Restaurant Marketing & Promotion Belfast Northern Ireland

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Discover how proper restaurant marketing took one store from spending £200 a week on Facebook PPC which delivered zero bookings… to spending £72  on more target adds with a social engagement strategy… which brought in 20 Bookings!!

So you’ve opened a restaurant and it’s doing ok, but you no matter what you try, you just can’t seem to put more bums on seats. This article is based on a factual restaurant marketing process that 100% worked. Continue reading until the end because you want to discover a more simple and cost effective approach to generate more revenues with more foot traffic!

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Restaurant Marketing Basics

As a restaurant owner you are focused on many points, but when funneled down, they break down into the following 4 categories.

  1. Customer service
  2. Quality of food
  3. Pricing
  4. Profits

Why Restaurant Marketing is Needed

Like many restaurants, you are most likely doing great Thursday through Sunday. Monday through Wednesday, however, you dread, because your doors are open, you’ve bought perishable goods, your electric is blasting and your staff is looking bored!

Turning a Monday through Wednesday into profitable days is the key to restaurant success and can substantially increase take home revenue.

BECAUSE…let’s face it…if your slow 3 days and busy 4 days, then your only just breaking even after fixed overheads and variable costs.

What Kind of Restaurant Marketing Can You Do?

To begin, let me share with you what my client shared with me upon arrival.

We spent hundreds on PPC advertising on Facebook, we tried 2 for 1’s and many other “offers”, hell we even paid PPC prices to advertise that we were giving away a free meal!!

What did we get? Crickets!

To me the solution was simple. We decided we would get into the nitty gritty of conversion optimization and solve this conundrum with good ‘ol a/b testing!

conversion-optimization

To start, we created landing pages, lead magnets, flip menus, pdf menus, changed and tested images, headlines, contact form inputs & labels, Twitter, posting frequently, posting less, posting at different times, optimising pages in eye catching colours… and you know what we got??

Dry desert tumbleweeds breezing past an empty restaurant of tables and chairs.

WHY?? OH WHY??

The 1st Restaurant Marketing Strategy Results

  • On Facebook we would get hundreds of shares
  • On PPC we were getting hundreds of clicks

BUT NOBODY was booking a table, even when we were giving away free meals.

  • Conversion optimisation? Out the window it went!!

Conversion optimisation I know for a fact works…but not for every industry and not for every locality or culture.

So back to the drawing board, I went!

To give some context, we provide our services here in Northern Ireland, to cities like Belfast, Banbridge, and other small towns in and around the North of Ireland.

Because of these great relationships, I was able to easily brainstorm with other restaurant owners who were also experiencing the similar challenges. We got our heads together and tried to figure out the enigma of why we were getting loads of clicks and engagement but zero bums on seats.

This was not an option, it was a necessity, because we couldn’t justify our restaurant marketing costs with such poor response.


The Answer was Right Under My Nose

If you’ve come here to this website from Twitter, you know I’m always talking about engagement, and how social media success is earned through actually being social, not by doing social marketing.

THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE!!!

Now, here’s the kicker folks, I’ve included a list below of the restaurant marketing and promotional ideas that provide results. In truth you can find them anywhere on the web, but none of them will work without one key ingredient.

BEING SOCIAL!!

How does that actually look when it comes to restaurant marketing?

Well I’m glad you asked, first let me get you some good promotional ideas for you to start thinking about and then I’ll explain how it works and more importantly, why it works.

14 Restaurant Marketing, Advertising, & Promotional Ideas

  1. Write up a list of cocktails you serve and discuss them on social media. Even offer a free cocktail winner from those that share your post.
  2. Get a DJ or live music going on certain nights. Record as much as you can and throw up snippets of the band, singer, and people having fun.
  3. Try handing out food samples on the street outside the restaurant.
  4. Get local businesses involved and pick a “business of the month”. Give away a VIP package or a few free bottles of wine. Where do you think they will go for future work and office parties?
  5. Create a theme night. Steak and cocktails or curry night. How about Taco Tuesday night. A beer and Taco for £3.
  6. Happy Hour. Half price drinks and cheap side dishes from 4pm to 7pm. Obviously, it will last longer than an hour and people will stick around and enjoy the atmosphere.
  7. Early Bird Specials. Give 20% to 30% off to those that come in before 5pm. Your restaurant looks busy and has a buzz when the regular guests arrive.
  8. Upsell your menu. Create a little side advert on your menu that says “add a cocktail or beer for only £1 when you buy xxx”
  9. TIP: Put your most profitable meals listed from top to bottom. People tend to order items listed higher on a menu, which will also be your most profitable.
  10. Sport Season Specials. Tie in burgers or rib specials with big games.
  11. Wine Tasting. Get in contact with your distributors and they will happily oblige in getting a rep out to you and offer the service for practically free, your customers will love it.
  12. 20% Discount for “Bounce Backs”. Offer a discount on a receipt for your customer on their next visit. Put an expiry date on it and they’ll arrive sooner than you expect.
  13. VIP Party. Offer a free meal for 4 or 6 people. Tag a bunch of customers and engagers and get them sharing and liking to win.
  14. Trivia Night. Customers and neighbors get a chance to meet up for some friendly banter, drinks and food.

There you have it….A list of promotional, restaurant marketing ideas that you can start using today, to start getting bums on seats.

Please note that the suggestions on the list above can be used on any social media platform. For arguments sake, the restaurant I’ve been speaking of was using Facebook, so we’ll stick with that. After all, the following description did generate them more foot traffic for their restaurant Monday through Wednesday.


Be Social with Your Restaurant Marketing

The first thought that is probably in your head is: Yeah, that all makes sense, but will they work?

For us, they were a way to engage with potential customers, but did they work by themselves?  No!

We designed landing pages, pop ups, contact forms and tried everything we could think of to make people take us up on “offers” and “deals” but nothing happened.

WELL....THAT IS.....UNTIL....WE BECAME SOCIAL!!

So how exactly did we do ‘social’?

We incorporated social proof, got people “feeling”, and generated lots of traffic so that people would see our offer and engage with it.

social-proofWe put a social proof – “testimonial” – about the restaurant before a “feel good” post that would get plenty of engagement, then positioned the “offer” just above these posts.

Before I show you how it looked, let’s look at what would get plenty of engagement, traffic and “feelings”. We used a technique from a list of 15 techniques that increase post engagement on Facebook.

Yes we practice what we preach!

For starters we know that the service staff is the customer facing area of the business. In other words, customers know more about the staff than they do anything else. In fact, many customers would have built up relationships with the service staff, and publicly recognizing the staff would generate engagement and traffic.

So we positioned the “feeling” after the social proof – “testimonial”. Don’t underestimate the power of  a “feeling” post, the more oxytocin you can get going to the brain of the customer the better their affiliation with your “offer”.

We then introduced the offer with a headline which was phrased as a question. (Learn more about how to create engaging content in that link above)

Where they had previously spent hundreds on a Facebook PPC campaign for a “2 for 1” deal we were offering, that sucked them dry!

This time would be different!

We offered a FREE meal when they buy one meal from the healthy menu. We did this because psychologically, people responded better to “FREE” (customer value-based pricing) offers over “2 for 1” (cost-based pricing).

A product‘s economic value is the price of the customer‘s best alternative Nagle and Holden’s (2002). Customer value-based pricing strategies: why companies resist Journal of Business Strategy, pp.44.

In other words the “FREE” offer give the customer an alternative.

ie: Pay full price for two or buy one and get one free.


As stated, in a great article by copyblogger, the customer needs to know the consequences of accepting or rejecting the offer. A “2 for 1” offer derives a simple yes or no response from the customer, but a “GET ONE FREE when you buy one before 5pm tonight” derives a response along the lines of – if I don’t buy one now, I must pay full price for two at a later date.

The Secret of our Restaurant Marketing Strategy

We increased the value of the deal by adding scarcity to the offer by giving people only a few hours to share and accept the offer. Additionally, we told people the offer was to be taken up that night in order to get the deal.

Learn more about how to create scarcity on Conversions XL website.

Ok. So enough with all this mumbo Jumbo. Here’s how it looked.

We paid £0.72 to give the advert “offer” a kickstart and then it took off from there.

Step 1) Social Proof Post

restaurant-social-media-social-proof-marketing

Step 2) Feeling Post

facebook-restaurant-marketing

Step 3) Offer Post

Image of Belfast Restaurant Marketing Facebook Promo
What else can we contribute to the success of the restaurant marketing campaign?

Previously we tried making people book online to avail of the offer and give their email details so that we could build a list of customers who we could contact simply by email about future deals.

For whatever reason: culture, industry etc. people just would not do it.

This time, we tried something new, we alerted the winners via a Facebook comment on their page and created more sense of urgency. The comment was phrased in a way which made the customer feel like they could lose out on the deal if they didn’t act quick. It also got straight to the closer – what time should we expect you?

Congrats, you’ve won a free meal at xxx tonight, when you buy one from our healthy menu!! We’ve a couple of tables free before 6pm, and may be be able to squeeze you in before 7pm…What time should we expect you?

The Revised Strategy Results

Previously, they were getting a feeble one or two bookings a week for a Wednesday special.

This time?

We were taking booking calls until 45 minutes AFTER the competition stopped! The restaurant was fully booked for the night and could no longer accommodate any further bookings.

WE DID IT!! So how many tables? We personally took 20 bookings of parties between 2 and 4 people.

I later asked the restaurant owner how the night went. His response….”we got our asses kicked.”

So there you have it. I invite you to use any of the restaurant marketing and advertising promotional ideas listed above. Please note that they simply may not work without an execution strategy which includes the ability to understand how people think and feel when engaging with a restaurant on social media.

My name is Robert Jones, I’m the Chief Marketing Officer at Exodus Digital Marketing. Are you ready to grow your business? Contact me now and let’s discuss how we can help your restaurant generate more foot traffic and sales using social media strategies.


Hello, I’m author of this post. I help businesses like yours create memorable brands, get found online by “ready to purchase” web searchers. I also use nueromarketing techniques and coversion rate optimisation to influence web visitors to “buy now”.

I have worked with companies like IBM & BT Telecom and have started several small businesses so I understand how you feel.

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