10 restaurant promotion ideas to attract more business


Image source: Getty Images

If you run a restaurant and need classic and creative promotions, look no further. Whether it’s meal deals, holiday promotions, or opening a food truck, these ideas will drive business.

Even under the best of circumstances, running a successful restaurant is tough. At culinary school, being an executive chef is the only thing they prepare you for, with an option to study business ownership.

Owning your own place isn’t everyone’s goal in the world of food. But if you’re one of the few with a knack for restaurant ownership and are up for the restaurant challenge, here are some ideas that are sure to bring more business into your business. establishment.

1. Discounts on gift cards

You may think offering discounts is counterproductive, but it’s all about getting people in.

Let’s say someone buys a $50 gift card to use in the future. When they return, their typical order is only $40. They have two choices: either they’ll spend exactly what’s on the gift card or a little less, or they’ll decide that since $50 is already covered, they’ll order way over that value and pay the difference on square.

Both are beneficial because for every person who only spends what the gift card is worth, you could have three who go above and beyond. Cards also make great gifts, further expanding your customer base.

2. Meal Deals

OK, I know what you’re thinking: another discount? Yes. There are two ways to approach this promotion. You can run these meal deals during your low season or off-peak hours of the day in an effort to attract customers you wouldn’t have had at all.

You can offer two starters for a fixed price, two starters and an appetizer, or two starters and a dessert. Either combination will encourage people to visit your establishment rather than another offering their usual menu at regular prices, regardless of the time of day or year.

You can also – and it might sound crazy – offer these meal deals all year round. Here’s why: if they’re still available, people will know about it and are likely to visit your restaurant more frequently. If guests know (or think) they’re getting an offer, they’ll keep coming back and recommending your listing to friends and family.

3. Aperitif time

Taking this approach is about as classic as it gets, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make restaurant promotion as creative as other ideas. You don’t even have to serve alcohol to have happy hour. If you serve alcohol, offer bundles with some of your most popular snacks or appetizers, like buy a beer of a certain type and get a matching dish for half price.

For example, buy a local lager and get an order of hot wings for half price. Those two things go together, so people will be more interested in the deal. Make sure everything you offer makes sense, or your customers won’t accept.

If you don’t serve alcohol and you are allowed to bring guests to bring alcohol, you can make a deal like “Wine Wednesdays”, where each table that brings a bottle of wine on a Wednesday will receive a complimentary small plate of cheese to go with it. for a certain period of time, such as 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

4. Employee Spotlight

If there’s one thing I know about restaurants, it’s that customers love to know who the chef is, their favorite server’s interests, and so on. Check your social media pages to give your customers insight into who works at your restaurant. Pick one person each week, do a fun photo shoot at your restaurant, and list some fun facts about them.

For your leader, provide some background information. If they’ve worked at other notable locations before or trained at a notable location, be sure to add that. If customers know they’re getting something special with each member of your staff, they’ll want to come back and learn more.

5. Merchandise and build your brand

This restaurant promotion idea will incur an initial cost for you, but it will pay off very well in the long run. Here are some things to put your logo on and offer retail:

  • Glassware (wine glasses, beer glasses, shot glasses)
  • Clothing (T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats)
  • Accessories (magnets, stickers, keychains)

If you’re a local restaurant, it’s great to represent your restaurant to locals who want to support you and want people to know that you’re their go-to restaurant. There’s also the lure of tourists discovering your place and wanting to take a little piece home to tell their friends about.

You may be thinking, nobody does that. But you wouldn’t believe the pride people feel when they feel like they’ve discovered something special. Offering branded products will begin to create recognition for your restaurant and also start conversations beyond where your restaurant is located.

6. Loyalty cards and rewards programs

One of the easiest ways to promote your restaurant is with a loyalty program. Usually, the points or rewards option is built into your point-of-sale (POS) system or other form of restaurant technology, so you don’t have to do much to implement it.

For example, Toast POS has a loyalty program for customers, where they can enroll themselves or have a staff member enroll them. Every purchase at your restaurant earns points towards their next reward.

Example image of the Toast rewards program showing the number of points one has, past transactions and a QR code to redeem points.

With Toast Consumer Rewards, you can earn points per dollar and receive rewards after reaching certain milestones Image source: Author




The draw here is that people will want to keep coming to earn points, and then they’ll want to come in and use their points, and it’ll just happen on a loop. It would also be helpful to incorporate this promotion into your existing restaurant marketing plan.

7. Share positive reviews

One of the first things many potential customers do before trying a new place is read reviews. Although each restaurant has both good and bad reviews, it is important to highlight the positives. The next thing these same people do is cross-reference all social media channels. They will want to make sure your business looks legitimate and that you are active.

Pick a design or theme to display the reviews you post so people start associating that look with your restaurant. (I don’t recommend just posting a screenshot of the review, as it tends to look cluttered.) Reviews are an especially important promotion idea if you’re a new restaurant and people are still mostly discovering you. through Google searches.

8. Post food photos on social media

Social media is one of the easiest ways to promote your restaurant. It’s free and it allows your restaurant to potentially be seen by millions of people. Posting food versions of Thirst Traps will make people covet your food, even if they don’t live nearby. If they’re planning a trip to the area, they’ll be more likely to put your restaurant on their “must visit” list if they already know you and your food.

Also, for locals, following you on social media is probably something they would do anyway, but now they have a constant reminder of what they might be eating. They might see your photo, scrap their dinner plans, and head to your restaurant instead.

Breakfast sandwich with egg, hash browns and green vegetables on brioche bread.

Great White in Venice, Calif., had this photo of one of their signature breakfast sandwiches taken by a professional photographer for their Instagram account. Image source: author


Brecht Van’t Hof for Great White.

Photo of a dish of octopus, cherry tomatoes, croutons, sassafras and vinaigrette served in a circle on a white plate.

Pammy’s Cambridge in Boston, Massachusetts, offers upscale fare as well as comfort food, but they showcase their plated meals on social media. Image source: author


Instagram of Pammy in Cambridge.

9. Organize contests, giveaways or raffles

This is a fantastic idea for holiday themed promotions. Marketing is basically taking care of itself due to the natural commercialization of the holidays, and people are always looking for fun ways to feast on themselves. Here are some examples :

  • Halloween Costume Contest: Whatever night makes sense for your restaurant, encourage every customer to dress up in their best (and appropriate) Halloween costume for a chance to win a prize from your restaurant. It can be a gift certificate, a round of drinks or an aperitif. If you wish, you can have several different seats and have a winner for each seat. This will attract more people and create a feeling of exclusivity.
  • Quiz raffle: Not everything has to be holiday-themed, or even really themed. Once in a while, offer a raffle where customers have to guess things like “how many chairs are there in the restaurant?” or “what is the best-selling aperitif?” You can set it up with an estimate per table or per check – whatever you think will work best for your style of restaurant. It’s a fun extra thing to offer your customers and since most people want to be right, you’re likely to see lots of entries and good competition. The more word out there is, the more people will want to come in, which will lead to more traffic to your restaurant and more business overall.

10. Start a mobile restaurant for farmers markets, pop-ups

This promotion idea may seem extreme, but if you have the funds, open up a food truck or wrapped food trailer with your restaurant’s name and logo. Taking it to farmers markets, festivals or other on-the-go events could create great brand awareness. It is also one of the most popular and enduring restaurant trends.

If people like the sample they got from your food truck, they’re much more likely to come to your restaurant for tastier dishes and the full experience you offer. Choose a few of your most popular dishes that are food truck friendly to showcase you.

The bottom line

Running a restaurant isn’t easy, and running one successfully is even harder. But there are things you can do to promote your restaurant and attract more business than you ever had. There’s no single reason restaurants fail, but no matter how many of the promotion ideas above you choose, your chances of success can only increase.


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