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11 Free or Low Cost Restaurant Marketing Ideas

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Restaurant marketing doesn’t have to be hard or expensive and sometimes the simplest ideas can yield the greatest results. …

Restaurant marketing doesn’t have to be hard or expensive and sometimes the simplest ideas can yield the greatest results.
These 11 free or low cost restaurant marketing ideas will help you to get more customers to your restaurant without eating up all of your advertising budget.

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  • 1. 11 Free or Low Cost Restaurant Marketing Ideas Restaurant marketing doesn’t have to be hard or expensive and sometimes the simplest ideas can yield the greatest results. Check out the below list of 11 surefire restaurant marketing ideas that you can use to grow your business... 1. Claim Your Google Plus Local Listing As a restaurant that caters to a local audience, having a Google Places listing is critical for your business. Local search when combined with mobile is an incredibly powerful tool for you. It is estimated that 95% of local searches result in an action on the part of a consumer and you need your business to show up for your service when someone is performing a local search. To claim your listing go http://www.google.com/places/ and click “Get Started.” You will then be asked to fill in your business information and verify you are the owner. Google will send you a postcard in the mail to your business address with a verification PIN. Once the PIN comes in the mail you just need to log back on and enter the pin. You should fill up your profile with a brief description, images, and the categories that are relevant to your business. The categories you select are important because this will determine the types of searches you will come up for. You want to put in categories that you think other people will use when searching for your business. 2. Create Listings on Local Directories Once you have a Google Places listing you should also seek out other local directories and create a profile on their site. If you are restaurant owner you should have a listing on Yelp as a very minimum. One of the factors that Google uses to determine where you rank in local listings is based on the number citations you have online. Being listed in other local directories helps you to increase the number of citations. A citation is basically a mention of your business on another webpage or directory. Make sure that your NAP information (Name, Address, Phone Number) are the same on every directory. Reviews are another critical ranking factor used by Google. By being listed in several directories you can give your customers more options to place online reviews. These reviews from around the web are tied back to your Google Places page and help you rank higher in the local search results.
  • 2. 3. Ask Your Customers For Online Reviews Since reviews are so important for local search you need to find ways to get your customers to go online and give you a review. The best way is to be awesome to your customers, which hopefully you are already doing. Now you just need to get them to go online and submit the review. One thing you do not want to do is pay for reviews or be overly solicitous in asking for reviews. If a company offers to get online reviews for you for a specified fee immediately turn around and start running in the other direction. Just this past month the NY Attorney General cited several “SEO” companies for doing this very thing, and several business owners were also fined. Some helpful ways are to provide gentle reminders to your clients either through email, on your website, on your local listing description, or through physical cards that you can hand out to customers to remind them to write a review. If you are a restaurant owner you can invite bloggers or food critics to a tasting and then ask them to talk about their experience by writing an online review. 4. Optimize Your Site For Mobile Websites If a customer finds your business online through a Google search on their mobile phone, you want to provide them with the same information and experience that a customer would receive if they were looking at your site on a desktop computer. Most sites that do not have a mobile website design are difficult to navigate. If your site is unusable on a mobile phone, potential customers will simply leave and go on to the next result, which means you are losing out on potential customers. More customers are moving to mobile when searching, especially those customers who are ready to take action. It’s expected that by 2016 mobile search will surpass desktop search in overall search volume. By having a mobile optimized website experience you can take advantage of this trend and stay one step ahead of your competition. When creating a mobile version of your website you want to make sure it loads quickly as mobile users have even less patience then desktop users and mobile networks tend be slower. Think about the type of interactions that are most important for a mobile user and make sure those are highlighted and easy to use. Navigation should be larger since people will need to click navigation items with their fingers in order to move through the site. Click HERE for an easy way to mobile optimize your existing website at a very low cost.
  • 3. 5. Start A Blog Content is still king online, and starting a blog is one of the best ways to reach new potential customers, stay connected to existing customers, and improve your search rankings. Blogging can seem like a daunting task especially when you have so many other responsibilities to attend to when running your own business. Start off small and commit to writing one article per month. More important than the quantity of your writing is the quality and the consistent frequency. When creating a blog think about the audience you are writing for and write content that you think will be interesting or useful. You can talk about the latest trends in food, things that are happening in your town or city, or about a topic that is relevant to your business and where you have a lot of expertise to share. You should also include photos or other rich media. A great source for free photos is photopin.com or flickr.com. These site will let you use photos for non-commercial use so long as you give attribution back to the original creator. Once your article is written you should also share it on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. Avoid direct selling on your blog and start building an audience. 6. Leverage YouTube And Create Videos Do you know what the second largest search engine in the world is next to Google? It is YouTube. The second most searches of any platform are done on YouTube, but to capitalize on this you will need to create a YouTube channel and start posting videos there. Similar to blogging, you can start off slow with a goal to create one video per month. You can even turn your blog posts into a video. If you would prefer not to be in front of a camera you can turn your blog post into a PowerPoint presentation. Once you have the PowerPoint created you can then record audio and video of the presentation and then post on YouTube. When you post the video you should also create a description and add a link back to your website. YouTube has “no-follow” links which means they do not pass any value in terms of search engine rankings, however other video sites do. You do not have to stop at YouTube when it comes to video marketing and can post your video to additional sites like Vimeo and DailyMotion. These sites will allow you to create a “do-follow” link which does have search ranking value. 7. Create An Email Newsletter Email marketing can help you stay in the mind of prospective customers and increase loyalty for existing customers. It is also a great way to be able to send offers and details of special events to keep your diners returning time after time. On your website you should include an email opt-in that allows readers to sign-up for your Newsletter. There are several tools out there that allow you to do this but the service I would recommend is Getresponse, as I have used them without problem for over 10 years. They also allow you to try their service for free. As your list grows these services charge you a small monthly fee, but the value you get from a highly targeted email list is well worth the effort. Please take a look at my Restaurant Marketing Solution for a very quick way to build a list of 1000+ local diners for your restaurant.
  • 4. 8. Establish A Presence in Social Media People spend more time on Facebook than any other site online. The power of social media and it’s impact on small business marketing cannot be understated. The best part is that all of these sites are free to join. There are many social media sites out there and you do not need to be a part of all of them. If you are trying to reach consumers Facebook is a good place to start and Twitter can work nicely for reaching potential diners too. Pinterest is also one of the fastest growing social media platforms built around users pinning their favorite posts. The site is heavily driven by imagery, so things like images of your restaurant or delicious meals can work well here. The key to social media is being authentic and sharing content that is interesting or useful to your audience. 9. Optimize Your Restaurant Website For Search Engines Besides showing up in the local listings you should work to have your website appear in the natural search results. Natural search results are those that show under the sponsored ads in the center of the search results. Paid search ads appear as the top three sponsored results, in the sidebar, or at the bottom of the search results page. The reason ranking in natural search is that this is traffic to your site that you do not need to pay for and the user most likely has intent or interest in your product or service if they are entering relevant keywords. Once you have your site up and running think about the way people understand or talk about your product or service and use those keywords the heading of your page and in the content. Also, don’t overdo and put your keyword or keyword phrase all over your page. A good rule of thumb is to only use your keyword for about 1-3% of your content. The most important on-page factor is the Page Title in your meta-data. The meta page title is what shows up as the title in the search result and one of the key factors that Google uses to understand what your page is all about. Your page title should contain your target keyword at the beginning of the title followed by your brand name. The page title should not exceed 70 characters, as anything more than that is cut-off by the search engines. You should also create a description of your page and add it to the meta-description. This is what shows up underneath the page title in the search results. The meta-description will not affect your ranking as much as the page title, but should be used in a way to get users to click on the search result. You can think of these two elements together as an ad in the search result that you don’t have to pay for, so you want to get users to click on your result. In addition, to on-page optimization you should be creating high quality content that other people will want to link to. These links are seen by Google as votes for your site because if people think you are important enough to link to, then Google will see you as an authority for the keyword you are trying to rank for.
  • 5. 10. Use QR Codes In Your Print Materials QR Codes look similar to bar codes on the back of products, but people are able to scan them with their smartphones. The QR Code can then take a user who scans to your website, straight to your menu or any other place where you want to send them to. You can even tie this in with a promotional page or mobile app. If you want to send the user to a website or landing page you can use http://goqr.me/, which is free. You can then include the QR code on the back of your business card or in print brochures such as menus. 11. Start A Viral Prize Draw or Contest Starting a prize draw can help with increasing engagement in social media and exposing your site and your restaurant to friends of your fans. For example, you could run a prize draw with a meal at your restaurant as a prize. To enter, people just have to fill in a form on your website and give their name and email address. This then helps you to build an email list (as seen in number 7 above). As well as giving them an entry into the prize draw you should also give people a good reason to share the prize draw with all of their friends on Facebook and Twitter to get massive exposure for your restaurant and lots of people on your email list. In my Restaurant Marketing Solution I show you for free how to use a prize draw to build a huge email list within just a few days. You can see full details of it by Clicking HERE For even more great restaurant marketing ideas, download my new free 27 page report called "16 Ways to Keep Your Diners Coming Back For More" from HERE. I hope you found these marketing tips useful and can start putting them to use in your own restaurant marketing. Article adapted from http://www.business2community.com/marketing/20-free-low-cost-marketingtactics-business-0778403
  • 6. About Chris Towland “Chris Towland is a local marketing expert and author who has worked (both directly and indirectly) with hundreds of small businesses across the UK to help them improve their marketing and boost their profits. Chris was recently called an “internet marketing expert” by former Dragon’s Den star Rachel Elnaugh who was so impressed with Chris’s SEO DVD’s that she recorded a video recommendation of it. He is also the author of a number of popular business books, DVD’s, online courses and audio-books.”

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