Game-Changing Restaurant Marketing Ideas for Small Business

One of the restaurant marketing ideas to create a contact list can be a Fish Bowl strategy.

Henry Nelson
Henry Nelson | 3 years ago | Restaurant
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Once upon a time, business owners viewed the marketing budget as an expense with no return. They did not believe that marketing brings as many benefits as investments in sales or PR. However, these days are long gone, and businesses realized the effectiveness of proper marketing strategies. Yet, small businesses struggle to find restaurant marketing ideas due to budget limitations. Luckily, with the improved traditional and digital marketing techniques, business owners and managers can enjoy low-budget, but powerful promotion of their restaurants.

Locate The Address on Google Maps

Have you ever heard about Google My Business? It is an excellent service that improves the visibility of businesses to local customers through search queries and the map. When clients want to find a restaurant around, the first thing they do is searching online. Therefore, business owners should add a restaurant address, contact number, or work hours to the Google My Business Listing platform. In this way, when users look for a restaurant around, your location may pop up as a suggestion. 

Email Marketing

If business managers have a list of their actual or potential clients’ emails, they can send newsletters. These letters can include information about special offers, new menu items, or it can be just a reminder to revisit the location. For instance, if you deal with bar management, you can send a reminder about the happy hours in your cafe.

Note: Try not to send marketing emails too frequently. Customers do not like businesses that spam their inbox. 

Birthdays in Restaurant Marketing Ideas

Customers want to see that your business cares about its clients. Every second of the time they spend in your place is a great opportunity to show that care. However, thinking about clients even when they are not in the restaurant is a ground-breaking action. Hence, celebrating the birthdays of the clients will make your business stand out among your rivals. If you have data about customers, it is relatively easy to send celebrations. Marketers can send a simple card or offer a discount, freebie as a gift to clients through emails or messages. After such a generous move, most customers will have a positive attitude towards your restaurant and consider re-visiting.

Fish Bowl

A serious problem emerges with email marketing or birthday celebrations when businesses do not have contact information of their clients. When a restaurant has a database about clients, this problem does not occur. However, if you are running a new, small business, you might lack the necessary data. One of the restaurant marketing ideas to create a contact list can be a Fish Bowl strategy. The main idea is putting a fishbowl to a visible spot. Plus, write an attractive text on bowl, such as ‘win free business launch for a week.’ The only requirement will be placing the business card to the bowl. For non-working customers, you can place a piece of paper to write contact details and name. At the end of the week, choose one card randomly and award your lucky customer. In return, you will get information about dozens of customers.

Note: Ensure to close the bowl with a lid that has a small place to insert cards. An open bowl creates a threat for privacy as other people can easily take papers out. Even if none touches the bowl, customers can be concerned about the security of their contact details and hesitate to share. 


restaurant marketing ideas

Collaboration is one of the restaurant marketing ideas that bring positive word-of-mouth (WOM). First, you can open your space for corporate events or small celebrations. Doing it on weekdays will be more helpful, as the restaurants are less crowded during those days. Alternatively, business managers can facilitate student-led events and require less money for reserving the place. Though the immediate revenue from such activities will be less, fun-filled restaurant entertainment will generate positive feedback if they serve tasty food professionally. Plus, many people will visit the place, which improves brand awareness and increases the probability of re-visits. 

Urge for Feedbacks

Nowadays, there exist many rating platforms to review different organizations. TripAdvisor, Burrp, or GroupTable are some of the examples for such platforms. Having a high rating on such websites will attract potential clients. It is also possible that your business gets a negative review. Try not to ignore negative feedback and respond constructively. For instance, you can start by apologizing for undesirable experience and then offer a discount for giving another chance to your place.

Show Off Your Staff

Whether you are creating an Instagram post or recording a video blog, showing your staff members increases credibility. Friendly staff members who support the central message of marketing build an excellent reputation for business. Plus, they create ‘a warm place to rest’ image for the restaurant.

Attract Business People 

When you open a restaurant, businesspeople around your location are one of the most attractive target groups especially if your place has a stylish look to it. Employees in banks, beauty salons, or shops are continually looking for a place to get food nearby. There are plenty of restaurant marketing ideas to bring your location to their attention. Creating a VIP card with discount opportunities can be one of them. You can distribute these cards to people working nearby, so that they become your regular customers.

If you do not want to create a card or offer a discount, you can also send them a free pizza or any other item from your item. Usually, people feel obliged to respond to such generous restaurant offers. Therefore, most of them will surely visit or order from your place. Plus, you can also provide free delivery to such areas. While customers will get their meals without leaving the work, your business will not incur significant expenses for delivery. 

 Social Media 

social media

Social Media has become one of the typical restaurant marketing strategies. Nowadays, the majority of hospitality businesses have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts. However, the key to success is providing constant and engaging material that can make people interested. Inactive pages give no reason to customers to follow. You can share some recipes, information about ingredients, or photos of delicious meals that work like a charm nowadays! Plus, to get more followers, you can offer special offers. For instance, people who follow your Instagram account can get a free drink. 

Note: Choose the tone of your messages based on the type of restaurant. If you manage a fine dining restaurant, have a strict, professional image. Conversely, for a fast-food restaurant, you can enjoy using humor in your posts.

User Involvement

User-Generated content is an excellent way to create buzz and develop strong bonds with customers. You can quickly generate such content on digital platforms using Instagram or Facebook. One way can be hosting a contest and awarding winners with free meals or discounts. Without worthy rewards, these contests are meaningless for users. They can take the most creative photos in your location or make a food item from your menu at home. Such games usually generate a lot of reach and engagements. 


Marketing is easier than ever with the help of accessible traditional and measurable online tools. More and more examples emerge which indicate the benefits and use of marketing strategies. Yet, small restaurant businesses are still concerned about the massive marketing expenses. Thankfully, there exist many restaurant marketing ideas that work on a tight budget and even disrupt the competition. Try to apply those ideas to get new customers and generate profits. When your business has enough money, you can move to more sophisticated marketing tools, such as online advertisements.

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