According to the National Restaurant Association, projected sales for Tennessee’s restaurant industry are estimated to reach $12.2 billion by the end of this year. With that many consumers in the industry, it must be easy for restaurants to make money, right?

Unfortunately, even with this high volume of consumers, restaurants often have a difficult time deciding on and delivering an effective marketing strategy. A good marketing strategy is a key player in business because it helps turn goals into plans. Without one, no business (restaurant industry included) can truly reach it’s full potential.

In this article, we’ll take a look at 4 different marketing strategies that have been successfully used by restaurants all over the world. Incorporating one of these strategies into your restaurant marketing is sure to help turn consumers into customers in no time.

Strategy #1 — Affordable

One of the most popular ways for restaurants to market themselves is as an affordable, causal dining establishment. For a lot of consumers, saving money is an attractive choice when eating out. Therefore, using affordability as your USP is bound to help bring in the customers.

Keep in mind that no two strategies on this list will have the exact same target audience. For this strategy, it’s important to realize that your marketing will likely resonate best with a younger crowd with a low household income. Researching this audience—specifically their psychographics and behavioristics— and determining if it’s right for your restaurant should be your very first steps in creating a new marketing campaign.

When implementing this strategy, consider starting a loyalty program that can be marketed alongside your products (i.e. menu items). If your restaurant already has one, consider revamping it where you can before introducing it in your marketing as “improved.” As an example, look at what Panera’s doing for its customers. Its reward system has become one of today’s most well-known programs in the restaurant industry just by offering customers a free menu item every few visits.

Another creative idea to add to your marketing is profit share nights. This idea works well with this marketing strategy because it gives low-income consumers the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone— eat out while helping out. And as an added benefit to you, partnering with a good cause is great for your restaurant’s brand image during a time when brand image is going to either make or break you.

Still don’t know if an affordable marketing strategy is best for your restaurant? Ask yourself how much you have in common with brands like Applebees, Texas Roadhouse, and Red Lobster. If the answer is not much, then one of the other strategies on this list may be better suited for marketing your restaurant.

Strategy #2 — Formal

formal restaurant marketing strategy

The second strategy on this list is all about marketing your restaurant as a “high-end hotspot”. Of course, this only works for a certain type of restaurant. Though expensive, formal restaurants are favorited by many consumers when it comes to eating out. This is because they provide something most other restaurants don’t, higher quality food and service.

Formal restaurants are all about guest appeal. Yes, people typically go out to eat for the food— but there’s a whole other side to dining out. Many people go to restaurants for the experience. At formal restaurants, guests anticipate a certain level of prestige. Therefore, a higher quality product, service, and environment are not only desired, but expected.

One of the best ideas for this kind of marketing strategy is to give the audience a glimpse of the experience they’d get at your restaurant. Set up your campaign, website, and social media accounts in the same color scheme, with the same theme, or with photos of the inside. This way, your guests will know exactly what they’re paying for before they even step foot in the door. BoydTech client, Water Into Wine, is a great example of a restaurant that uses it’s site to convey a realistic guest experience.

Another great idea to include in this marketing strategy— and one of my personal favorites— is partnering with local farms. People generally don’t mind paying the extra buck if the food they’re eating is fresher or healthier than that brought in frozen and housing tons of preservatives. With a newly-healthy wave of consumers today, this idea is sure to help bring you to the top of the “best places to eat near me” Google search.

Strategy #3 — Interactive

Ah, interactive marketing. This is one of my favorite types of marketing out there because it gives consumers something to focus their attention on and (if done right) leaves a lasting impression. Not to mention, the businesses who are using interactive marketing techniques are usually full of excitement and entertainment.

If someone were to say “interactive restaurant,” two names would pop into my head immediately: Dick’s Last Resort and Dave & Buster’s (if you’re unfamiliar with these restaurants, I highly suggest you give ‘em a quick Google). But the truth is, a restaurant doesn’t have to be a big, corporate chain to be interactive or to market itself interactively. Take a look at Copper Cellar, for example. Once a week, the restaurant hosts a trivia night and locals flood in to win small prizes like gift cards and brand merchandise.

The obvious truth is that one grand interactive idea can really bring a crowd in. Like formal restaurants, people will go out of their way to eat somewhere that provides a creative experience. If trivia isn’t your thing, consider adding a theme night or karaoke to the weekly agenda. Or, for something a little more unique, bring in pool tables, darts, arcade games, or table games.

Whatever you decided to do, just make sure your marketing matches your interactive idea. Market your restaurant heavily on social media above any other platform. I can’t think of a better way to promote fun, interactive places than on the sites consumers use to keep current about local entertainment and social experiences.

Strategy #4 — Traditional

The fourth and final strategy on this list is something I’ve dubbed “traditional” marketing. When someone says the word traditional in the marketing industry, most people’s minds go straight to advertising mediums, such as print or television. But in restaurant marketing, it’s a whole different story.

In the restaurant industry, traditional, family-style restaurants are around almost every corner. These restaurants are kid-friendly, can accommodate large groups, and are always concerned about the 2 c’s: community and convenience. This type of restaurant aims to provide community and convenience by having “something for everyone” so that the whole party enjoys the experience.

A great example of a traditional restaurant is Olive Garden, who’s built it’s brand around the slogan, “we’re all family here.” Like Olive Garden’s, if your restaurant is traditional, your marketing strategy should be as well. I recommend starting by targeting people from households with 2 or more children since the family dynamic is what a traditional restaurant is all about.

From there, market your restaurant as the perfect choice for special celebrations, like birthdays and anniversaries. And when graduation and family holidays (like Mother’s Day and Easter) are right around the corner, increase your marketing efforts to draw in a bigger crowd. Make a name for yourself by letting your marketing speak to how accommodating the restaurant is. Then, go a step further to set your restaurant apart from competitors by adding a creative twist, like a holiday raffle for a free meal or a memorable “special occasion” routine. Before you know it, you’ll have customers begging for tables and competitors begging for tips— all because you marketed yourself well!

For more information on the marketing process or help boosting your brand, check out BoydTech’s 5 Quick Tips to Help Your Brand Survive AND Thrive and Common Mistakes in the Marketing World.


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—Amanda Myers, Copywriter at BoydTech Design, Inc.