7 Local Restaurant Marketing Strategies & Tips
Last update: 12 December 2023 at 04:01 pm
Restaurant marketing is a broad topic that can include social media marketing, influencer marketing, email marketing, and many other restaurant marketing efforts designed to place your business at the top. But perhaps one of the most important types is local restaurant marketing.
In the article below, we’ll delve into the topic of local marketing for restaurants, its benefits, and tips on how to get more local customers to your restaurant.
What is local marketing?
As the name suggests, local marketing focuses on targeting the local community, i.e. customers around your business’s physical location. It’s also referred to as neighbourhood marketing for local businesses or location-based marketing.
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Regardless of whether you only have a brick-and-mortar restaurant location, or you also sell your food online, it’s essential to target the people in your area that will visit your restaurant or order delivery.
They are more likely to become regulars since they live close by, as well as to recommend your restaurant to friends and family if they enjoy your food and service.
What are the benefits of local marketing for restaurants?
When you formulate your restaurant marketing plan, don’t skip local marketing. Here’s why:
You can reach new customers in your area
Who doesn’t want to visit a restaurant that’s close by and that knows how to promote itself with irresistible food photos and promotions? The main target audience for the restaurant industry is always going to be a local one, regardless of whether your restaurant is also a popular touristic attraction or not.
You will improve your branding and brand loyalty
Your ultimate goal is to turn your restaurant into a well-known local brand. You have a better chance to promote your restaurant’s brand identity locally than to a large audience. Learning about your buyer persona gives you the opportunity to deliver tailored marketing campaigns that they will find useful and interesting. That way, they’ll keep coming back to your restaurant.
You will have a competitive edge
When you’re doing local marketing, you’re competing directly with your local competition, which is other restaurants in the area. If you optimize your restaurant marketing channels for local searches and encourage online reviews, you will position your restaurant higher in search engines and in your customers’ hearts.
You can promote your website and online menu
If you have a restaurant website, doing local SEO is essential if you want customers to find it, and especially if you’re also selling your food online. Having a mobile-friendly website for your online ordering menu can increase your sales without you having to sacrifice part of your profits to the many online delivery services on the market.
You can partner up with other local businesses
As a restaurant owner, you need to establish relationships with other local businesses that your target customers might visit, for cross-promotion. Focusing on being an integral part of the local community will bring you support from fellow business owners as well as customers who are involved in the community.
7 local restaurant marketing ideas to implement ASAP
1. Start by spreading the word offline
Not all local marketing happens online. Any successful restaurant knows you need a combination of offline and online marketing to make it big. You can reach potential customers in the area by distributing flyers, putting up posters featuring promotions on your windows, or displaying a specials board in front of the restaurant, just like a food truck.
Your employees can also be excellent promoters of your restaurant. Allow them to offer their friends and family a discount coupon code or a freebie when they come in, to encourage them to try your restaurant and come back in the future. Since they have a personal connection to the restaurant, they are more likely to leave positive reviews and generous tips if they’ve enjoyed their visit.
If you have a bigger marketing budget, you can also advertise your restaurant on local radio, newspapers, or TV, as a means to attract customers in that age group.
Events can also get people talking so don’t be afraid to integrate them into your restaurant marketing strategy. Is your town big on public holidays or local events? Why not make your restaurant the go-to place to celebrate by throwing themed parties with special menus and compelling promotions?
Restaurant marketing ideas don’t have to be complicated to work. Simple local networking can bring restaurant owners the business they need. Visit local office buildings and inquire whether you can leave your menu and a couple of discount codes at the front desk for the lunch crowd.
You can also visit small shops and businesses in the area to get to know the owners and staff, and offer them a neighborly discount at your restaurant. If they ever need to order food for an office party or gather somewhere with the team, your restaurant will be top of mind.
2. Collaborate with local influencers
Influencer marketing is one of those restaurant marketing ideas that not a lot of restaurants use, but that can yield effective results.
Search for food bloggers in your area and/or social media influencers that have collaborated with your competitors in the past. They might be interested in stopping by your restaurant for a free meal in exchange for documenting their experience on different social media platforms.
Their loyal followers are more likely to become your repeat customers if they see their favorite influencer enjoying your food. Not to mention you can also share their photos and videos on your social media accounts for some free user-generated content.
You can include influencers in your restaurant marketing campaigns whenever you’re launching new menu items. Offer them the chance to try them before they’re officially on the menu to help you build anticipation for their release.
If you want to create even more buzz, give them a personalized discount code to share with their followers. Personalized codes will also help you measure the success of your restaurant marketing campaign and determine whether you can establish a long-term collaboration with that influencer or not.
3. Do local search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is the key to online restaurant marketing success. Focus on local SEO to attract customers online and secure their loyalty. Here are some things you can do to make your restaurant more discoverable in search engines:
- Optimize your website. An SEO-optimized restaurant website is the first step to increasing the visibility of your restaurant business. You need a responsive website that loads well on all devices and contains up-to-date information on your restaurant’s opening hours, address, and contact. Include your menu, as well as online ordering and online reservation tools to enable customers to place orders or book a table online. Don’t forget to optimize the content on your website by including relevant keywords for your cuisine and location.
- Optimize your Google Business profile. Successful restaurant marketing can’t ignore Google Business as a powerful and reliable tool. This is what your customers see first when they Google your restaurant. Complete your profile with opening hours, address, website and menu links, photos, and contact information, and update it every time you make a change. Regularly check your reviews and reply to them, especially to negative reviews.
- Be active and consistent on your social media channels. The vast majority of your customers are active on social media. Being where they are is the best way to attract them to your food business and turn them into loyal customers. Post often and consistently, and engage with customers by asking them questions, creating polls, and organizing contests. Keep your name, address, and phone number (NAP) consistent on all social media platforms, as well as your website and Google Business profile to build trust and authority with search engines and customers alike.
4. Communicate with customers online
The best restaurant marketing strategies take a long-term commitment to work. Building a quality relationship with your customers takes time but is worth the effort. Be it on social media, in reviews, or via email, your restaurant brand needs to be present in their mind.
Email marketing is an excellent way to promote your restaurant online and foster a long-lasting relationship with your customers. Send loyal customers regular restaurant promotions and rewards, exclusive looks at new menu items, and the possibility to book a table for a special event before anyone else.
Monitor online reviews on all platforms and reply to positive reviews as well as negative reviews so you can thank customers who praise you and solve any issues that they raise.
5. Participate in local events
Any local restaurant marketing guide will tell you that getting involved in community events is the way to your customers’ hearts.
Does your town organize food or music festivals? Sign up as one of the caterers to expose your restaurant to more than your target market. Prepare marketing materials like flyers and business cards featuring a discount code to distribute among the crowd. That way, you’ll encourage them to become returning customers.
Donating to local charities, sponsoring the local sports team, and participating in fundraising events will also build your reputation in the community. You want to be seen as an involved business that likes to give back and support others.
6. Create a referral program
One of the best restaurant marketing ideas you could implement to get more local customers is a referral program. Customers who are crazy about your restaurant would probably rave about you for free, but why not ensure that’s what happens?
Offer referral incentives such as discounts and freebies to people who bring in their family and friends. In turn, these new customers might also refer others to your restaurant, and so on. A simple restaurant marketing hack that works wonders for your popularity and sales.
7. Consider local ads
Whether you want to run Google ads or try advertising on social media, targeting locals with ads online can bring you a new wave of customers when all else fails, or when you feel like you need some extra help.
On Google, you can run pay-per-click ads that will position you at the top of the search engine results in your area. This will improve brand awareness and could also instantly boost sales if you’re planning on promoting your online ordering menu.
The same can be said of your Facebook business page. Reach more people and drive conversions by promoting your newest menu item, an irresistible promotion, or an exciting event in a targeted ad.
Local restaurant marketing tips to remember
If you’d like to turn your restaurant into a fixture in the community, keep in mind these successful local restaurant marketing strategies:
- Spread the word offline with flyers, posters, local ads, and community networking
- Collaborate with local food bloggers and social media influencers
- Optimize your website and Google Business profile for search engines
- Communicate with customers online, on social media, and via emails
- Get involved in local events
- Offer referral incentives to customers who recommend you to friends and family
- Run local ads on Google and your Facebook business page
Restaurant marketing encompasses the various strategies and activities undertaken to promote a restaurant and attract customers. This includes digital marketing through social media and online platforms, traditional advertising methods, in-store promotions, creating a compelling online presence, managing customer reviews, and building partnerships with local businesses to enhance visibility and reach.
Local marketing examples include distributing flyers or coupons within the local community, sponsoring local events or sports teams, hosting in-store promotions, collaborating with nearby businesses for cross-promotions, and utilising geotargeted online advertising. These strategies focus on engaging the immediate community to drive local awareness and customer traffic.
To promote local restaurant marketing, consider implementing strategies such as partnering with local influencers or food bloggers, utilising social media platforms to showcase your dishes and engage with the community, offering promotions for local residents, participating in community events, and ensuring your restaurant is listed on local directories and review sites.
Market your small restaurant effectively by creating an online presence through a website and social media channels, leveraging local search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques, collaborating with local businesses or events, implementing loyalty programs, and encouraging customer reviews. Emphasise the unique aspects of your restaurant to distinguish it from competitors.