Local Marketing Ideas for Restaurants: 7 Best Practices

Marketing 20 minute read 17th January 2024

Relying solely on word of mouth to get your restaurant up and running can be tempting. Many restaurant owners find it convenient, as it doesn’t require much marketing effort. However, it’s not always enough to increase significant traffic to your venue. So, you’ll need to use the best local marketing ideas for restaurants.

Many people search online for local businesses like yours daily. You’ll want to make it as easy for them to find your restaurant as possible. We’ll guide you through the best ways to promote your restaurant so you can grow your business in no time!

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Why Does a Local Marketing Strategy Matter for Restaurants?

If one of your competitors makes an early appearance in a potential customer’s search, you could easily lose your chance. Local marketing can expose your restaurant to a swarm of potential customers who can become your regular and loyal customers.

Local marketing does wonders for the restaurant industry, and it might tempt you into abandoning other marketing efforts.

Marketing your business to the locals in your restaurant’s area is the key to your success. For example, if you offer online food ordering, the locals in your area are likely to be your main customers. And, unless they already know where they want to dine, they will probably use Google to search “restaurants near me.

You’ll leave money on the table if your restaurant doesn’t appear in such search results. That’s why it’s important for businesses to use local SEO (Search Engine Optimization.

Since you are targeting a specific audience within an area, using local SEO is also a budget-friendly option. By narrowing your target audience, you avoid spending excessive money on national or international campaigns.

You’ll know exactly how much to spend and where. In this sense, local marketing takes away the guesswork from your restaurant’s promotional campaigns.

Also, local marketing gives you a chance to make your mark in the local community through personal engagement. It can introduce your business, share your mission statement, and build rapport. This will ensure your customers will choose and trust you (based on what they learned on your website).

Every area has its local trends and preferences. Appealing to a certain group means you can create personalized and targeted messages—these are the most effective marketing campaigns!

7 Local Marketing Ideas for Restaurants for a Bustling Venue

If you’re still hesitating to start this type of marketing for your restaurant, here’s a statistic that might help:

Local searches result in a conversion of 80%.

Would you mind if some of those conversions end up in your pocket?

But for that, your marketing materials should make you appear at the top of those search results. Luckily, it’s not hard to put these campaigns into action (if you have the right information at hand). So, with that, keep reading to learn our top 7 local marketing ideas for restaurants.

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1. Pay Attention To Local SEO

Local SEO and local marketing go hand in hand. After all, what will Google show searchers if there’s nothing to show?

So, before considering ads and campaigns, focus on creating a Google Business (previously called Google My Business) profile.

Pro Tip: Bookmark this website since you’ll need it in the future. Once you’re on the Google Business website, create a Google account or log in (if you already have one). Then, you must add all your business’s details, such as the name, address, type, etc. Keep following the steps, and you’ll reach a point where Google asks you to verify the information you entered.

Please note that your Google Business information must be the same as on your website.

Speaking of which, your website must have relevant and quality information to appear in local search results. Therefore, see what words people use to search for restaurants like yours and use them in your content.

You should also use your website to educate potential customers about your unique selling point. The more you portray business as you would a human, the more trust you’ll be able to build.

Apart from Google, listing your business on local review sites will help push your restaurant higher. You also have to think about reputation management for your restaurant. In other words, your online reputation requires constant attention and maintenance—you’ll read more about this later in the article.

2. Host Events at Your Restaurant

Another way to catch the locals’ eyes is to host special events at your restaurant. This not only creates a buzz around your restaurant but also encourages potential customers to engage with it.

However, you wouldn’t want your event to fail because of its irrelevance. It should be something that matches the theme and concept of your restaurant. It would also help you to start by researching your target audience. See what they like when they attend such events.

For example, a more sophisticated gathering will work best for fine-dining restaurants.

A few good ideas for successful events would be a charity event, food tastings, live music, guest chef appearances, etc. So, what events attract customers will depend on the type of restaurant you own.

Similarly, making an appearance at other events in the neighborhood will also help you attract customers fast. This is especially true for charity events. When people see their favorite restaurants doing their part in the community, they become regular customers.

Moreover, you can collaborate with other restaurants to broaden your reach by throwing pop-up events.

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3. Find Local Influencers To Promote Your Restaurant

While they aren’t celebrities, local influencers have their fan base. People love to watch their reviews and follow their recommendations when it’s time to dine out. They have the potential to turn you into a celebrity restaurant in your town. So why not use that to your advantage?

You’re already using social media to increase your online presence and as a marketing channel. Pair that with influencer marketing; you have the most cost-effective way to attract the locals.

It can help you reach more people and turn those followers into customers. All you have to do is reach out to the right influencers. Offer them an appropriate incentive for promoting your dishes. This can be a fixed amount of money, a small discount, or a freebie each time they visit your restaurant.

However, when choosing these influencers, your main criteria shouldn’t be the number of followers they have.

Just because a person is popular on Instagram doesn’t mean their followers follow what they say. Some people buy followers or use tactics such as follow-for-follow just to increase their following. These followers have no interest in what the influencer promotes.

So, it’s important to know what kind of relationship the influencer has with their followers. Would they actually follow their recommendations? Also, see if the influencer’s content promotes matches your restaurant’s marketing. For example, asking a makeup influencer to promote your restaurant’s dishes probably won’t do you any good.

4. Create Offers for People in the Neighborhood

After using local SEO, events, and influencer marketing, try offering neighborhood promotions. These are unique in the sense that they are highly local. They’re your chance to stand out and potentially beat your competitors. Let’s understand how this with the following example:

Suppose you run a fast-food restaurant. You can launch an offer that gives a 20% discount to people who live within one block of your restaurant. Such an offer is enough to generate a buzz around your eatery. And since it’s only a single block, it shouldn’t be too much of a burden to your pocket.

Moreover, it’s also a great way to bring SMS marketing to your restaurant. To bring this aspect to reality, you’ll have to work with your potential customer’s location.

When a person is close to your restaurant, you can send them a personalized offer. For example, give them a small discount if they visit your restaurant within the next two hours. But for this offer to work, you’ll have to send them a text message. What if they don’t see their email or social media inbox on time?

Please note that you’ll have to follow SMS compliance guidelines and make sure that you have the customer’s consent, of course. Otherwise, you might end up in a legal mess!

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5. Manage Your Reputation To Catch People’s Attention

As we mentioned earlier, reputation management also makes it to the list of best practices for local marketing. It presents a chance for you to improve your online presence. Why does that matter?

When potential customers search online for restaurants to visit, they usually check reviews to help them make a decision. They might choose one of your competitors if you don’t have a good reputation. Of course, you can’t control what people say about you. But you can manage your online reviews effectively.

Plus, you can turn negative reviews into positive situations for you. Here’s how.

The first step is to keep track of the customer reviews that come your way. If you miss a review, you won’t be able to respond to it.

This brings us to the next step of reputation management: responding to reviews. Whether it’s a positive review or a negative one, each customer deserves your attention and response.

For positive reviews, thank the customer and show gratitude for them taking the time to leave you a good review.

On the other hand, a negative review demands more effort from your side. Start by apologizing, even if it isn’t your fault. You want to portray yourself as a brand that cares about its customers.

So, escalating the situation won’t be a wise decision. If the review is vague, ask for clarification. You should also offer solutions and make it up to them with something appropriate. For example, a small freebie or discount.

You could also find yourself dealing with some fake reviews. In this case, report the review and wait for the platform to remove it. In cases where they don’t remove it, you should treat it like a real positive or negative review.

Lastly, focus on getting more positive reviews. You can do this by giving exceptional service and encouraging customers to share their thoughts on their experiences online.

6. Stay Consistent With Your Branding

This next idea might seem unrelated, but consistent restaurant branding plays a hidden role in your marketing.

Let’s say, for example, you use red and blue colors for all your marketing efforts. But when it comes to the website and restaurant’s interior, you change the colors to yellow and purple. This inconsistency will confuse your customers.

People familiar with your social media campaigns may struggle to connect those ads with your restaurant upon visiting your venue. That won’t be good for your brand awareness.

Moreover, if you own multiple restaurants, everything must be consistent. The interior: furniture, colors, decoration, etc., must be the same in all locations. People should recognize your brand no matter which location they visit. However, this doesn’t have to apply to your promotional materials’ content. Each location has different trends, and its locals will have different preferences.

Using the same offers across all your locations might not work in this case. Therefore, personalize your messages but remember to keep the branding consistent.

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7. Launch In-Store Marketing Campaigns

The last local marketing idea for restaurants is launching in-store marketing campaigns. These are the promotional materials you place inside your restaurant.

They play a vital role in enticing customers once they’re inside your venue. Here’s how to do it.

Start by giving discounts to people who dine in. Display signage around the venue so customers can know about this offer. Even if they had planned to order something else, the promise of savings may persuade them to take advantage of your offer.

Moreover, display updates that you’ll be implementing in your restaurant. It’s a way to prepare customers for future changes.

Lastly, place flyers outside your store and give loyalty coupons to customers during checkout.

Is Local Marketing Enough To Cover Your Financial Goals?

As a restaurant owner, most of your revenue will come from foot traffic. To expand your reach, you’ll need to change your marketing efforts.

Local marketing ideas for restaurants start with local SEO to grow your business. It makes it easier for customers to find you online. However, there are other alternatives, and the one you want to use will depend on your end goals.

To automate your marketing initiatives and improve your online rating, try out Beambox. It’s a WiFi marketing platform that helps you get more reviews. It can also help you prevent negative reviews from going online. With Beambox, you can secure your WiFi and gather customer data to feed your ads. Start your trial today!

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