Digital Marketing for Restaurant – 9 Unique Ideas

1. Think outside the box:

The more unique it is, the more viral it goes. When it comes to promoting your restaurant or a new menu or a new addition to the menu, think differently. Burger King knows the drill. Do you remember the subservient chicken, their lucky mascot? The first subservient chicken campaign was launched back in 2004 to uncover a new product TenderCrisp sandwich.  The idea was unique in every sense. Burger King asked their audience to give commands to the chicken. The commands ranged from being outright hillarious to the weirdest of the lot. Just imagine a giant chicken shaking its booty, or doing moon-walk, push-ups, or yoga. Hilarious as well as refreshing! They created a dedicated website, where the entire activity was conducted. The campaign received over 15 million views, just in the first week. And the chicken performed that number of weird commands in the course. It was so successful that Burger King relaunched it again after 10 years to unveil a new product, Chicken Big King sandwich. 

 But this time, it was a little different. 

Whenever a user visited the website, he saw an error message that the chicken was missing and Burger King was “desperately trying to find him.” The entire campaign was marketed with the hashtag #FindTheChicken, apparently in their new Big King sandwich. 

2. Conduct smart contests:

Almost every brand is trying to ride on the popularity of social media sweepstakes and contests. So, if you don’t do anything new, your chances to attract your audience are thin to none.  We can exemplify HuHot in this regard. It’s a Mongolian grill restaurant based in the USA. They often conduct Pinterest contests; the reason – they know a major chunk of their users love the platform. One of the significant contests they ran was Grill Meal Contest. 

 In this contest, the participants were asked to recreate one of the HuHot recipes and pin them on their own pin board, tagging the brand. HuHot, in turn, created a separate board and re-pinned all the official entries for the contest.  HuHot got immense response. It boosted the brand awareness, also they got new followers + new recipe ideas from their audience. The campaign is also a perfect example of crowd-sourcing. HuHot cross-promoted the contest on their website as well. The winner got $100 worth gift card while the other four got a $25 gift card each.  

3. Blog with the best:

 Blogging is always a great idea for restaurants. It not only increases your online visibility and search engine friendliness but also adds a human voice to your brand. In other words, things that you cannot say on your website, can be stated easily on a blog. You can share easy-to-make recipes, introduce new menu or dish, crowd-source new menus, show the kitchen-life, boost interaction with your visitors. And there are a hundred ways you could make use of your blog for your restaurant. Here is an advice for you: Network with prominent food bloggers and foodies. This will add to your word-of-mouth marketing as well as your branding. But be double-sure of your food, before inviting food critics.  

4. Support a cause:

 Social media contests are nothing new, nor the campaigns to increase footfalls in a restaurant. But if you do it for a cause, your audience remembers you for a long time and their participation does also increase.  We all are aware of the fact that FourSquare contest is a great idea for restaurants. It’s a creative way to accolade your customer’s check-ins. This Starbucks campaign is worth a mention here. Starbucks, along with RED Aids organization, launched a Foursquare check-in contest back in 2012, in order to raise funds for HIV awareness. The campaign was named “The (Red) Rush to Zero campaign”.  

 Every Foursquare check-in at any Starbucks store in the USA and Canada raised $1 from June 1st to 10th. They donated over $250,000 at the end of the campaign, along with giving away the limited edition (Red) Rush Foursquare badges.  

5. Go mobile:

 And by “Going Mobile”, we mean mobile marketing campaigns through text messages. Yes, mobile app and mobile responsive website are crucial for restaurants, but when it comes to promoting your restaurant and at the same time boosting your customer database, you cannot just ignore SMS marketing.  Dunkin’s Donuts ran a successful Boston-based SMS campaign that boosted their in-store traffic by 21%.   

 They encouraged their customers to opt-in. They ran the campaign ads on radio as well as on mobile internet. At the end of the campaign, 7500 customers opted in. 17% of consumers forwarded the SMS to a friend. They increased their database by 35%, who would consider the brand for future SMS campaign.  Papa John’s Pizza in the UK ran a 3-week text messaging campaign. They sent SMS coupons for any pizza (£6.99 pickup or £8.99 delivery) to the 8100 customers, who already opted in for their offers. At the end of the campaign, their weekly sales were increased by 33%.  

6. Email marketing in style:

 Email marketing is another way to promote a restaurant’s deals and offers to the existing customers. However, gone are those days when you could entice your customers to your boring textual emails. Interactive emailing is the new way to do it. Raising Cane does this every time they send emails to their customers. They created an interactive poll asking their customers to vote for their favorite beverage through an email campaign.  

 When a customer clicked on an image, he was redirected to a webpage including the poll. Their customers found it refreshing and poured out their votes willingly. The brand also created a “Share This” section in the email, so that their customers could share the email with their friends.  

7. Surprise your customers:

 It’s often seen that customers refer to their favorite restaurants playfully, when they are hungry especially & tagging a restaurant is easy online. Restaurants can cash on such opportunities to build brand awareness. After all, nothing means more than a happy customer’s shout-out!  

 Peter Shankman’s tweet tagging Morton’s Steakhouse got huge RTs and favorites! And no wonder why?  Morton’s Steakhouse arranged for one steak and in return got huge word-of-mouth promotion and a nation-wide recognition. Smart move indeed!  

8. Promote multiple locations:

 If your restaurant has multiple storefronts, you can promote it with Pinterest Place Boards. There are a number of ways to do it. However, these place boards not only show your physical locations, but also can help you boost your online footprints. Starbucks has one such place board, on which they showcase each of their locations by their store design. The viewers not only get a glimpse of the stores in different countries but also get to know how one store is different from others by its interior.  

 You can also do it with your specialties, most popular items or just the way Starbucks did.  

9. Interact with your customers:

 Customer interaction is a vital part of customer experience. Your customer always wants to hear from you, no matter if they have a complaint or a query. If you win their hearts over a crisis, you are a champion in the league. Chipotle Mexican Grill is excellent in handling their customers on Facebook. They interact with them, they answer their queries and reply to their complaints at the earliest.  

 Look how they listened to the issue, explained the situation and offered a solution in a crisp way while keeping the customer happy. No wonder they have so many happy customers that Huffington Post had to cover them.  

The right marketing mix:

Last but not the least, a bonus point: right marketing mix is all you need to promote your restaurant, the right way. Forget what your competitors are doing. Your business is different, so should be its roadmap.  Offline and online marketing strategies should work hand in hand to ensure optimum success. For this reason, cross-promotion is the best idea to market anything. Make sure you are doing this for your restaurant too! Looking for the right digi mix for your restaurant? We can help you.