6 Tips for Free Restaurant Advertising

restaurant owner using tablet
Let’s face it, everyone needs to advertise. Today, restaurants face some tough decisions, and it can be difficult to prioritize new advertising when you’re already on a tight budget. We’ve put together a list of six ways you can promote your restaurant without going broke. A lot of this information has to do with perfecting your online presence so if you’re new to the game, listen up.

1. Post Tasty Photos to Instagram

Many restaurants use Instagram to post daily specials, seasonal promotions, or holiday closures. Consequently, people have grown used to hearing about a restaurant and logging on to Instagram to see its deal. If they open your profile and see a ton of super tasty photos, you’re going to be one step closer to sealing the deal. Plus, there’s no need to hire a professional photographer. It will definitely help if you have a newer model phone or camera to take the photos, but don’t stress about hiring a photographer. You know what makes your food special so do your best to highlight that. Users love classic, Mom & Pop style content, so make sure to include a sweet caption or a picture of your team. From there, you can also use a few influencer hacks if you’re worried about getting the best lighting, angle, and photo quality.

2. Set Up A Weekly Newsletter

If you suspect your customers aren’t fervent Instagrammers, you can always set up a weekly newsletter to circulate your photos and promotions. This is a great way to make a more personal connection and make full use of the content you already created for Instagram. When customers come in and sign up for your loyalty program or order food online, you can ask if they’d like to receive emails about promotions. Your newsletter doesn’t have to include pages and pages of info. A few photos and a quip about the week’s menu will be plenty!

3. Set Up a Blog

A blog is a great resource for new and prospective customers who want to know more about your business. You can include recipes or tutorials, share photos about local foodies events you’re hosting, or even recount philanthropic work you’ve done over the holiday season. All in all, a blog gives your restaurant a human touch to it, generating a brand your customers can feel loyal to. When you create a blog, you can post whenever and whatever you want. You’ll have full control of your content and can link to your blog in your weekly email or Instagram profile. This may require a little more upkeep than the previous mediums, but for restaurant owners who really want to tell people about what they’re working on, this is a great creative outlet.

4. Reach Out to Foodies!

Once you have any of the mediums listed above, you can easily reach out to your followers and zero in on any food bloggers. Because their content is usually devoted to writing about and researching new food trends, their platform is a great way to build buzz around your restaurant. Many bloggers will be more than happy to comply, and it should only cost you the price of one free meal. That can be a little weird to wrap your head around, but that one free meal will be photographed, written about, and promoted to a huge audience. It’s like paying for an entire campaign with just one happy customer. Bloggers also often have a soft spot for small, local businesses, so play up what makes you a valuable part of the community. If you don’t know any bloggers, personally ask around. Someone on your team may be able to connect you, or a friend may know the right person. Otherwise, look at your competitors and see who has written about them. There’s no harm in enlisting the same local celebrity, and you’ll have better luck working with someone in your own community.

5. Have a Contest

We’ve all walked into a store and seen a fishbowl full of business cards. This is a great tactic for collecting user information and will only cost you as much as you want to giveaway. People are always looking for a great deal, so they’ll often leave their information for the simple promise of a free lunch. For every winner, you’ll likely collect information from 15 others, which could mean a whole new audience for your weekly emails. Promising to release the results via email will also mean more attentive readers and a great way to bring attention to your business. Otherwise, if you want to stick to Instagram, a super-easy way to build a following is to run a promotion. Post a picture of your most decadent entree and caption it “Follow and tag a friend in the comments below to win a free lunch for two! One lucky pair will be announced next week.” From there, sit back and watch the comments roll in. You can use a random number generator to randomly select a winner or write the names down and pick them out of a fishbowl. Either way, you’ll gain a ton of followers for the price of one pair’s lunch, and if you keep up with your content, you’ll likely retain a ton of them.

6. Getting to the Next Level

While there is a lot you can do for free, you have to consider the amount of time you’ll spend and the return on investment just like you would for paid advertising. At IndoorMedia, we do our best to highlight local businesses in their own communities. We know how to help you build your brand through grocery store advertising and harness all the perks of hyper-local targeting. Our campaigns focus on building local restaurants, salons, lawyers, and realtors up through the right supermarket advertisements, and we have plenty of research to back our approaches up. Many choose our shopping cart approach, aka Cartvertising, because shopping cart advertising rates are so affordable. You can use this link to get a free quote and look forward to quickly building your brand locally.

IM In The Know

At IndoorMedia, we believe our blog can help business owners make profitable advertising decisions. Subscribe to our blog to stay in the know!