Restaurant owners in 2019 face an increasingly competitive market. Many of them are turning to technology or diversifying their business. As the old saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention” - and restaurateurs are certainly inventing some creative strategies to increase restaurant sales.
In this post, we’ll take a look at 5 restaurant marketing ideas that are easy to implement and will help you stand out from the crowd. There’s one key concept at the heart of all these strategies: community.
Let’s see how it works
1. Get out on the streets
The first step is to think beyond your basic restaurant space. We’ve previously discussed how to market your restaurant with a food delivery service. But how about taking your restaurant on tour in the community?
- Farmer’s markets and pop-up stalls. Become a regular feature at your local market, or run secret pop-up stalls for your loyal customers to track down.
- Local festivals and community events. Take up a stall space, sponsor an event, or offer to distribute snacks.
- Sample stalls. Try offering samples of new seasonal dishes at your restaurant. This could be as simple as having one of your staff stand outside with a tray.
2. Cater for internal and external events
Catering can be a lucrative revenue stream, alongside serving in your restaurant and offering food delivery services.
Think about whether you can offer internal or external catering – or both.
- Internal events. If you have a large enough restaurant space, you can offer in-house catering for private events. Run targeted restaurant marketing campaigns at key moments in the year, like Christmas and graduation.
- External events. Catering for big events such as weddings can be a great side business. However, you’ll need access to transport and logistics to make sure that everything runs smoothly.
Catering for events is actually a double-edged marketing strategy to increase restaurant sales. On one side, you’re making money from the event itself. And on the other, you’re spreading the word about your delicious food and amazing customer service to everyone who attends the event.
3. Become a social hub
Restaurants, bars and cafés can play a vital role in keeping communities together. In our digital-only world, loneliness and social disconnection are on the increase – and some experts blame the lack of community meeting places.
So there’s an opportunity here to do good in your community, as well as increase restaurant sales. Here are a few ideas to try out:
- Viewing parties. Think sports tournaments, the latest Netflix success, or classic movies. Set up a projector screen and put some themed drinks on the menu. Just be sure to check on any licensing rules before you get started.
- Social events. Run regular events where people can come to meet friends, make a date, or just hang out. Try adding open events to Facebook or Meetup for people to discover.
- Language exchanges. This idea is especially effective if you live in a major city, or offer cuisine from another culture. Set up a language exchange night where people can come along to eat snacks and practice their language skills in a fun, informal setting.
4. Set up a welcoming co-working space
The sight of someone working away on a laptop in the middle of a busy café has become common. So as freelancing and remote working become more popular, why not tap into this new audience by offering a friendly space for co-working.
It doesn’t have to be permanent; you could advertise a couple of afternoons a week as co-working sessions. Get set up with power outlets, clear table space, and plenty of coffee!
You can be creative with how you charge for these services, too. If you’re worried about making enough restaurant sales, then copy this London café and charge people by the minute – instead of the food they eat.
5. Share your expertise with restaurant masterclasses
We’ve already mentioned the option of hosting social events and language exchanges. But what about running your own classes?
If you’re marketing a restaurant in 2019, then you know you’re competing against food delivery and home meal kits. Some people want the convenience of eating out, while others are still keen to learn skills and enjoy the process of cooking for themselves. You can leverage this fact by bringing all those customers into your restaurant with some cooking masterclasses.
Come up with a creative plan for classes. Think about offering courses, one-off classes for parties, or specialist workshops for advanced cooks. If your restaurant is family-friendly, then try running easy classes for kids during school holidays.