Important elements, tools and tactics for restaurant marketing can create a following of loyal and loving diners, which can ensure a regular flow of business for your establishment.

Define your target audience
Think about the elements that'll help determine this, such as your location.

For example, you'll likely attract businesspeople in the early mornings and at lunch hour for coffee. This opens up the perfect opportunity for a lunch and free Wi-Fi.

If your business is in the suburbs, you'll likely be serving younger couples and families. A very high-end, gourmet restaurant will appeal to a vastly different demographic than a restaurant that serves pub food in a casual setting, or even a family-friendly restaurant with a children's play area.

Similarly, you'll want to consider what people in your neighbourhood are willing or able to pay for a meal.

Yes, this may have an element of generalisation, but your physical location will affect not only who you're serving and trying to appeal to, but it'll also give you important clues on how to position your business in your market. All these insights will help you strategise how to attract this audience, how to expand or even where to open in new locations.

No matter what industry you go into, you'll find businesses trying to appeal to everyone. Sure, you might attract the occasional customer who doesn't fit your target customer profile, but that's the exception rather than the rule.

It's impossible to appeal to all, and this strategy may do more harm to your business than good. That's why having a very clear understanding of who your target market is is so crucial.

Ensure a professional image
In your industry, in particular, it's paramount you don't skimp on:
  • professional, visually appealing photography
  • beautifully crafted menus (with absolutely no typos)
  • striking and beautiful websites, and
  • social media pages.
It should look like a professional handles your web and social media marketing (because they really should be).

The restaurant industry is a visual space and people eat with their eyes, so you need to create a desire for people to want to come to dine with you long before they've set foot in your establishment or placed their online order.

Have a stellar online footprint
Your online presence should consist of your website, social media pages, all local restaurant review websites, food blogs, third-party listings and local area guides. All of these elements will boost brand awareness and pique interest in your establishment.

Consider local South African social blog sites such as:
Consider third-party advertising such as:
Consider listing sites such as:
Consider food blog sites such as:

Offer takeaway options

If you're not marketing takeaway and delivery services through third parties or in-house efforts, you're losing money and market share while risking customer dissatisfaction.

Promoting takeout and delivery orders offers a lucrative income stream that works for all types of restaurants — not just fast food places. People in every city and socio-economic group occasionally want to relax at home without preparing their own meals.

Use Google listings
Another important listing to remember is Google My Business. It's free to set up and allows you to highlight:
  • what's special about your restaurant
  • share essential information
  • show off your best menus and dishes
  • take online reservations, and
  • share images.
Finally, through Google Maps, your customers will easily be able to find your restaurant. Google Maps also displays important information like opening / closing times, contact details and a link to your restaurant's website.

Have online bookings
Throughout all these business listings, encourage online bookings with links to your online reservations service. It should be quick, simple to use, done completely online and should send the diner a text message to remind them of the details for their booking.

If you really want a standout booking form, have some additional tick boxes that allow the diner to customise things such as "tick if this is a birthday, anniversary or other special celebration".

By ticking that tick-box, you ensure a quiet and romantic seat reserved for special occasions, or perhaps you offer a free bottle of champagne or wine on the house or even a free cake with a custom message like "happy anniversary" or "happy birthday".

Really think about how you can go that extra mile with such small, customisable extras.
Ensure your menus are available online. They must be in HTML, this will allow search engines to match your website with searches for those individual food items or dishes, a no brainer in helping with your website's general SEO.

Social media is paramount, especially Instagram. Consider promotional giveaways to encourage customers to post photos, videos and Stories of them dining at your establishment.

Best photos could be displayed at your restaurant, or on your social pages. Great photos tagged on Facebook or Instagram could earn diners a free meal or discount.  Additionally, you could sponsor an Instagram contest to get customers to take lots of photos and generate business.

Another option is to reach out to food bloggers and offer incentives, create a newsletter providing those who've signed up with updates on any events happening at your restaurant and other new, exciting announcements. This will not only draw in new business but perhaps a food blogger as well.

Create event dates
Announcing exciting event dates could be the perfect thing for your establishment. Here are just a few great ideas:
  • Have a romantic Valentine's day set menu: entice pre-bookings, switch up the décor, add soft background music, fairy lights and a free bottle of wine for a redisclosed amount.
  • Offer Mother's or Father's day set lunch menus.
  • Arrange exclusive date nights such as "a taste of Paris / Greece".
  • Invite local artists to play at your restaurant, or
  • Host live music events.
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