4 Big Tips for Restaurant Marketers


It’s summertime and visitors and tourists abound. Hooray! But there are a lot of restaurants competing for those same customers, so we’d like to offer some tips to help you bring them into your place.

Now, of course, we want you to continue your best email marketing practices through the summer. But it’s always useful to double-check your plan for improvements − consumer tastes are constantly changing, right? So whether you need a refresher, or a major ramp up, we’ve got you covered. Now let’s get those hungry travelers to taste your cuisine!


  1. Prepare your sign-up forms

  2. Cook up your newsletter

  3. Bake your coupons

  4. Spice it all up with some specials

Ok, that’s the recipe, now let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work, starting with:

1. Sign up forms

The magic ingredient for attracting clientele is your email list. And this summer the recipe asks for more “multi-channel”! No problem! Make sure you add one to every web touch point − your web site, menu pages, social media page, even Yellow Page or banner ads. Same thing goes for offline – include in your comment forms, guest book, surveys, coupons, newsletters, even your take-out bags! Make sure to tell them, if they sign up they’ll receive special offers and coupons (more about that later).

2. Your Newsletter

If you don’t have one, now’s a great time to start! Pick one of 300+ knock-out templates from the GetResponse gallery – no special skills required. Use your entire subscriber list all at once, or segment by preferences. Don’t forget, you can set up and automate delivery according to your schedule, if you’re flat out busy. Next, create your message(s), but focus mainly on weekly specials, new menu items, juicy pix and videos, and perhaps a message from the Chef. Create a visual feast, but also give readers useful tips on how to save money at your restaurant, and how to cook healthy and eat well.

3. Coupons

Did you know that it’s become “savvy” for people from all income groups to use coupons? Sure, now it’s totally acceptable to drive up in a Mercedes and pay with a coupon! Use this trend to maximize your traffic every single day of the week.  Now let’s talk about how:

Know who comes into your restaurant and when by
collecting names, addresses, and perhaps some dining preferences in a guest book or comment card you can leave with the check. Include an invitation to your newsletter. Tell them every new subscriber will get a discount coupon sent directly to their email! Then collect the info from all your sources and plan your coupon strategy.  A good place to start is to map out which days attract which customers and set up a coupon campaign for every day of the week! Here are a few fictional examples:

  • Mon-Wed – older crowd, looking for bargains, buffets, package deals.
  • Thurs-Sat – professionals and working folks interested in having a cocktail or 2, and maybe an appetizer from 4 pm – 7 pm (think Happy Hour).
  • Sunday – Got some great brunch ideas? Make this a tradition no one wants to miss and they’ll come back (and bring their grandkids) for years to come.

Now these are just examples, so map out your own best daily coupon strategy, then create a multichannel distribution plan:

  • Newsletters – Make sure to include a big ad or video clip of the daily special on the front page, then include a calendar of daily special coupons. Or… offer a separate “Chef’s Table” newsletter to a high-value opt-in list with even deeper discounts and specials targeting the gourmands among them.
  • Website – This is a no-brainer, and we’re sure you’ve got this covered, but make sure your coupons are easy to find and download – and keep it current! We’re talking about daily specials now… so kick up the pace a bit. How many times have you visited a website and the coupons were out of date and the menu was 2 years old? Or the restaurant had moved! Yikes!
  • Social Media – I know, you’ve heard more hype about social media than you can “digest”. But there’s good reason for that. If you launched a social media page and started asking visitors to become Fans, then you’d have an even “hungrier” coupon crowd hitting your specials. And those Fans can add up fast!

According to eMarketer, 41% of Facebook Fans sign up to share product reviews and 37% sign up to receive coupons! If there are approximately 500M Facebook users and each has about 130 friends in his/her network, imagine the buzz you could create! Two more tips here: You can easily expand your audience by including social sharing options in your messages. It’s a totally under-used and FREE way to market your restaurant virally across the Internet.

4. Summer Fun Specials

Moms and Dads are looking for cheaper ways to have family fun this summer, so why not offer something especially for them. Just use the same email marketing tactics as #1. Here are some ideas to get the party going:

  • Kiddie Day – Don’t cringe! There are loads of out-of-work teens who could manage the youngins’ while Mom and Dad dine in peace. Offer a safe ride or two, games, contests and, of course, hot dogs and hamburgers. The kids will make sure they return!
  • Wine and/or Beer Tasting – Combine your tasting event with free hor d’oevres, a menu of 2-3 elegant specials, and a brief lecture from a local wine expert or brewer. You might even think about adding newsletter – “The Vintner’s Cellar”!
  • The Workaholics Special – Everyone needs a break, so why not offer a luncheon special that’s healthy, delicious, and FAST.  Mix it up and take suggestions. Get the “leader of the pack” on mailing list, so he/she brings the whole gang every time!

We had some fun with this, but seriously, we hope you see that our Big Tips are simply a matter of emphasis, or “focus”. You’re using the same great tactics, just taking them online and “on the road”!

Good luck and tell us what you’ve tried of the above, or send us some new Big Tips. Just keep them rolling in!

  • Carl Willoughby

    As a marketer, I have to admit your article offers some wonderful ideas. Another idea that occured to me would be for the restaurant to offer a raffle of a free dinner for 2.

    The restaurant would put a lead generation box near the cash register (or next to the toothpicks or mints, whatever) and have people fill out a card with their name and email and drop it in the box.

    Once a month, the restaurant could give away a free dinner for 2. However, everyday they would be collecting leads, names and email addresses of their patrons. The restaurant could send them an email to those that didn’t win offering them a consulation prize of a free glass of wine (or whatever) with their next dinner.

  • Tom the teprofits guy

    Your post are very informative. I don’t own a restaurant. But the same marketing tips can be applied to my te profits system.
    Or any other business marketing promotion.

  • Very good ideas. I believe coupons are one of the best ways to keep hold of existing customers and at the same time attract new ones. I’d totally agree with Tom; the same marketing ideas can be used with pretty much any business!

    Thanks for sharing.