10 Restaurant Promotion Ideas to Increase Revenue

With over 150,000 restaurants operating in the United States and the number of new restaurants growing each year, all restaurant owners must be acutely aware that they are working in a highly competitive industry.

With so many restaurants for potential customers to choose from, it's extremely important for restaurants to make sure that they are being innovative with their marketing. Standing out from the competition requires unique restaurant promotion ideas and a coherent and effective marketing strategy.

In this article, we go over some of the best restaurant promotion ideas available for restaurants to increase revenue.

1. Happy Hour

Happy hour is a classic marketing idea used widely by bars and pubs, but restaurants are missing out on the revenue-increasing potential if they think happy hour cannot work for them too.

Many restaurants already serve drinks, but restaurants also have a distinct advantage over many bars and pubs: great-tasting cuisines that do not directly overlap with what bars and pubs have on their menu.

This is why happy hour for restaurants should not be limited to just special deals on drinks. A restaurant can really stand out by offering happy hours on drinks and food. One great idea is to have certain happy hour sets, where a customer can choose a food and a drink pairing from the list.

Alternatively, business owners could limit happy hour promos to drinks and appetizers to get those customers who are looking for a good place to eat some food with friends before a night out.

It is often the case that a restaurant will not want to directly compete for customers with bars and pubs. For that reason, you could offer your happy hour at unusual times, or times when business is slow.

A great example of a restaurant happy hour time is a lunch happy hour. This could establish your restaurant as a go-to place for lunch for employees who work around your establishment. You might even want to consider offering alcohol-free beers and virgin cocktails for those employees that do not want to be tipsy when they get back to work.

Happy hour is by no means a new concept, but just because it is old does not mean that you cannot get innovative with how it is executed. By offering food and drink combos and providing happy hour promos at uncommon times, you can turn your slow times in the day into some of your most profitable times and establish your restaurant as the go-to place for certain demographics.

2. Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are another tried and true promotional concept for businesses from many sectors. Loyalty programs are a great way to establish a loyal customer base, as many people know.

But as with happy hour, there are a number of innovative ways that you can make your loyalty programs innovative and attractive to customers. One way to make your loyalty program stand out is to really make it worth a customer’s time to join the program. Some loyalty programs end up being ineffective because the benefits that members get are not all that attractive.

Give loyalty program customers free desserts, or make certain new menu items only available to loyalty members for a specific amount of time. You could even have loyalty member special dishes that are always only available to loyalty program members. Include this list of foods in your regular menu so everyone can see what delicious food they could eat if only they join the loyalty program.

Another great example of loyalty rewards would be to have a loyalty member only night once a month. On these nights, you could offer great deals on food and drinks. People will love that it is an exclusive event.

Moreover, loyalty member events are a great way for people to connect with others that share something in common (they both love your food!), and nights like these can be a great way to establish a regular community around your establishment.

Now, having a loyalty program is in itself not enough. You also have to promote the loyalty program in an effective way. One of the best ways that you can promote your loyalty program is to use digital signage inside your store.

Loop TV offers a digital signage solution that would allow you to utilize the digital screens in your restaurant to promote your loyalty program with eye-catching images, videos, and animations.

With digital signage functionality, you can be sure that no one will pass on your loyalty program because of a lack of knowledge of how great a program it is. Digital signage is truly an indispensable tool for restaurants.

3. Online Ordering

These days everyone likes to do things online. If a restaurant can properly harness the potentialities of the web, then it is very likely that it will find success.

One of the most important parts of a restaurant’s online presence is a high-functioning, aesthetically pleasing, and intuitive website. You can be sure that many of your potential customers will be looking up your restaurant before they decide if they want to eat dinner at your establishment.

What this means is that your website must look modern. There should be a section where people can view pictures of the interior and exterior of the restaurant. They should also be able to look at all of your menu items. Moreover, it must also work fast for both desktop and mobile devices.

Another major plus (and the topic of this section) is if your website is optimized so that people can order their food online. For many people who want to order their food before they come to your establishment (whether they are planning on sitting down or getting takeout), ordering online is much preferable to calling ahead.

Online ordering can also reduce stress on staff who can focus on their work in the restaurant instead of taking calls. There is an added benefit for your restaurant if people can order online: you can have them put in their email addresses and phone numbers and have a box they can check if they want to be added to an email list.

This is certainly the easiest way to get customer emails, and having a solid email list of customers offers a great channel for email marketing campaigns. To get more people to sign up for the email list, you could even offer those who agree to be added to the list a one-time free delivery if they are ordering for delivery or a free dessert if they are ordering for sit down or takeaway.

This brings us to our next point: delivery. It can be a great idea for your business to deliver food. Often this means signing up for food delivery apps like Doordash or UberEats, but you could also have your own restaurant delivery for a smaller price than what these food delivery companies charge.

Whether you have in-house delivery or go with a delivery company, it can be a great promotional idea to offer free delivery for a limited time. On delivery apps, many people only order from restaurants that have a decent number of high reviews. If you are new, then this makes it hard to get people to order from your restaurant.

However, if you promote your delivery service as free, even if for such a limited time as two weeks, then you will get way more customers ordering your food, which means that you will get more reviews.

4. Food Blogger and Influencer Event

Many people, especially if they are new to a city or just visiting, depend on the recommendations of food bloggers, elite Yelp reviewers, and social media influencers to decide where they will eat their meals. Getting people who have many subscribers or followers to review or promote your restaurant can be highly lucrative.

But how do you get these influential people to write about or promote your restaurant? Well, one way you could make this happen is by holding a private event for a food blogger and influencer event at your restaurant. For this event, it is advisable that you let everyone eat and drink for free. This will make people actually want to attend the event.

If your restaurant can sufficiently impress these people, then it is far more likely that you will find your business promoted, and this opens the possibility for a great number of new customers, a sales boost, and the patronage of other food bloggers or influencers who want to see what all of the hype is about.

5. Email Marketing

Above we talked about how you can get more people to sign up for your emailing list, and here we will talk about why your businesses in the restaurant industry should be doing email marketing campaigns.

It is certainly true that many people are more focused on social media and blogs than email, but email is still one of the best ways to engage with people in a broad range of demographics.

Through email marketing, you can inform potential customers about deals, new specials, events, and much more. Email marketing is truly indispensable to the restaurant business.

6. Social Media Giveaway

Social media is one of the best channels for customer engagement and personalized marketing. Your restaurant should be active on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. You can increase customer engagement and spread brand awareness by doing things like social media giveaways.

When people dine at your restaurant, a waiter or waitress can inform them that if they enjoyed their meal, they can make a post about it with a provided hashtag for the chance to get some sort of reward.

The reward might be something like a free meal for them and whoever they invite or simply a gift card that would pay for a meal and drinks. In this way, you get your customers to do a little bit of word-of-mouth marketing, and they get the chance to dine at your restaurant for free.

7. Holiday and Event Specials

People love to go out and eat with friends and families during the holiday season. Whether it is Valentine's day, Christmas time, Mother’s day, or New Year, there are going to be a lot of people looking for a place to get a good meal. The same goes for events like the Superbowl. You can make sure that you capture this crowd by offering specials and discounts on these days.

8. Host Events

One of the best ways to get more customers into your establishment and develop a loyal customer base is to host fun or interesting events. These events could include live music, stand-up comedy, trivia night, and much more.

These kinds of events often go well in restaurants that have well-stocked bars and bartenders, but if your restaurant is not known for alcohol, there are still events that you can host.

One great idea is to host open mic nights. People often do not expect a healthy amount of alcohol for these types of events. Moreover, open-mic nights help form a community around your establishment.

If you can make it known that your business is the best restaurant for local artists and musicians, then this can really boost sales.

9. SMS Marketing

We have already talked about email marketing, but we cannot end this list without talking about SMS text marketing. SMS marketing can be highly effective because people are always checking their phones. If you send people a text about special offers or other incentives, you can be absolutely sure that they will see it.

10. Outdoor Digital Signage

We end this article with one of the most important and least talked about aspects of a powerful marketing campaign. This is the sign that you have outside your establishment. “It is just a sign,” you might think, but a sign is so much more than a tool for marking a location with your restaurant name.

Signs outside of restaurants represent the restaurant’s brand identity, spread brand awareness, and help set people’s expectations for the quality of the dining experience inside. Most restaurants still use traditional static signs, but if you really want to stand out from the competition, you should use digital signage.

With digital signage, you can use images, videos, and animations to create eye-catching signs that people will see and remember. With outdoor digital signage, you can certainly expect to see many new faces in your restaurant.

Make Your Business Stand Out

In this article, we have talked about many of the ways that your restaurant can employ marketing techniques to make it stand out from other businesses in the food industry.

By thinking creatively and using the best tools at your disposal, you can craft a powerful restaurant marketing strategy and boost revenue.