It’s the endless circle of irony – your business needs to do some aggressive marketing because you really need to increase sales and guest counts, but you don’t have money available to spend on marketing because your profits are down. What’s a cash-challenged restaurant owner to do? The following are some low cost restaurant marketing ideas that can help get the guest counts and profits moving in the right direction.
- Crowd Marketing – Sit down and make a list of where crowds gather in your town. When you stop to think about it, the list can become large – Professional Sporting Events, Concerts, Parades, High School Games, Political Rallies, Parks on Sunny Days, Shopping Malls, etc. The front door approach to market to these crowds is to approach the organization that plans the event and become an official sponsor. This often requires an investment of hundreds or thousands of dollars. With limited funds, you’re looking for the back door method to reach these crowds. Put together a street team of employees or hire the local church youth group who are trying to raise funds. Place your marketers on the sidewalks outside the event as it ends. They pass out flyers, brochures, menus, or coupons that will direct the people to come to your restaurant. It’s a personal contact with potential customers, less expensive than official sponsorships, and often far more effective.
- Social Marketing – Tap into the power of the internet with social marketing. Everyone says ‘word of mouth’ marketing is the most powerful kind, and ‘word of mouth’ is now digital. With Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, people are connected now in ways they never have been before. It’s not unusual to see friends lists of 500 to 1000 other people. Then they join groups that can number up into a million users. Find a reason for these people to start talking about your restaurant, and you’ll get massive exposure for very little or no investment.
- Fund Raiser Nights – Drive traffic by holding “percentage of the sales” nights at your restaurant. For example, the high school band is raising money for a trip. You offer a certain percentage of the sales on a Tuesday night for their fund raising. They in turn distribute flyers to the whole school plus family, friends and relatives to drive traffic on Tuesday so they can raise more money for their cause. It works best to do this on your slower nights, so you have plenty of capacity and aren’t turning away customers or missing sales you would have had anyway.
- Bounce Back Coupons – Your current customers are a great target group to try to increase sales. Just give them a reason to come back sooner than they normally would. Maybe it’s a coupon that’s only valid for the next seven days. Or if you are open in multiple dayparts, at dinner you give away a coupon valid for breakfast, and at breakfast give away coupons valid for dinner. Not only can this increase your guest’s frequency, it may open them up to visit you at a whole different daypart than they ever had before.
David Archer knows restaurant marketing, having served in marketing management positions for multiple chains, each with over 100 restaurant units. He has condensed this knowledge and experience into a helpful marketing resource for restaurant owners and managers in need of marketing assistance. “Restaurant Marketing Secrets” lays out a comprehensive step-by-step plan, complete with an exhaustive section of marketing ideas, to take the mystery out of successful restaurant marketing. The book is available at http://www.RestaurantMarketingSecrets.net.
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