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Top 10 Tips for Restaurant Event Marketing

Top 10 Tips for Restaurant Event Marketing

Hosting an event at your restaurant is a great way to maintain or attract the interest of existing and potential clientele. A restaurant can be a venue for all kinds of occasions, including live concerts or shows, stand-up comedy, movie screenings, tastings, holiday parties, fundraisers, tournaments and contests such as bake-offs or eating contests, and special promotional events such as “Wine and Cheese Night.” However, you must market your event in order for it to be successful. Here are some key guidelines for successful event marketing:

1. Use fliers and posters.

Fliers and posters are probably the most popular medium for event marketing. They are very low-cost, and are especially effective when placed on local bulletin boards in college campuses, gas stations and other retail businesses. You should also place your fliers in brochure stations at hotel lobbies, airports and convention centers.

2. Form partnerships.

If you can partner with another local business or organization to put on an event, you will increase your marketing power and reach a broader audience. Consider co-sponsoring an event with a local charity, company or even another restaurant.

3. Direct market through various technologies.

Email, text message and print marketing can all be used to market your event. In your direct marketing messages, consider including a link to an event calendar on your website. Your restaurant could also use a social networking site like Evite to send customers an invitation to any upcoming events. » Learn More

4. Get in the “Events” section.

Send a press release to the city newspaper and news station. If you get lucky, they might decide to write an article or broadcast a story about your upcoming event. You should also request to be listed in the “Events” section of the city journal, if possible.

5. Contact free local newspapers.

Weekly periodicals with free distribution often serve as a resource for locals looking for upcoming events. Getting listed in a community newspaper is also ideal for attracting tourists, since out-of-towners are likely to pick up a free copy in order to learn about the local happenings.

6. Advertise inside your restaurant.

Make sure to promote your upcoming event within your restaurant. You can use table tents, displayettes, card and sign holders, menu inserts, posters and banners to keep customers informed of any special happenings.

7. Target potential customers.

Your event should target the same demographic group that your restaurant concept hopes to attract. Putting on an event can be profitable on its own, but in the end it will be even more profitable if you can get potential future customers to attend. Once they are exposed to your brand through the event, they will be more likely to return to your restaurant for a meal.

8. Send multiple reminders.

Some of your potential event attendees will want to plan ahead, and others will wait until the last minute to plan their night out. About six weeks before the event, you should begin advertising. A month before the event, you should send direct “mark your calendar” messages to the customers in your database. A day or two before the event, customers in your database should receive another reminder, either through email, or through postage sent ahead of time.

9. Get everyone involved.

Use viral marketing tactics. The more employees, customers and friends that you can get directly involved with the planning and implementation of the event, the more enthusiasm you will build. Employees and customers who help directly will be more likely to bring their family and friends to the event. » Learn More

10. Find an event host.

If you can get a local celebrity or someone with good social networking potential to host your event, you can greatly increase the final turnout.


1 Roger Fields, Restaurant Success by the Numbers (Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press, 2007).
2 Jacquelyn Lynn, Start Your Own Restaurant and More (Entrepreneur Press, 2006).