Marketing for Locally Owned Restaurants

Most of the local restaurant owners I talk to tell me that they need some inspiration when it comes to marketing their restaurant.  They are doing the same things they’ve always done and not getting the results they need to be profitable, compete with the other establishments in their local market, gain new customers, and keep their customers coming back.

Today, I’m going to share with you some of the marketing methods we use in helping to change that for the restaurant owners that we work with.

Take a look at the image below.

This is an example of an actual monthly marketing planning calendar that a local restaurant owner could create.


This type of promotion works very well in the restaurant business and I’m sure that you have seen large restaurant chains use some of these kinds of strategies.

Let’s take a closer look. (not too closely please. Yes, I do know that the word “sandwich” does not have an “e” on the end. 🙂

Key Events

Research key events that are happening both locally and nationally and think about how they apply to your business and what kind of promotional ideas might work well for your specific restaurant.  Be sure to include ideas that will help you with slow days and times.

Monthly Events

Many months will also have monthly event themes that will work well with your promotional calendar.  When creating a monthly marketing plan for a client, we start with monthly events, then fill in with weekly, and daily events.

In this example however, we didn’t find a monthly theme for August that we thought would compliment our restaurant’s promotional calendar. So, the key events are just weekly and daily events during this month.

Weekly Events

Our key event for this first week of August is “Simplify Your Life Week” and for that, we have decided to promote some take-out specials but you could do the same promotion for dining in.

Here’s the logic:

  • The number of women who work outside the home is consistently increasing.
  • It is still the women who do most of the cooking and they are tired after working a full day.
  • There is more disposable income for things like restaurant food in families where the woman works outside of the home.
  • Women make most of the food choices for the family.
  • Did you ever know a women who didn’t love a deal!

Did you know that at 5:00 pm when many women are getting off of work, they don’t have a clue as to what they are going to make for dinner?

Consider how a woman might respond to a text message sent to her at 5:05 pm while she is getting into her car to head home.  She sees that a restaurant she likes is promoting a take-out special, kids eat free, or free desert promotion, etc. What do you think happens?

Here are the specifics…

Somewhere between 4% and 14% of people will respond to a promotion like this by taking you up on your offer.  Let’s be conservative and say that only 4% respond.  If you had sent that message out to 1000 customers, you would have 40 customers ordering your take-out special and perhaps some regular menu items as well.

Now, the next part depends on your specific restaurant. But, for this example, let’s say that the average ticket of an order for a family of  4 is $40.00.  If my math is correct, our example promotion will bring your restaurant a return of $1600.00, minus the cost of the text messages, which should run about $80.00. That is a pretty good return on your investment. That’s especially true on a slow night! What would this mean to your business?

Now let’s take a look at daily events.

These kinds of events allow you to run promotions that bring in specific kinds of costumers.  In this example, we are targeting girlfriends, sisters, members of the Coast Guard, and people who like watermelon, chocolate chips, beer, mustard, and root beer floats.  The logic is this:

  • It’s always a great idea to recognize those who serve our community.  They will remember that you did that.  As Maya Angelou said, people will forget what you said, and they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” This is a basic marketing truth and it’s also just a nice way to do business.
  • Most everyone enjoys a reason to celebrate and get together.
  • August is in the heat of the summer and these foods are natural choices for summer eating.

Promoting these kinds of events should be done on your website, blog, and social media pages and using great images is key.  Daily events can be used to actually bring in customers, or create a list of people who want to receive information, tips, your chef’s recipes, and offers from you.  Creating a list of people who either already do or, may in the future do business with you, is a smart idea.  This group of people wants to know what you’re up to and often share your posts with others who may not even know about you.

Good use of images is a vital part of getting people to share your promotions. Posts with images get shared 75% more often that posts without them.

sweet and spicy watermelon graphic

We hope this gives you some ideas of what’s possible in promoting your local restaurant.  That being said, we know that as a restaurant owner you already have to wear many different hats and that you just don’t have time to wear the marketing hat too.  We understand how busy being a restaurant owner can be and even if you already understand that marketing is a top priority, you don’t have the time to become proficient in the necessary skills yourself or the budget to pay someone in-house to learn it and and do it for you. That’s where we can really help you.

More Ideas

Be sure to grab a copy of our free eBook “Increase Your Business’ Sales. 73 Ways to Market Your Business in Just 15 Minutes a Day”. You can request that for free in the left column of this page.

If you need help

Whether you just need us to create a monthly marketing plan for you and you will take it from there, or you need us to create and execute your marketing plan we are there for you.

We would love to hear from you and we welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss your restaurant’s marketing strategy.

Call us today at 843-647-0489 to arrange a free consultation.

Happy Marketing!



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