Easy & Free Advertising Ideas for New Restaurants

When you open a restaurant, it’s not enough just to open your doors to the public – the public has to know you’re there! The foodservice industry is extremely competitive, and opening a new restaurant is an expensive investment. Most restaurants fail due to insufficient or ineffective advertising. If people aren’t thronging your restaurant, it could be because there hasn't been enough marketing.

As a restaurant owner, you need to advertise for free within your community and on the internet to reach the largest number of people at the lowest possible cost. Marketing your restaurant can sometimes be tricky, but if you start by defining your ideal customer, it gets easier. When you know who you’re marketing to, you’ll be able to define where those people are and how to reach them.

Here are 5 tips for new restaurant advertising:

1. Start by leveraging social media. There’s a reason all those pictures of plated food end up on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. People love to share a good thing, and you should, too. So prepare and take pictures of your best dishes, your restaurant, and your smiling staff. Find a professional photographer to do your restaurant justice, then get busy posting those mouthwatering pictures of your irresistible menu! 46% of internet users depend on social media to influence their buying decision, so this is a method of advertising you can’t afford to ignore. Utilize hashtags, create contests, offer discounts, and give people a reason to make a reservation. Don’t just use broad, popular hashtags; you’re marketing to people in your area so use local hashtags, so your posts show up in your geographical area.

2. Give free samples. Don’t expect everyone to take your word for how delicious and life-changing your food is – prove it to them with free samples! Host a pre-opening, grand opening, or happy hour special (or all of the above) and promote it like crazy. Give away samples of your best menu items and offer discounts or specials for customers who return. Hand out cards or flyers with your samples that encourage repeat customers and offer them something valuable if they bring a friend. It could be half off the price of an entrée, a free dessert, an upgrade, free beverage, whatever you decide.

3. Host a fundraiser in your community. People in your community who see your business actively involved with local charities or charitable causes will help spread the word and also help your business by creating a positive reputation. Encourage employees to get involved in local events since they represent your business. Donate your time to a local food kitchen or worthy cause and gain goodwill as well as free advertising. Dedicate a portion of your profits to the homeless, a military family, at-risk youth program, after school program, or other local support program. Support a club or sports team and get your name out there. People love to help other people, and you can facilitate that by giving back to your local community.

4. Create or optimize your Google My Business profile. Make sure your website is functional and your business profile is live and all information is accurate. Encourage visitors to leave reviews of their experience at your restaurant and offer them an incentive to do so.

5. Build relationships with other local businesses. Team up with other businesses in your area whose services or products complement yours, and vice versa. Join your local chamber of commerce and meet other business owners you can support. Look for ways to offer support before asking for it.

At Gilkey Restaurant Consulting, we help our clients improve operations and increase profits. To learn more about how we can help your restaurant thrive, contact us today to get started with our restaurant consulting services!