Restaurant Advertising

Sometimes the best restaurant advertising is a positive buzz around how you serve the best meal in town. But no one will know how good your food is if they don’t even know about your restaurant in the first place. 

There are plenty of ways to go about restaurant advertising, all with different levels of targeting, cost, and effectiveness, but we’re here to give you our top seven restaurant advertising ideas to help you figure out which works best for your restaurant.

1. Restaurant Chalkboard Advertising

When it comes to free restaurant advertising that many types of venues can execute, you can’t go wrong with chalkboard advertising. But before you decide to jump on the chalkboard wave, you have to be sure that it is a good advertising strategy to connect with your desired customers and fits your restaurant aesthetic. 

For example, a sidewalk chalkboard is commonly used by bar owners or for casual eateries in cities or on streets with lots of foot traffic. So, to those five-star restaurant owners in farm country, this advertising space might not be for you.

The strength of the restaurant chalkboard lies in its versatility. Restaurant owners, or their most creative staff member, can change the message on the board easily and as often as they like.

Here are some commonly used messaging found on these restaurant chalkboards:

Specials

Whether it’s lobster rolls in the summer or chili in the winter, let your customers know what the special of the day is, and don’t hesitate to include some tasty pricing on the board too.

 

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Promotions

Taking a few dollars off of the check is a sure-fire way to get customers through the door. Let them know the discount on your chalkboard, and get creative with it!

 

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Happy Hour Announcements

Nothing draws people to like the promise of drink specials after a long day of work, or the idea of skipping work altogether.

 

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Jokes

Show off the creative side of your restaurant with a few quirky one-liners on the restaurant chalkboard. This lets customers know that your restaurant is a place where they can enjoy themselves.

 

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Changing Menu Items

If your menu is always changing or if your bar is constantly offering different drink options than a chalkboard is a good space for you to have. Write down the top menu options for the week and then mix it up a week later without any major hassle.

 

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Artwork

If you have someone on staff who can draw then why not add some pictures to your chalkboard?

 

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Event Announcements

Let your customers know when your restaurant is hosting special events such as trivia nights or live music.

 

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Fun Facts or Trivia Questions

The purpose of the chalkboard is to be more engaged with customers. Asking a trivia question will undoubtedly get pedestrians to stop and take a second look at your establishment (Hint: inquire within for the answers to trivia questions).

This simple, old school tool allows you to capture attention from the foot traffic making their way through the streets and bring them into your restaurant. The location? Perfect. The time? Immediate. The cost? Practically free.

But just because it’s free to use, doesn’t mean it’s easy to pull off. A good sign takes time and creativity. Think about how you can grab people’s attention, make them laugh, or make them hungry.

Use our free restaurant marketing grader to see what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and how to make improvements.

2. Restaurant Table Advertising

If you’ve got a new appetizer, cocktail, or any other offering that you want to advertise to customers, do it right at the table they’re sitting at. Restaurant tabletop advertising is a great way to upsell customers. 

While they are contemplating their orders, they’re being constantly reminded of what’s new and exciting. Especially if they’re regulars, having a table tent displaying your new offerings might be a great way to get them to try something out of the ordinary.

 

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3. Restaurant Advertising Flyers

Flyers may seem like an old school way of advertising, but there’s a reason it’s stuck around for so long – they’re perfect for introducing your business to the community. If your restaurant is in an area with a lot of foot traffic, have a member of your staff hand out flyers in front. If not, go to some local gatherings and pass them out. Otherwise, you could leave flyers on doorsteps or in mailboxes of nearby homes but be aware, this could seem invasive to potential customers.

When advertising your restaurant with flyers, you’ll want to include a few things:

  • Your Best Menu Items. In order to pique the interest of potential customer’s taste buds, you’ll want to include some of your most mouth-watering menu items. With limited space to show off your selection, just include the hits. Using restaurant analytics, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out which of your menu items are top-performers.
  • Enticing Food Photos. If you want to catch the attention of a customer, there’s no better way to do it than to flaunt how delicious your food is. Having a large photo of one of your restaurant’s most beloved meals on your flyer should get stomach’s growling.
  • An Unbeatable Promotion. You might have the best food on the block, but cost-sensitive consumers are only going to stop if the price is right. Making a special promotion prominent on your flyer might be the hook to getting first-time customers into your restaurant.
  • Important Information. If all of the above tactics work, you’ll have a customer ready to take action, so don’t lose them because they can’t figure out where you’re located. Be sure to have an address and phone number on your flyer, and while you’re at it, include your social media handles. The more convenient you can make it for restaurant-goers to find your establishment, the better.

4. Restaurant Radio Advertising

If you really want to make an impression on your local community, consider advertising your restaurant on the radio. It may sound too traditional, but it’s stood the test of time because it’s an effective way of targeting potential customers in your local area. 

Having a radio ad that talks about a new promotion you’re running, where your restaurant is located, and – if you want to get real cheesy – a jingle to top it all off, you can start to own more real estate in a customers consideration set. Keep in mind, the weekly fee for advertising on the radio will cost between $500-$2,000 depending on your location.

5. Restaurant Newspaper Advertising

Despite the common narrative that print journalism is dying, newspapers are still a great way to advertise. Forbes detailed numerous reasons as to why advertising in a local newspaper is still worth investing in, and one of the bigger reasons is that brick-and-mortar storefronts with hyper-localized customers are the ones exposed to them.

If you’re opening a new restaurant in a small town, advertising in the newspaper might be the best way to get your name out there to the locals who probably already have their favorite spots. Introducing your new business to the community and associating with a local news source could be the perfect way to turn your unknown restaurant into a local favorite. 

6. Restaurant TV Advertising

According to an NRA survey, 94% of restaurant operators believe that TV ads are one of the most effective ways to increase revenue. Not only are TV ads likely to be viewed more than once, but they are also more memorable. TV allows you to truly put your restaurant on full display. Showing where it’s located, what the inside looks like, how your food and drinks look, and pushing promotions will be the best way to show off all of your assets to viewers.

7. Restaurant Digital Advertising

Restaurants that aren’t actively advertising on digital platforms are missing out on an easy, cost-effective way to get eyes on your restaurant. There are 3 important platforms to keep in mind when building a digital presence for your restaurant:

  • Yelp. 92% of consumers read restaurant reviews, so monitoring review sites like Yelp for negative and irrelevant comments is necessary. 
  • Facebook. Restaurants with more likes and check-ins than other places can be the social proof that your business is worth visiting before another. Asking happy customers to like your page on Facebook can be a great free way to drive buzz.
  • Google. If a customer is searching “food near me,” and you’re right down the street, you’re going to want to show up on the results page. To do that, make sure you claim your Google Business page, input the right address, and include a valid phone number. This only takes a few minutes and can make all the difference.
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Our free Restaurant Marketing Grader will show you how you can quickly give your digital marketing a boost and improve your online presence. Simply enter your restaurant’s name to find out how your Google, Yelp, and Facebook profiles stack up.

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Written by   |  
Ryan McSweeney started his restaurant career as a dish-washer at the Sundae School Ice Cream Parlor in Dennisport, Massachusetts. For five years he served Cape Cod vacationers the biggest scoops of their favorite flavors. He spent many more years in the service industry, and brings his knowledge and love for the restaurant-world to Upserve where he provides the best restaurant technology to restaurateurs around the country.