And, if your type of restaurant (ie: Chinese, Mexican, Pizza, etc) is already on that store’s receipt, check out other grocery stores within a 3-5 mile radius. Not only can you strategize based on where, when, and how many people shop at your local grocery store, but coupon receipt advertising has been around for over 30 years. It’s proven to increase profits for restaurants just like yours.
2. Restaurant Loyalty Programs
How do you reward customers who dine frequently at your restaurant? Do you have a loyalty program in place? Encouraging repeat visits with special offers will help lead them back in the door. This can be super low tech or high tech, from punch cards to magnetic stripe cards that work with your POS. Offer something that will be enough of an incentive to return frequently so they can earn their reward. Be sure to track redemption of the loyalty program offers.
Loyalty programs work because they make your customers feel like a VIP. I mean who doesn’t want to feel very important and earn free things at the same time! Your customers feel like they are part of an exclusive group that is separate from other customers. A great example of this is Starbucks, you load money on your Starbucks card and then you start building up star rewards with every purchase. Since you have already put money on your card you are more likely to use it and pick Starbucks over the other coffee shop down the street. You are then able to use the stars towards a free drink or food.
Creating a loyalty program that brings your customers back will also increase your customer retention. A study has found that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25-95%. Read more about customer loyalty in our blog.
3. Social Media Advertising
Take your restaurant’s personality, delicious food and upcoming events to social media. Be sure you have business accounts (not a personal account), especially for Facebook which should be a Business Page. (Learn how to make a business account in our blog, How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Restaurant). You’ll need to start posting regularly, but then take it one step beyond to get results. Using the Facebook Ads tools, “boost” some of your yummiest-looking Facebook posts and include an offer in the ad. Essentially you’re giving your post a “boost” by running an ad that will drive more people into your location.
With Facebook ads you can target people who you’d really like to have as customers in your immediate area. It’s one of the best ways available to carefully target your specific audience.
4. The Craze of Seasonal Items
Foodies with FOMO (fear of missing out) could be your ticket to increased profits. When a popular menu item is only available for a limited time, from pumpkin spice lattes to bbq rib sandwiches, foodies will stop at nothing to make sure they are part of the latest food fad.
Sometimes it’s about the food item itself, but sometimes it’s about being included in a collective experience. Take McDonald’s brief reintroduction of Szechuan Sauce, for example. Yes, it was a marketing tactic to get customers in the door. But it wasn’t about the sauce. I mean, most of the people drooling over it had never even tasted it before! McDonald’s knew that fans of the TV show Rick and Morty wouldn’t want to miss out on a real-life experience that related to their favorite show. If they reintroduced the sauce, they’d get a big bump in sales from people who just wanted to be able to say “I was part of that.”
What can you offer for a limited time that people will come back for as soon as they can get it again?
How do we know this works? Follow the money. Starbucks makes millions off their PSLs.
5. Happy Hours and Game Time Promotions
One of the most effective ways to promote your restaurant is to have happy hour discounts on special drinks and dishes. The slight discount does good for your loyal customers and attracts new ones who will proceed to order even drinks that were not discounted. Also, show sporting events that would be popular in your community then offer discounts on food, always a great way to bump up the per-person total value. Be sure to use your social media accounts and website to tell everyone what you’re offering during these special times and events.
So you might be wondering do happy hours really help increase sales. Check this out a study found that restaurants with happy hours generate 60.5% of their average weekly sales during happy hour.
6. Something for the Kids
When parents take the family out it sure would be nice to have a few moments of conversation that didn’t involve the entire family. What makes that nearly impossible? Their children. Find ways that your restaurant can help entertain the kids. Some places have playgrounds. Other restaurants give out the standard crayons and coloring sheet. Is there something creative you can offer to keep the kids happy without being on their electronics the entire time they’re at the restaurant? Pizza shops can offer to let kids play with a ball of dough. How about puzzles?
When word gets out that you help with keeping the kids happy (because you posted about it a lot on your social media accounts), your restaurant is more likely to become a destination for families. To further draw in families, you can offer a special on a specific (slower) night of the week. That will boost sales on what would have otherwise been a lighter profit day.
How do we know mom and dad are looking for kid friendly places? Social media, of course! Join your local Foodies Page on Facebook and monitor it for questions. In our small Houston suburb, parents ask for kid-friendly restaurants at least once a month. Not only can you monitor what other restaurants are doing to bring in families, but this gives you a chance to promote your restaurant as well.
Restaurant promotion does not have to be a nail-breaking hassle. Don’t reinvent the wheel! Use tactics that are proven to work for other restaurants. When you use the right tactics, and target the right people, you’ll see improved sales, loyal customers, and increased profits. Contact IndoorMedia for more profitable, proven ideas to promote your restaurant.
Finding the best ways to advertise in your local area is key to driving new customers through the door every single day. Learn more about some of the top restaurant marketing tactics and how to apply them to your restaurant.
We updated this post on May 2, 2019.