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Free Marketing Ideas for Restaurants on Shoestring Budgets

Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The dining tables for restaurants have to stay full if any eatery is hoping for success. To accomplish this, it's imperative to use effective marketing tools. Of course, not every culinary establishment has the marketing budget of Applebee's or Outback Steakhouse. In fact, not even the articles about “Cheap Restaurant Marketing Under $100” can help them, since their budget is so low. Fortunately, there are a few free marketing ideas that dining establishments can take advantage of.

Restaurants Can Host Local Events
Even the most profitable restaurants experience down times, and as it turns out, these are often at the same times every week. After the midday rush on Sunday, for instance, most restaurants see a steady decline throughout the day. Whenever it becomes obvious which day sees the most empty restaurant booths, enterprising culinary entrepreneurs can get started on bringing in more customers and getting free marketing.

This can be done by simply letting a local charity, business or any other organization host an event in the eatery. Dining tables for restaurants won't sit empty on the nights the manager can effectively “rent out” the place. Additionally, the organization will likely announce the event to all of their members or followers. This means marketing on their dime while packing the place on an otherwise slow shift.

Take Part in Community Activities
Millennials are now the largest age cohort in America, so every business owner should be focused on attracting them. And after much research, what has marketing science found that can get these young adults seated at the bar tables? Social responsibility. This includes using green methods for running the eatery, attending community events and donating to local causes.

It obviously can cost money to “go green” or donate to local charities. Having a few employees and a manager showing up to volunteer for a local charity or non-profit? Now that's free. Convincing servers or cooks to do this can be as simple as offering a few shifts off of their choice, and having them attend while sporting branded restaurant gear will get them noticed.

Of course, not even these socially caring Millennials will see someone they know at every local event. This means it's important to take pictures and show them off on social media.

Team With Other Companies
Everybody gets by with a little help from their friends, but when it comes to filling the dining tables for restaurants, maybe it's time to make a few new acquaintances. Seek out local businesses in the area – preferably not other restaurants – and start up a conversation about a mutually beneficial relationship.

What types of businesses are ideal for this joining of forces? Restaurateurs in small towns sometimes place flyers for a local mechanic in the window if the other owner promises to do the same. After all, no one wants to sit in an auto shop all day waiting for their car to finish. The right partnerships only take a bit of thinking outside the box. Oh, and never forget that many hotels will put menus out in their lobby just to benefit their customers.

There are tons of free restaurant marketing ideas out there. These include utilizing social media and search engine optimization, but these tactics are often best left to professionals who constantly deal with them. The aforementioned three strategies, though, are simple enough for an eatery's owner to do on their own. When it's all said and done, they might just end up buying more dining tables for restaurants just to keep up with demand.


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