It’s time to explore zero cost marketing. It’s a great way to promote your restaurant without spending much, or any, money.
In this article, we look at eight restaurant marketing tips that only cost time to help you get a big return on your marketing without a big investment.
One of the easiest and most obvious ways to market your restaurant for free is through your social media platforms.
Since these are free unless you are paying for ads, you can leverage the power of social media to promote your restaurant and your menu.
One of the biggest benefits of social media is that your potential customers will also visit your pages to see what others think about you.
So, the more active you are on social media, engaging your customers and building relationships, the better you’re able to influence the purchasing decisions of others.
We’ll assume that you’re already blogging on your own website because this is a great way to market your restaurant without spending money. Plus, you can share links to your post on social media which is a win-win.
Our next tip, though, involves guest blogging. This is another free way for you to engage people who might not know about your restaurant.
Guest blogging gives you access to the customer base of an influencer in your community. Not only do you have the chance to develop strategic relationships with these influencers but also their target audience. (tweet this)
Your blog host will promote your content for you, so this is another way to promote your brand.
Do be sure and thank the influencer for the opportunity. A free meal is always a nice thank you.
A webinar is a great way to engage your audience while introducing your restaurant and your menu to a broader audience.
Consider topics around cooking. For example, you might do a webinar on how to cook a turkey around the holidays. Let people watch you do it and ask questions.
Webinars take some time and pre-planning. Brainstorm topics with your chef and staff. Then, be sure and spread the word through your website, email marketing and social media.
Use a contest to encourage your customers to interact with you. You can publicize it inside your restaurant, on your website, social media platforms and through your email marketing.
While this has a nominal cost to you in the price of the drawing, it still doesn’t cost you that much especially if you give away food.
Consider asking your customers to enter a photo competition or a “name that new menu item” competition. Then, be sure to publicize your winners so people know you followed through and will enter another time.
Video tape your winners getting their prizes and again use your digital marketing tools to show your target audience how great it is to have a relationship with your restaurant.
This tool again costs you nothing but time. Spend about an hour several times per week reading other blogs and commenting on them.
Choose your blogs wisely as they should have something in common with your restaurant. For example, if you only buy sustainable produce, you might comment on the blogs of your suppliers.
By commenting on the blogs of others, your restaurant gets noticed. You might even be able to share a link to your website which is a great plus for search engine optimization and increased traffic.
Your customers come from your community, and your community leaders can help spread the word.
Join networking groups. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce and find some groups to join that might benefit you and your restaurant.
Consider having a booth at local festivals or non-profit events. Mingle around tow and introduce yourself to local business owners.
Do be sure you know what you’re going to say when networking – do you have an elevator pitch? This is a one-two minute pitch about your restaurant and what sets you apart from the competition.
Like social media, email marketing is a terrific, free way to engage with your customer base on a regular basis. (tweet this)
This cost effective marketing tool is quite useful as people still use email for the bulk of their information.
In fact, according to one email expert, “81% of U.S. online shoppers are more likely to make additional purchases, either online or in a store, as a result of emails based on previous shopping behaviors and preferences.”
If you don’t currently have an email list, start building one now. You can use a system like Mail Chimp where you can send up to 2,000 emails for free.
Put sign up forms on your website and on your social media pages. Have customers sign up for your emails in your restaurant.
Then, be sure and send emails on a regular basis. Know your customers, and you’ll find the right amount. It might be once a week or once a month. Use email testing to find the best option for your restaurant.
Google is an integral part of your marketing plan and a great way to increase your restaurant’s exposure.
Be sure and grab your free Google+ business page and fully complete your profile. This means adding a profile and cover photo, business hours, link to website, phone, address, about information and even your menu. Do include lots of photos of the inside of your restaurant as well as your menu items.
When people search for you on Google, they’ll see your information in the right-hand side panel. If they choose to click on this profile instead of your website link, they should be able to find a wealth of information, too.
Zero cost marketing is a unique way to jump start your marketing strategy. Do create a plan as you would any marketing campaign.
It does pay to remember, though, that while you aren’t outlaying any money, you are “paying” for these strategies with your time. Schedule some time each week to take care of these no-cost strategies so you can manage your time wisely.
Zero cost marketing can really jump start your restaurant and yield great returns as long as you follow a plan and use the right strategies to maximize your time.
At Restaurant Engine, not only do we create great, responsive websites, but you can count on us to create a website that drives business to all your restaurants and edges you above the competition by using mobile-friendly design with a terrific user experience. Ready to take the plunge and create a website with an online menu, blog and beautiful photos? Get your free website consultation today!