I have written this small restaurant online promotion book from my heart and I hope you will enjoy it. I update this online book every month. I am always learning and keep my eyes open for new ideas. I would like to dedicate this book to my father (Raj Chauhan)  who gave me everything without saying anything. A father is like a shadow who is always with you.

How much money do you have in your pocket? It will decide your next meal. Dates are significant for promotion as restaurants don’t realize the changes in a guest’s pocket power every month.

Ask any restaurant owner, and you will learn that 2% of the capital goes into promoting the business. And that is how it should be done as per industry experts. Irrespective of the money invested, each country has a separate way of promoting the restaurant business. You cannot expect to publicize a venture in India the same way you would do in the USA. Why? Culture is the answer. Most Asian nations still rely more on word of mouth than market news. On the contrary, European and American markets leverage the power of the Internet, i.e., online reviews and testimonials. 

Hold on! Are you wondering why we are deliberating so much over promotion? It is simple, all you have to do is reach out to people. Here my friend, let me reveal the truth. Promotion is not as simple as it sounds given the humongous competition you have to encounter. 

It is the most important key to success, and you have to keep in mind how your target audience thinks while promoting your restaurant. Gone are the days when you could entice customers with beautiful words. Now, you have to touch the chords of their emotions to bring about sales. Resort to myriad options like print media, vehicle branding, electronic media, scratch card & lucky draw and bar games to bring in the crowds.

One more thing, discuss your plans with your staff and take their ideas as well before implementing the plan in the business. Many businesses have gone down the drain because the marketing staff and the owner ignored the staff. These people are the front end; they are best endowed to assist you in the process.

1. Old is Gold 

When a new guest arrives at your restaurant, there is a reason to celebrate. Being able to retain this new guest causes a bigger celebration. The value of a regular guest is Priceless.This should be the ultimate goal for every restaurant business in the world.  How you can ensure one extra visit from the regular guests is always crucial. Restaurants waste a lot of money in bringing new guests instead of focusing on regular customers. No matter how aggressive marketing you do with the help of reviews, word of mouth is still a go-getter, whether you are in India or the USA. Impress your first-time customers, and they will return again, this time with a friend. And the process goes on! 

Now, apart from killing with food and awesome services, what other things can attract a guest? Membership is the next step ahead. The future of the restaurant business is membership. Get a card made and introduce the point system to guarantee surefire visits from existing customers. Can you tie up with other restaurant cuisines which are different to you? Please put some effort into making that card.You can also have a different membership tier system. Something which makes you stand out of the queue. How about a free dish after a guest completes 100 points? Alternatively, discounts are lucrative for walk-in customers, those who order through apps and also those who order through online aggregators. Check out some more drool-worthy ideas.

Send texts to regular guests on their birthdays or anniversaries, and request them to visit your restaurant for lunch or dinner. Ask them how many people would come if they agree to celebrate their event at your restaurant. You remember their special day and are eager to reserve seats; they will love it. Serve on the house cake. They will keep this little act in mind forever.

Start an offer for regulars to give them 50% off on all orders the very first day of every month. 

You reached out in the previous point. But how can you get customers to reach out to you without sending them 50 messages a day and preparing to get blocked? 

Free meals if they come 10 times and on reaching 5 times give them that day 50% OFF.

In case you are launching a new dish, you can offer a plate to your most regular customer for free for tasting. 

You are impressed at the loyalty of a customer and want to satisfy him/her. Send some food home but not in a poor quality plastic container. Opt for steel or a high-quality plastic tiffin box. This way, you not only show that you care for the customer but also for the community. Put some pamphlets on what new items you are planning to introduce on your menu card.

Bar Tip- First ‘Beer free from 11 PM to Midnight’. These offers of a happy hour do not just make your customers happy, but also put in that extra wad of dollars into your cash box. Other offers include 2 for 1 or half price on drinks in a limited period of time, fixed price and bundling, unlimited refills, daily special, Combo up, wine and cheese in the evening, buy in bulk and upsell and last but not the least buy a large pizza and get one beer free. 

2. Your Family

I consider people at work as family. You will spend a lot of time with them in the early years. Promotion always starts at home first. Lot of restaurants don’t understand the true value of it at all. 

  • Freshness always sells: Let the waiter inform the guest that you offer fresh ‘gajar ka halwa’, but it will take 45 minutes, and it is a USP. He can then ask if the customer would want to have some.

  • Scarcity is demand: When the customers realize that you have only 5 plates of ‘murgh malai kebab’ for the day, they will not want to lose it.

  • Waiter with a language name tag: A name tag is useful in communicating with waiters. People love to talk to waiters from the same country as theirs. You must have noticed servers hailing from a particular region, building camaraderie with guests from the same area. Once the guest leaves, you may have also noticed that they ordered quite a lot of food; much more than you had expected they would.

  • Use employee stories: If an employee is good at something like carving pumpkins or serving wine, spread the news. Guests will flock to experience the service.

  • Cross-selling: Can they sell if the guest orders burger and coke with it or wine with steak?

  • Membership: While they are making the payment, waiters should politely ask them if they want membership. Informing the guests about the benefits of the membership is also a must or else you will only have cards and no members!

We all want hardworking employees, but what about those who have great ideas. Have an idea of the month competition as well. Always remember, an idea can change your restaurant.

3. The Human Touch

A good restaurant owner knows the value of the human touch. Guests are not numbers, nor are  they machines. I always believe humans run on emotions and feelings. How quickly you can touch them will result in success for the business.

If you support the local team, you will be able to touch the emotional chords of the locals. Host open microphone, quiz, karaoke nights and such trivia events to create an atmosphere of fun and joviality. People will love to visit your eatery. 

Get into the social cause: Promote your business for philanthropic causes. You can request guests to buy a ticket for cancer awareness and obtain the chance to win dinner. Community service and environmental safety are two of the major aspects of social work. Collaborate with some of your competitors to show how the industry is putting efforts for a better today and tomorrow. Distributing food and clothes for charity is another way to find mental happiness and promote your business simultaneously. The best trick in the business is to impress men in uniforms. We love them from our heart. Can we give them a special discount on the national holidays?

Food festival: Take part in food festivals and events to cater to the unique taste buds of the locals. You may set up a stall in a carnival meant for desserts and offer your best desserts. Such promotional activities can take you to the target audience, and in no time will they flock to your establishment to get more of your tasty fare. 

4. One Click for magic

It just takes one click to get everything on your fingertip in this century. Have you taken the social media leap? Are you active on them? If not, here are some tips worth trying.

First and foremost, be on all the social media platforms. But, just having an account cannot promote your venture. You need to post regularly too. It can be anything from pictures of your restaurant to offers and blogs about the industry. It helps to inculcate curiosity about your business.

  • FB/ Insta Share and free dinner: 10% off the bill

Sir/Madam, please share a picture of your order on Insta or Facebook to get a flat 10% off on your bill. Help us reach out; we will help you save your pockets” – this is what you will be indicating. 

You can also go live on FB/Instagram/YouTube every weekend, and send a notification to a regular customer every month for a free dinner.

  • WIFI: Like our Page

A common practice in the airline industry, you can try it for your restaurant as well. When a customer likes your Facebook page, he/she gets the opportunity to use your password while at the establishment.

  • Social media stories:

Post videos or small pictures just for 24 hours. When potential customers see them, they get excited and flock to your eatery for more.

  • Use HD and videos for promotion:

The contemporary customer always wants something more. HD videos and pictures are more attractive than flat ones when it comes to appealing to famished eyes. The food has to look delicious and luscious.

  • Viral social media contest

Who does not want to stand out? When you are on social media, you have to be unique because your rivals too, are trying to win the game. Contests and competitions can bring you to the limelight. Plan such exclusive contests that they go viral and people come to know about your existence. For instance, ask interested customers to grab a burger in 1 minute and post the winner’s picture on Facebook or other platforms. 

Repost images from customers if they are of good quality after asking for permission: 

Did you like the picture of a dish or the interiors of your restaurant by a customer? If yes, you can seek their permission to repost it and awe your audience with its quality.

# Hashtag and create your specific hashtags:

  • Create your specific hashtags to reach out to your target audience and let them filter information.

The menu card on social media and in a different language ( You can also show this menu online from the phone in the restaurant if they don’t know the native language at all)

Post the menu on social media for people to see. Interested customers will surely visit the restaurant if they like the price. Now, in case there is a change in the menu, post the new picture again. 

  • Hashtag Small Guideline

Before you post anything, take a look at the following

# Do not forget to name your restaurant in the hashtag.

# Always use your company name in the hashtag.

# Look outside the window before any hashtag.

# Include 30 hashtags on a post and 10 on a story. 

# Timings of those Tweets

# Don’t waste time using unnecessary tags.

# Give this job to a young kid, and they would be up for it.

# Quora and Pinterest are free platforms that can be highly beneficial for promoting your company.

Monthly boast posts: Social media is a great way to appreciate your admirers. Post the 5-star reviews of a particular month and follow it with a post of gratitude. 

5. The first impression is the last impression

They say first impressions are the best impressions. Besides the local guests, your aim is also to entice tourists. Put your establishment right in front of their eyes outside airports, at bus stands and at taxi stands. Hoardings and electronic signages are effective for this purpose. Just make sure that you are the first contender because people remember what they see first.

  • Invite bloggers and YouTubers

Find the right influencer for your brand and then allow them the freedom to place your product organically in their videos and blogs. Because, you do not have the time to write blogs yourself, but who knows?

  • Invite taxi and bus drivers

Guests coming as tourists would talk first to the taxi or bus drivers of the town. People love to ask them during their return back to the accommodation. 

6.  Good website and app

Make navigation easy and simple for your website’s visitors. Fast load speed, few drop downs and adequate images with descriptions are some of the things worth keeping in mind for smooth user experience. Add attractive and emotionally touchy content to appeal to the visitors. 

If your restaurant is a chain, spread all over the world, nothing can be better than a user-friendly app. All that users have to do is download it, register and ta da……the whole service platter will be right in front of them – menu, locations, pictures, reviews and updates. For instance, if your restaurant in Wisconsin is offering gift cards for the New Year, the user gets a notification about it.

A page for the menu card is a must when it comes to your website or app.

Another essential factor behind the success of your business is its color theme. Visual recognition leads to the better acknowledgment of your brand. Use the same color theme for your website/app as your restaurant.

We often interact with chatbots on accessing a website, specially if it is a food delivery or restaurant website. When you want to visit, what your preferences are regarding cuisine, spice content, if you have allergies in a specific ingredient, how many people will be visiting are some of the information you can share while chatting. Rest assured, the concerned person will arrange everything accordingly.


Online listings

There is a huge list of directories ready to help you make the mark. And, not surprisingly, a large number of people are going to reserve seats from there. 

  • Google my business

  •  Bing

  •  Yelp

  •  Hotspot

  •  Yahoo local

  •  Facebook

  •  Apple Maps

  • Tripadvisor

  •  Instagram

  • Online food aggregators

Link the Reservation tab to these listings

  • Voice searching (OK GOOGLE):

Optimize your website for local SEO so that it gets referenced to your business name, address and phone number, in short NAP. Whether someone is taking help from Google Assistant, Cortana, Alexa or Siri, you will come up on local voice search.

  • Putting TV at a right angles

Put TV in such a way that when people are walking from outside everyone can look at your menu card or promotion items which are displayed on the television.

7. Remember the Name

This promotion technique is from Coke back Twisted. An example: people named John get 50% reduction today for the lunch menu. 

8.Guerrilla marketing

Harp on the emotional strings of customers with the art of guerrilla marketing. Promote your products through unconventional or surprise interactions. See, all you want is your customers to remember your products and that can happen only when you present it in a unique way. 

Gift chocolates to all children who come as guests on Children’s Day or distribute clothes to the poor just before winter sets in. People like these initiatives, take videos and pictures and post them on social media sites. You may also create an advertisement of the same type to be on the minds of your potential customers. Let it go viral and enjoy the aftereffects.

Stroll through the variations and decide which one is best suited for you.

  • Viral Marketing: You really nailed it with one of your dishes at a food festival and people are so satisfied with the taste and quantity that they just cannot stop talking about it. Be it word of mouth or viral, the impact is ultimately profitable for your growth and success.

  • Presume Marketing:Advertise your restaurant in a film or place photographs of your dishes on different websites so that people can catch sight of them.

  • Experiential Marketing: Whether it is an on-site dish launch or the grand opening of a bar, immerse your consumers in a deep experience. Letting your customers taste wine on the launch of a bar for free is an example.

  • Wild Posting: You must have seen Macdonald’s posters near the highway or the logo of a company shining on top of its building. This is wild marketing. Such a method makes people aware of your existence and you soon become a household name. Advertising attractive and mouth-watering pictures of a dish on the poster is cost-efficient and at the same time, increases your credibility.

  • Ambient Marketing: Who would imagine an inflated burger hanging from a building? Putting pictures or items at places where people least expect them is ambient marketing. It also comprises making the image or item abnormally small or large so that passersby stop to look and get impressed.

  • Grassroot Marketing:  Spread the word about your new restaurant through a small group of food lovers who you know are quite influential. Offer them coupons with discounts or give them free food the first time they visit your restaurant. You may approach students if your eatery sells fast food. Ask a student to bring another student and offer them a 10% discount on the food if they show their ID.

  • Rub-off effect: The big bad shark gobbling up the small fish is a common picture in the business scenario. But if you give it a little thought, you will realize that your eatery will not always play the victim by getting associated with a bigger or more profitable venture. On the contrary, the connection puts you on par with the bigger business. Additionally, you can learn about their business strategies and share yours with them.

Sketch Artist: I saw this trick in Russia when they had a sketch artist in the restaurant. They will create a picture of your friends when you are eating. Most of the people took the picture when the artist showed the people.

9.Monthly/Weekly Menu

Promote a monthly/weekly menu card at times to create a buzz on the market. As new dishes are introduced every month, potential customers find it exciting to try new items. Some restaurants offer a different menu on different days of the week.

10. Signature dish promotion

How about a dab of your favorite sauce in the salad or the tastiest fruit in the dessert? Customization is not just restricted to the home. Bring it to your hotel and make your customers feel at home. Give your customers the chance to choose the dressing.

In the event that you are organizing a party for a guest, learn what dishes they want. If your restaurant does not offer any of the preparations, customize your offering. Trust me, very few eateries are so flexible and you can easily become the best among equals..

11. New generation wants

Catering to the millennials is one of your primary objectives. They have grown up in the best of conditions and expect the same amount of comfort everywhere they go. If you stick to traditional booking norms and leave them to physically come to your establishment to reserve a table for the evening, you will be losing out on a huge customer base. You can favor phone reservations but online procedures are faster.

Also, keep wifi at your establishment. The modern generation does not move a step ahead without Google. If your restaurant does not support Internet connection, guests will shift preference. 

Now that we are talking about the impact of the Internet on the restaurant industry, it is time to talk about online ordering. The 21st-century folks often want to relax and enjoy dinner after a hectic day at work. To that end, offering online food ordering is a boon in disguise. Imagine the number of people you will be able to serve by being online! You can never meet the count if the guests come to your restaurant. 

12. Emails, newsletters and SMS

Have you thought about reaching out to people through emailers? Are you scared that you might get blocked? Yes, there are chances, but not if you resort to smart strategies. Send newsletters only when you are introducing something new or any offer instead of doing so every day.  

When you are sending an SMS, message just 1 hour before the campaign begins.

Whether it is a newsletter or an SMS, the initial 10 words need to be catchy and promotional. 

Use words as per the target audience’s age and preference and last but not the least, send messages to customers on special occasions.

13. Responding to reviews

Before we get into this, tell me how many times do you not respond when someone criticizes you? If your ‘no reply’ is frequent, at least try not practicing it in answering the reviews of your customers. We all like to listen to positive reviews, but you should be open to all types of reviews because setbacks are the first step to success. If customers are not happy with a particular service or food, try to improve it.      


14. Celebrate your restaurant’s birthday

Birthdays are special for everyone. We even celebrate our pets’ birthdays. So what has the restaurant done wrong? It is like your child, pamper it like you would your little one. Throw a party on each birthday and offer discounts on a special dish. You may arrange for a contest in which the winner gets a foreign trip. Plan smaller gifts for everyone participating in the contest.

15. Host an event (Popular) or a celebrity

Want to come to the limelight? What can be better than inviting organizations to host events at your restaurant? It can be anything from a dance to a painting competition.

Do this and you will gain popularity very soon. When advertisements and boards show your name as the venue, people are bound to take note of it. 

What about enticing your guests with a bit of celebrity company. Organize a celebrity special evening to enhance the sparkle and fame of your eatery. For instance, invite a footballer for a fun interview, arrange a quiz contest for your guests and reward the winners through the celebrity. 

16. Proper food banner designs

Planning a special menu for Thanksgiving? If yes, get the banner designed by an expert before he gets mobbed by your rivals. Make sure that the banner contains images of the food items you wish to offer and the color theme of the banner should go with your restaurant’s color theme. State the dates of the aforementioned menu on the banner and then just wait. But make sure that you are equipped to handle a rush of guests.

17. Partner up with delivery service

Reaching out becomes easier when you collaborate with a third party delivery service. You may hire delivery boys, but this brings an added headache of paying them salaries and counting employees. Plus, a lot of administrative issues. On the other hand, outsourcing this function to a delivery service company takes away your troubles. You can also put your pamphlets in the food order box to call you directly for food delivery if you are planning to do it.

18. Menu Card

When it comes to customer appeal, the menu’s appearance is of utmost importance. Try to present the names of items starting with the appetizers to the desserts and mocktails in order for making it easy for the customer to check and choose. 

I would suggest not putting many images in the card as different people have different perspectives on how the food looks and some determine the taste by the picture. The taste and quality are better discerned after consumption. In case you want to add images, ensure that the most expensive items make their way to the menu card and the quality of the image is high-end. 

Red color is attractive and is believed to fetch an urge to eat among people. How about using red for the logo of your restaurant?

Fast food restaurant owners would do better to keep a small proportion menu on the table as customers to these eateries are usually in a rush and do not have time enough to wait for the waiter to bring the menu card.

19. Downtime

You simply cannot expect the same amount of footfall throughout the year. Some months just go slack and to make them fruitful, promote your business. Display ads and offers to get customers even without an occasion. 

20. Buy in bulk at wholesale rates and upsell

It is common knowledge that buying wholesale is profitable. No wonder people go to wholesale shops for buying grocery items. If they can do so for retail purchases, you can do the same for your restaurant. Buy in bulk, but do not store the items until the guest orders them. Try to upsell the items you buy to create their demand.

21. Handshakes and business card

Relationship building is the core of any business. One cannot just talk business and money to maintain a sustained relationship. Customers are not figures you can count and say bye. They expect some kind of interaction – a smile, conversation, a handshake, a business card and to top it all, a complimentary dessert. Do this the first time and your guests will keep returning, the next time with more friends and family members.Sounds like an old trick, I would rather call it a strategy.

22. Animal special

Do you have pets? If yes, then you will understand the pain of keeping them behind while you party away your time. Make arrangements for pets so that both their owners and they feel welcome. Waterbowl, dog menu and pet games are some of the things to attract them. Your staff should beware of petting these animals however hard may the feeling of cuddling the cute ones be. Also, always being up and ready to clean up the mess is a necessity. 

23.Place your window seat first

Always put guests near the window seats as soon as they come to the restaurant. You would like people to see that you have people in the restaurant.

24. Cooking video lesson 

Your restaurant is your offspring. Take the initiative to make it worth a visit. To that end, what can be better than discussing new dishes with your chef or introducing new styles of preparations? Your customers will like the new dishes and they may become famous eventually.

25. Good pictures in the restaurant to promote food

Just blank walls staring at customers is a boring thing. Adorn your walls with paintings by famous artists, handicrafts and other types of attractive wall decor. Such an approach on your part encourages local artists and craftsmen. But make sure that the decoration goes well with the theme of your restaurant. You cannot hang a picture of bikes in a traditional family restaurant. Also don’t put butchery pictures in the Vegan/Vegetarian restaurant if you are planning to open. That would be so out of place! 

26. Make it a brand

A number of eateries sell their own products. Starbucks, Cafe Coffee Day are a few such examples. If you can capitalize on your products and promote their nutrition facts, you can easily become a brand. 

27. Your USP

What makes your eatery stand out? Is there anything you want to entice your customers with? Leverage it. You may be the best chicken tikka maker or your diner may offer 15 types of mojito, which is quite unlikely in your area. Maybe your customers get the costliest whiskey in the area at your bar. Several customers ask waiters what would the latter order at the restaurant and then your server can suggest these names to promote them.

28. Good music is the best way of promotion

Restaurants having singers or musicians take the relaxation quotient a notch high. Additionally, by allowing local performers to show their caliber, you support them financially as well as careerwise. At the same time, organize live concerts on a weekend a month. You will notice an increase in the number of customers.

29. Idea of the employee of the month and year 

Businesses shine when they display their care for their employees. Awarding the fastest, cleanest, smartest, best communicator employees not only motivates them but also shows that you are serious about your staff.

30. Check the latest food trends

We have spoken a lot of strategies and techniques. But, I don’t remember talking about the latest food and drink trends. Focus on what is new and what people are looking forward to. Since you can customize the food, you can keep it low on sugar/spices or keto diet based or less oily. 

31. Offers sample outside the restaurant

This is not a common practice, and you can be the pioneer in your area in this regard. Share samples of the most loved dishes at your restaurant at places where people have not heard much about your eatery. Or, if you are planning to introduce a new dish, you may prepare a few dishes and then offer samples of each to passersby. Ask them to name the best one and the dish with the maximum number of votes becomes the winner. Now, here you learn who your potential customers are, they come to know about you, they are happily enjoying the free samples. In the end, some of them will visit your eatery for a scrumptious meal.

32. Car drop service after the party

When you let customers organize parties you should also arrange for a safe drop home, at least for women and children. Not many of your competitors practice this and I am sure your customers will find you thoughtful. Who knows, you might become the sole establishment booked for parties.

33. Smell food in the restaurant

Aroma in the restaurant can defientely push people drinking in the bar to come and have food in the restaurant. I learned this trick in US from Chef Rudy. In fixed Pasta buffet, he used to make environment filled with herbs. You can push people in the dining room if you are having bar and restaurant combined.

34. Women Safety special

With safety already in discussion, you may arrange for a special women’s menu. Women can order a special drink from the menu to indicate that they are not feeling comfortable with the date and wishes to call the police. 

If you ask me, the best business strategy does not always include cunting profit all the time, rather, it means taking care of your customers. If you can connect with your customers, revenue won’t be far away.

35. Promote on Tinder (Dirty trick)

This trick is good for new businesses who are not afraid of reputation. I saw this trick from Domino’s Pizza on Valentine special. Can you do something similar to it?

36. Donate food

You can donate food to orphanages and old home shelters instead of throwing in the bin. You can use it for the promotion purpose as well.

37. Business card giveaway

Drop your business card to win a chance for free dinner. You will get a lot of details in one go. This is one of the easiest tricks in the business and I learned it in a Switzerland burger place.

38. Partnership

Partnership can make or break a business. You can partner with someone who is not similar to you and far away. You can even use the membership card features here.

39. Hiring Quiz

Can you do a small quiz of your company on the first day? It will help to promote your company and make the staff learn a lot about your business.

40. Nameless Share

There are some apps in the market where you can sell food at a cheaper rate without revealing the name of your company.

I just would like to tell you for me, the best business is done more from the heart which will take care of the head. Heart means customer and head mean profit.