Insights / business

5 Easy marketing ideas for Restaurants.

by Corfitz.
Written: 25 Jul, 2019
Last updated: 26 Jul, 2019

Today I was talking to a local restaurant, just chatting to see what he could do in order to promote himself a bit more. Social Media Marketing is always a brilliant idea, but there are some key fundamentals to take into account when doing marketing. Most restaurants and cafes I have seen on Facebook and Instagram, make the traditional shot of a meal, a plate of food, a glass of wine, cup of coffee, nice plant in the background etc. etc.

But in order to gain attraction, attention, and engagement leading to followers and regular customers, you have to bring out the essence of the place through the human experience. In other words - get your guests on it. Make them work for you, with you, and have people and guests be the foundation of your marketing.

Fancy tables and garnish doesn't attract people. People attracts people. You can have the most beautiful exterior with flowers, lights, signs, attractive waitresses promoting the place, etc., but it doesn't matter if you can't get the first people in there. As a matter of fact, while sitting and talking about this, the neighbour business, which have this beautifully branded facade and glass terrace, didn't have a single person eating, but simply by having us sitting and talking made 3 groups of people enter the restaurant.

But how to gain that first attraction and first guests you may ask. That is indeed the most difficult part and I have taken the liberty to write down 5 of my best ideas for how to easily start getting into the marketing game with the guests you already have.

The Challenge

Challenge a young person to share a Facebook post and within a given timeframe reach X amount of likes in order to earn a free dinner.

E.g. ”Hey.. If you take a picture now and share it with your friends, and can get 200 likes by Friday, I will give you a free dinner.”

This way you will have the guests do the hard work of promoting your business, and by setting a realistic yet high goal, you can be sure to only pay a dinner if the person has marketed your business to at least i.e. 200 people. The fact that the person shares the business and try to get likes in order to get a free meal, only shows that they actually like your food, and want to benefit from this opportunity.

Besides - the person will most likely not come alone, but if he or she has earned a free meal, they will for sure be dragging their friends down there again. Good publicity and then you can earn on their friends one more evening.

The Gift

When a couple have been dining one evening, thank them for a great evening and personally give them a card granting them a free bottle of wine next time they come to eat.

If they have had an equally good evening, they will be very appreciate of the kind gesture, and you will be remembered as a place to come back to, especially if the couple only is in town for a few days. 

Note: be sure not to overdo it. And don't make a scene out of it or do it in an obvious marketing way. The effect is much better if done discretely. Besides, if every table around them heard it, they would expect same treatment, and then it won't have the same effect on people. Make them feel special that they have been such good guests to you, that you want to thank them this way. Making them feel appreciated as customers, and that you  actually wish for them to come back.

Ideally the card should be a white business card with the logo and contact details on the front side, and blank on the back side. And then the gift for a free bottle of wine should be hand written on the back side. This would give the ultimate effect for a person feeling it is truly a unique thing for them. Taking it a step further if it was issued to them personally by having the waiter write: "To mr. & mrs. Johnson. Thanks for a great evening. 1 free bottle of wine on me next time. - Pablo". Note that these cards can be pre-written beforehand, only needing the name of the customer and the name of the waiter. (Should still be handwritten though.).

The Selfie

If your waiters are good at their job, they will manage to make a family or group of friends feel welcome, and be able to chat a little with them during their visit. "How is it going", "You know a got a dog too", "Don't you just love a cold beer on a day like this?" etc. 

Have them chat with a family or group of friends and ask them if they would like to take a selfie to be shared on the Facebook page, and in exchange the waiter or waitress will give them a "Chupito" on the house. (A chupito is like a shot of liquor e.g. Limoncello or Bailey's - very often served after a meal in Spain for free at tables that have been good customers).

If the guests take the picture, be sure that they check in on Facebook at your restaurant and tag your page in their post, so you can share it afterwords, and if you take it yourself, make sure if gets up fast so they can share it themselves afterwords.

The Free One

Tell a guest, that if they bring two friends next time, they will get a free drink. This i great for pubs or bars that sell more beverages and meals.

For restaurants you can tell your guest, that if they bring three dining friends (three friends that also are coming to eat) the person will get a free meal or appetiser - and if they bring five dining friends you will give him or her an entire dinne for free with 3 courses and a drink included.

If the guest has had a great time and like your food, they will for sure try to get friends together to come by in order to get that free meal. And then you will have the chance to earn your money on the five other friends joining. It is worth mentioning that the bigger the group of people, the more energy and the more they will drink and eat together. Also - back to the idea of people attracts people, it is always great to have bigger groups enjoying themselves in order to attract more customers.

The Happy Hour

On Facebook, make a post about Happy hour and say that between 6pm – 8pm, the total price for all drinks in percentage will be discounted from their dinner that evening.

E.g. A couple arrives at 6pm and drinks for 12 euro. Maybe they eat something as well, but for the sake of marketing and business, only drinks will count in the happy hour. Then if they choose to eat dinner same evening they will get the total price in percentage (12€ = 12%) on their entire dinner bill.

You can place a maximum value in percentages (e.g. 25€), so they can’t drink themselves to a higher discount. (very few people will drink for 25€ anyways). People will then often feel that it is ideal to stay and eat the same evening and get 20% discount on their entire dinner, and often they may go for the more expensive dishes, steak, an appetiser etc. and perhaps even a dessert.


These are just a few ideas on how a restaurant can create the engagement and get customers to come back - and how to generate the amount of activity in a place needed, both on social media and on the premises, in order to inspire more people to come dine at your place.

Social media marketing is for sure a powerful tool, especially in the service industry when managing clients this way. You can extend it yourself in order to start building a group of followers by sharing and posting from your businesses yourself. But be sure to promote yourself online with three concepts in mind:

  1. Your posts should be entertaining,
  2. Your posts should be educational, or
  3. Your posts should include people that has had a great time.

A cup of coffee is neither educational nor entertaining, but having a person try to eat your biggest burger or most spicy dish on video, or show how you assemble the ultimate nachos dish using freshly shredded cheese from 5 different blocks, is something people like to see and follow. And again - get people involved, have them share their experiences and pictures of their time at your place. Those memories are worth so much more than 5 stars on TripAdvisor - I promise you that.

People attracts people.