The expectations of your guests have evolved. Restaurants have quickly pivoted to provide fresh, convenient dining options. And here in 2021 (and beyond), your restaurant faces more and more pressure to adapt (and compete effectively against the restaurants that have).
What will set you apart is your customer journey: how you promote your restaurant, how you communicate with customers, and how you deliver the best overall experience with great food and service, even at a distance.
Advertising is often the first step in that journey because it’s usually the first interaction a would-be customer has with your business. Restaurant marketing through targeted advertisements can help you bring in new guests — with the ultimate aim being to win their recurring business and long-term loyalty.
Here are 10 creative restaurant advertising ideas to get you started.
Restaurant Marketing Plan
Create a marketing plan that'll entice and engage the customers you want with this customizable marketing plan template and interactive calendar from Toast.
1. Facebook Location Ads
With Facebook’s easily customizable ad manager, you can make many different types of ads on Facebook with different objectives.
For example, you could create a lead ad where the main objective is to collect email addresses of customers interested in your latest promotion.
Location ads also allow you to target potential customers within a certain radius of your restaurant and track whether they saw your ad and visited your restaurant after the fact.
This easily trackable return on investment (ROI) lets you gauge the success of your ads, and tweak them accordingly — maybe you swap out the image, change the phrasing, or try a different target group.
2. YouTube Ads
Youtube has over 2 billion users worldwide — that’s about 79 percent of Internet users. If your restaurant marketing strategy doesn’t include YouTube, you might be missing out. Create promo videos like this one from Cali Comfort BBQ.
Showcase that video all over your social channels and website, but also be sure to consider YouTube advertising as something to test. YouTube works on a pay-per-view model, so you only pay when people are watching your video. You can even target the ads so they only appear to people in your area, just like Facebook allows.
3. Google Search Ads
You might be considering restaurant SEO (Search Engine Optimization) before. But don’t ignore SEM or Search Engine Marketing.
Search Engine Marketing is the act of bidding for certain keywords — “Italian restaurant in Boston” — to appear on the first position of Google search results.
There are certain keywords that may make sense to bid on (such as “best italian restaurants in Atlanta”) and some that may not (such as “best restaurants”). The more search volume a keyword has, the more expensive it is, in most cases, so run this test on specific, local keywords that hit the sweet spot.
We recommend Google Keyword Planner for this keyword research, as you can start a campaign right from there.
4. Instagram Ads
Instagram might be the most important social network for your restaurant. Diners love to post pictures of their food on Instagram under hashtags like #eeeeeats and #foodies. The food-loving culture of Instagram means that photos from your restaurant will be well-received by its users.
That’s why it makes absolute sense for your restaurant to advertise on Instagram, putting money behind your best pictures of menu items and sending people to your online ordering platform or your reservations software.
Not only should you post on your own Instagram page, and you can put money behind your best posts for them to show up to a wider audience, but it’s also a great place for advertising on other pages with a large reach. For example, Visit California showcases some of California’s restaurants in this post (and all over their feed)
They use their page as an ad platform to boost the visibility of local restaurants, hopefully driving foot traffic to these locations.
5. Twitter Ads
Poncho No. 8, in London, promoted its grand opening through Twitter ads, inviting people to follow them and visit the restaurant on the day of for “freebies and amazing food.” Twitter ads are a great way to get exposure in your local area.
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6. Yelp ads
Managing your Yelp reputation is essential for your business.
Yelp ads for restaurants increase the visits to a restaurant’s Yelp page by 25% on average, according to a recent study. The ads can also increase purchase intention: generating directions to the business increased 18%, clicking through to a restaurant’s website increased 9%, and calling the restaurant from Yelp increased 13%.
Like Google Adwords, you can move your restaurant reviews to the top of the search engine results through Yelp advertisements.
With Yelp ads, you can target searches in your local area, and even pay for placement on competitor business pages. These ads also work for mobile or desktop devices.
7. Chamber of Commerce Ads
Time to get creative. Your local Chamber of Commerce wants to see small businesses succeed. So why not add Chamber of Commerce ads to your restaurant marketing plan in 2021?
The Chamber of Commerce, in many cases, has addresses and email addresses for people throughout your community, and key guidelines for how to advertise with them. Find your local Chamber of Commerce and ask about advertising opportunities in your area.
For example, many Chamber of Commerce organizations send out a packet to new members of the community with recommendations for local places.
The Richardson Chamber of Commerce sends a weekly email calendar, has banner advertisements on business directory search pages, and uses email ads to send to thousands of businesses in the community, for example.
8. Sponsor a local team, school group, or community theater organization
Speaking of local advertising opportunities, we can’t ignore these fun offline opportunities.
Many towns have local sports teams that need sponsorship for equipment, uniforms, and so on. This is the perfect opportunity for your restaurant to pitch in, plus get your logo on these uniforms.
Sponsormyteam.com matches recreational sports teams with local bar and restaurant sponsors. That’s a great place to start to look for these sponsorship opportunities. Otherwise, ask around. Your local Chamber of Commerce may also have a referral.
Another local advertising opportunity that restaurants can take advantage of is buying a page in the school or community theatre playbill.
9. TikTok Ads
TikTok is the fastest growing social network ever, with more and more millennials and Gen Z’ers engaging with the app every day. Restaurants can capitalize on this network in two ways: by creating videos themselves, and buying ads.
TikTok makes it easy to maximize ROI by ensuring your most important audiences see your ads and track your performance in real-time, with their analytics. TikTok’s algorithm is famous for its accurate targeting through user interactions, interest, and locations, so you can be sure your restaurant ads will be hitting your target market.
10. Google My Business
Google is often the first place potential customers go when looking for a place to eat.
Roughly 43% of all Google searches are local or location-based (and growing), and over 50% of mobile searches are local or location-based (and growing).
Make sure that your Google My Business profile is up to date with the right hours, location, menu, and online ordering link. Although it's simple, it makes a big difference in the user experience to have that information right at your guest's fingertips.
Get Your Business Out There
Small changes can result in huge payoffs when it comes to advertising your restaurant.
Whatever method you go with, make sure to keep creativity, flexibility, and authenticity top of mind. If one platform doesn’t work for you, change it up and try another.
There are endless possibilities — so be creative and go for it.