The Ultimate Restaurant Marketing Plan (Free Template)

5 Inspiring Marketing Campaigns from Restaurants

Marketing 23 minute read 28th January 2021

There’s no escaping the fact that the restaurant industry has taken an almighty battering from the COVID-19 pandemic. But there’s also no doubting its resilience or desire to get straight back up on its feet.

That’s exactly what restaurateurs across the world are doing right now. They’re taking stock, revisiting their business plans, and getting ready to market the you-know-what out of their restaurants.

Oracle recently launched a report which considers what dining (in and out) will be like during the coming years. Tellingly, the desire for people to head out and eat at restaurants varies wildly by demographic, with millennials the most eager and baby boomers least willing to leave the comfort of their home.

This makes the job of restaurant marketing all the more pressing. More importantly, it means you need to up your game, big time, when it comes to creatively marketing your venue. And you should, because research suggests that people spend, on average, 12.6% of their income on food. The market is still there to be had!

The good news? You’ve found this blog post, and we’ve picked out five of our most favorite inventive restaurant marketing campaigns to get those creative juices flowing.

5 inspiring restaurant marketing campaigns we love

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1. Chipotle leads the way with TikTok

In 2019, Chipotle was one of the few major restaurant chains to market itself on TikTok. They’re slowly being joined by others on the short-form video sharing service, but it’s still a largely untapped playground for this industry.

However, as a restaurant business, you’re uniquely tuned for TikTok. It thrives on short, snappy pieces of visual content which create intrigue and desire. Sounds a little bit like a restaurant menu, right?

Chipotle’s #TikTokBurrito contest in 2019 achieved hundreds of thousands of views and lots of imitations, and is the perfect example of how a restaurant can experiment with this fascinating marketing channel. Don’t ignore it!

2. LEON gets friendly with The Body Coach

This example might be nearly five years old, but it’s still relevant today and is something which is aspirational for restaurants of all sizes.

Check out the video LEON made with ‘The Body Coach’ Joe Wicks:

It’s unashamedly “you scratch our back, we’ll scratch yours”, but at the heart of the Lean and Clean campaign lies a genuine benefit for the audience.

Influencers come in all shapes and sizes, therefore if you’re not quite in the market for a Joe Wicks, you’ll almost certainly be able to find a smaller influencer who is just as capable of extending your reach via a smart partnership. Start scouring YouTube and the foodie blogs!

3. Starbucks continues to lead the way with loyalty

Loyalty programs work for a variety of really simple psychological reasons. It’s why the biggest brands on the planet invest huge sums of time and money in theirs as part of their restaurant marketing campaign, and we need look no further than Starbucks’ Rewards for the best example of success. Starbucks’ approach remains the best illustration of how to develop, maintain, and grow a simple but effective loyalty program.

It’s easy to forget that loyalty programs are marketing channels in their own right. So, if you haven’t implemented your own yet, why not learn from the best? Simplicity really is key, along with a reward which is of genuine benefit to your audience — even if it’s just a free cup of coffee every once in a while.

The best traditional marketing ideas for restaurants

  1. Sketch makes itself ‘Instagram-friendly’ This is actually a great example of how traditional and digital restaurant marketing campaigns can be seamlessly and perfectly combined.

There’s nothing like waking up and discovering that your restaurant has gone viral overnight — thanks to customers doing the work of an entire marketing department. This is actually a relatively simple thing to achieve, but it does require some upfront investment when it comes to making your venue ‘Instagram-ready’. Check out Sketch, a London restaurant which has clearly focused on making its establishment as photogenic as possible.

As a result, its customers feel compelled to take photos of themselves for Instagram, so that the brand is able to effortlessly extend its on social. Most interesting is the fact that the majority of its user-generated content is captured in the toilet, thanks to the quirky design and Instagrammable mirror reflections.

  1. Toronto’s Summerlicious / Winterlicious events Local festivals and events are an opportunity to enhance your brand recognition, strengthen your connection with your community and other local businesses, and reach a larger group of local consumers. The City of Toronto’s Summerlicious event, a two-week food festival that runs every July, and its counterpart Winterlicious, which runs every January, are perfect examples of such opportunities. The festivals aim to expose Toronto locals to new restaurants.

You can also create your own event for your restaurant marketing campaign. Create an event around a cultural holiday that matches your restaurant’s cuisine or even a menu special. You can launch a fund-raising event for a cause or a local charity. Of course, don’t miss out on the opportunity to join holiday celebrations with seasonal events.

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Quick-fire restaurant marketing campaign tips

You don’t have to duplicate the examples given above to run a successful restaurant marketing campaign. Identify the elements that make each one a success and then adapt them into your own marketing strategy, and remember to keep your marketing campaign aligned with your brand identity. Most importantly, always keep your customers’ needs in mind. The examples we cited above rely on simple ideas which can be executed with free services and platforms and with creative content creation. Especially when you’re still figuring out what strategy will work best for your establishment, it’s a good idea to stick to the tried-and-tested practices.

Here are some quick-fire ideas to help get you started on some of the bigger strategies above:

  • Always place the emphasis on the benefits of your restaurant offering — not the features.
  • Describe everything with enthusiasm, and don’t worry about going over the top or having a bit of fun with word play.
  • Make things “scarce,” whether it be a limited run of a new dessert or a time-limited drinks offer; creating a perception of scarcity works.
  • Throw in special events whenever you can, from networking evenings to tie-ins with local attractions and participation in key national dates.
  • Learn how to use your smartphone’s camera to take the best photos of your dishes.
  • Experiment on a small scale first with social media advertising; use this as an opportunity to explore the targeting possibilities and pay close attention to what the results tell you.
  • Get used to capturing random video footage throughout the day of your operation — you never know when you might need it.
  • Learn how to tell stories — invest time in reading up on the craft of storytelling in marketing.
  • Always take advantage of user-generated content, wherever you find it.
  • Read your reviews, respond to them, and make changes to your restaurant marketing campaign based on what people are saying.
  • Don’t be afraid to use humor in your marketing.

Every tip above can be applied to all forms of marketing, from your social media output to traditional advertising campaigns. And the more time you invest in crafting ideas for your restaurant marketing campaigns, the easier the process will be and the higher your chances of success.

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Bonus tip: Use your restaurant WiFi enhance your guests’ dining experience

Providing free WiFi to your guests is an expected perk, but you can also use your WiFi to enhance their dining experience and as a tool for your restaurant marketing campaigns.

A fully customizable WiFi system, like Beambox, will allow you to meet your guests’ connectivity needs, as well as your restaurant marketing needs. You can integrate your loyalty program to your WiFi system, build your restaurant email list or SMS subscriber list via a customized captive portal, or drive customers to your social media pages. Beambox helps minimize poor reviews by asking customers to rate their experience via the app; three-star reviews and lower get deflected back with a feedback form, which gives you the chance to improve your customer’s impression before they leave a permanent review.

Beambox is an all-in-one WiFi solution that accomplishes all of the above and more. We have an existing client base of over 3,000 venues, and our customizable WiFi marketing solutions have been used in impressive and rewarding ways. You can drive sales with time-sensitive deals and promos for your restaurant, boost social engagement through Instagram or Facebook contests, and climb up on online ranking platforms through real-time customer reviews. Accelerate your business growth — start your Beambox free trial today!


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