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Restaurant Marketing: 5 Ideas To Keep Your Business Cooking

When it comes to running a restaurant business, keeping your marketing fresh and interesting is one of the biggest and potentially rewarding tasks you will encounter. Most starting out have a restaurant business plan to follow that, among other things, maps out different restaurant marketing ideas. As the months roll by, however, you'll want to readdress your marketing to see what's working, what could be improved, and what new ideas you can tackle.

Whether you're looking for a new approach to your restaurant marketing, or simply a refresher course on what works, we're here to help. Here is a list of five great restaurant marketing ideas to work into your mix:

1) Host a Fundraiser Event for Charity

Giving back to the community is a surefire way to connect with potential customers and should be a consideration in any restaurant marketing plan. The first rule of this approach is to find a non profit cause or charity you truly care about - sincerity matters. Next, decide what type of event you want to host. Maybe you will give a percentage of all profits to charity for a specified date or maybe you'd like to host a larger-scale event in your place of business, take donations and host a raffle.

No matter what type event you chose to host, the next step is spreading the word. Promote your event in local newspapers, send out a press release and advertise the event in-store with banners, flyers, or table-tents. Depending on the scale of your event, you may even want to send a postcard mailing to the local community and really try to pack the house.

2) Revisit Your Restaurant Menu Design

If you did your homework when opening a restaurant, you likely spent a good amount of time on one of your most powerful marketing tools: your restaurant menu. This doesn't mean you are finished! Take some time at designated points throughout the year to review your restaurant menu design and see what can be improved. If it can be redesigned to better suit your brand, do it. If it is outdated with plenty of inserts and corrections, perhaps it's time to adjust the contents. If you've noticed certain trends among your clientele, address those with new menu items or weekly promotions.

No matter what you chose to revise, the menu is a place to put your best foot forward so look at it as an investment and a huge component of your restaurant marketing plan. Hire a professional graphic designer or copywriter if needed to create a menu that shines.

3) Pay Attention To Your Existing Customers

Are you doing all you to turn your existing customers into repeat business? This is an important question to ask when looking for restaurant marketing ideas; your current customers already enjoy your restaurant, so give them reasons to keep coming back.

You can target your existing customers in a variety of ways. One way is to implement a loyalty progr am involving punch cards. This encourages customers to dine in enough times to receive a free meal, and works particularly well for the breakfast or lunch crowd who generally goes for the tried-and-true to save time during the morning and afternoon rushes.

Another way to target existing customers is through coupon or flyer printing. You can distribute coupons or flyers at the register or when you bring a customer's check and offer a discount or special promotion. If you really want to personalize things, allow a space for customers to write in their favorite menu item and offer it discounted or free the next time they return. You can even make the promotion good only for groups, encouraging them to bring friends.

4) Target Local Businesses with Discounts and Deals

Make the most of the people in your neighborhood. Send postcards offering discounts to local businesses in your area - just ask them to come in with their business card and hand them an employee discount card in return. You can also drop off flyers at local businesses and invite employees to come in to pick up their discount cards. Finally, if you do catering, offer to cater events for local businesses at a discount.

No matter what strategies you employ, the important thing to remember is that small businesses generally love supporting other small businesses, so don't forget them when you're coming up with restaurant marketing ideas. Any combination of tactics is sure to drive sales!

5) Add Entertainment to Your Menu

Incorporating live entertainment into your restaurant marketing strategy seems to be a growing trend, and if you have the room, it's a smart way to grab the attention of new customers who like that sort of thing.

Partner with a local radio station to help promote new talent and host band nights once a month. You can also host comedy or art - maybe even a wine tasting or networking event for the community.

Get creative and be sure to promote your events. Once you've got an event calendar set for the month, publish it in local newspapers. You may also want send postcards to the community inviting them to join, post flyers at your register advertising your entertainment nights, and make banners to hang in your restaurant on event nights to spread the word to people in the room. If you really want to make the most of the increased foot traffic, organize a happy hour and offer appetizers and drinks at a discount. First-time customers will appreciate the value and you're likely to gain a few repeat customers in the process.