What is Local Marketing For Restaurants?

Restaurants are hyper-local in nature; a large section of our customer base is local. It, therefore, makes sense for restaurants to connect with the local audience and foster their brand image as an integral part of the community. 

Local Marketing for Restaurants is not just about passing out flyers. In fact, there’s no better way to build goodwill with your customer base than by contributing to causes that are close to your customers and reflect your business’s values. Collaborating with local businesses can bring a variety of benefits to your restaurant including brand recognition and higher revenues.

Fundraisers and Community events

Why Local Marketing?

Local Marketing for restaurants is one of the most cost-effective and efficient marketing channels. While online marketing strategies such as social media and email marketing help you establish your brand identity and reach a wider audience, local marketing provides you an opportunity to build a loyal local customer base.

Collaborating with local organizations sends out a message to your local customer base that you are an integral part of the community that is concerned about the local people and their causes. This not only helps get your restaurant’s name out there, but also provides you with an opportunity to introduce your local clientele to your food and services.

Combine this with some social media promotion by posting images from the event, and voila! You’ve got yourself a winner! These events and partnerships are your opportunity to build brand ambassadors, garner reviews, recommendations, and some awesome user-generated content from check-ins to pictures.

What to look for in a potential partner?

1. Who do you want to reach?

Identify your restaurant’s target audience.  Most restaurants, schools, PTAs, Local Booster Bands, and Pet Shelters can be the ideal potential partners as they have access to the audience that a local restaurant is looking to target.

2. What do you want to achieve?

Identify your business goals and approach the partners accordingly. Is your goal brand awareness, or are you launching a new menu item? If you’re looking for brand awareness, approach organizations that have a wider reach, on the other hand, if you are looking to launch a new menu item, look for an event partner that will allow you to gather feedback.

3. Look for a long- term partnership

While approaching potential partners, ensure that they are in for a long-term partnerships.

What Are The Benefits Of Fundraisers For Restaurants?

a. Connect with their local communities
b. Build new partnerships with organizations
c. Bring bring additional revenue and traffic to restaurants
d. Build a Loyal customer base

How does the local community benefit from partnering with restaurants?

a. Local organizations (schools, churches, NGO’s) benefit from the year long secure means to raise funds.
b. Their supporters can contribute to the cause while enjoying a delicious meal.
c. Once the fundraiser is set up, the entire process from receiving orders to forwarding proceeds to the partnering organization is automated and does not require any intervention.
d. The entire process is completely transparent as both the restaurant and the participating organization receive a comprehensive report with details like total number of orders placed, total attributable sales and the amount raised.

How to promote your restaurant within the local community?

1. Update you website with Local NAP Information
2. Include location based keywords, hashtags on your website and social media content.
3. List your website on local directories
4. Focus on local promotions such as flyers and coupon distribution
5. Set up local Marketing Ads
6. Optimize your Google My Business Page
7. Organize contests, events to attract the local community.
8. Partner with your local community
9. Plan co-marketing activities with local businesses

How can your restaurant benefit from  partnering with the local community?

Restaurants are hyper-local in nature.  The local community is their primary target audience. Partnering with local organizations and businesses gives you an opportunity to interact with the local residents, build your brand identity and turn them into regular customers.

How can restaurants partner with the local community?

1. Identify strategic partners with whom you can work to execute co-marketing activities and come up with a value proposition that will be appealing to your customers as well as your partner’s customers.  For instance; if you run a salad bar or a health food restaurant you could partner with a gym to provide discounts on each other’s products.
2. Reach out to schools, churches  and NGO’s in your neighborhood to check if they are hosting any events/contests for which you can provide coupons or gift certificates.
3. Look for catering opportunities at these events
4. Contribute to a cause that reflects your business’s values. Identify a local charity that your customers associate themselves with and approach them to organize a fundraiser. 
Involve your customers by organizing events just as Trunk or Treat or ugly sweater competition at your restaurant.
5. Start a donation drive by telling your customers that you will be collecting non-perishable food items/ toys/books for donation to a local charity. Offer a discount to anyone bringing in items for donation.

Local Marketing Strategies For Restaurants

Charitable Events:

Charity events

This is one of the most effective grassroots marketing channels. According to a study, 91 percent of consumers are willing to choose a brand supporting a good purpose over its competitors. In fact, most popular chains like Chipotle and Pizza hut organize fundraisers with public schools, sports organizations, libraries, youth community groups on a regular basis.

You can organiz charity Events, fundraisers, or Spirit Nights for client restaurants by working with local groups such as animal shelters and non-profits. A portion of the attributable sales proceeds is donated to the partnering organization. This not only communicates a favorable message about your restaurant, but it also attracts people who may not tried your restaurant before.

Coupon partnerships:

Coupons do not always mean giving away free stuff! By putting some thought into the offer you can generate additional revenue using coupons. For instance, provide a free item under $5 with purchases of 15.

Coupons partnerships can help you attract new customers, bring back your regulars, and upsell to a customer who is already at your restaurant. They are also an excellent way to build interest around new menu items. You can collaborate with apartments, local schools, libraries, or churches, etc. by offering to provide coupons for their events.

Here’s a list of events for which you can reach out to local organizations for coupon partnerships.

  1. Vacation Bible School organized by your local churches
  2. Summer reading programs organized by local libraries
  3. Back to School events organized by local schools and PTAs
  4. Oktoberfest/ fall Events
  5. Trick or Treat Events oganized by local churches
  6. Thanksgiving events organized by local churches
  7. Christmas Events organized by local churches
  8. Easter egg hunt organized by local churches
  9. Spring Festivals
  10. Teacher Appreciation Week organized by local schools and PTAs
Trick or treat events

You can offer coupons such as a free meal or a free menu item to kids participating in the event, volunteers, or move-in coupons to new residents in the apartment complex. This motivates the entire family to visit the restaurant in order to redeem the coupon. When they are satisfied with your services, they will recommend you to others, taking no time for them to be your regulars!

The ideal strategy is to reach out to the concerned organization well in advance of the event and discuss the possibility of providing coupons for their events so that you can coordinate the printing and dispatch of the coupons well-in time for the event.

Local community events:

Local events such as fairs, summer festivals are an ideal venue for putting your grassroots efforts into action! You can extend your brand locally by participating in these events.

Take a cue from Buffalo Wild Wings who frequently sponsors local school sports teams and in exchange the local team shirts display their logo. These events helped them connect to the local community and build goodwill among their local patrons.

 Local prize distribution sponsorships:

Pizza Hut’s reading initiative, Book It!, began in 1984 with the intention of encouraging more children to read by giving out free personal-sized pizzas to children who fulfilled a reading goal. According to Pizza Hut, as of 2017, more than 14 million students across 620,000 classrooms have participated in BOOK IT! You can work out similar arrangements with local libraries for their summer reading programs.

You can also work with auto dealerships, dance schools, or local sports clubs to sponsor employee of the month, trainer of the month, etc. Reach out to schools for sponsoring student or teacher of the month certificates to acknowledge outstanding performances.

Ideas of events that you can organize: 

a. Toys for tots

Toys for tots

Toys for Tots is a 71-year national charitable program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. The mission of “Toys for Tots” is to provide happiness and hope to disadvantaged kids with toys, books and gifts. You can organize this event at your restaurant by trying up with any of your local children’s charities and acting as a collection center for toys. Patrons can drop off any unwrapped toy at the restaurant. 

b. Canned food drive

Food drives a great way to involve yourself and your enterprise with the community. Restaurants can collect canned food items from patrons and then donate them to the local food banks or local charities. You can encourage more people to participate by organizing a raffle and offering a free gift certificate to one random donor.

c. Setting up angel tree

Angel tree programs are a great way of helping out the less fortunate and giving back to the community. Angel trees programs are organized by the Salvation Army to spread holiday cheer and bring smiles to the faces of the less fortunate children. The initiative helps to collect Christmas gifts for young children.

The host restaurant sets up a tree at their location. Each tree is adorned with angel tags containing a child’s age, gender, clothing sizes, and gift wishes. Local patrons can pick up an “angel tag” to purchase items for a child based on the information provided on the tag, and then leave the gifts at the restaurant. The host restaurant acts as a collection center for the gifts and delivers them to the salvation army for distribution to the children. The event usually lasts for a period of 10-15 days in the first two weeks of December.

You can set up an Angel Tree at your location by reaching out to your local Salvation Army and registering yourself as an official host. However, if by any chance you miss the official registration, you can still organize a local toy collection drive for charities in your locality.

d. Coffee with a cop

Coffee with a cop

Coffee with a Cop is an initiative the helps the local citizens connect with cops in an informal environment. If coffee is on your menu, you can organize a similar event at your location by reaching out to the local police department to set up a date for the event.

e. Meal Donation Drives

A meal donation drive can be set up on your online ordering platform. Any patron wishing to donate a meal and purchases a card that is usually billed with their online order. The host restaurant prepares, packs, and delivers the donated meal to a designated local charity. Some restaurants sponsor a part of these donated meals to help raise additional funds for the charity.

Wrap Up:

Despite the fact that the world is becoming increasingly digital, reaching out to people directly, chatting with them, and giving them your unique services with a human touch will never go out of style. We’ve provided a link above for you to join our Restaurant Marketers hub group, test out some of these methods and tell us there, which ones worked best for you!