7 Effective Low-Cost Marketing Ideas for Restaurants

By Raubi Perilli

      May 26, 2021     Solutions    

If your marketing budget is limited, there are still plenty of ways to attract new customers and bring past customers back to your restaurant.

You don’t have to have a big budget that breaks the bank. You can use these low-cost marketing ideas for restaurants to effectively promote your brand and attract more local customers.

7 Low-Cost Marketing Ideas for Restaurants

Each of these low-cost marketing ideas for restaurants can help you reach new and existing customers. Depending on your monthly budget, you can use one strategy at a time (give it enough time to see if it is working), or get more out of each idea by pairing it with another tactic to boost its effectiveness.

#1) Geofencing

Geofencing is a marketing tactic that creates virtual boundaries around specific locations. When people enter set locations, they receive targeted display and video ads. At MyArea Network, we’ve seen the effectiveness of geofencing first-hand. One of our clients generated a return of $1,140 with just a $212 investment. It’s a low-cost marketing idea for restaurants that can also produce high ROI (in this case, a 437% ROI).

Related: Using Geofencing Advertising to Target Customers at Exactly The Right Place

#2) Text Marketing

Text marketing is another often overlooked, powerful marketing tactic for restaurants. While many restaurants utilize email marketing, fewer use text marketing, and that is a mistake. Text messages have an extremely high open rate (up to 97%, by some estimates), and messages are often read within three minutes of being sent. Even better, text marketing has a high ROI. We’ve seen a client make $1,000 on a budget of just $160. 

Related: This Is Why Restaurants Miss Out By Not Using Text Marketing?

#3) Contests

Contests are a great low-cost marketing idea for restaurants trying to reach new audiences. At MyArea Network, we’ve identified a social media contest strategy that effectively generates leads while also generating revenue. By running a contest with one grand prize (and a coupon for everyone who enters), promoting it through social media, and inviting customers to sign up by entering their phone number, we’ve seen restaurants turn $600 into $4,200 and 1,405 leads.

Related: How to Run a Social Media Contest That Converts & Drives Sales

#4) Limited-Time Offers

Limited-time offers are a fun and affordable way to generate buzz for your restaurant. It can introduce your brand to new customers while giving existing customers a reason to visit. A limited-time offer -- a promotion that features a specialty menu item for a small window of time -- can attract the attention of the press or even famous celebrities. When a local Tampa restaurant created a Lizzo-inspired milkshake the week leading up to Lizzo’s Tampa concert, Lizzo herself stopped by to try it (and shared the photo with her millions of followers). 

Related: Create Better Limited-Time Offers for Your Restaurant With These 9 Tips

#5) Local Influencer Marketing

You don’t need someone as big as Lizzo to promote your restaurant. In fact, you may even get more results by having a lesser-known local influencer visit your restaurant and share their experience. Local influencers are people or brands (like Local Area Sites) that have a following of people who look to them for advice on where to go in their community. A great low-cost marketing idea for restaurants is inviting these local social media influencers and bloggers to visit. They will create content about their visit, share it with their engaged group of local followers, and spread the word about your brand.

Related: Using Local Influencers to Get Attention for Your Brand

#6) Local Publicity

Like local influencers, the traditional local press can also help you gain exposure for your restaurant. Many local TV stations and print magazines look for local business stories to feature. Start regularly watching and reading local media outlets and look for themes or segments they frequently air and see how you could fit in. Do you have an upcoming event or limited-time offer that would be interesting to their audience? Does your business have an interesting story that can entertain viewers? Look for an angle and reach out to outlets to let them know what is interesting about your brand and why audiences will care.

Related: 7 Ways to Get Local Press Coverage for Your Business

#7) Marketing Automation

On the surface, marketing automation might sound like an expensive marketing tactic. But marketing automation can actually help you save money -- and time. Marketing automation is the process of setting repetitive marketing tasks to run on their own. There are many types of marketing automation. Some are more complicated than others. But if you want a low-cost marketing idea for a restaurant, stick with the basics. Set up a customer data platform and use it to trigger marketing messages via text or email to customers based on their actions. For example, you could set up automated campaigns to send coupons to customers if they haven’t visited in awhile or text them with a coupon for a food item they have purchased in the past.

Related: Set Up Restaurant Marketing Automation in 4 Easy Steps

Run Successful Restaurant Marketing Campaigns at Any Budget

A massive budget isn’t required to promote your local business. Even a small budget can create results with these low-cost marketing ideas for restaurants.

MyArea Network’s mission is to help local businesses launch effective marketing campaigns they can afford. That’s why we created mySuite.

mySuite is a marketing platform designed for local businesses who want to run affordable, effective marketing campaigns. We know what works for local businesses, and we’ve put these tools inside of mySuite so you can access them on your own, saving money while boosting revenue for your restaurant.

Sign up for mySuite for free and see how you can set up low-cost marketing campaigns for your restaurant.