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10 Unique Marketing Ideas Restaurants Overlook

Most savvy restaurant owners understand the importance of marketing. They’ll probably have the basics: a Facebook page, local ad spots, a big sign out front, or maybe a billboard. However, there are some out-of-the-box ideas that are easy to implement and can help build a loyal customer base. Let’s take a look at ten of these ideas.

1. Sponsor a local team

Most towns have little league and amateur sports teams that usually need sponsors for their seasons. You’ll help them buy equipment, and in turn, you’ll get advertising by having your restaurant’s name on their jerseys. Not only is it affordable, but it also gets you involved in the community in a visible way.

2. Host a cooking class

Take advantage of your expertise and the rise of the foodie movement to get people in your restaurant with a cooking class. Depending on the size of your community, your class might get picked up by the local press as a story. Students are likely to bring a friend and even stay afterwards to eat.

3. Put on a charity raffle

Give away some great prizes and free meals for a good cause. Not only is it great press for your restaurant, but it also gives you a chance to collect email addresses if you ask for the information on the raffle tickets you sell. Use the addresses for your email marketing strategy.

4. Cater events

Some simple catering equipment and a strategic menu allows you to take your food on the road. Get more business by catering weddings, corporate events, church events, and more. More people will be introduced to your restaurant at each event, too.

5. Host live music

Not every restaurant is suitable for live music, but if yours is, it’s a great way to get more people in the door. Include your customers in helping choose who performs to increase interaction.

6. Create a loyalty club

Consumers love being rewarded for their purchases. Take advantage of this with a loyalty club to keep people coming back to your restaurant.

7. Throw out menu prices

Once a month or so, throw menu prices out the window and run an event where customers pay what they think their meal is worth. It will generate lots of buzz, and those who overpay tend to balance out those who underpay.

8. Offer a speed lunch

Get busy business people in the door for lunch by offering a “15 minutes or it’s free” offer to boost traffic during slower times.

9. Optimize your menu

Put best-sellers that make you money in the top left corners, drop dollar signs, and strategically place expensive items around the menu to make other items look like great deals.

10. Host free Wi-Fi

You might not see your numbers increase dramatically, but you could see a steady stream of customers, especially in the slower afternoon hours.