Money is always tight when you’re running a restaurant, especially if it’s a new establishment. Most of your money is going towards paying staff, making rent, buying supplies, and other essentials that come with running an eatery. In the end, there’s not much left to spend on marketing most times.
Here are five cheap yet effective ways to spread the good word about your restaurant even when money is tight.
There is nothing more vital to the success of your business than loyalty. If you have patrons who are always coming back to you, this not only gives you a steady and secure stream of customers, it also increases the chances that news of your restaurant will spread by word of mouth.
Loyalty programs and incentives offer good ways to keep that loyal fan base coming back for more and telling their friends about you as well. Punch cards are a tried and tested form of loyalty program, for example. You can offer one free meal after five purchased ones, giving your regulars even more of an incentive to stop by more frequently.
These types of programs also enable you to build meaningful relationships with your customers, which really is the name of the game if you want to not only attract customers, but retain them as well.
If you’re looking for surefire, obvious events that can get people into your door, think about hosting live music or karaoke nights. But hosting private parties is another great way to keep your restaurant full, and it provides great promotion as well.
In addition to organizing private personal parties for wedding engagements, birthdays and things of that nature, corporate events are just as good. Not only are you getting paid by the company organizing the event, you’re also getting new people into the door. And there’s a good chance that most of these people would not have stumbled on to your restaurant otherwise. That’s why company parties provide a great way for you to introduce your restaurant to a large group of potential future customers at once.
To get the ball rolling, your best bet would be to do some research and compile a nice list of companies that are local to you. Then send out some flyers or emails to them, notifying these local businesses that you host private, corporate party events. Some of them will surely bite and subsequently have a bite to eat at your establishment.
Social media is without a doubt the most powerful free marketing tool that you can use to promote your eatery. Get on Facebook and Twitter immediately and build a strong community. Social networks are a fantastic place to talk about your events, promote special offers, highlight your menu, and interact with your customers.
Instagram is especially fantastic for restaurants. You can take great pictures of your food and drinks to show your followers, use hashtags to attract the attention of potential customers, and showcase the atmosphere at your restaurant to get people interested in visiting it. Social media gives you that “human” connection with your audience and allows you to communicate with your community and find your place within it.
Freebies and Giveaways
If there’s one thing everyone likes, it’s getting free stuff. There are lots of things you can do when it comes to offering freebies. For example, you can offer coupons for free drinks or side dishes to your customers or give away shirts and other swag to loyal customers.
You can even combine social media with giveaways and offer free drinks to people who tweet about your restaurant or check in to your restaurant a certain amount of times on Facebook or Swarm.
Those “finish it and it’s free” promotions are always popular, right? Why not develop a shockingly huge plate and put it on your menu. Then challenge customers to eat it all, offering the meal for free if they accomplish the feat. Again, this gets people not only coming to your restaurant, but also talking about it by word of mouth and on social networks after they leave.
Even if you don’t have much money to spend on marketing, there’s plenty of ways that you can get your message out. That’s especially true today with the presence of social media aiding your efforts and making it easier to not only establish contact with your audience, but also really show them your restaurant and food even before they walk through your door for the first time.Your marketing options are limited only by your creativity, not your budget.