Waitress taking order in restaurant

Building a restaurant marketing plan shouldn’t feel like a chore. But sometimes, you’ve got more to worry about – like a staffing shortage, a minimum wage debate, and a tipping controversy sparking debate in your town.

So where do you start when building restaurant marketing strategies? The most effective (and cheapest) form of restaurant marketing is always going to be word of mouth marketing.

Some argue that online marketing is an extension of this, but we’d be doing you a disservice not to talk about how to leverage your restaurant customer service as part of your restaurant marketing strategy.

The bottom line is this: the only way to bring about positive word-of-mouth marketing is to provide great service and food. However, there are some ways you can tackle it otherwise.

Step 1: Talk to your guests.

Next time you’re walking around the restaurant asking how the meal was, if you find a guest that is particularly happy, ask them if they’d mind telling their friends.

Men in Bar

Get real and tell them how much your restaurant depends on people like them spreading the word. Guests will appreciate that candor more than you think.

Step 2: Set up a referral program.

This doesn’t have to be a formal program with entry forms and reward tiers. It can be as easy as offering your loyal regulars a free dessert every time they bring in a new friend to the restaurant.

Remember, without proper training, your staff won’t know how to talk about the loyalty program, so before you launch it, spend a few minutes going over the logistics.

Step 3: Spread the love.

Just as it’s important for your guests’ to share positivity about your restaurant, you should do the same for other restaurants.

The more you practice what you preach when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing, the more it becomes a norm in your atmosphere. Say you don’t offer Italian ices as a dessert but you know a great place that does, send your guest over to that place. You don’t lose out and now you’ve got a friend in the Italian ice joint that will send folks your way for chocolate cake.

>> The next logical step is to formalize a restaurant loyalty program. Keep reading to learn more about how to do that. <<

What does it take to be an effective restaurant marketer? The strategies you need (and everything you ever wanted to know) are in one place.

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In a perfect world, Theresa would spend her days reading good books and writing all the time... and she'd own all the shoes her heart desired. When she's not on the hunt for shoes, you can find this Rhode Island transplant on the hunt for food that comes close to "Long Island". Her favorite? Caffe Dolce Vita in Providence's historic Federal Hill.