Photo of someone chopping food in a restaurant

How to promote your restaurant, cafe or bar online

Promoting a food and beverage business, that is traditionally location dependent in the current age requires an online presence, to help people find out about you, and to help you engage with your customers, so they start to form a connection with your business.

Sure, it’s possible to gain word of mouth via solely foot traffic and amazing customer service, but imagine what you could potentially gain.

Your Website

My recommendation for this business model is to implement the following on your website:

  • Share your story and your team on your website, people like to know the people at their local and this makes them feel at home
  • Make sure your menu is super easy to find
  • If you can take orders and bookings through your website, it makes things a lot easier for people to buy. Making it easy to cancel a booking will mean you should have less empty tables too, but if you get too many, you can add your phone number for bookings instead, as people will take it a little more seriously. 
  • Make sure it’s easy for people to make contact out of hours by including an email, and a form. If you choose to only have a form, make it that people receive a copy of their enquiry by email, or go back to them within 24 hours so they don’t start to wonder if you got it.
  • Include your hours and location on the website, so people can easily refer
  • Include lots of pictures so people know what they are getting into, and get that mouth watering anticipation.

You should also make sure you take photos and video of the following:

  1. Food - all meals
  2. Drink
  3. Location
  4. Ambience
  5. Staff
  6. Menu
  7. Any quirk like a photo area

Try to make your food, drink and venue as “Instagrammable” as possible, whether thats a mega milkshake, extravagant cocktail garnishes or a backdrop perfect for a snap. Lighting will also be key in this, no one wants to post a poorly lit photo of their dinner, so if it suits your business style, make sure there’s decent lighting til dark.

Run giveaways for those who post online, so you can encourage people to do this on a regular basis.

The free stuff, assuming you do it yourself

For best search engine optimisation, you should also do the following:

  • Make sure all possible descriptions of your restaurant are in your website
  • Have a text version of your menu on your website, not a photo, so that the meals you serve show up as keywords, so when people search pizza in your location, you’ll come up
  • Make sure you put a photo of your menu, your location, and your offering on your Google My Business, and make sure your phone number, website and hours are correct.

To grow a Social Media following and engagement...

The platforms you use will depend on who your target market is, for example some places dependant on price point or style will be after a different person, plus you might be a place people frequent weekly, or maybe its only a special occasion type place, but its likely you will share on Facebook and Instagram. If you are in a bigger city, or a traveller’s paradise, or have multiple locations, Pinterest is also fantastic, as people build their aspirational list, and visit whenever they can.

  • Post consistently and engage with all comments within a couple days
  • Collaborate with your suppliers, partners or other local small businesses
  • Share people’s stories when they tag you, and repost their photos into your feeds
  • If you run regular bingo nights or trivia, or 2 for 1 pizza, put that on there every week, have it in your stories highlights and make sure everyone knows
  • Tell your story, you cared enough about your place to open it, so share that and make people care about more than just your food
  • Setup the Facebook Pixel and Pinterest Tag so you can track people who visit for future ads.

The Paid Stuff

Social Media Advertising

This will be a place to run awareness ads, traffic ads, and conversion ads if you take bookings online. You can show up in front of people in your area, who are the right age for your style, then retarget those who liked or engaged with traffic ads.

Google Ads

If there’s enough people searching for your type for food in your area, you can run search ads. If you’re in a big city, maybe YouTube ads or display ads across certain topics are worth a try. This is something that won’t be for you if your budget per month is modest, but could be a seasonal thing when search is big. Testing of this is recommended, don’t set it and forget it, ever.

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Promoting a food and beverage business, that is traditionally location dependent in the current age requires an online presence

Influencer Marketing

This is also an option for you, if you have food bloggers or people with a following, you can either give them a free meal or drink, or offer them a paid campaign.

While you don’t have to pay these people necessarily, I class this as paid because there is a cost at the end of the day, even for a “free” meal.

If you will be in a position to share upcoming events and exciting news with your followers, you make also like to set up Email Marketing. This will allow you to have people’s emails to promote to them, but they will expect something great in return. Are they part of a VIP club where they get discounts, points, or simply get told about secret menu products? I recommend Flodesk because it is so easy to set up and manage, so doesn’t take up too much of your time. This is a paid platform, but you don’t pay more for having more subscribers, so you can fill your list with as many people who want to be on it.

Photo of food on a restaurant table

Not sure what to do first?

Register for a free marketing audit, and Emma will review your website and public marketing and send you a video review.

Register for your audit

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