Taking an active part in the community bolsters a restaurant’s image and draws customers from areas where traditional advertising doesn’t necessarily reach. Restaurateurs can promote restaurants by giving back to their communities, participating in festivals, media events and celebrations.

Restaurant can also use social media platforms by offering in-house incentives and promoting signature causes. Restaurants may create favorable word-of-mouth referrals by offering benefits such as free appetizers for diners who must wait for seating or encouraging the chef to meet diners often and seek their opinions.

Strategies that Draw People

Restaurant managers must first determine which type of customers to attract before settling on a promotional strategy. Some people respond well to contests, coupons, discounts and other financial incentives while others prefer interacting with chefs or gaining preferential treatment when dining. Even restaurants that usually attract tourists might want to target locals and promote specialty functions during off-seasons. Creative ideas that impress local audiences include the following initiatives:

  • High-profile cooking classes and demonstrations
  • Participating in local cooking contests
  • Sponsoring a booth at festivals and fairs in the area
  • Entering the head chef in cooking contests
  • Holding meet-and-greets with local food suppliers

Offering Something Unique for Word-of-Mouth Referrals

Restaurateurs can give prizes or sell products that promote their businesses by using a restaurant’s name and logo on T-shirts, backpacks, hats, mugs and jackets. These forms of advertising work best with casual restaurants, neighborhood eateries and fast food operations. Upscale restaurants can encourage word-of-mouth referrals by offering something unique like a free mini appetizer to guests who are waiting to be seated. Other strategies for promoting a restaurant in the community include:

  • Encouraging customers to make referrals by offering incentives
  • Raising sustainability and nutritional awareness through media, emails, newsletters and press releases
  • Sending press releases to social and local media outlets about each restaurant initiative and milestone
  • Encouraging the chef to mingle with customers frequently
  • Hosting an event

Giving Back to the Community

Giving back to the community is a great way to generate publicity and attract new customers. Owners or managers can attend block parties and community meetings, support local charitable initiatives or create their own charities to fulfill local needs.

Generating Attention with Social Media

Social media platforms help to build community goodwill, and restaurateurs can use media forums to promote charities, publicize local sourcing, explain which steps the restaurants takes for improving the environment and support local suppliers and growers. Guests care about social issue and are attracted to restaurants that publicly support certain causes and issues.

Determine what the restaurant’s targeted demographic segment cares about most, and publicize those issues that the restaurant is comfortable endorsing. Popular social media promotional strategies of restaurants include:

  • Listening to guests, taking surveys and sending out emails and newsletters to let customers know about social posts
  • Staying connected with customers with loyalty programs
  • Offering peaks of behind-the-scenes preparation techniques
  • Supporting local agriculture in menus and online postings
  • Holding a monthly dinner to support a cause or charity

Local communities offer the best and least expensive ways to promote a restaurant by engaging with people who give referrals to friends and associates. Organizing a community promotional strategy involves more than simple advertising—restaurateurs get the greatest advantages by offering something unique and unexpected, taking part in as many community initiatives as possible, establishing a presence through social media and giving back to the community.