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10 Low-Cost Restaurant Marketing Strategies

10 Low-Cost Restaurant Marketing Strategies

Restaurant marketing is about increasing check averages, bringing new customers in the door and creating repeat customers at your restaurant. However, you do not need to spend oodles of money on a marketing campaign. Sometimes, the simplest and cheapest restaurant marketing methods are the most affective. Here are ten low-cost marketing strategies you can implement in you restaurant:

  1. Word-of-Mouth Marketing. The most effective marketing technique is word-of-mouth marketing. The only way to create a positive buzz about your establishment is to provide tasty food and an enjoyable customer experience, so they'll tell their friends.
  2. Social Media Marketing. More and more, technology is affecting where customers choose to dine. Primary among those technologies is social media. Accounts on social media sites are free, and restaurants can use Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and other social media outlets to advertise events, have giveaways or otherwise keep fans and followers up-to-date on restaurant activities.
  3. Loyalty Programs. Loyalty programs offer incentives, usually in the form of small discounts, to customers who frequent the restaurant. A common reward is a free menu item after a predetermined number of visits; the visits are usually tallied with a punch card. Sure, with a restaurant loyalty program you are giving away items after so many visits, but every person who signs up adds to a restaurant's database. This allows you to better market to your target audience. Plus, you are building relationships by showing how much you value your best customers. » Learn More about Target Marketing for Restaurants
  4. Up-Selling. Skillful up-selling is the least expensive way to increase check averages. At any time during the server/customer interaction, the server can try to get the customer to buy something more. As long as the server doesn't come off as pushy, the customer won't know they are being marketed to. » Learn More about Successful Restaurant Upselling
  5. Event Marketing. Hosting events is the way to make your restaurant THE place to be. Whether it be having a live band or private party, events are fun for both the staff and customers while increasing traffic and check averages - the longer the event lasts, the more likely customers are to spend more money. Just be sure to post flyers, Tweet or use other methods to get the word out about the event so customers can add it to their calendars. » Learn More about Restaurant Event Marketing
  6. Email Marketing. Email marketing is used primarily to send out coupons, but restaurants can also use email to inform customers who sign up about special events or new menu items. Also, send customers a special "Happy Birthday" email on their birthday to show that you care. Just don't send out emails every day, lest you be seen as a spammer.
    » Learn More about Email Marketing for Restaurants
  7. Text Message Marketing. Like emails, text messages are another way to send a quick message to customers informing them of special events or upcoming meal deals. However, be sure to limit the text message to 160 characters - the maximum allowable for a single message on standard mobile phones. »
  8. Restaurant Newsletter. The traditional printed newsletter is being replaced by social media and email marketing, but that doesn't mean a restaurant manager can't still create a newsletter to email to customers or post on their Facebook page. In fact, digital newsletters are virtually cost-free and can still update customers in the restaurant's database about goings-on and upcoming events in the restaurant.
  9. Blogs and Videos. Having employees -- especially the head chef, if you have one -- write about their experiences in the restaurant is an easy way to make your restaurant more personable to customers. Videos are more of an investment (mainly a time investment) but can better show customers what it's like behind the counter.
  10. Restroom Marketing. The walls, mirrors, inside the stall doors and above urinals in restrooms are often-overlooked advertising spaces. Restaurants can hang fliers advertising special deals or events in the restroom to let customers know about upcoming events.