How Do I Promote My Small Restaurant Business?

I've been asked to answer a few questions and rather than just having you read a blog, what I thought I'd do is answer the questions in a video too so that we can have a face to face discussion about it.

So please see the video below...

The first question that they asked me to answer was: “How do I promote my small restaurant business?” Sounds like a simple question and I'm sure a lot of people—maybe you—have actually thought that. “How do I do it? You know how there's so many different ways to do it? Which way should I choose?”


I think a better question is, "If I choose to promote my small restaurant business, which way is going to be the most successful for me?" And by successful, I mean it's going to make money for me.

Social Media Marketing

social media marketing for restaurants

The knee jerk reaction about how do you promote your small restaurant business is "oh that's easy, just post on Facebook, post on Instagram, do some Facebook ads, it's dead simple" is the answer. But is that going to work for you?

The truth of the matter is that Facebook and Instagram can work, but it's not just a matter of posting pictures. You know maybe five years ago you could have gotten away with that just posting pictures, these days things are much more sophisticated and many of the successful social media marketing strategies that you see have got more going on behind them than just posting a picture.

For instance, when we work promoting our restaurants through Facebook and the first thing that we do is we take out a Facebook ad so we don't post just a picture. We actually pay for an ad and there is a picture in it and we specifically choose that picture, the words on that picture, and then we write some text underneath it. And, again, the text that's written there is really carefully crafted so that it's of great interest to the people that are reading it. Then we put a call to action in text, so rather than just saying, “Hey, here's my Pavlova,” what we'll do is post a picture, have some text, and at the end of the text it'll say, “click here for more information,” or “click here to book in,” or “click here to receive your voucher.” So the CLICK HERE bit is what's called a call to action.

The reason that we put that there, is that this is just not about blasting out more information into the social media sphere and hoping some of it sticks, the whole point of what we're doing is to make people take action and once they click that button; number one they've shown interest, and psychology shows that the more times people show interest in something the more likely they are to take action in that direction. So the first thing is they have shown interest, the second thing is when they click that button they go somewhere else.

There's lots of different places you could drive them to, what we do is we actually immediately either do a pop up web page, where we can gather their details, and therefore we're building our database.

Email Marketing

email marketing for restaurants

After we got their data from them to build that database, we might send them immediately a voucher to get them to come in and dine. There'll be conditions on that so that the voucher actually is only a small amount of the bill size that's paid later. And the other thing that we do often is that when they hit the button in the Facebook ad, it pops up Facebook Messenger and it starts a conversation with them. And what we're doing in that conversation is warming them up to give us information that we actually want. That might be their name, their address, their email address, their date of birth, whatever it is that we actually want from them. So there's an automated conversation that starts and we keep reminding them of the fact that they clicked the button because they wanted the thing that we said that they could have in the Facebook ad. So the Facebook ad says, hey if you want to X - whatever that is, it might be when girls’ night out whatever it is—click this button. They click the button, then we're asking them questions about them, but we're constantly reminding them that they took that action because they wanted to win the girls’ night out.

So we seed that conversation with that kind of information. Once they get to the end of the conversation, in their Facebook on their phone or in their Facebook Messenger, they will get a voucher immediately – so it is taking care of that need for instant gratification. So immediately they get a voucher, they can bring that voucher into the restaurant. It will have conditions on it, again, don't worry we're not giving away all of your money.

When we're doing it this way, we're building that database which is very valuable. And then secondly, we are getting them to take action and we're protecting you with the condition. So when they come in, they'll spend their money, and you will have a return on investment for your Facebook ad dollars that you've spent. And what we're seeing is well over 10 times return on that investment. So if you're spending $10 on ads you're getting $100 back, $100 dollars on ads you're getting $1,000 back – that's the kind of thing that we're seeing with some of these promotions that we're doing and at the same time it's building a database.

So when it comes to “How do I promote my small restaurant business?” You know, yes you can do Facebook, yes you can do Instagram, and yes you can do this kind of in depth strategy which works. And although I've been talking about Facebook, whether you know it or not, Facebook actually own Instagram, that exact same strategy that I talked to you about with a little tweak can be run on Instagram too. What else can you do to promote your small restaurant business?

Special Offers

Restaurant Marketing & Promotion Ideas: Letter Box Drops

Well, you can also do things like—it’s old school—but you can do letterbox drops, and if you've got an email list and going out to your email list and sending them an invitation to dine, imagine that you are inviting them in to dine. One of the things that we see so many times is that restaurants do have a database that they don't reach out and say, “Hey we're doing this, we're doing that, would you like to come to dine?”

I was speaking to a restaurant yesterday that's just started to work with us, they have 35,000 people on their database. Now, they do send monthly emails to a portion of that, but there's a whole another portion, 20,000 actually, who they don't send anything out. And one of my first jobs is going to be seeing if we can engage with that whole portion and get them involved. I mean, imagine if we could get 50% of them coming in, that's 10,000 people that have not been in.

So going out to your email as your current database that you have, that's another thing that you can do. So we're talking about social media, old school letterbox drops, particularly if you've got a takeaway, particularly if you do home delivery, letterbox drops work—they're not fantastic, like they're going to run forever, they work for about two weeks—so while it's in somebody's hands, when it's in their face, they'll ring an order, you'll get a massive sales spike, the job you've got then is when they come in, that you then get their data when they come in or when they order over the phone for a home delivery—you get their data and by that I mean their name and email address. You will have their postal address if you're delivering, so that you can go back out to them.

Even if you're using a delivery company, if you can get the data directly from the people, you can send them an email offering them a discount to order directly from you. And the discount can be less than what someone like Ubereats charge, so if Ubereats is charging you 35% to do a delivery and you do it directly yourself and say “I'll give you 10% off.” Now, you've just saved 25% and they've just saved their $5 fee that they pay to Ubereats and 10%. So it's a really good opportunity to divert that Ubereats traffic to your own ordering app or to taking orders yourself and then doing home delivery yourself if that fits within your business model.

So, yeah, social media, letterbox drop using your email list, and the other ways of promoting is going out to the community. And there's lots and lots of ways that you can do what we call Joint Ventures – so that's working with either other businesses or other community groups, sporting groups, schools, universities, and we've got lots of strategies that we use with our clients to do that kind of thing.

What works for your restaurant?

So there are lots and lots of ways that you can promote your small restaurant business. But what I would say is, the more important question is, if you are going to do some promotion, which ones are going to be most successful for you financially, and it's really important because I know how difficult it is to make profit these days.

So which way is going to work best for you financially and from a business point of view. You don't want to be absolutely flooded on a Saturday night with takeaway orders if your kitchen can't take it and can't handle it because you're going to either let people down at home who are ordering the takeaway or you're going to let people down in the dining room, and that's the last thing that you want to do, particularly with all these online reviews now. So not only is it what's going to work successfully for you financially, it's also business wise as well.

So lots of ideas there for you and I hope that's been useful for you.

Want to chat about your restaurant's success?  Call me...