1. Get in the habit of asking for your clients’ emails.
This is not easy, and can feel awkward. But it’s super valuable to your business. So here is an idea: ask every new customer to give you their email address in exchange for a free meal on their birthday. This gives you ample opportunity to connect with them during the year, and they can bring their friends along when the big day arrives (more foot traffic, brand awareness, word of mouth, etc.). Talk to me about how you can make this process extremely simple.
2. Run your ads locally.
Unless you are running an extremely up-market restaurant, your main clientele will be local, so there is probably no point promoting your restaurant nationally. So keep your PPC campaigns targeted close to your geographical location. Otherwise you will be wasting a lot of money on clicks that are too far away to travel to your location for lunch.
3. Run online specials.
Offer a discount when the user shows the ad in person. This could be on their phone, or even printed out.
4. Let your customers book online.
Consider joining one of the online booking services, such as OpenTable. This will bring you to the attention of travelers from other areas who might not otherwise find you, and you can also offer special deals through the site.
5. Ask for reviews constantly.
Reviews are the word of mouth marketing pillars of our time. Ask for them constantly. You can even incentivize users to review your establishment by “bribing” them with a free coffee once they show you their (hopefully positive) review online.
6. Run mini-events on slow days.
Consider running special “theme” days or evenings on your quietest days, to boost business (either a thematic cuisine, or even an activity such as Trivia night — whatever fits within your brand).
7. If your brand allows it, organize children’s parties.
Supplying balloons, small gifts, streamers, etc. can make the day really special for the child. This will generate repeat business from the parents of the other guests.
8. Run a monthly draw.
Have a large bowl by the cash register, and collect business cards (or handwritten slips) from diners, with a monthly draw for a free meal or free bottle of wine or champagne – this is another way of building a database for future marketing activities.
9. Invite guests.
On special occasions, such as when you redecorate the restaurant, hold a party, inviting local press, radio, community leaders, neighbors, and previous customers from your database, to show off your new premises, and launch a fresh menu.
Let us know if you need any help in implementing any of these into your strategy. Remember, it’s always about offering something in return for a customer’s contact information. It can be as simple as a chance to win a free meal once per month. Or the ability to get that month’s specials via email. The sky is the limit to what you can offer.