As a restaurant owner, the overarching goal of your business is to make a profit. That’s why it’s critical for restaurant owners to put in the legwork to ensure that seats are filled, food is consumed, and money is made. At the end of the day, you’re in the business of sales.
Most restaurants know they need to advertise to increase sales—scant few get by on word of mouth alone. Yet, traditional advertising channels such as newspapers, billboards, television, and radio are expensive and don’t deliver customers the way you might expect. To achieve a return that is budget-conscious and brings in customers, you need to think locally. Here are some great local advertising ideas to improve your restaurant sales:
Register Tape Advertising
Register tape advertising places coupons on the back of the receipts grocery store customers are given every time they make a purchase. Your advertising is directly handed to consumers, and if the value you offer via the coupon is good, they will have a reason to give your restaurant a try. Register tape advertising is not only a seamless way to place your ad in front of eyeballs, but it reaches the right ones. By distributing your message at the grocery store within 3-5 miles of your business, you’re reaching everyone who lives, works, and shops nearby.
Whereas register tape advertising is great for drawing new customers, custom-printed receipts—coupons you provide on the back of receipts from your own cash register—do wonders for encouraging your current patrons to repeat their business. If your food and service was outstanding, an invitation to enjoy a free appetizer or a discounted entrée will be enticing for your diners. Moreover, custom-printed receipts give you a means to advertise new products, seasonal menu items, your website, and more. In the meantime, you turn the sunk cost of register receipts into something that turns a profit.
The fence that surrounds a baseball diamond at a local park or school has plenty of real estate just waiting for a banner promoting your restaurant. Besides the advertising element of this strategy, the community sees that you are a proud supporter of youth sports. High school football stadiums, basketball courts, and ice rinks are other venues you might be able to advertise in. Game programs might also accept advertising and are a good way to suggest your restaurant to fans who might be hungry after the game.
Social media is a solid complement to your other advertising methods to improve restaurant sales. Two strategies stand out. First is the organic strategy. Regularly update your restaurant’s page with new menu items, special offers, customer reviews, etc. While this tactic is free, it requires hours of planning and scheduling posts to stay top-of-mind with consumers. The second strategy is heavier on the wallet. Paid social advertising targets and re-targets users in your community so that local consumers see your ads on their feeds and want to click to learn more. Both tactics can drive new sales and build loyalty with your existing customers.
Email is another inexpensive way to reach existing customers with offers and news. You need to be somewhat diligent with how you email customers—too many messages can become annoying/spammy, and subject lines must be carefully crafted so that recipients will actually open the emails. That said, if you hit the mark, customers will look forward to your emails to see what information and value they can gain from them.
Local food bloggers are becoming an important resource for improving restaurant sales. A good review of your restaurant reaches the blogger’s audience and hopefully inspires readers to visit. Reach out to food bloggers and tell them about your restaurant, and keep them updated about your business and local trends. Once you have established a good relationship, invite them to your restaurant. Be sure to rock the dining experience for the writer, because you don’t want to end up with a bad review. Other bloggers might notice a good review and decide to give your restaurant a try for themselves. If you do get a good review, promote it on your website, social media, email, and even the print advertising channels you use. Your restaurant’s success and reputation can get a much-needed—and essentially free—boost from local food bloggers, so don’t be shy about shouting out a positive post to the world.
What advertising strategies have improved your restaurant’s sales?
*Originally Published: 9/26/2017. Updated: 11/16/2018.