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Restaurant Marketing Ideas 101: How to brand foodservice operation

Restaurant Marketing Ideas: Take photos of your menu

Create realistic milestones, encourage staff participation, feature favorite customers and publicize your food brand on social media

"If you cook it, they will come..." Only if they read your menu in advance on your web site; you restaurant has three or more stars on Yelp; the food photos look appetizing on Facebook; the staff video showcases how fun it is to work there; they saw your food booth at a recent Farmer’s market event.. The list on Restaurant Marketing Ideas goes on.

Today, it takes more than amazing food and a great location. It takes a great marketing strategy to give foodies a reason to step into your eatery; and just as important, to return. That's why ACityDiscount created this list of Restaurant Marketing Ideas.

So many of our customers focus their attention on the back of the kitchen; others the front; but forget to build their social media audience (No. 5). They neglect to make sure foodies can find them online by only knowing what they serve (No. 6). They don't realize the impact a viral video can have on business, or they don't realize creating it is within their reach (No. 2).

Check out ACityDiscount's list of Restaurant Marketing Ideas. Let us know if any of these tips increases profits at your foodservice operation.

Restaurant Marketing Idea #1

Take a photo (Actually, lots of them) -  Your nose and your eyes buy food (later, your belly laments the decisions lol). And the nose only works when customers are within smelling range of your commercial kitchen. That's why social media photos are perfect marketing initiatives. Document the meat loaf. And the seafood pasta. Snap pictures of the BBQ, Loaded French Fries and the Mango Martini. Likes and shares can quickly morph into covers.

Restaurant Marketing Idea #2

Create a promotional video - At ACityDiscount, we created a "12 Days of Christmas" video in an effort to boaster our December sales. The project started with a concept, continued with a script (video to the left, audio to the right) and shooting schedule and ended with post production. The entire effort highlighted 12 of our business partners, from manufacturers to restaurants. And, about 25 ACityDiscount staffers in on-camera roles.

Check out the video and let us know how we did!

Restaurant Marketing Idea #3

Get out in the Community - New to the neighborhood? Aiming to increase your foot traffic?
Restaurant Marketing Ideas: Create daily specials
Participate in community events – chili cook-offs, cancer walks, food/toy drives, "Taste of (INSERT YOUR CITY HERE)" can expose your eatery to a brand-new audience. And if it's a charity event, your company has an opportunity to donate to the local community and take advantage of tax breaks.

Restaurant Marketing Idea #4

Create Daily Specials - "Pick a day for something to happen, and call it that day," said Hap Schneider, general manager of ACityDiscount - he's also a former seafood house restaurant owner.

"Every day, we had our soup of the day, and our regular soup... Most of the time, the soups of the day didn't go every well. One day, on a Thursday, we did a cream of cauliflower soup; customers loved it."

"The next Thursday, we weren't doing that soup. Customers asked about it. 'Hey, can we get your cream of calliflower soup?'

"Well, Thursday became "Cream of Calliflower Soup Day." I wound up having it put it on the menu."

The morale of this food story?

"People get something in their mind," Schneider added, "and they think about that particular food product, you get hungry for it."

Restaurant Marketing Ideas: start blogging

Restaurant Marketing Idea #5

Create an online footprint so Foodies can find you - Are you on Yelp? Is your menu on your web site -do you have an up-to-date web site? Have you completed a Google business profile?

Ever heard of the joke about not eating at a restaurant with an empty parking lot?Nowadays, foodies steer clear of eateries that don’t have online reviews. Oh, and make sure you respond to negative reviews.

Restaurant Marketing Idea #6

Start Blogging - How do foodies figure out the best BBQ restaurant in town? Oftentimes, they listen to what Google tells them. So it's time to give Google content from your web site, drawing customers closer to all the wonderful accomplishes your brand enjoys on a daily - often hourly - basis. Setbacks and success stories. Some serious stuff, and some funny moments. It's all worth a read for foodies.

Restaurant Marketing Idea #7

Meet a food blogger/social influencer - Identify the people in your community that influence the masses; then invite them to your place for a taste. Earn a good review and watch business soar.

Restaurant Marketing Ideas: support local farming

Restaurant Marketing Idea #8

Create customer contest - What's the perfect social media hashtag for your restaurant? The best photo angle? Slogan?
Ask your customers. Reward them with incentives, creating social media engagement around your brand. Sounds yummy!

Restaurant Marketing Idea #9

Buy local -Source your ingredients from local vendors, creating cross-promotion opportunities. Let the public know you support local businesses, and in turn, foodies will better support you.

Restaurant Marketing Idea #10

Start Truckin' - Food Trucks are overstuffed, new revenue streams on wheels. And they're also billboards that advertise your brand. Worth the investment.

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Gary Estwick writes about the foodservice industry and the equipment that keeps it running smooth – from deep fryers to pizza ovens. He’s a fan of chargrilled oysters, Nashville-style hot chicken, cool jazz, paintball and the TV show Quantum Leap (1989-93) – in that order... He’s written for the Miami Herald, New Orleans Advocate, Austin American-Stateman, Men’s Fitness and other publications. Gary is a native of New Orleans, and lives in Atlanta. Check out his ACityDiscount articles and videos. E-mail story ideas to gestwick@acitydiscount.com. And click here to join ACityDiscount's mailing list for more food stories, tips, tricks and foodservice equipment specials!