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Marketing magnets are the strategies that attract new customers without the need to spend your marketing budget. These strategies require one important element—passion for what you do and the restaurant you run. Exploring how Twitter, online videos, email newsletters and other promotional strategies can help, these ideas will be sure to get your imagination cooking to create the best “marketing magnets” for your restaurant.


If you own a restaurant and are in desperate need of a marketing re-vamp, don’t worry. There are some very simple, easy and fun ways to promote local interest in your restaurant.

Marketing magnet #1: Twitter

Twitter is a great platform available to sink your advertising teeth into. With about 200 million registered users, this popular micro-blogging platform is a great way to update people on your restaurant at any time of day.

Derek Wagner, Chef at Nicks on Broadway (@NicksonBroadway) in Providence consistently tweets about daily menus, food arrivals and shout-outs to local farmers.

For example, on August 9th, @Nicksonbroadway tweeted:

“Beautiful new side of dry aged Blackbird Farm beef just showed up! Can’t wait to butcher it! Stay posted for details!”

After this text, a link was posted leading to a picture of the meat. By creating a Twitter account, or a Facebook page, it allows an owner to post daily updates on his or her restaurant, which creates interest.

More importantly, it gives social media users a way to tag you in their social media shout-outs, giving their readers an easy way to click and find out who you are.

  • Read this too: 5 Quick Tips: Restaurant Twitter Netiquette

Marketing magnet #1: Video

Uploading videos to your restaurant’s website is another great way to promote your business. Toomer’s Coffee Roasters in Auburn, AL has only two videos up on their website, but it’s a good example of what type of videos are a hit among customers who visit the site.

It’s simple to upload a video onto your website using YouTube (free) or a more professional looking platform like Wistia (less free), but make sure you’re not hiding the videos anywhere. As opposed to placement anywhere else on your site, homepage videos get more views and generally receive a 70%+ average engagement rate, which tells you how long someone watched the video.

Patrick Hughes, Production Director at Visual Post is no stranger to creating web video for small businesses and says, “For homepage videos, try keeping your video between three to five minutes. When it comes to your homepage, less is more and people’s attention starts dropping after three minutes.” Soon people won’t just be viewing a clip, but they’ll be coming into your restaurant to see it for real.

  • Read this too: 5 Business Owners Who Use Video to Market their Small Businesses

Marketing magnet #3: Email newsletters

Sending out email newsletters is truly a no-brainer marketing strategy, but it certainly takes some work. Unlike direct mail, email marketing can be pretty cheap, even free, and is one of the best ways to stay in touch with your most loyal customers.

While you never want to bombard your customers with email after email, sending one out every week or month is the perfect balance.

Include new menu changes, let them know about a special deal you may have coming up, or simply check-in to say “hi” and make it personal. Don’t forget to include pictures! Looking at great food is sometimes the number one way to get hungry people in the door.

Farmstead/La Laiterie in Providence is one of those restaurants/shops I mention a lot here on this blog, not only because they’re local, but because Matt & Kate Jennings are passionate about everything they do, and that includes customer loyalty with email newsletters. Because of this, they make for really good examples, what can I say?

Farmstead’s newsletter does it right every step of the way. They lead in with a great photograph and a personal story, they often include recipes, they skillfully craft little event/menu promotions that fit right in with their editorial efforts, and they only send once or twice a month.

If you’re looking for a great template to follow, check out Farmstead’s email newsletter archive.

  • Read this too: 5 Quick Restaurant Email Marketing Best Practices & 5 Very Good Reasons to Collect Email Addresses on Your Small Business Website

Marketing magnet #4: Free stuff

Customer’s like free stuff? No way! Believe it or not, but giving things away for free can actually help you reach your marketing goal and it doesn’t need to cost you.

Think about your most loyal customers.

  • Foodies want to know more about your food – recipes are a great thing to give away to this crowd. This is a favorite tactic from Farmstead.
  • Socialites want a leg up, so asking them to taste-test a new dish that might end up on the menu is a great strategy (on the house, of course). Davide in Boston knows this strategy well and it’s best performed on nights when it’s less busy and more personal.
  • Regulars like being regulars, so even personal invitations to wine dinners keep them feeling special.

Blogging is another “free” thing that you can offer your customers. Typing up the instructions on how to make an appetizer or a dessert that’s a house favorite is a perfect way for your customers to sink their teeth into your restaurant. It’s also a great SEO trick and gives you more things to talk about and link to on Facebook and Twitter.

If you tie this in with an email newsletter (see above), sending out a recipe for patrons to try themselves once a month is a great idea. Just look at Farmstead. They put up three mouth-watering cheese recipes and it’s enough to get anyone in the door.

Of course if you want to keep a family secret, these recipes do not have to be anything on your menu. Instead, these freebies can be a recipe that you just made up, experimented with, or just an old favorite from childhood.

Marketing magnet #5: Competition

Finally, you never want to underestimate the power of good, old-fashioned, competition. Utilize your local and broadcasted competitions to your advantage.

These competitions get people involved and aware of your business in a fun, friendly atmosphere, even if it is mixed in with some competition. And if you win an award, that’s double the press!

Also, don’t forget about getting a booth at a local food fair or farmer’s market. No venue is too small for you to bring some delicious samples of your new appetizer straight to the people. Don’t forget business cards!

For more info about food competitions and to think up some more ideas, check out this website, which will keep you updated on food contests nationwide.

  • Read this too: How Local Cooking Competitions Can Make You Look Awesome

Everybody likes to be “in the know”. Customers take pride in sharing that new dessert at the little bistro down the street with a friend. And that new café they just heard about? Take the whole family! Being up-to-date on what’s happening with food in town is a hobby for some, but how these people find this information is the real question. While sometimes customers can do all the digging, it sometimes has to be up to the restaurant to generate the buzz.

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As part of Upserve’s family of more than 10,000 restaurants, The Chef is Restaurant Insider’s secret weapon in the kitchen. As a restaurant expert in all things marketing, menu building, management, training and more, restaurateurs trust The Chef and the award-winning Restaurant Insider to dish out the ingredients needed to make your business a sweet success.
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