Well, your restaurant is open and running. Perhaps you’ve been in business for 15 years; maybe it’s only been 3 months. Whatever the case, margins are tight and it’s a competitive market. It’s unlikely that you have millions of dollars and a whole team of people to devote to advertising your restaurant on television, billboards, in magazines, and even online, but you do still need to get the word out; what’s the solution?
Fortunately, all is not lost. There are options that will cost you nothing and still get the word out, although they’re often harder to implement and take longer to gain traction. It’s always a trade-off.
First, create and put up a poster. Make a large flyer and post it in a place that’s clearly visible to both foot and car traffic. If your business is located on a busy street, all the better. The easiest free advertising is located right in your restaurant! Don’t forget to take advantage of the obvious methods like the walls and windows you already own (or rent).
Second, get a website. Websites obviously aren’t free, but they’re included in this list because it is statistically likely that you already have one. A well-built and well-maintained functional website can bring you traffic in multiple ways. It makes it easier for people to find your menu and decide to come in. If someone sees your business while driving down the road, a website can make it easier for them to look you up out of curiosity later. Once Google and Bing and other search engines have indexed your site, it will show up in search results for people searching for things you offer.
Third, set up a Google Business page. In addition to the natural traffic you’ll be getting from your website being on Google, the business page allows Google to attach a “local business” status to your company, so when people search for “restaurants near me,” you’ll pop up as an option with a map and operating hours. Considering the sheer volume of those types of searches, you’ll be glad you did it.
Fourth, set up a social media profile. Each social media platform offers different audiences, focuses, and posting options; you’ll have to decide which is best for your particular business, but once you do, set it up and post on it. Post your favorite menu items, post specials, post sales – once you gain a following, even if it’s small, your ability to spread the word about your restaurant increases immensely … and it doesn’t cost you anything except time!
Fifth, ask friends, family, and regular customers to spread the word to people they know. Happy customers will always be your most efficient and effective advertisements. They will be interacting with others who may not even know your business exists, and everyone is more likely to want to go eat at a restaurant a friend insists is “the best.” That kind of testimonial is trustworthy and powerful to those who hear it.
These are just five of the many ways to advertise your restaurant for free. Next week, we’ll examine a few low-cost methods that can help you successfully advertise your restaurant!