23 Best Restaurant Marketing Ideas for Growth (2021)

23 Best Restaurant Marketing Ideas for Growth (2021)
January 21, 2020 Levi Olmstead

Trying to find new ways to drive traffic and increase sales?

Restaurant marketing will help you start the new year with a bang – full seats, happy diners, and better bottom line! If you’re opening a new restaurant and not sure where to start, or looking for some fresh new marketing ideas to try out, look no further!

What are the Best Restaurant Marketing Strategies for 2020?

    1. Give Your Website Some TLC
    2. Set Up Social Media Accounts
    3. Maintain an Active Social Media Profile
    4. Social Media Ads
    5. Implement an Email Newsletter
    6. Offer a Coupon or Deal
    7. Use Influencer Marketing
    8. Offer Delivery
    9. Create a Loyalty Program
    10. Try a Pop-Up
    11. Have Profiles on Review Sites
    12. Embrace Good Reviews
    13. Respond to Bad Reviews
    14. Partner with Local Businesses
    15. Get Set Up on Google My Business
    16. Optimize Website for SEO
    17. Take Up Blogging
    18. Have Mouthwatering Pictures
    19. Set Up Reservations Online
    20. Get Creative with Events
    21. Sell Merch
    22. Try Traditional Advertising
    23. Turn Staff into Advocates
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23 Best Marketing Ideas for Restaurants in 2020 

Here are the top 23 marketing ideas for your restaurant in 2020:

1) Give Your Website Some TLC

Did you know that nearly 60% of diners check a restaurant’s website before choosing to dine? If people end up on a messy and hard-to-use website, do you think they’re going to be racing to the car to get a table? Probably not. Your website is your restaurant’s digital home, so make sure it’s warm and welcoming! 

Pro tip: make sure the menu is super easy to find on your home page. Chances are, they’re trying to see what you serve – don’t make them search too hard!

2) Set Up Your Social Media

A quarter of diners look up restaurants on social media before trying them – and with the growing popularity of social media, it’s safe to assume that number is growing as well. Having social media profiles set up ensures you grab these diners that are searching for restaurants on Instagram or Facebook before booking a table.

Some things you’ll want to have on your restaurant’s social media pages are:

  • Contact information: phone number, address, and email address
  • A link to your website
  • Accurate business hours
  • Professional grade photos of your food – more to come on that!

3) Then Use Your Social Media

It’s one thing to have social media profiles set up for your restaurant, it’s another to be actively using them. Whether it’s replying to diners who tag you on Instagram posts, engaging with any comments, or posting fresh content, make sure people know you’re there.


4) Try Out Social Media Ads

Another huge pull in being active on social media is the ability to set up targeted ads from your profile. With social media ads, you can get super targeted – location, age, and gender, to name a few filters. Figure out who your target audience is and build Facebook ads that speak directly to them!

5) Implement an Email Newsletter

A newsletter is a great way to connect with regulars, brag about your success, and push promotions – click through this email for 50% off an appetizer! 

A restaurant email marketing strategy doesn’t have to be labor intensive either. You can send newsletters out twice a month or monthly. People already get so many emails in their inbox, they probably won’t be offended if they don’t hear from you every day.

Not sure where to start with building out a newsletter? Here are some great services that can help your email newsletter take off in 2020:

6) Offer a Coupon or Deal

Everybody loves a deal! In fact, 80% of diners have made the decision to try a new restaurant based entirely on a promotion or discount. Promote a coupon or deal as a marketing promotion to delight regulars and drive some new traffic. 

You may be worried about discounting food offerings, but these types of discounts have the opposite effect! In fact, people tend to spend more when they’re given coupons. Hello, new diners and higher average check size! 

7) The Power of Influencers

The rise of influencers has gone hand in hand with the rise of social media. With that, you also have the rise of influencer marketing. Find food influencers in your area – whether they run a popular blog or have a huge Instagram following – and offer them a meal for a review, maybe even give them a promo code or coupon for their followers. Reach a whole new audience for the price of an entree!

8) Offer Delivery

Delivery is more than takeout – it’s a whole platform that shows your restaurant to potential diners! When potential diners hop on a delivery page like GrubHub or UberEats, they’re greeted with a list of options. Why should you be missing out on all this exposure?

Online ordering is also growing 300% faster than in-dining spend, so you want to get on this trend for more than just exposure! Missing out can mean you’ll fall behind on this industry growth.

9) Create a Loyalty Program

A restaurant loyalty program is fun for diners, but it’s a powerful marketing plan that keeps them coming back time and time again. From punch cards and stamps to an app, loyalty programs take a ton of different forms. Diners typically get rewards for returning repeatedly, like a free coffee or food item.

10) Try a Pop-Up to Create Buzz

If you have the resources, looking into a pop-up restaurant is a great way to create some buzz, give new diners a chance to try you out, and even test out some new menu options! Everybody wins. Pop-ups

Pop-up experiences are also time sensitive. You won’t be open at that location forever, which creates a sense of urgency for diners – they won’t want to wait around and risk missing out.

11) Have Profiles on Review Sites

Nearly half of diners check reviews on restaurant review sites before deciding where to go, so being set up on these sites acts as a powerful marketing tool. These sites give your restaurant exposure to a completely new audience – let diners find you while they’re reviewing somebody else or searching for a new spot nearby!

Make sure your profiles are set up with the same information that’s on your social media profiles: a link to your website, business hours, contact information, and some delicious looking food pictures! 

12) Brag a Little

It feels good getting those glowing reviews on the sites, right? Use those moments as free marketing collateral! Take those reviews and put them on other platforms – share them on Instagram, post to Facebook, or share in your email newsletter.


13) Respond to the Bad Reviews

On the other hand, your social media and review site profiles leave you more open to bad reviews. Nobody loves criticism, but people hate being ignored even more. Take the high road and reply – maybe even ask how you can make it up to the diner – to create a great marketing moment and improve a customer’s experience. 

It’s great publicity when diners see you going the extra mile to right a not-so-great situation. You get to appear favorable to potential new diners and maybe even convince somebody who didn’t have a great experience to come back and try you again! 

14) Partner With Local Businesses

Partnering with businesses in the area is a great way to market yourself to a new audience and strengthen your relationships within the community. If you’re a health-driven fast casual, work with the local gym and offer complimentary discounts. 

If families are more the target for your restaurant, you can offer a package with a local sports team – dinner and tickets to the game for a fixed price! When you do this, you and the business you partner with both benefit by reaching each other’s existing audiences!

15) Get Set Up on Google My Business

Setting up a Google My Business account is a great – free! – way to gain some exposure, helping locals discover businesses in the area. Your Google My Business account ties a ton of business information together: your website, phone number, location, directions, reviews, and photos. It’s a one stop for diners trying to learn about your restaurant! Leaving your account blank is a missed opportunity for exposure. 

16) Optimize for SEO 

SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is the process of working on your website to appear higher in the result pages of search engines, like Google or Yahoo. SEO is a long-term play, but a valuable one. Are you trying to pop up when people search for “Best Italian Near Me”? When you improve your SEO, your restaurant can pop up for these results and reach an audience with intent. If they’re searching for a restaurant near them, chances are they’re deciding where to dine!

17) Take Up Blogging

Is getting more creative one of your New Year’s resolutions? Here’s your chance! Take up a blog for your restaurant.This is a great marketing tool – use your blog as a hub to share your social media accounts, any events going on, or stories that reflect on your brand.

A blog is also a great tool for increasing customer engagement. It gives them a chance to learn more about your restaurant through your blog posts and gives diners some shareable content – hello, free referrals!

If you decide to flex your writing muscles in 2020, here’s some topics you could start with:

  • Spotlights on your team
  • Highlights of any events you host
  • Sharing recipes! Maybe not Grandma’s homemade pesto that’s been passed down for generations, but you could do a post on how to make gnocchi

18) Mouth Watering Pictures

How many times have you stumbled across some mouthwatering food pictures on your timeline? Probably quite a few, and it’s no mistake. Restaurants now more than ever are using professional level photography to promote their business and to incorporate into their restaurant menu design, so ensuring any photos you are posting of food or your business are professional looking is key (iPhone 11 portrait mode, anybody?).

Having great images will also encourage potential diners to share pictures or tag their friends. Have you ever tagged somebody on Instagram in a food pic saying you “had to try this”? Give your diners the chance to do that with your food! 

19) Set Up Reservations Online

Just like takeout and delivery apps, there’s a whole world of reservation websites that serve as a great way to gain exposure. Websites like Reso let diners input a date, time, table size, and location. It then presents them with a list of restaurants with available tables, reviews, and price ranges! Because they aren’t searching for a specific restaurant, they’re presented with a list of options, so make sure that your restaurant is one of those options! Even if they don’t book with you in the moment, they’ll know your name for next time!

20) Get Creative with Events

Try out some unique events and bar games to get people talking and as a marketing tactic! The restaurant industry is competitive  – as you know – so events break through the noise, appeal to new audiences, and give local press something to cover! 

Some events you could try at your restaurant include:

21) Sell Merch

Turn your biggest fans into walking advertisements with merchandise offerings at your restaurant! Diners can walk out of your restaurant while still repping your restaurant out in the wild. They get cool merch and you get more marketing of your business out there – win win!

Before you skim over this idea, remember that your merchandise doesn’t have to be $50 shirts or $80 hoodies. If you’re a coffee shop, consider branded travel mugs, or look at getting beer mugs with your logo on them for a bar or pub. Having your merch living in the world lets your brand expand beyond your physical location and serves as a great conversation starter: “Where did you get that amazing sweater from?”

22) Get Retro with Traditional Advertising 

Yes, marketing has evolved, and will likely continue to evolve. But it doesn’t mean you have to dive into digital and never look back! Completely abandoning traditional marketing methods can isolate certain markets and really limit your options for full picture marketing efforts. Look at putting an ad in your local paper, the cost of a billboard, or even a radio spot! 

23) Turn Staff into Your Biggest Fans

Your staff are more than servers and chefs – they should be the biggest advocates of your business! If your staff are happy at their jobs and proud of the food they’re serving, they naturally should want to advocate for your business! These can turn into the most powerful word of mouth referrals, since they’re in your business – they’re able to speak to it just as well as you are!

But for this to be successful, you have to make sure your team is well taken care of. Make sure you’re paying them fairly, offering performance incentives, and giving regular positive feedback. Take care of your team, and they’ll take care of you! 

Next Steps Marketing Your Restaurant

Marketing is constantly evolving, and having new tricks up your sleeve to spread the word is important. Having a full range of different marketing activations – from traditional plays to digital ads and everything in between – is key to staying competitive. Try some of these out and start the new year with a marketing bang.

Written By: Katie McCann | Katie is the Content Marketing Specialist at TouchBistro, an iPad POS and integrated payments solution built for restaurant people, by restaurant people. If she isn’t writing, you can find her on a patio with friends and a pitcher of white wine sangria.

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