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Restaurant marketing ideas
The best strategies for success


Are you looking for new ways to promote your restaurant?

The restaurant business is fiercely competitive. Your customers are spoiled for choice. Coming up with new, creative restaurant marketing ideas that help you attract new customers and entice your old ones back can be time-consuming and exhausting.


Whether you’re new to the restaurant game or have had a restaurant for ages, you’ll love this extensive list of restaurant marketing ideas. Developed by our team of qualified marketing experts, it’s a comprehensive, creative and actionable list of restaurant marketing strategies.



Getting started

Before we get stuck into the list

Let’s review what restaurant marketing is and why it’s so important to the success of your business. Or, if you want to jump ahead and learn more about one of our restaurant marketing topics, use these handy links.



What is restaurant marketing?

Marketing a restaurant is the strategic process of getting people interested in your business.

It’s your strategy, plan and actions for:

  • Understanding your target market and building a connection with them

  • Drawing their attention to your offer

  • Finding innovative ways to bring people to your restaurant

  • Encouraging them to spend big

Why is restaurant marketing important?

Restaurant marketing helps you build your reputation, attract customers and grow profits.

You’re probably well aware that you can’t have a successful restaurant by just hanging a shiny sign, cooking some great food and hoping for the best. You need to put thought and effort into a solid restaurant marketing plan to really reach your potential.


Do you need a restaurant brand identity?

Yes! Your restaurant brand identity sets you apart from the competition, building brand awareness, interest and loyalty.

Brand identity is more than just your name and logo. It includes your restaurant’s mission, vision, personality and values. A strong, identifiable brand gives customers a reason to choose you over the competition and helps build an emotional connection. Understanding and documenting your brand identity also helps you train staff to present a consistent image to customers and make sure your marketing is always on track.


38 marketing ideas for your restaurant

Ready to get inspired and fill your restaurant every night? Let’s start with our 38 most useful and creative restaurant marketing ideas.


Brick-and-mortar marketing ideas

Brick-and-mortar marketing focuses on bringing people into your physical location.


We live in an increasingly digital age, and restaurants need to use all marketing channels to succeed. But at the end of the day, restaurants are brick-and-mortar businesses with a physical location, and you heavily rely on foot traffic. More and more customers are using the internet to research ahead of choosing a restaurant but focusing on brick-and-mortar marketing will help you attract hungry passers-by and draw them inside.

1. Offer an exceptional dining experience

The best way to keep your customers coming back is to be good at what you do. What this looks like depends on your niche. If you’re a family-friendly diner, maybe you deliver coloring pencils with menus to keep the kids entertained and get the food out fast. Knowing what matters to your customers and delivering it consistently is the key.

2. Use digital signage

All your signage is important for attracting attention but installing digital restaurant signage raises the bar. It’s the most attention-grabbing signage because you can include captivating imagery and videos and keep updating the messages for added interest. Used well, it can increase spend per customer and daily sales by 30%. You can put digital signs in your windows to increase foot traffic, pre-programming different content across the day to tempt customers with mouth-watering videos of your breakfast, lunch and dinner menu options.

Consider using digital signage in your restaurant as a menu board and for advertising specials, promotions and events. Make it easy by choosing a digital signage company that offers simple drag and drop restaurant templates with food images and videos built-in.

3. Giveaways and branded merchandise

People love free stuff. Giving away branded merchandise is a cost-effective way to drive foot traffic and build brand awareness and loyalty. Try to link the giveaway with your restaurant’s brand. Ideas include branded aprons, recipe books, wine glasses, reusable coffee cups, ice buckets, coolers, bottle openers and after-dinner mints.

4. Connect with the local media

If you can form good relationships with local reporters and radio show hosts, you may be able to get regular exposure for your restaurant for free. Do some research and connect with them on LinkedIn to build some trust. Think of an interesting hook for stories and pitch them in. A new menu item won’t be enough, but maybe your exclusive use of local organic ingredients or your diverse hiring strategy that gives opportunities to minority groups would pique some interest.

5. Try piggy-back marketing

You’ll have a bunch of stakeholders who want your business to succeed. Maybe it’s your food or equipment suppliers or the local trader’s association. They will have their own marketing channels and you could ask to be included in their newsletters or promotions to get fabulous free coverage for your restaurant.

Restaurant promotion ideas

How do restaurants promote? Restaurant promotions are special offers that attract new customers and encourage old customers to return.


They aim to boost sales and build long-lasting relationships with customers to make yours a regular restaurant of choice. The best promotions are highly targeted to the needs of your target audience. It’s common to have a range of customers who visit your restaurant, so design various promotions to appeal to each group.

Use restaurant promotions wisely. Try to think of ways to add value rather than just dropping your prices. Have the best bagels in town, not the cheapest. That said, offering discounts can be a very effective way to increase sales. Just make sure to analyze the financials to ensure you’re making more than you’re spending. Don’t offer discounts at traditionally busy times, instead use them to solve your challenges. If you’ve got an especially slow time of day or week or foods that aren’t selling, use promotions to increase your sales in those areas.

6. Offer a discount, promo code or coupon

Discounts are hugely popular with restaurant customers, with around 80% of people using one each year. They can also encourage people to travel further to your restaurant. Know your margins and strategically choose the items you’re prepared to discount. Here are some different discounting ideas:

  • Buy one pizza, get one free
  • Combo deals, a free drink with every main meal
  • Time-based discounts are good for creating urgency
  • Percentage based discounts, like 10% off your bill on Tuesdays
  • Dollar-off discounts, e.g., spend over $100 and save $20 off your bill

7. Use discount and promotion sites

Discount and promotion sites like Groupon and RetailMeNot are great for reaching new audiences. Just make sure your discounts are short-term and you factor in all fees when deciding if it’s worthwhile. As we mentioned, constant discounting can erode your brand, so if you’re always leaning on discounting to fill your restaurant, think about what else you could change to build the value of your brand before dropping prices.

8. Chef’s specials

Offering special menu items is a great way to bring customers in to try something new. Make sure it fits your general restaurant theme and get your chef to create the magic. Run specials for a limited time to create some urgency to visit. Advertise on your digital menu board and ask your team to promote the specials when customers order.

9. Do a letterbox drop

Even though we’re in a digital age, old-school outreach strategies can still work. We’re bombarded with digital noise all day long, so a direct mail flyer can really stand out. Studies have shown that 42% of people read their direct mail, and 73% prefer it because they can read it whenever they want. It has a permanency that digital messaging doesn’t, and it’s perfect for targeting the local area right around your restaurant. You could send a flyer with your menu, home delivery options and a discount offer if they dine in before month-end.

Restaurant event ideas

Restaurant events bring color and excitement to your restaurant, giving new and old customers a reason to visit.

10. Restaurant grand opening event

It’s good to hold a series of launch events when you first open your restaurant. Start by having a friends and family event to let your staff get used to new procedures and the frenetic pace. Then do an influencer event, inviting local reporters, bloggers, celebrities and people in the community who have influence or an audience. When you open to the public, open with great fanfare. Make it a celebration. Offer a special deal for opening night. If you have digital signage, include a countdown to opening night to build suspense for people walking by.

11. Leverage a local event

Keep an eye on local events. If there’s a sporting event, concert or parade nearby, promote an event in your restaurant to complement it. You could ask the event organizer for a cross-promotion opportunity. For instance, you could offer a 5% discount to anyone who went to that day’s football match. The football clubs might show messages on their signs to let attendees know of the deal during the game in return for a donation or discount for their players.

12. Offer cooking lessons

If you’re happy to share some of your secrets, inviting your customers in for cooking lessons is a great way to build relationships. It’s best not to share the exact recipe of your most popular dish, but giving customers behind the scenes insights and new skills will encourage them to share content on social media and tell their friends about your restaurant.

13. Support a charity

Over 50% of Gen X, millennials and Gen Z people are more likely to choose restaurants supporting charities. You’ll gain the respect of your community and staff, and you’ll feel good about yourself too. You could ask your customers what causes they care about, then hold an event or donate a percentage of profits. Food banks are another excellent way to do good in your community.

14. Bring in a celebrity or become one

Celebrities in restaurants are a huge drawcard. Ask a local celebrity to serve behind the bar for the night and donate a percentage of the takings to their charity of choice. Or apply to be a contestant on a reality cooking show and become a celebrity yourself. This could bring a considerable amount of attention to your restaurant. It might even be worth engaging a public relations expert to promote your involvement widely through the local press.

15. Events to celebrate the holidays

Make your restaurant the venue of choice for your customers to celebrate their favorite holidays. Create events so special they’ll want to make it a tradition to bring the entire family every year. You could have a Mother’s Day luncheon with flowers for the guest of honor, a Halloween costume contest with candy prizes or candle-lit dinners for Valentine’s Day. As always, make sure the event is tied closely to your brand identity and something that your target customers will love. Promote your events through social media, letterbox drops, email marketing and digital signage.

16. International food holidays

Food holidays are a perfect excuse for an event at your restaurant. Could you offer a series of special cocktails on international lime day (March 10)? Or a free slice of chocolate cake on world chocolate day (July 7)? Be creative and devise a series of events across the year that suit your customers and brand.

Restaurant loyalty program ideas

Acquiring a new customer can be anywhere between five and 25 more expensive than retaining an existing one. Restaurant loyalty programs keep customers coming back.


17. Multiple-purchase loyalty programs

A simple way to reward loyalty is to give customers a freebie after a certain number of visits or money spent. For example, every tenth visit gets a free main meal. It’s easy to track this with a simple reward card marked up each visit.

18. Exclusive member-only discounts

Think about establishing a club that people are excited to be part of. Send regular emails with member-only deals. Some POS systems allow you to set up elaborate loyalty programs where customers earn points to redeem for free meals or other prizes. Try to make it exciting enough that customers share on social media with your loyalty program hashtag. Don’t forget to offer them a reward on their birthday, if it’s clever enough it might even encourage them to hold their party at your restaurant.

19. Offer referral rewards

Give extra benefits to customers who introduce their friends to your restaurant or share their experiences on social media. You might use a discount code and offer $10 off for both the referrer and their friend. Look at the financials to ensure that whatever reward you are offering isn’t eating too far into your profits.

Restaurant advertising ideas

Clever advertising helps you reach customers who might not know you. It’s a way to get people excited about your menu, promotions and events.


20. Online restaurant advertising

Paid online ads on platforms like Facebook or Google ads are a solid restaurant marketing strategy. Around 80% of customers search for restaurants online before dining so it has a huge reach. You can showcase your offer to a highly targeted geographic audience and time your ads to run around mealtimes to get better results. With Facebook, you can even target your ideal customer by demographics, interests and behaviors. Analyze the detailed insights and keep adjusting to find out what works best.

21. Retargeting

Retargeting allows you to serve ads to people who have visited your website. Many people will visit your website once, not make a booking and never come back. Retargeting puts your ads on other websites or social media platforms to remind them of your existence, promote a special offer or encourage them to check you out. It helps them get to know your brand and start building awareness, interest and trust.

22. Local newspaper, outdoor, radio or TV

Advertising offline is still an effective restaurant marketing strategy. It can help build your profile in the local community, is cost-effective and has a good, targeted reach. You could promote specials and events in the local paper, put a sign in the overhead ad space on public transport, advertise on the radio or sponsor the weather report on the local news.

23. Promote your restaurant on food delivery apps

If you’ve partnered with food delivery apps like UberEats or DoorDash, plenty of marketing options are available through their platforms. If you’re prepared to pay, you can grab the first position when people search for your type of cuisine. Just check the fees to make sure it’s worth your while.

24. Use your own screens for advertising

When you’ve got digital signs in your restaurant you can easily program them to advertise specials, new menu options, loyalty programs and discounts throughout the day. Digital signage in your windows can attract attention and bring passers-by inside, and your indoor digital signs can encourage people to buy high-margin items and drive upsells and cross-sells.

Restaurant website ideas

A whopping 93% of customers look at a menu online before choosing a restaurant, so you definitely need a website.


25. Keep your website up to date

The world is digital. Whether you like it or not, you need a website that shows your menu, opening hours and reviews at a minimum. It’s the best way to showcase your brand and offering to hungry customers when they’re looking for a place to dine. Build one yourself or outsource it to an expert. Ensure the information is always up to date and make it easy for customers to order online or make an online booking.

26. Optimize your website for SEO

Most of the search traffic for restaurants happens on mobile, so make sure your website is responsive and optimized for mobile. Have a simple website structure so users don’t have to navigate through multiple links to find what they’re looking for. Get other sites to link to yours (called backlinks) to improve your authority and help your site rank higher in Google searches.

27. Keep your Google My Business page up to date

Local SEO is critical for restaurants to make sure you show up in Google maps results, local search results (like ‘restaurant near me’), and the knowledge panel on the right-hand side of search results. Keep all your information up to date, including your contact details, questions and answers, popular times, photos and menu.

28. Set up a foodie blog

Having a blog on your website will help build your authority on Google and help your website rank better. It’s also an excellent way to keep your brand in front of customers and gives you an excuse to stay in touch. Here are some tips for great restaurant foodie blog posts:

  • Make sure your blog topics are interesting to your target audience, like the latest food trends, recipe books you love or hacks for complex cooking techniques
  • Share blog posts in emails and social media
  • Make the blog title intriguing to capture interest and attention
  • Use beautiful images and video content
  • Don’t forget a call-to-action button that prompts customers to do something like book a table or check out new menu items
  • Double-check your spelling and grammar before you publish

Restaurant review ideas

94% of diners read online reviews to choose their restaurant. Set up accounts on Google My Business, TripAdvisor and Yelp and actively manage reviews.


29.Ask for reviews

Online reviews are incredibly powerful, and customers are usually happy to leave them. Mostly, they just need a little reminder (or incentive) to get it done. Asking for reviews should be part of your marketing strategy and daily operations. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Have a QR code on your digital signage, menu and receipt
  • Get wait staff to ask customers in person
  • Send an email asking for a review and offering a discount as thanks
  • Ask in social posts

30. Respond to reviews

Make no mistake, potential customers are checking your reviews. Responding to all reviews – good and bad – is super important. Enthusiastically thank people for taking the time to leave their positive feedback to show how much you appreciate it. If you get a bad review, politely thank them for their comments and invite them to get in touch to resolve their concerns offline.

Restaurant email marketing ideas

59% of people say that marketing emails influence their purchase decisions. Just make sure your emails are personal, targeted and valuable.


31. Build up an extensive email database

Make gathering emails part of everything you do. The more people you’re talking to and the more you know about them, the more targeted your emails will be and the impact they will have.

  • Gather email addresses with online bookings
  • Have a pop-up on your website asking people to join the club with an introductory coupon offer
  • Put a QR code on your digital signage
  • Ask on social media, including a contest or limited time offer
  • Incentivize your staff to collect emails

32. Set up automated emails

Find a good email marketing platform, then set up a series of automated emails to welcome your customers to your list.

  • Offer irresistible promotions
  • Invite them to leave reviews
  • Ask them for feedback – what do they want from you?
  • Segment your list and send more emails to people who are opening and engaging with your content

33. Send a regular newsletter

Test different headlines, send times and content then set up a regular structure for your emails. Customers enjoy the familiarity and will begin to look forward to your content.

  • Include upcoming events, promotions and discounts, staff stories, new menu items, recipes, blog articles and customer reviews.
  • Make it mobile-friendly
  • Include beautiful images, social sharing buttons and call-to-action buttons that have links back to your website to make a reservation or place an order

Restaurant social media post ideas

Your customers are into social media, so you need to be too. It lets you interact with your customers when they’re not in your restaurant and entices them to return.


Here’s a quick overview of social media marketing for restaurants:

34. Create profiles on social media

Set up profiles on the social media platforms used by your target audience. Think FacebookInstagramTwitter and TikTok. Add a bio and include your location, hours, menu and contact details.

35. Post regular, engaging social media content

This takes thought and effort, but it helps to embed it in your daily operations.

  • Use beautiful images and put effort into making your food insta-worthy
  • Videos are viewed five times more often than photos. Try live-streaming, recipe demonstrations and DIY mocktail videos for behind-the-scenes insights
  • Share user-generated content to build connection, loyalty and trust
  • Introduce your employees or spotlight your local food vendors
  • Ask questions to get people to engage with your posts or get them to ‘Caption this photo!’

36. Run social media competitions

You can offer prizes to encourage people to visit your restaurant or simply engage with your social media. They need to fit your target audience and make sense financially. Ensure you check guidelines and regulations for running competitions with the social media platform and your state and local governing bodies. Here are some examples to get you thinking:

  • Want free movie tickets for after your meal? Tell us why you should win
  • Name of the week – if this is your name, come in for free dessert. This one has the bonus of your followers tagging their friends if their names come up
  • Like our page this week and go in the draw to win a round of drinks for ten friends

37. Stream your social media feeds on your restaurant’s digital signage

The best digital signage solutions have widgets that easily allow you to show your social feeds on screens in your restaurant. It gives diners instant gratification from sharing their food experience with their friends.

38. Restaurant influencer marketing

Influencer marketing can be a cost-effective way to boost social credibility. Over 70% of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals. Ask food bloggers or anyone local with a large social media following to visit and promote your brand in exchange for a posting fee or a free meal. Long-term, mutually beneficial relationships work best.


Time to start planning

The best marketing initiatives are planned and prepared in advance – that’s where a marketing plan comes in.

Work out which ideas you want to try out and map them out on a calendar.

Keep trying different ideas and track what works for your business.

To get started with digital signage in your restaurant, get in touch for a free consult.

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